KACL Lecture Series

#10 : Tej R. Kansakar
Professor, Tribhuvan University
Title: Causative Constructions in Newar Language
Date : Octover 31, 2001, 17:00--18:30
Place : Meeting Room, located on the 3rd Floor of Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Kobe University

The causative construction in Newar is one aspect of its morpho-syntax that has not received much attention in the published grammars of the language. The purpose of this paper will thus be to examine how morphological processes are applied to the complex patterns of lexical and syntactic causative formations, and their productive uses in spoken and written discourse. The formation of causatives in Newar is normally achieved by the affixation of a bound morpheme <-k-> (with surface variants ミk-i, -k-e, -k-_, -kal) to a verb stem and the addition of an appropriate argument. The affixation of an additional <-k-> to an auxiliary verb such as 'give' or 'leave' and another agentive argument to an already causativised verb results in multiple causative constructions. This is traditionally known as direct and indirect causation with agentive causer and patientive or agentive causee. The morphological and lexical causatives, including the suppletive causatives, will first be related to their verb classes and analysed as finite verb forms with regular inflectional markings irrespective of their transitive and intransitive functions. From a syntactic point of view, causative actions can be extended to a number of agentive nominals in the resultant causative chain. While it is appealing to show that the number of causative morphemes correlates with the number of agentives in a sentence, the paper will point out certain syntactic problems in this approach. The first problem has to do with the relation between subject and agent, and in this I recognize Permutter's (1980) three classes of verbs : transitive, unergative and unaccusative to explain the nature of grammatical relations in Newar causative constructions. The second problem poses the question of whether there is a one-to-one correspondence between agentive nominals and causative events. In this context, I introduce the distinction between intentional and non-intentional causatives where a reduplicated causative morpheme can serve as an intensifier without adding an agentive argument. I assume that the causative-intensive constructions may provide important evidence for typological distinctions among the other Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal. I shall also provide limited data on causative formations in a few T-B and I-A languages of Nepal without attempting to draw any conclusions from them.
  • Kansakar, Tej R. 1982. 'Morphophonemics of the Newar Verb'. In: Tej. R. Kansakar (Ed.) Occasional Papers in Nepalese Linguistics, Vol. 1, 12-29. Kathmandu: Linguistic Society of Nepal.
  • Malla, Kamal P. 1983. 'Suppletive Causatives in Newari'. A Paper presented to the 4th Conference of the Linguistic Society of Nepal.
  • Malla, Kamal P. 1985. The Newari Language : A Working Outline. Tokyo : Institute of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa. Monumenta Serindica Series 14.
  • Matisoff, James A. 1976. 'Lahu Causative constructions : Case Hierarchies and the Morphology / Syntax Cycle in a Tibeto-Burman Perspective'. In: Masayoshi Shibatani (Ed.) Syntax and Semantics 6: 413-442. New York : Academic Press.
  • Permutter, David. 1980. 'Relational Grammar'. In: Edith Moravcsik and Jessica Wirth (Eds.) Syntax and Semantics 13, 195-230. New York: Academic Press.


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