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Do., 31. März



TALK: Menán du Plessis (Stellenbosch University)

Deficient verbs in TUU languages, with particular reference to ǀXam: a preliminary survey


31. März 2022, 16:00 MESZ



The verb system of ǀXam was extremely complex. In this presentation, the focus will be only on the deficient verbs and some of the auxiliaries. The latter are included since deficient verbs frequently undergo further stages of grammaticalisation, in the course of which they can become components of the auxiliary. The presence of such verbs in ǀXam was noticed by Wilhelm Bleek, and the sixteen deficient verbs illustrated and discussed here – following a brief explanation of what they are– will be mainly the ones he identified. When it comes to the epistemic modalities reflected in both lists, it will be apparent that it is difficult to tease apart such distinctions as Probablity, Possibility, Certainty and Belief. This is largely because the translations offered by Bleek and Lloyd tended to merge into one another, and typically involved the repeated use of words such as ‘truly’, ‘altogether’, ‘surely’, ‘probably’, ‘really’ and ‘seems’. (It might be wondered whethere we are not perhaps dealing with evidential strategies here, but it seems preferable to be cautious about invoking this concept, at least for the moment.) A further difficulty is that Bleek’s transcriptions were not consistent, and sometimes differered from those provided by Lloyd. Before closing, a brief survey will be undertaken of some of the related languages within TUU, to seek out any similar patterns of use and even potentially cognate items. Here it will need to be kept in mind that a deficient verb used in one language may show up in a related language as a verb that is potentially cognate, but which is used instead as an auxiliary, or with a different grammatical meaning.

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