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Functions of verb reduplication and verb doubling in Swahili

Gibson, Hannah and Yoneda, Nobuko (2018) 'Functions of verb reduplication and verb doubling in Swahili.' Journal of Asian and African Studies, 96. 5 - 28.

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The present paper examines verb reduplication and verb doubling in the East African Bantu language Swahili. These two constructions, in which some part of the verb form is repeated, are both widespread in the Bantu languages.Across Bantu, verb reduplication has been noted to commonly convey an iterative, repetitive, or continuous action, as well as in some languages being associated with a ‘pointless’ or ‘aimless’ type of action. Verb doubling appears to be more often associated with a predicate-centred focal reading, which may relate to either truth-value focus or to a progressive aspect reading. The current study examines to what extent these generalisations also hold for Swahili.It explores the functions of verb reduplication and verb doubling in the language. It concludes that whilst the verb reduplication and verb doubling patterns identified in Swahili seem to reflect the more common cross-Bantu observations, Swahili also has a distinct form of verb reduplication in which part of the construction appears 'external' to the reduplicated verb form. This construction has not been identified outside Swahili and has not previously received as much attention in the descriptive literature. However, the claim here is that ‘verb-external’ reduplication fits within broader patterns relating to the semantic-pragmatic functions of verb reduplication, whilst also appearing to be highly idiomatic, occurring with only a small set of verbs and encoding some degree of 'unexpectedness'.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bantu languages, Swahili, morphology, verb reduplication, verb doubling
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2019 12:43
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2019 13:15

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