Derived ideophones in Amharic and beyond

Abstract : Among the Ethiosemitic languages spoken in Ethiopia, Amharic is known for its frequent use and large variety of ideophones as coverbs in complex predicates, which have the respective verbs for ‘to say, do, make’ as light verb. Generally, these complex predicates with a quotative verb as light verb and an ideophone as coverb (better known as “compound verbs” in Ethiopian linguistics) has been proposed as an areal feature of Northeast Africa (e.g. Azeb & Dimmendaal 2005; Güldemann 2005; Cohen, Simeone-Senelle & Vanhove 2002); it is also sporadically found in Semitic languages outside this area (Goldenberg 2013: 224–225). Lexical (i.e. basic non-derived, often onomatopoetic) ideophones are common in all languages in Northeast Africa (and beyond), while constructions with a repeated noun as coverb, which denotes a specific sensory impression, are found in many Ethiopian languages, e.g. Amharic ʧ’äw~ʧ’äw jɨlall (salt~salt 3SM.say\IPFV:NPST) ‘it is salty’. Moreover, Amharic developed an additional morphological device to derive ideophones from regular lexical roots. This phenomenon is rather rare in the languages of the world – it occurs in a few Bantu languages, like Cilubà (Kabuta 2001), Shona (Franck 2014), Tetela (Tassa 2001), but also in Bulgarian (Kovatcheva 2014) – whereas ideophones can more frequently be verbalized in various languages (cf. e.g. Azeb 2001). Amharic uses two prosodies to derive deverbal ideophones, namely the intensive pattern sɨbbɨrr alä ‘break completely (lit. say sɨbbɨrr)’ and the attenuative pattern säbärr alä ‘crack (lit. say säbärr)’ (Baye 1999; Wetter 2003), from the root √ s-b-r ‘break’, which derives also into the regular, semantically neutral verb säbbärä ‘break’. My paper will mainly deal with the morphological structure and the syntax/semantics of ideophones in Amharic. I will also identify the distribution of the three types of ideophones (basic, derived from nouns, derived from roots) across Ethiosemitic languages, with special attention to the deverbal type about which not much is known even with regard to Ethiosemitic languages, except Amharic. References Azeb Amha. 2001. Ideophones and compound verbs in Wolaitta. In Erhard F. K. Voeltz & Christa Kilian-Hatz (eds.), Ideophones, 49–62. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Azeb Amha & Gerrit J. Dimmendaal. 2005. Secondary predicates and adverbials in Nilotic and Omotic: A typological comparison. In Nikolaus P. Himmelmann & Eva Schultze-Berndt (eds.), Secondary predication and adverbial modification: the typology of depictives, 299–321. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Baye Yimam. 1999. The verb ‘to say’ in Amharic. Journal of Ethiopian Studies 32(1). 1–50. Cohen, David, Marie-Claude Simeone-Senelle & Martine Vanhove. 2002. The grammaticalization of ‘say’ and ‘do’: an areal phenomenon in East Africa. In Tom Güldemann & Manfred von Roncador (eds.), Reported discourse: a meeting ground for different linguistic domains, 227–251. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Franck, Genevieve E. 2014. Ideophones in Manyika Shona: a descriptive analysis of ideophones and their function in Manyika (Bantu). New York: State University of New York (BA Thesis). Goldenberg, Gideon. 2013. Semitic languages: features, structures, relations, processes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Güldemann, Tom. 2005. Complex predicates based on generic auxiliaries as an areal feature in Northeast Africa. In Erhard F. K. Voeltz (ed.), Studies in African Linguistic Typology, 131–154. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Kabuta, N. S. 2001. Ideophones in Cilubà. In Erhard F. K. Voeltz & Christa Kilian-Hatz (eds.), Ideophones, 139–154. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Kovatcheva, Mira. 2014. An unrecognized class of words in Bulgarian and their word-formation. Rivista de Linguistica 26(2). 183–208. Tassa, Obombe-Lukumbu. 2001. La formation des radicaux déidéphoniques et des idéophones déverbatifs en tɛtɛla (dialected ewango). In Erhard F. K. Voeltz & Christa Kilian-Hatz (eds.), Ideophones. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Wetter, Andreas. 2003. Ideophones in Amharic. In Kézié K. Lébikaza (ed.), Actes du 3e Congrès Mondial de Linguistique Africaine, Lomé 2000, 257–267. Colgne: Köppe.
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Ronny Meyer. Derived ideophones in Amharic and beyond. SLE 2019 – Workshop 8 Ideophones and Interjections, Aug 2019, Leipzig, Germany. ⟨hal-02377084⟩

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