Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 1 January 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
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         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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A Comparative Study of Gojri Double Verb Constructions

Nadeem Bukhari


Syntactically and semantically, the double verb construction has always been a matter of controversy in South Asian languages. This paper is an attempt to draw a distinction between complex predicates and serial verb constructions in Gojri. It has been noted that these terms are intermingled in many ways and therefore raise different questions regarding the nature of these structures. The double verb construction in Gojri has an edge over other regional languages as they represent different categories of sentence formation.

1. Introduction

The double verb construction is a common phenomenon in South Asian languages and has been studied since long. However, there has been always controversy over the status of these constructions. The south Asian languages belong to four different families namely; Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic. Masica (1991, 1976) reports that these families share certain syntactic-semantic features, though they show their own individualities. The Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages have received more attention regarding this issue than their counterparts. Among other Indo-Aryan languages, Hindi-Urdu (Nespital 1997, Butt 1997 &1995, Arora 1979, Hook 1974), Bengali (Singh 1998, Ramchand 1990, Dasgupta 1977), Punjabi (Akhtar 2000 &1998, Bhatia 1993) and Marathi (Panndharipande 1990) were frequently reported.

Gojri is one of the Indo-Aryan languages, which has not yet been studied from this perspective. Most of its sister languages, such as Hindi-Urdu and Punjabi, have been restricted to the complex predicate formation that is one of the forms of VV construction. However, Gojri displays another very common and well-studied formation of verb complexes that is commonly known as the serial verb construction. Serial verb constructions are a hallmark of many African languages and creoles. Jayaseelan (2004) claims that the serial verb construction is very common in Dravidian languages including Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. It seems that this construction is more common in Dravidian than the Indo-Aryan Languages of South Asia.

However, it is strange that no clear-cut distinction has yet been made between complex predicates and the serial verb construction. The V-V construction is so complicated that no single definition has been put forward to capture the nature of these constructions. Unfortunately, some linguists interchange these terms and take one for the other, especially in South Asian languages as well as some other serial African languages.

Distinctions between the V-V Complex Predicates and V-V Serial Verb Constructions

Without going into the details of the history of these constructions, I will put forward different arguments that would draw a distinction between the V-V complex Predicates and V-V serial verb constructions. Consider the following examples:

1 Serial verb construction
a. kaloo-ne seb chillii khayo
kaloo-ERG apple-NOM peel.PF.F eat.PF.M
'Kaloo peeled the apple and ate it.'
Complex predicate
b. kaloo-ne seb chil diyo
kaloo-ERG apple-NOM peel give.PF.M
'Kaloo peeled the apple (for someone else).

The above examples illustrate the difference between the serial verb construction and complex predicates in Gojri. (1a) is one of the structures for the serial verb construction (SVCs) that indicates that there are two different events described by two serial verbs which come together in a sequence. It means that two different events have their own individuality in the course of action. However, (1b) describes just one action. The second verb diyo 'give' in the sequence is a light verb. The light verb does not have its full lexicall meaning but contributes some aspectual meanings of 'completiveness' and beneficiary meaning to the meanings of the first verb chil 'peel' in sentence. It indicates that the agent performed the action for someone else. Akhtar (2000) and Butt (1995) reports that there is a general agreement that V2 in a complex predicate is the bleached forms of verb and therefore lose some of its semantic content. However it can be used as a main verb, in which case it has its lexical meanings. The only preferred position for the main verb in complex predicates is V1 in V+V sequences.

Another sharp difference can be noted between the above examples. In SVC construction, the non-final verbs display the -ii inflection which I label as Serial Verb Inflection (SVI). The last verb agrees with the highest nominative case in gender and number. On the other hand, in complex predicates, V1 appears either in the root or infinitive form. But here too, V2 shows agreement with the highest nominative case in gender and number.

It is also very important to note that neither SVCs nor complex predicate structure permits any embedding structures. They are mono-clausal in nature and share a single tense /aspect. If the verbs are treated as predicates of different clauses, they lose the status of double verb construction. It is quite significant to note that the complex predicates never allow more than two verbs (main verb and the light verb) in a clause. On the other hand, the serial verb construction may have more than two verbs. Consider the example:

2. a. kaloo-ne seb kepii khayo
kaloo-ERG apple-NOM.M cut.SVI eat-PF.M
'Kaloo cut and ate the apple.'
b. kaloo-ne seb chillii kepii khayo
kaloo-ERG apple-NOM.M peel.SVI cut.SVI eat-PF.M
'Kaloo peeled, cut and ate the apple.'
c. kaloo-ne gajer xariidii chillii kutterii khaii
kaloo-ERG carrot-NOM.F bought.SVI peel.SVI cut.SVI eat-PF.F
'Kaloo bought, peeled, cut and ate the carrot.'

(2a) shows that there are only two verbs involved in the structure. On the other hand, (2b) displays three and (2c) four verbs respectively which show different individual actions. These examples also confirm the fact that it is the final verb that is always inflected for tense and agrees with the highest nominative case in person, number and gender. The non-final verbs have nothing to do with any type of agreement. This is a general phenomenon in Gojri.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Language Shift Among Singaporean Malayalee Families | A Comparative Study of Gojri Double Verb Constructions | Trade in the Madras Presidency, 1941 - 1947 A Doctoral Dissertation | Conceptualization of Nationalism through Language - An Analysis of Malaysian Situation | Status of Urdu and Efforts and Strategies for Its Inclusion in the Mainstream of Indian Life | Language Learning Strategies - An Evaluation of Compensatory Strategies | Marriage and Self in the Selected Works of Henry James and Jayakanthan | King Richard II - Analyzing the Political Discourse of Power | Engaging Autobiography as an Expression of Self - Maya Angelou's Autobiographies and Her Black Self | Onomatopoeic Words in Manipuri | Historical Growth of Short Stories in Tamil and Telugu - A Comparison | The Gujral Committee Report on Urdu | HOME PAGE of January 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Nadeem Bukhari
University of AJK

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