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

28.06. Colloquium on African linguistics: The verb k'ab- in Oromo (Wakweya Olani)

“The verb k’ab- in Oromo” - Talk by Wakweya Olani Gobena (University of Potsdam, Ph.D. project) given within the colloquium of African linguistics and languages
  • When Jun 28, 2022 from 04:15 to 05:45
  • 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)
  • iCal

The verb k’ab- in Oromo (a member of Cushitic family) is a transitive verb with fully inflectional property. It agrees with subject in person, number, gender and TAM. In its semantic nature, the verb lexically works in possession as verb to have and in transitive action as the verbs like to hold, to catch, etc. It is apparent that these verbs of action are grammaticalized into possession (Heine 1997). However, this is not the case in Oromo where the verb k’ab- ‘to have’ of possession is homophonous with the verb k’ab- ‘to catch, to carry’ of action. This is empirical from the distinct morphosyntactic and semantic properties of the verbs in the typology of the language. In fact, the verb k’ab- conveys obligation occurring as an auxiliary which is considered as the grammaticalized function of the possessive verb as in many languages. The verb to have often functions in possession, action and obligation supporting the grammaticalization chain [action > possession > obligation] (Heine and Kuteva 2002). Especially, the change process from possessive notion to obligation involves change of the possessive verb to auxiliary: have-possession > obligation (deontic modality). The verb k’ab- referring to the actions to hold, to catch or to carry has got different morphosyntactic structures from the same verb root in its possessive forms. The functional distinction of this verb is understood mainly from its morphosyntax besides the context. This paper aims to explore the morphosyntactic and semantic features of the verb k’ab- in Oromo together with some pragmatic senses. Some homophonous patterns vis-à-vis the respective functional distinctions are identified and characterized as well.

Key words: action, grammaticalization, homophonous, possession, verb

Heine B (1997). Possession: Cognitive Sources, Forces, and Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heine B & Kuteva T (2002). World Lexicon of Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.