Morphological Doubling in Bantu Verb Suffixes

Brent Henderson

University of Florida

Friday, January 24, 2020
3 p.m.

Lattimore 513

View the poster (pdf)

Abstract: Bantu languages famously allow a variety of verb derivations through suffixation, including causatives, applicatives, reciprocal and statives. Derived verbs often include more than one of these suffixes and when they do sometimes one or more of these suffixes is doubled, appearing on either side of another suffix, even though the function or meaning of the suffix applies only once. For example, as described by Hyman (2003), the verb manga ‘tie’ in Chichewa, can be reciprocalized with the suffix –an, mangana ‘tie each other.’ We can then add an applicative –il to mean ‘tie each other for someone,’ but when we do, the reciprocal –an shows up twice: mang-an-il-an-a. Thus, although the reciprocal suffix is interpreted only once, it is pronounced twice.

In this talk, I present detailed data from the language Chimiini to examine suffix doubling more closely. I first examine the verbal suffix system of Chimiini, showing that the language distinguishes a ‘lexical’ set of suffixes from a ‘productive’ set and that properly understanding this system leads to a reanalysis of several suffix allomorphs as instances of suffix doubling. After demonstrating the types of suffix doubling Chimiini exhibits, I present an analysis wherein suffix doubling is the result of cyclic spellout in word derivation and the unique cyclic stacking of derivational verbal heads that Bantu verbs allow.