Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

23.11. Colloquium on African linguistics: Multi-verb constructions in Kam (Lesage)

“Multi-verb constructions in Kam (Niger-Congo, Nigeria)” - Talk by Jakob Lesage (HU Berlin, ELDP) given within the digital colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When Nov 23, 2021 from 04:15 to 05:45 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)
  • Where Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Invalidenstr. 118, room 410 & via Zoom
  • Contact Name Christfried Naumann (christfried.naumann (AT) hu-berlin.de, please contact for Zoom access information)
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In this talk, I give an overview of multi-verb constructions in Kam, a Niger-Congo language spoken in central eastern Nigeria (traditionally classified as Adamawa). On the surface, a multi-verb construction cannot always be distinguished from a sequence of clauses. When it can be, it is different in that only one verb is marked for tense, aspect, and polarity (by a STAMP-morph, tonal morphology, reduplication, a pre-verbal marker, or a post-verbal clitic). I call the inflected verb the primary verb and the non-inflected verbs secondary verbs. The subject only occurs with the first verb and the object only occurs with the primary verb.


There are different ways to classify multi-verb constructions in Kam. These include using the position of the secondary verbs, which can occur before or after the primary verb; the semantics of the secondary verbs and the function of the construction as a whole; and the frequency (degree of obligatoriness) of the construction.


I take stock of the multi-verb constructions in my Kam data and discuss some related constructions, including the future tense construction which can involve repetition of the verb after the object, verbal extensions, which may or may not derive from multi-verb constructions, and multi-clausal modality expressions.
My analysis of multi-verb constructions in Kam is under development. I hope there will be ample opportunity for feedback during the colloquium session.