Ergativity in Igbo: Insights From Nsukka Dialect Cluster
Uploaded by: Society For Research And Academic Excellence
The paper focuses on ergativity found in natural languages. In syntactic studies, the transitive-intransitive patterning of verbs controls their argument properties in a construction. Some verbs consistently do not take objects while others do not permit the omission of objects in languages. These objects must be overt in the predicates of such verbs to encode transitivity. Though many researches have been done on transitivity, none has distinguished between those verbs that can be ergativized and those that cannot. The study examines those transitive verbs that can undergo ergativization as well as investigate their syllable structure. Through descriptive analysis the paper isolates the group of verbs in Nsukka dialect cluster (Imiryike variety) that can partake in transitive alternations otherwise referred to as ergativity. The study is limited to the notion of causative and non-causative agentive verbs. The findings are that ergativity in the dialect is marked both syntactically and semantically and results from NP movement from the predicate to an empty NP position in the subject slot. Not all transitive verbs in the dialect can undergo ergativization process, e.g. the verbs of motion, meteorological verbs etc. Not all complements are arguments.The semantic classes of ergative verbs in the dialect include – verbs denoting destruction, body injury, killing, eating, and cooking. The verbs of killing and destruction use compound stem in transitive constructions while the ergative pairs use simple stem. The syllabic structure of the verbs of cooking in the progressive aspect is disyllabic (cvcvrv). Although, the study is not a contrastive study, some differences involved in formation of ergatives between Nsukka dialect and standard dialect are noted.
About the Authors
Uche D. Asogwa