LINGUIST List 15.2524

Fri Sep 10 2004

Qs: Verb Movement & No Morphology, Languages?

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  1. Mark de Vos, Verb movement and no morphology: languages?

Message 1: Verb movement and no morphology: languages?

Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 11:51:03 -0400 (EDT)
From: Mark de Vos <>
Subject: Verb movement and no morphology: languages?

Dear colleagues,

Does anybody know of languages with the following characteristics:

a) No verbal markers for finiteness, tense, person, number etc on
lexical verbs

b) Overt movement of lexical verbs into the functional/IP domain (or
to C) in at least some context. eg. It is possible that some
languages may only exhibit verb movement in the past tense etc (cf
Baker and Stewart, 1998 on Edo).

One such language is Afrikaans which exhibits verb-second behaviour
but has no verbal morphology to speak of on lexical verbs (modals and
auxiliaries have suppletive variants). `Tensed' lexical verbs are
thus identical to their `infintival' counterparts. I'm working on
Afrikaans verb movement at the moment and would very much like to
compare it to other languages with similar properties. The problem is
that languages with these two properties seem to be particularly rare.
I have asked some Dutch creolists who say that other Dutch creoles
don't have observable verb movement.

The particular phenomenon I am looking at is the `complex initial' in
Afrikaans, where there appear to be more than one verb in the second
position of a verb-second clause.

1)	a. 	Daar [laat] hy die kop val	
		there let he the cup fall
		`There he goes and drops the cup'
	b.	Daar [laat val] hy die kop
		there let fall he the cup
		`There he goes and drops the cup'

Since this type of construction is unique to Afrikaans among the
Germanic languages, and Afrikaans is also the only one of these
languages that completely lacks any kind of verbal marking, it makes
sense to see if there is a link between these. This is why I'd like
to see what other languages with these properties are capable of.

Needless to say, a summary of the results of this query will be posted
to the list.

Mark (de Vos) 
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