The versatile verb

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

in The Languages of the Amazon

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199593569
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739385 | DOI:
The versatile verb

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The verb is the centrepiece of most Amazonian languages. The verb is where the complexity lies. We focus on some recurrent meanings expressed in the verb, covering tense, aspect and modality. Many Amazonian languages have a relatively rare category of frustrative, meaning ‘I did something in vain’. Commands in Amazonian languages combine reference to distance in space and in time, and also politeness. Incorporating a noun or an adposition into the verb contributes to its overall complexity. In many cases, only an obligatorily possessed noun can be incorporated into a verb. Incorporating adverbs and postpositions results in creating new causatives and applicatives. The chapter concludes with a brief overview of how Amazonian languages contribute to our understanding of the typology of incorporation.

Keywords: tense; aspect; modality; mood; command; frustrative; politeness; incorporation; applicative

Chapter.  6625 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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