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Bound noun plus verb combinations in Mano

Combinaisons liées verbo-nominales en mano
Связанные сочетания имен и глаголов в мано
Maria Khachaturyan

Résumés

L’article présent analyse les combinaisons verbo-nominales en mano, Mandé-Sud, et introduit des critères syntactiques et sémantiques originaux qui permettent de distinguer les composés verbo-nominaux des combinaisons libres des groupes nominaux et des verbes. Les composantes nominale et verbale des combinaisons verbo-nominales en mano sont systématiquement détachables l’une de l’autre. Ces combinaisons contredisent l’Hypothèse de l’Intégrité Lexicale, ainsi que la Contrainte sur une Phrase Complexe à l’intérieur d’un mot. Ces trois critères sont en opposition avec la définition de la composition en tant que formation des « mots intègres ». Néanmoins, la contradiction et la circularité dans l’affectation de la valence de combinaisons verbo-nominales les rendent plus syntactiquement cohérentes que les combinaisons libres. Elles peuvent être considérées comme arguments en faveur de la définition de certaines combinaisons verbo-nominales en mano en tant que composés. Tous ces critères pris ensemble offrent un tableau complexe où les combinaisons verbo-nominales sont plus ou moins proches des composés mais il n’y a pas de division claire entre la classe des composés et la classe des combinaisons libres.

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1. Introduction

  • 1 I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers whose valuable suggestions helped me to restructu (...)

1This paper addresses bounded versus free noun plus verb combinations in Mano1, a South Mande language, through a detailed study of phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.

2Bounded noun plus verb combinations have been studied under many different labels, including “idioms”, “compounding”, “noun incorporation”, “quasi‑incorporation”, “pseudo-incorporation”, and “complex predicates”. Studies of idioms often focus on the semantic non-compositionality of N+V combinations (Singer 2011), while studies in compounding focus on the evidence in favor of or against the definition of specific N+V combinations as single words (Scalise & Vogel 2010). As well, studies in noun incorporation typically focus on instances where the compound status of N+V combinations is relatively unproblematic. The issue, then, becomes the underlying process leading to the morphosyntactic bonding of the combination: whether it should be considered a lexical (derivational) or a syntactic process (Sadock 1986; Geenhoven 2002; Haugen 2008; Mithun 1984, 1986). If evidence for the morphosyntactic bond in a particular language is controversial, then the term “quasi-” or “pseudo-incorporation” becomes privileged (Massam 2001; Booij 2010; Borik & Gerhke 2015; Grossman ms.). If incorporation is conferred solely as a result of the loss of an argument status with no additional morphological evidence, then the term “syntactic incorporation” is used (Haig 2002). Several studies, additionally, use the terms “compounding” and “incorporation” interchangeably (Booij 2010). Finally, the term “complex predicates” is often used to cover a variety of issues, including morphology, syntax, and semantics regarding N+V combinations (Haig 2002). For these reasons, I will largely privilege the most neutral term, N+V combination, and only occasionally will use the term “compound” when there are reasons to argue that a specific type of N+V combination does not have all the properties of a free combination including a verb with its direct object NP.

3The paper begins with an exposition of basic facts about Mano (Section 2) that is followed by an exploration of different criteria suggested in the literature to distinguish compounding from the free combination of lexemes and their application to the Mano language. The Mano data used for the paper is drawn from the author’s field notes. Section 3 focuses on phonology and morphology, Section 4 on morphosyntax, Section 5 on semantics, and Section 6 on argument structure; Section 7 will offer a conclusion on these topics.

2. Basic facts about Mano and N+V combinations

4Mano is a South Mande language spoken by approximately 400,000 people in Guinea and Liberia.

5In Mano, tense, aspect, modality, and polarity are expressed primarily in an auxiliary, which also indexes the subject’s person and number. In the examples (1) and (3-5) below, āà is a third-person sg. auxiliary of the perfect series. Similarly, lɛ̀ɛ́ in example (2), is a third-person sg. auxiliary of the negative series.

(1)

Kɔ̀ɔ́

āà

ló.

PN

3sg.prf

go

6‘Ko has left’.

(2)

Pèé

lɛ̀ɛ́

nū

nɛ́ŋ̀.

PN

3sg.neg

come

yet

7‘Pe has not come yet’.

8The word order is SOV, as in other Mande languages.

(3)

Kɔ̀ɔ́

āà

wìì

lɔ́.

PN

3sg.prf

meat

buy

9‘Ko has bought some meat’.

10Mano is a zero‑subject language.

(4)

Āà

ló.

3sg.prf

go

11‘(S)he has left’.

12There is no passive or other detransitivizing morphology; intransitive constructions, where the verb does not bear additional morphology, can be used in anticausative and even passive functions (passive lability).

(5)

Wìì

āà

lɔ́.

meat

3sg.prf

buy

13‘The meat was bought’.

14A typical N+V combination in Mano would be the following: gbóó is a noun meaning ‘sobbing’. Together with the light verb ɓō ‘implement’, it forms the complex verb gbóó ɓō ‘sob’.

(6)

gbóó

ɓō.

3sg.pst

sobbing

implement

15(S)he sobbed’.

16In the combination yí ɓō, yí means interior’, but the overall combination means ‘explain, to tell (a story)’, selecting a direct object.

(7)

pḭ̄à̰

yí

ɓō.

3sg.pst

story

interior

implement

  • 2 In this paper, I analyze only the N+V combinations where the nominal part directly precedes the ver (...)

17(S)he told a story’.2

3. Phonological and morphological criteria

18Several types of criteria are suggested in the literature that can distinguish compounds from free lexeme combinations (Lieber & Štekauer 2009; Aikhenvald 2007): (1) phonological, (2) morphological, (3) morphosyntactic, and (4) semantic. In the ensuing section, I will specifically review phonological and morphological criteria; morphosyntax and semantics will be reviewed in the subsequent sections.

3.1. Phonological criteria

19Phonology and the notion of prosodic words are often evoked as criteria for delimiting words, including N+V compounds. In the Manding group of the Mande family, compounding (including N+V compounding) is often accompanied by the rules of tonal compactness where a certain tonal pattern encompasses a combination of words, often neutralizing the lexical tone of the right constituent. In the Mandinka example (8a), jíò, the definite form of the noun jíí ‘water’, does not form a compound with the verb bòŋ ‘pour’, therefore, the latter maintains its lexical tone. In (8b), by contrast, jíí-bóŋ ‘water-pour’ is a compound characterized by tonal compactness as the verb changes its lexical tone to high.

(8a)

yé

jí-ò

bòŋ.

he

aux

water-def

pour

20‘He poured the water’.

(8b)

yé

dàndàŋ-ò

jíí-bóŋ.

he

aux

garden-def

water-pour

21‘He watered the garden’ (Creissels & Jatta 1981: 35).

22In Mano, the rules of tonal compactness do not apply: there are no supralexical tonal patterns present in the language.

3.2. Morphological criteria

23Several morphological processes can accompany compounding, including the loss of nominal inflection as in the example (8b) above. As well, the placement of verbal morphemes can serve as a criterion. In the example (9a) from Kusaiean, Micronesian, the perfect marker -lᴂ is suffixed to the verbal stem and, thus, placed before the direct object. In (9b), the object is part of a compound, so the marker follows the nominal stem:

(9a)

Nga

ɔl-lᴂ

nuknuk

ɛ.

1sg

wash-prf

clothes

def

24‘I washed the clothes’.

(9b)

Nga

owo

nuknuk-lᴂ.

1sg

wash

clothes-prf

25‘I clothes-washed’ (Sugita 1973).

26In the Kla‑Dan language, Mande, the position of the causative prefix le̋- distinguishes free NP+V combinations. In example (10), it precedes the verbal stem from compounds, and in example (11), it precedes the nominal part.

(10)

Yȕȕfáȁlè

yȁȁ

zʌ̰̋lʌ̰́

le̋-dà̰ȁ̰-ká.

P.N.

3sg.exi>3sg

younger.sibling

prf-learn-inf

27‘Yufale teaches his younger brother/sister’ (Makeeva 2012: 145).

(11)

Dɯ̀

ɓḭ̏

dò

yà

le̋-gɯ́-lìèé

ɓɔ̰̏

lʌ̰́

gɯ́.

sorcery

person:cs

one

3sg.prf

3sg

caus-interior-turn

mouse

child

in

28‘A magician transformed him into a mouse’ (Makeeva 2012: 173).

29A more interesting morphological criterion in Kla‑Dan is verbal reduplication. In Kla‑Dan, verbs can undergo reduplication, thus acquiring the distributive meaning. In NP+V combinations, like in example (12), it is only the verb that undergoes reduplication. Though in some N+V combinations, it is either the N or V separately, or the whole N+V combination, that may undergo reduplication, as in example (13).

(12a)

Ŋ̀ɓȁ̰

dȕ

yà

lʌ̰́

kpɔ́.

1sg.poss

cow

3sg.prf

child

give.birth

30‘My cow delivered’.

(12b)

Ŋ̀ɓȁ̰

dȕ

yà

lʌ̰́

kpɔ́kpɔ́.

1sg

cow

3sg.prf

child

give.birth~distr

31‘My cow delivered several times’ (Makeeva 2012: 156).

(13a)

Ɓɛ̰̀

yà

zȍ

bɤ̏

tòòtȁ̰ȁ̰

lṵ̏

ká.

person

3sg.prf

heart

wake.up

story

pl

with

32‘A person recalled several stories’.

(13b)

Ɓɛ̰̀

lṵ̏

wà

zȍ-bɤ̏-bɤ̏ ~ zȍ-bɤ̏-zȍ-bɤ̏ ~ zȍ-zȍ-bɤ̏

tòòtȁ̰ȁ̰

lṵ̏

ká.

person

pl

3pl.prf

heart-wake.up~distr

story

pl

with

33‘Every person recalled several stories each’ (Makeeva 2012: 172).

34Transitive and intransitive morphology can serve as evidence for compounding. In the Kusaiean example (13) above, two verbal stems for ‘wash’ are used: transitive ɔl and intransitive owo. The intransitive stem is used when the noun is part of a N+V compound while the transitive stem is used when the direct object is expressed by a full noun phrase with definite marking.

35Case manipulation is an additional criterion to be considered. In the example (14a) below from Chukchee, Chukotko‑Kamchatkan, the verb is transitive and has two arguments: the agent in ergative and the theme in the absolutive case. In (14b), the object is part of a compound, the verb becomes intransitive, and there is only one argument, which is in the absolutive case.

(14a)

Tumg-e

n-antəwat-ən

kupre-n.

friend-erg

3pl.erg-set-3sg.abs.aor

net-abs

36‘The friends set the net’.

(14b)

Tumg-ət

kupr-antəwat-gʔat.

friend-abs.pl

net-set-3pl.abs.aor

37‘The friends were net-setting’ (Comrie 1978; Foley 2007: 437).

38In Mano, the placement of verbal morphemes does not serve as a criterion distinguishing compounds from free NP+V combinations. Verbal reduplication is not attested; all verbal inflectional affixes are suffixed. Further, they are not sensitive to the presence of a nominal complement. In fact, there is no transitive or intransitive morphology.

39To conclude, there is no phonological or straightforward morphological evidence of bounded N+V combinations in Mano.

4. Morphosyntax of N+V combinations

40Three additional morphosyntactic criteria are suggested in the literature on compounding: the No Phrase Constraint; the Lexical Integrity Hypothesis; and the extent to which nouns and verbs are separable.

4.1. No Phrase Constraint

  • 3 In Kapampangan, constituents of a phrase are typically linked by the enclitic =ng. In example (15), (...)

41According to the No Phrase Constraint, word formation rules cannot take syntactically complex units as input (Botha 1981). Therefore, it is expected that compounds should not be formed from syntactic phrases, such as the English *story and legend telling. Yet compounds with syntactically complex constituents are documented across languages, including in English, berry and mushroom picking. In Kapampangan, Austronesian, incorporated nominal components of the N+V combinations do not have case marking and are not indexed on the verb, which in turn is not marked for transitivity, in contrast with the free NP +V combinations. Instead, the incorporated nominals are linked to the verb by the linker =ng.3 In the example below, the first token of the linker =ng links the verb and a coordinated construction, tahadang mani at letsi plan ‘peanut brittle and milk flan’. The coordinate structure is being incorporated in violation of the No Phrase Constraint:

(15)

Gawa=la=ng

tahada=ng

mani

at

letsi

plan.

will.make=3pl.abs=lk

brittle=lk

peanut

and

milk

flan

42‘They’ll make peanut brittle and milk flan’ (Mithun 2010: 45).

  • 4 When direct objects are coordinated, they are usually followed by a dummy 3pl pronoun ō.

43In parallel to Kapampangan, in Mano, components of N+V combinations, even highly idiomatical ones, can be coordinated. So gbóó and yí, in examples (6) and (7), can as well be coordinated; therefore, the verb can form a combination with a complex nominal structure:4

(16)

pḭ̄à̰

yí

wà

gbóó

ɓō.

3sg.pst

story

interior

and

sobbing

3pl

Implement

44(S)he explained a story and sobbed’.

(17)

gbìnìlà

wà

gèlè

gɔ̰̄.

3pl.pret

hiding

and

war

3pl

fight

45‘They hided and started a war’.

46In rare cases, however, the coordination is not accepted:

(18)

*Là

sà̰ā̰

wà

fḭ́

wāà 

ɲɛ̄.

3sg.poss

work

and

3sg

tiredness

3pl.prf

finish

47Intended meaning: ‘His work was done and he was tired’ (literal translation: ‘his work and his tiredness finished’).

48Typically, the coordination is not accepted when one of the N+V combinations also governs some obligatory post-verbal element. As such, the coordinated structure requires that this element be shared by both combinations while it semantically belongs only to one. It may be this conflict that leads to the ungrammaticality of the following example:

(19)

*Ī

fà̰á̰

wà

kɔ̀

wàà

kpòò

yí.

2sg.pret

2sg

force

and

2sg

hand

enter

box

in

49Intended meaning: ‘You took the courage and put your hand in the box’.

50Indeed, the expression ‘take the courage in the box’ does not make much sense, which is why the sentence was ruled out as ungrammatical.

4.2 Lexical Integrity Hypothesis

51According to the Lexical Integrity Hypothesis, parts of words cannot serve as referents for subsequent pronouns (Bresnan & Mchombo 1995). Thus, in English, one cannot say *I went berry-picking and picked a lot of them. However, in Kapampagnan, a linked nominal can serve as the antecedent of a pronominal.

(20)

Kuma=la=ng

mitsa,

sindian=de.

get=3pl.abs=lk

wick

ignite=3pl/3sg

52‘They will get a wick and ignite it’ (Mithun 2010: 48).

53In the example above, the noun mitsa ‘wick’ is incorporated, which is indicated by the presence of the linker =ng on the verb; however, this noun also serves as the antecedent to the third-person pronominal clitic =de on the verb sindian ‘to ignite’.

54In Mano, the nominal part of a N+V combination can be pronominalized, which is a violation of the Lexical Integrity Hypothesis. In example (21a), gbóó ‘sobbing’ serves as the antecedent for the pronoun in example (21b), and this pronoun is incorporated in the portmanteau form of the auxiliary:

(21a)

gbóó

ɓōō?

3sg.pst

sobbing

implement.q

55Did she sob?’ (literal translation: ‘did she implement sobbing?’)

(21b)

Ŋ̀ŋ̀,

ɓō.

yes

3sg.pst>3sg

implement

56‘Yes, she did’ (literal translation: ‘yes, she implemented it’).

57Other examples of combinations where this criterion worked include: ɓáà ɓō ‘slander’, ɓàlà sí ‘run’.

58The only N+V combination where the criterion did not work among my samples was fíé kɛ̄ ‘be lazy’.

4.3. (Non)‑continuity of the combination

59A final piece of evidence suggesting the morphosyntactic bond between the components of the N+V combination is the elements’ abilities to separate. In Dutch, nouns can be incorporated into N+V compounds, and the characteristic feature of such nouns is the loss of definiteness marking. In the aan het infinitive constructions, however, nominal and verbal parts can optionally be separated. Such is the case for the N+V combination piano spelen ‘to play the piano’:

(22)

Jan

is

[piano

aan

het

spel-en/aan

het

piano

spel-en]

John

is

[piano

at

the

play-inf/at

the

piano

play-inf]

60‘John is playing the piano’ (Booij 2010: 100).

61In Mano, parts of the N+V combination are systematically detachable. In example (23), gbóó is relativized, extraposed to the left, as always happens in relativization (Khachaturyan 2014), and indexed in the portmanteau form of the 3sg auxiliary .

(23)

Gbóó

ɓō

kɛ̄

bùò.

sobbing.foc

2sg.pst>3sg

implement

top

3sg.pst

be

big

62‘The sobbing that she implemented was big’.

63The same extraposition may happen in more idiomatic expressions, such as yí ɓō ‘explain’, as in example (24b). The relative clause in example (24) semantically functions like a complex clause with a cause‑and‑effect relation between the parts. In all the examples I tested, the extraposition was accepted.

(24a)

Pḭ̄à̰

lɛ́

yí

ɓō

ā....

story

foc

3sg.prf>3sg

interior

implement

top

(24b)

Pḭ̄à̰

yí

lɛ́

ɓō

ā...

story

interior

foc

3sg.prf>3sg

implement

top

64Since she (already) explained this story (I have nothing to add)’ (literal translation: ‘the story that she explained’).

65Ultimately, in Mano, components of the N+V combinations violate the morphosyntactic criterion distinguishing compounds from free combinations of lexemes. Nominal parts can coordinate, in violation of the No Phrase Constraint, and serve as antecedents of pronouns, in violation of the Lexical Integrity Hypothesis. Finally, nominal and verbal components are also systematically detachable in certain contexts.

5. Semantics of N+V combinations

66The most common semantic criterion of compounding is of an idiomatic quality. This, however, is a scalar phenomenon as it does not directly split N+V combinations into two groups (Kavka 2009). Consider the following combinations in Mano; their idiomatic nature can be said to increase from top to bottom:

Scheme 1: Idiomaticity in Mano N+V combinations

67sà̰ā̰ kɛ̄ <work + do> ‘to work’

68sɔ̰́ɔ̰́ dɔ̄ <tooth + put> ‘bite’

69sà̰ kɛ̄ <disdain + do> ‘to disdain’

70sà̰ dɔ̄ <disdain + put> ‘to prefer’

71líé tó <edge + leave> ‘stop’

72zò dɔ̄ <heart + put> ‘trust’

73The semantic non-compositionality of the N+V combinations was observed by V. Vydrin (2009) in his study of preverbs in Dan-Gweetaa, another South Mande language. The term “preverb” as I will use it corresponds to the nominal components of N+V combinations. The class of preverbs that Vydrin distinguished includes mainly elements homonymous to nouns with locative semantics and only some other elements in exceptional cases. Crucially, in Dan-Gweetaa, preverbs can be followed by various kinds of determinatives and adjectives whose scope is not limited to the preverb but extends to the whole preverb-verb combination:

(25a)

Gbȁtȍ

ɤ̄

ɓā

ɗēbʌ̏

tȁ-kṵ́.

P.N.

3sg.prf

3sg.refl

poss

woman

surface-grasp

74‘Gbato helped his wife’.

(25b)

ɓā

ɗēbʌ̏

tȁ

ɗʌ̰̀

ɤ́’

kṵ̄.

3sg.refl

poss

woman

surface

foc

3sg.jnt-3sg

grasp.jnt

75‘It was helping his wife that he did’.

(25c)

Gbȁtȍ

ɤ̄

ɓā

ɗēbʌ̏

tȁ=ɗṵ̏

kṵ́.

P.N.

3sg.prf

3sg.refl

poss

woman

surface=pl

grasp

76‘Gbato helped his wife several times’.

(25d)

Gbȁtȍ

ɤ̄

ɓā

ɗēbʌ̏

ɓā

kṵ́.

P.N.

3sg.prf

3sg.refl

poss

woman

surface

art

3sg

grasp

77‘Gbato helped his wife (in the affair and in the manner that were previously discussed)’ (Vydrin 2009: 77-78).

78Example (25a) illustrates a typical verb with a “preverb”, which is homonymous to a spatial noun, tȁ ‘surface’, and the semantics of this combination is non-compositional, tȁ kṵ́ <surface + take> ‘help’. The verb and preverb are detached in (25b), which serves as an example of focalization with the determinative ɗʌ̰̀. Interestingly, when a preverb is followed by the plural marker ɗṵ̏, as in (25c), the scope of the marker encompasses the overall combination. The marker does not index nominal plurality but rather the multiplicative aspect: ‘help multiple times’. Similarly, the article ɓā, as in (25d), does not modify only the preverb but the whole combination, acquiring the meaning ‘provide that help’ or ‘help in that particular affair or in that particular manner’. According to Vydrin, the scope of the preverbal element’s modifiers determines whether a certain element should be considered a preverb.

79N. Makeeva carefully studied the possibility for modifiers of N to be inserted into the N+V combinations as well as the semantic scope of these modifiers. Her study was based on material from the Kla‑Dan language (Makeeva 2009). She found out that, in Kla‑Dan, not all combinations of verbs with preverbal elements allow for the modifiers to be inserted; moreover, the scope of modifiers may vary for the exact same combination.

(26a)

ȁ

ɓáálá

gɔ̏-dɔ̀.

3sg.prf

3sg

work

head-put

80‘He finished the work’.

(26b)

ȁ

ɓáálá

gɔ̏

dɤ̋ŋ̋dɤ̏ŋ̏

dɔ̀.

3sg.prf

3sg

work

head

difficult

put

81‘He finished a difficult part of the work’.

(26c)

ȁ

ɓáálá

gɔ̏

kɤ̀ɤ̋lʌ̰́

dɔ̀.

3sg.prf

3sg

work

head

short

put

82‘He quickly finished the work’.

83(26a) is a simple example of a verb with a preverb, gɔ̏-dɔ̀ <head + put> ‘finish’. In (26b), an adjective dɤ̋ŋ̋dɤ̏ŋ̏ ‘difficult’ follows the preverb gɔ̏. As well, the adjective preserves its lexical meaning and does not extend over the whole combination. In (26c), however, the adjective kɤ̀ɤ̋lʌ̰́ ‘short’ does take scope encompassing the combination and acquires an adverbial function ‘quickly’.

84In Mano, very few modifiers can be used in N+V combinations, and their meaning is relatively unidiomatic. Among the modifiers that combine with the majority of tested verbs, the plural marker vɔ̀ and the adjective dɛ̄ɛ̄ ‘new’ are notable.

(27)

*Ŋ̄

pḭ̄à̰

ɓɛ̄

yí

vɔ̀

ɓō.

1sg.pst

story

dem

interior

pl

take.off

85Intended meaning: ‘I told this story several times’.

(28)

ŋ̄

lé

vɔ̀

tā.

3pl.pst

1sg

mouth

pl

close

86‘They cheated me several times’ (literal translation: ‘they closed my mouth’-pl).

87Example (27) illustrates the impossibility for the plural marker to be used with the N+V combination yí ɓō ‘explain, tell (a story)’. In example (28), such usage is possible with the combination lé tā ‘cheat’. The marker has scope encompassing the whole construction, and the meaning is ‘several times’, just like in the Dan‑Gweetaa example above (25c).

88N+V combinations in Mano manifest various degrees of semantic integration of the components: certain combinations are semantically non-compositional and nominal components may have modifiers with a scope encompassing the whole combination.

6. Argument assignment in N+V combinations

89This section introduces syntactico-semantic criteria distinguishing N+V compounds and free NP+V combinations based on the way in which the external argument is assigned.

6.1. Argument sharing vs non-sharing

90Typically, N+V compounds analyzed in the literature are intransitive. We have seen that intransitive morphology and such cases serve as evidence promoting the compound status of the combination. Below an additional example from Tongan (Oceanic) is provided for consideration. In (29a), the construction is transitive: the direct object, kavá ‘kava’, is marked by the absolutive case while the subject, Sione ‘John’, is marked by the ergative case. In the case of incorporation, as in (29b), the noun kavá ‘kava’ is unmarked for any case while the subject is marked by the absolutive case, which demonstrates the intransitive status of the construction.

(29a)

Na’e

Inu

‘a

e

kavá

‘é

Sione.

pst

drink

abs

conn

kava

erg

John

91‘John drank the kava’.

(29b)

Na’e

inu

kavá

‘a

Sione.

pst

drink

kava

abs

John

92‘John kava‑drank’ (Churchward 1953; Mithun 1984: 851).

93It certain cases, however, the N+V combinations can license their own arguments. This process is known as the manipulation of case in noun incorporation where the incorporated noun loses its argument status while the oblique argument is advanced into the case position, having been vacated by the incorporated noun (Mithun 1984). The example below illustrates this process in Kurmanjî Kurdish (Indo-European):

(30)

Ew-î

ez

gelek

bi

xweşî

qebûl

kir-im[...]

3sg-obl

1sg

much

with

pleasure

acceptance

do:pst-1sg

94‘He accepted/welcomed me (into his home) with great pleasure [...]’ (Haig 2002: 26).

95In the preceding example, the N+V combination qebûl kirim governs a first person sg. direct object that is indexed in the agreement suffix –im.

96Sometimes, the external argument of Kurdish N+V combinations can be interpreted as a possessor of the noun.

(31)

zanî-bû

ku

pîrik-a

3sg:obl

know:pst-ppf

comp

fut

grandmother-lk:f

3sg:obl

alîkari-ya

bi-k-e.

help-lk:f

3sg:obl

irr:do:pres-3sg

97‘He knew that his grandmother would help him’ (literal translation: ‘do his help’) (Haig 2002: 30).

98In this previous example, the second , marked by bold characters, is a possessor of the noun alîkariya ‘help’ and is connected to the noun via the linking morpheme –ya. For this reason, cannot be considered a direct object of the N+V combination, a designation contrasting with example (30).

99In the extant literature, several approaches have been suggested to analyze the syntactic relationship of the N+V combination and the external argument. One approach is to assign valency to the combination; it is the combination as a whole that licenses additional arguments and, in the case of additional direct objects, becomes transitive. This is the case for classical incorporating languages and is illustrated by examples (9) and (14). The argument sharing approach suggests that both the verb and the noun within the N+V combination assign arguments: the verb assigns the noun while the noun assigns the external arguments, as in example (31) (Jackendoff 1974; Mohanan 1997). The latter approach, however, raises important concerns. In particular, no clear criteria have been articulated to determine what nouns assign external arguments and what nouns are properly incorporated, in which case the external arguments are assigned by the N+V combination. Moreover, a uniform analysis for either of these terms may not apply to any particular language. As a result, in Kurdish the situation is clearly mixed; the argument sharing can be supported with certain non-incorporated N+V combinations, while in cases of noun incorporation, the external argument is assigned by the combination itself (Haig 2002).

100In what follows, I will analyze the relationship between the valency properties of nouns and verbs as parts of the N+V combination and the valency properties of the combinations themselves. I will show that, in Mano, just like in Kurdish, the argument sharing approach fails in certain N+V combinations and that, in these cases, the external argument must be assigned only by the combination itself. These combinations should be considered more syntactically and semantically bound than those combinations where the external argument is assigned by the combination’s nominal component.

6.2. Nominal valency and the transitivity of the N+V combination

101All transitive verbs in Mano are always accompanied by a direct object, whether it is a full noun phrase, a pronoun, or a dummy noun, such as pɛ̄ ‘thing’.

(32a)

sí.

3sg.pst

3sg

take

102‘He took it’.

(32b)

wìì

sí.

3sg.pst

animal

take

103‘He took the animal’.

104All verbs occurring in N+V combinations can be used independently of the noun in a transitive construction. Even when used as part of the N+V combination, verbs retain their valency properties; this becomes especially clear when the nominal part is pronominalized. Consider example (17) repeated below:

(33a)

gbóó

ɓōō?

3sg.pst

sobbing

implement.q

105Did she sob?’ (literal translation: ‘did she implement sobbing?’)

(33b)

Ŋ̀ŋ̀,

ɓō.

yes

3sg.pst>3sg

implement

106‘Yes, she did’. (literal translation: ‘yes, she implemented it’)

107Nouns in Mano are typically divided into two syntactic classes: alienably possessed (free‑standing) nouns and inalienably possessed (relational) nouns. The latter class includes prototypical, inalienably possessed nouns, such as body parts (zò ‘heart’), kinship terms (dàā ‘father’), spatial terms (yí ‘interior’) (on the semantics of inalienable possession, see Nichols 1988), as well as names of physical or abstract properties (ɲɔ́nɔ́ ‘taste’, tɔ̀nɔ̄ ‘benefit’, fàŋá ‘strength’, lɔ̀ɔ̀ ‘love [to someone]’, etc.). Inalienably possessed or relational, nouns are usually accompanied by their arguments, though there are some exceptions (Khachaturyan 2015: 7

1086-80). Thus, the noun kīī ‘skin’ can be used with or without the possessive argument.

(34)

Kīī

wɛ̄

lɛ̄

wìì

kīī

ká.

skin

dem

3sg.exi

animal

skin

with

109‘This skin is an animal skin’.

110The arguments of inalienably possessed nouns are encoded by the basic set of pronouns or by a full noun phrase adjacent to the head noun. Alienably possessed nouns do not take arguments but can be modified by possessor adjuncts, which are encoded by a special set of possessive pronouns. See examples (35) and (36), contrasting alienably and inalienably possessed nouns:

(35a)

kpákāá

3sg

leg

111‘his leg’ (the noun ‘leg’ is relational, i.e. normally takes an argument.)

(35b)

wìì

kpákāá

animal

leg

112‘animal leg’

(36a)

là

ká

3sg.poss

house

113‘his house’ (the noun ‘house’ does not normally take an argument.)

(36b)

Pèé

là

ká

PN

3sg.poss

House

114‘Pe’s house’

115Significantly, inalienable possessors are marked the same way as direct objects: compare (32a) and (35a), also (32b) and (35b). In view of this striking similarity between the accusative and the genitive position, N+V combinations, like the following examples, can be analyzed in two ways:

(37)

pḭ̄à̰

yí

ɓō.

3sg.pst

story

interior

implement

NPdo

[N

V]V

[Nposs

Nrel]do

V

116(S)he told a story’.

117These combinations can be analyzed either as a “transitive,” as I call it, combination yí ɓō ‘explain’, which selects pḭ̄à̰ ‘story’ as its direct objet, or as a simple transitive verb, ɓō ‘leave’, having as its direct object pḭ̄à̰ yí, an inalienably possessed noun yí ‘interior,’ which is preceded by its possessor, pḭ̄à̰ ‘story’. In the transitive case, the argument pḭ̄à̰ ‘story’ can be said to be assigned by the whole combination, yí ɓō ‘explain’. The simple transitive analysis is an example of argument sharing. In what follows, I am suggesting arguments specifically in favor of one or the other interpretation.

6.2.1. A mismatch between the transitivity of the combination and the valency of the noun5

  • 5 In her study of “preverbs” in Guro, O. Kusnetsova made a similar observation that the “preverbs” th (...)

118In the majority of cases, if the nominal item in the combination is an inalienably possessed noun, then the combination itself is “transitive”. This is the case for yí ‘interior, inal’ and yí ɓō ‘explain, tr’. The combination can also be “reflexive”, if the possessor of the noun is co-referential to the subject. This is the case in example (38): wɛ̄lɛ̄ ‘face’ is an inalienably possessed noun, and the combination wɛ̄lɛ̄ yèlè ‘be enraged’ selects a “direct object” co-referential to the subject.

(38)

Lɛ̄

wɛ̄lɛ̄

yèlè-pɛ̀lɛ̀.

3sg.exi

3sg.refl

face

attach-inf

119‘He is enraged’. (literal translation: he is attaching his own face)

120If the nominal item is alienably possessed, then the combination is “intransitive”. This is the case for gbóó ‘sobbing, al’ and gbóó ɓō ‘sob, intr’. See more matching examples in Table 1:

Table 1: Matching nominal valency and transitivity

líé tó

terminate

edge + leave

inal.

tr.

sùū káá

exterminate

type + pour

inal.

tr.

wɛ̄lɛ̄ yèlè

be enraged

face + attach

inal.

refl.

wúú káá

breathe out

breath + pour

inal.

refl.

wóó káá

bark

barking + pour

al.

intr.

yáá kɛ̄

be sick

illness + do

al.

intr.

yìé ɓōo

weave

cotton + implement

al.

intr.

yɛ́lɛ̀ kɛ̄

be ashamed

shame + do

al.

intr.

121When the nominal valency matches with transitivity, both analysis, argument sharing, and argument licensing by the combination are equally plausible. Sometimes, however, the valency of the noun and of the combination do not match.

122Lɛ́ɛ́ ‘leaf’, as a significant part of a plant, is inalienably possessed.

(39a)

yílí

lɛ́ɛ́

tree

leaf

123‘leaf of a tree’

(39b)

lɛ́ɛ́

3sg

leaf

124‘its leaf’

125The combination lɛ́ɛ́ ɓō ‘unveil’ is intransitive, though, and the semantic theme of the complex verb is expressed by a postpositional phrase.

(40)

lɛ́ɛ́

ɓō

kàā

là.

3sg.pst

leaf

implement

theft

on

126‘She unveiled the theft’.

127Vɔ̰́ɔ̰́ ‘wasp’ is an alienably possessed noun; however, the combination vɔ̰́ɔ̰́ ɓō ‘get rid of’ is transitive:

(41a)

wà

vɔ̰́ɔ̰́

3pl.poss

wasp

128‘their wasp’

(41b)

Kɔ̄à

vɔ̰́ɔ̰́

ɓō

kō

mɔ̀.

1pl.prf

3pl

wasp

take.off

1pl

on

129‘We got rid of them’.

130Similar, non-matching examples are presented in Table 2:

Table 2: Non-matching nominal valency and transitivity

kɔ̀ vɔ̄

dominate

hand + send

inal.

intr.

ɲɛ̀ɛ̀ kɛ̄

cure

medicine + do

al.

tr.

náá kpɔ́

curse

sin + put

al.

tr.

lɔ́ɔ́ dɔ̄

trade

trade + put

al.

tr.

131In these cases, it is the combination that licenses its arguments, and their expression is not motivated by the valency properties of the noun. The argument sharing approach, therefore, cannot be applied in such cases.

6.2.2. Noun’s possessor does not semantically match the combination’s theme

132In N+V combinations where semantics is more or less compositional, the two syntactic interpretations from example (37), “NPdo [N V]V” versus “[Nposs Nrel]do V”, could be considered paraphrases. Thus, in the case of the combination ɓólōŋ̀ ɓō <scratch take.off> ‘scratch’, “nɛ́do [ɓólōŋ̀ ɓō]V” ‘scratch a child’, this could be a paraphrase of “[nɛ́poss ɓólōŋ̀rel]do ɓō” ‘take off a child’s scratch’. This is not the case for highly idiomatic combinations, so, pḭ̄à̰do [yí ɓō]V ‘tell a story’ is not a paraphrase of [pḭ̄à̰poss yírel]do ɓō ‘take off interior’s story’.

133In other cases, where the degree of idiomaticity is low, there may still be a mismatch between the noun’s possessor and the combination’s theme. Consider the following example:

(42)

sɔ̰́ɔ̰́

dɔ̄.

2sg.pst

3sg

teeth

put

NPdo

[N

V]

*[Nposs

Nrel]do

V

134‘You bit him’, NOT ‘you put his teeth’.

135It is imaginable that ‘put teeth’ could be a paraphrase of ‘bite’, as biting is, in a sense, putting one’s teeth on something. Yet, ‘put his (someone else’s) teeth’ is not a paraphrase of ‘bite him’. Consider other transitive verbs with the same disparity: kɔ̀ dīē <hand pass> ‘exaggerate with smth’ (to pass someone else’s hand) and ɲɛ̀ɛ̄ kɛ̄ <eye do> ‘guard’ (to do someone else’s eye). Again, in these cases, the argument is licensed by the combination, so the argument sharing approach does not work.

6.2.3. Circularity of valency assignment

  • 6 In her study of verbal morphosyntax in the Guro language, O. Kuznetsova includes into the class of (...)

136There is a significant number of N+V combinations where the verbal root is preceded by an action‑denoting root.6 This verbal root functions like a light verb and does not contribute to the semantics of the combination; as well, the nominal part cannot be used independently from the verb in question, like in examples (43b) and (44b).

137Some of these combinations are “transitive”:

(43a)

ŋwɔ́

yā

fɛ̀yɛ́

zɛ̄.

3sg.pst

problem

dem

explanation

kill

(43b)

*Ē

ŋwɔ́

yā

fɛ̀yɛ́.

3sg.pst

problem

dem

explanation

138‘He explained this problem in details’.

(44a)

Ŋ̄

míá

yā

sà̰

dɔ̄.

1sg.pst 

person.pl:foc

dem

disdain

put

(44b)

*Ŋ̄

míá

yā

sà̰.

1sg.pst 

person.pl:foc

dem

disdain

139‘I despised these people’.

140Some combinations are intransitive but license a postpositional phrase:

(45)

Mɛ̄nɛ́ēkɛ̄lɛ́

ɓáà

ɓō

ŋ̄

mɔ́ɔ̀ŋwɔ̀mɔ̀?

why

1sg.pst

abandon

implement

1sg

because.of

141‘Why did you abandon me?’

(46)

ɓàkà

ɓō

mɔ̀.

3pl.pst

slander

implement

2sg

on

142‘They slandered you’.

143Table 3 provides more examples of N+V combinations with action-denoting nominals:

Table 3: N+V combinations with action-denoting nominals

combination

meaning

meaning of the light verb

postpositional argument

transitivity

fɔ́lɔ́sí kpɔ́

force

put

smb là

intr.

kɛ́í kɛ̄

decline

do

smth mɔ̀

intr.

bàlà sí

run

take

intr.

lèɓō gèē

whisper

say

intr.

ŋwɔ̀ɔ̀ŋwɔ̀ɔ̀ sí

buzz

take

intr.

sɔ̀lɔ̄ ɓō

get

implement

it

súò kɛ̄

call

do

tr.

vɛ̀ì zɛ̄

neglect

kill

tr.

léà ɓō

put shame on smb.

implement

tr.

144The argument expression appears to be arbitrary and is not licensed by the light verb. If such action-denoting roots were to be considered independent nouns, then there would be no way to assign their valency except by referring to the valency properties of the combination (if the combination is “transitive”, then the nouns are inalienably possessed; but, if the combination is “intransitive”, then the nouns are alienably possessed). The valency of the combination, though, would then depend on the valency of the nominal part. Thus, if we consider that the valency is assigned by the whole combination, then it will allow us to avoid this circularity in valency assignment.

145This analysis of the argument structure in Mano suggests that the argument sharing approach, which assigns the properties of argument licensing to the nominal component, does not apply in certain N+V combinations. In these cases, it is the combination as a whole that governs the external argument. Such combinations are more syntactically and semantically bound than free NP+V combinations.

7. Conclusion

146Compounding in general, and N+V compounding in particular, is notoriously difficult to define since many criteria are in play in crafting such definitions (Lieber & Štekauer 2009; Aikhenvald 2009). None of these criteria indicates that there is a straightforward answer to the question: what should be considered a compound, and what should not? “Compoundhood”, like “wordhood”, is a scalar phenomenon rather than a binary category (Haspelmath 2011). In languages with poor morphology, like Mano, the task is even more difficult. No phonological, morphological, or straightforward syntactic criteria work in favor of the compound interpretation in this language. Many syntactic criteria, such as the No Phrase Constraint, the Lexical Integrity Hypothesis, and the discontinuity of N+V combinations are against the compound interpretation. Nevertheless, semantic criteria, such as idiomaticity and the scope of the modifiers, points to a more semantically bound status of certain N+V combinations. Moreover, the argument structure of certain N+V combinations — namely, the contradiction and the circularity of valency assignment in the nominal component and the combination itself — makes them more semantically and syntactically bound than the corresponding free combination of a direct object NP and a verb. As different criteria are often in contradiction with one another, however, there is no neat division to be held between the class of compounds and the class of free NP+V combinations.

Abbreviations

abs

absolutive

erg

ergative

obl

oblique

al.

alienable

exi

existential

pl

plural

aor

aorist

f

feminine

pn

proper noun

art

article

foc

focus

poss

possessive

aux

auxiliary

fut

future

ppf

pluperfect

caus

causative

jnt

conjoint

pres

present

comp

complementizer

inal.

inalienable

prf

perfect

conn

connector

inf

infinitive

pst

past

cs

construct state

intr.

intransitive

refl

reflexive

def

definite

irr

irrealis

sg

singular

dem

demonstrative

lk

linker

top

topic

distr

distributive

n

noun

tr.

transitive

do

direct object

np

noun phrase

v

verb

Borik, Olga. & Berit. Gehrke. 2015. The Syntax and semantics of pseudo-incorporation. Leiden ; Boston : Brill.

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Notes

1 I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers whose valuable suggestions helped me to restructure my argumentation. I am grateful to Pe Mamy for his patience with our work on the questionnaires and wordlists. Finally, I would like to thank the Fyssen Foundation and William F. Hanks who supported the present research.

2 In this paper, I analyze only the N+V combinations where the nominal part directly precedes the verb; however, there exists a large class of N+V idiomatic expressions where the noun and the verb are separated by an auxiliary. For the sake of simplicity, these constructions will not be analyzed in this paper:

Image 10000000000000F6000000691F3B93C3.jpg

‘He has had a rest’ (literal translation: ‘his tiredness has stopped).

3 In Kapampangan, constituents of a phrase are typically linked by the enclitic =ng. In example (15), the second token of the enclitic =ng forms a nominal compound tahadang mani ‘peanut brittle’.

4 When direct objects are coordinated, they are usually followed by a dummy 3pl pronoun ō.

5 In her study of “preverbs” in Guro, O. Kusnetsova made a similar observation that the “preverbs” that derive from inalienably possessed nouns may lose their valency characteristics. Thus, in Guro, the preverb bɛ̄, derived from the inalienably possessed noun bɛ̄ ‘hand’, and it does not require a possessor when it occurs in the combination bɛ̄ jɛ̄ <hand beat> ‘clap the hands’:

Image 10000000000001DB000000793949C2AA.jpg

‘The girls are clapping their hands in the moon light’ (Kuznetsova 2013: 78).

6 In her study of verbal morphosyntax in the Guro language, O. Kuznetsova includes into the class of preverbs elements that derive from alienably possessed nouns and combine with desemanticized verbs: yɛ̰̄ɛ̰̄-jɛ̄ ‘dream’ (yɛ̰̄ɛ̰̄ ‘dream’, jɛ̄ ‘beat’) and vìè-wʋ̄ ‘lie’ (vìè ‘lie’, wʋ̄ ‘bear’) (Kuznetsova 2013: 74). It is these nouns, not the verbs, that contribute the most to the semantics of the corresponding combination.

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Référence électronique

Maria Khachaturyan, « Bound noun plus verb combinations in Mano », Mandenkan [En ligne], 57 | 2017, mis en ligne le 14 décembre 2017, consulté le 21 octobre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/mandenkan/1026 ; DOI : 10.4000/mandenkan.1026

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Auteur

Maria Khachaturyan

US Berkeley, Anthropology Department — LLACAN
mashaha@gmail.com

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