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The grammaticalization of kotok into a negative marker in Manda (Bantu N.11)

Journal article
Authors Rasmus Bernander
Published in Linguistics
Volume 58
ISSN 0024-3949
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Language en
Keywords Bantu, negation, non-standard negation, grammaticalization, cessative verb
Subject categories Languages and Literature


It is common both cross-linguistically and specifically in Bantu languages for the prohibitive to be formed by a construction consisting of a cessative verb in collocation with a non-finite verb (van der Auwera 2010; Devos & van Olmen 2013). This is also the case in Manda, an understudied Southern Tanzanian Bantu language. In Manda, a negative imperative is expressed by the auxiliary -kotok- with the (lexical) meaning ‘leave (off), stop’ operating on an infinitive full verb. Intriguingly, there is variation in this construction, as kotok may be both formally reduced and be used more broadly to denote non-factivity in other “non-main” (or non-standard) contexts. The aim of this study is to demonstrate that this functional and formal variation reflect a historical and ongoing process of grammaticalization along the verb-to-affix cline. Drawing on field data, the available historical data and (micro-)comparative data, this study argues that kotok is transforming into a more general non-main negation marker. These changes corroborate, in turn, Güldemann’s hypothesis (1999) that the salient category of non-standard secondary negative markers in Bantu is derived from constructions with an auxiliary and a non-finite verb. Keywords: Bantu, negation, non-standard negation, grammaticalization, cessative verb

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