Noncausal-causal correspondence types in five East Ruvu Bantu languages

Culture and languages

Sebastian Dom, Leora Bar-el, Ponsiano Sawaka Kanijo and Malin Petzell present their research. Lecture arranged by the research area Linguistic Structures (SPL) and the Linguistics seminar (FloV). All interested are welcome!

2 Jun 2022
13:00 - 13:45
Room C256, Humanisten, Renströmsgatan 6 and Zoom

Good to know
Seminar language: English

We focus on meeting on site, but also offer the opportunity to follow the seminar via Zoom. The zoom link will be sent to the research area's mailing list one week before the presentation. If you are not on the mailing list, contact Evie Coussé to get the link.

Department of Languages and Literatures, Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science

This event is a dry run of the authors’ upcoming presentation on the 9th International Conference on Bantu Languages (7-10 June in Malawi). This implies that the seminar will be shorter than usual, with twenty minutes for the presentation itself, and about twenty five minutes for feedback and discussion. Please, note that the seminar starts at 1PM sharp.


Noncausal-causal correspondence types in five East Ruvu Bantu languages

Sebastian Dom (University of Gothenburg)
Leora Bar-el (University of Montana)
Ponsiano Sawaka Kanijo (Mkwawa University College of Education)
Malin Petzell (University of Gothenburg)

In this paper, we report on the results of a comparative study of noncausal-causal verb pairs in five East Ruvu Bantu (ERB) languages spoken in the Morogoro region of Tanzania: Kagulu, Kutu, Kwere, Luguru and Zaramo. Data was collected using a questionnaire (Authors 2021) based on Haspelmath’s (1993) word list but adapted to elicit verb pairs in sentences in context, instead of isolated verbs, to more accurately capture verb uses. Using Haspelmath’s and Nichols et al.’s (2004) typology of correspondence types, we show that equipollent and anticausative are the predominant correspondent types of noncausal-causal verb pairs in these five ERB languages, with causative the next common strategy. A summary is given in (1).

Although the ERB languages show expected similarities, we find variation in derivational morphology (2) and correspondence type (3) across the languages. We propose a synchronic analysis of the formal relations between the members of a noncausal-causal pair while taking into account the effect of diachronic changes (e.g., morphophonological changes of causativized verbs derived by reflexes of Proto-Bantu *-i).

Our study is the first to apply Nichols et al.’s (2004) more fine-grained typology in Bantu. In doing so, we introduce categories such as ablaut and the co-occurrence of multiple correspondence types in a single verb pair to the study of the noncausal-causal alternation in Bantu. Our study also reveals that Bantu languages vary in their strategies for deriving noncausal-causal verbs, thus motivating the need for further exploration of these derivational relations in Bantu languages.

Collected data


Dom, S. & Kanijo, P. S. & Bar-el, L. & Petzell, M. (2021). Questionnaire on the noncausal-causal alternation. Unpublished manuscript.
Haspelmath, M. (1993). More on the typology of inchoative/causative verb alternations. In B. Comrie & M. Polinsky (Eds), Causatives and transitivity (pp. 87-120). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Nichols, J., Peterson, D. A., & Barnes, J. (2004). Transitivizing and detransitivizing languages. Linguistic Typology 8:149-211.