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Ngiemboon verbal extensions: a new analysis

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The suffixed verbal extensions in Bantu are relatively well-known and there is a widely accepted set of meanings attributed to Proto-Bantu. By contrast, those in Bantoid languages are poorly studied and little-understood. Moreover, they are usually
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  i NGIEMBOON VERBAL EXTENSIONS: A NEW ANALYSIS   [DRAFT CIRCULATED FOR COMMENT]  Roger Blench Marieke MartinEtienne Lonfo Kay Williamson Educational Foundation CALDI Mbouda 8, Guest Road Cape Town Cambridge CB1 2AL South Africa United Kingdom Voice/Ans 0044-(0)1223-560687 Mobile worldwide (00-44)-(0) 7847-495590 E-mail rogerblench@yahoo.co.uk http://www.rogerblench.info/RBOP.htm This printout: Cambridge, September 16, 2015  i TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Introduction.................................................................................................................................................1   2. Analytic issues..............................................................................................................................................2   3. Candidates for verbal extensions...............................................................................................................2   3.1 A - le  extension? 3   3.2 A –  bE   extension? 3   3.3 A  –me  extension 4   3.4 An  –NV   extension? 4   3.5 Final -ɔ 4   3.6 A –tE extension 5   Vowel lengthening 5   Was there an extension marked by tone reversal? 6   4. Synthesis and comparison..........................................................................................................................7   5. Conclusion....................................................................................................................................................9   References........................................................................................................................................................9   APPENDIX....................................................................................................................................................10   TABLES Table 1. Synthesis of evidence for possible verbal extensions in Ngiemboon 7   Table 2. Proto-Bantu verbal extensions 8   Table 3. Ngiemboon verbs with potential extensions 10   ABBREVIATIONS C Consonant NNasal VVowel ABSTRACT The suffixed verbal extensions in Bantu are relatively well-known and there is a widely accepted set of meanings attributed to Proto-Bantu. By contrast, those in Bantoid languages are poorly studied and little-understood. Moreover, they are usually no longer productive, so their meaning and forms have to be deduced retrospectively from lexical analysis. The paper is based on a study preparatory to the newly  published dictionary of Ngiemboon, a Grassfields language of the Bamileke cluster. It shows that a series of extensions can be identified, but that the semantic scatter is considerable, making the attribution of a single meaning problematic. The results are compared with the closely related Ngomba, which shows some  parallels, and distant relatives, such as Yemba, which are very different. The conclusion must be that Grassfields languages have highly idiosyncratic processes of extension formation. Keywords; Ngiemboon; Bantoid; verbal extensions; morphology  Ngiemboon verbal extensions Roger Blench, Marieke Martin and Etienne Lonfo 1 1. Introduction Verbal extensions are a feature of many families of Niger-Congo and are characteristic of all branches of Benue-Congo (Hyman 2011). They are a well-known feature of Bantu (Nurse 2008) and remain productive in many languages synchronically. However, outside Bantu they are often fragmentary or fossilised, identifiable but no longer part of a functioning system. Moreover, in contrast to Bantu, verbal extensions in Bantoid languages remain very poorly known. Some contributions in Guarisma et al.  (1982) cover Bantoid, and a volume edited by Mba and Idiata (2003) contains some papers on Grassfields languages. Leroy (1982, 2007) describes Mankon within the Ngemba group and Harro (1989) describes the extensions of Yemba (Bamileke Dschang). Hedinger (1992) has a valuable overview of the functioning of verbal extensions in Akɔɔse, including considerations of their role in valency-changing. Nonetheless, we are far from having a list of reconstructed extensions against which to compare synchronic data. It is clear that Bantoid cannot be treated as an eroded relic of Bantu; the segmental content of many extensions seems to be quite different. Moreover, in almost no Bantoid language are extensions productive in the manner of Bantu. In addition, it can be problematic to assign them a fixed semantic association; while some extended verbs in a lexical set may have a clear meaning, such as iterative or plurative, others seem so remote from one another semantically that a missing homophonous non-extended root may have to be posited. More detailed descriptions of the verbal extensions of Bantoid languages are required to make progress on the issue of the complexity of these systems prior to the evolution of Bantu. This paper studies the verbal extensions of  Ngiemboon, a language within the Bamileke group of Eastern Grassfields. The phonology of Ngiemboon has been studied in some depth in Anderson (1976, 1977, 1982) and an active  programme of literacy has been underway for many years. A large dictionary exists which provides numerous examples of verbal extensions and their use (Lonfo & Anderson 2014). Mba and Djiafeua (2003) analysed a 1980 version of this dictionary for evidence of a verbal extension system and posited at least two extensions, –  te , and vowel-lengthening (or copying). Both of these were associated in part with plural or iterative meanings, although they admit this interpretation does not hold for all examples. The material they analysed was from a relatively early stage of data collection when many lexemes in the language were yet to  be recorded. However, they append a complete list of the verbs analysed, so it is possible to establish the  basis for their argument. Inconsistencies in their analysis set the present authors on the track of a more complete view of Ngiemboon verbal extensions. The entire lexicon was sorted for possible extensions and a series of allomorphs compiled 1 . As is common, some verbs now have only extended forms, with the simplex root absent from the language. Our analysis was then rechecked by Etienne Lonfo, the main compiler of the 2014 dictionary, for possible missing root forms. We conclude that Ngiemboon demonstrates a range of largely fossil verbal extensions which have lain undetected. Some suffixes, which appear to be extensions at first sight can be excluded by the analysis. The parallels with related Grassfields languages and the larger issue of Bantoid is also briefly considered, as are the implications for the layout of dictionaries of such languages. The paper first goes through the identification of fossil extensions, giving examples of simplex roots and their extended forms. The semantic relationships are by no means transparent, so glosses are given in French throughout, since this is the language used in the source lexicon. §3. presents all the extensions identified, with examples of each as well as hypothetical meanmings. §4. synthesises the evidence for possible verbal extensions in Ngiemboon and compares the results both with the proposed extensions for proto-Bantu and those in the more closely related Ngomba and Yemba languages. The paper concludes that while fossil extensions are widespread and show strong semantic similarities, a lack of segmental cognates makes the  prospects for reconstruction unpromising.  Ngiemboon phonology and orthography is complex and its most recent incarnation is described in Anderson (2007). This paper uses orthographic conventions, which can be represented in IPA as follows; 1 While editing the dictionary for publication, the first author noted that a failure to identify verbal extensions meant that related forms were split up in a purely alphabetical listing and thus not easily cross-referenced. After discussing this with Stephen Anderson, the dictionary was restructured to reflect the verbal extension system. The authors discussed with Steve his involvement in writing this paper but he decided not to be a named author.  Ngiemboon verbal extensions Roger Blench, Marieke Martin and Etienne Lonfo 2 ʉ ɯ‘ ʔ ẅɥ ÿ ɰ  Nasalisation is represented by -n following the nasalised vowel. Five contrastive tones are recognised in  Ngiemboon, Low, High, Rising, Falling and Low Falling. 2. Analytic issues The simplest demonstration of the existence of a verbal extension is where the root exists in a pair of extended and non-extended forms and the two show a transparent semantic relationship. For example; ńgáʼ  grandir; développer; être gros  ńgáʼte  grandir; évoluer; développer ńtʉ être fort ńtʉte être solide which suggests a –  te  extension whose meaning cannot be deduced without further examples. More complex examples show a root with up to three extended forms; éshʉ ́   scier, castrer éfʉ être aveugle éshʉ ́a casser éfʉa  se tromper éshʉ ́ate diviser éfʉate  pécher éfʉte tromper These examples establish a likely –a extension and show that –te can follow a primary extension. A common problem with verb extension morphology is the synchronic absence of the simplex verb root. Many verbs in Ngiemboon end in either –ga or –ge, which makes it in principle likely that there is, or was, a  –gV extension. However, consider the following set; éfɔ ́g être blanc éfɔ ́ge blanchir éfɔ ́gɔ être blanc If the verb root is really éfɔ ́g, then the extended forms may be evidence for –e and -ɔ suffixes, for which there is other evidence. –e would mark valence change with the function of -ɔ as yet unclear. Another example suggests that a potential candidate is actually a verb root ending in –g, with an –a suffix changing its valency. In this case, however, the root is transitive and the extended forms intransitive. éfag détacher, séparer éfaga  se détacher, bifurquer éfagte  se diviser Another consequence of this analysis is that simplified translations often do not help determine the true meaning of extended verbs; they need to be explored in sentence context. As with nominal class markers, verbal affixes are subject to erosion and renewal. Older, non-productive extensions may survive as vestigial consonants and are thus the source of the final –g and other consonants in many Ngiemboon verbs. 3. Candidates for verbal extensions This section explores the individual segmental sequences that are potential candidates for verbal extensions. In each case the reader should refer to the Appendix, which lists all verbs exhibiting the claimed extension.  Ngiemboon verbal extensions Roger Blench, Marieke Martin and Etienne Lonfo 3 3.1 A - le   extension? A small number of –la and a much larger number of –le suffixes are recorded in Ngiemboon. Some of these are misleading; for example, the apparent –  la  suffix on the verb ‘to try’ is actually a phonologised borrowing from English. Thus; ńtala essayer < English ‘try’ However, unlike final –g, Ngiemboon does not permit verb stems to end in –l and thus the explanation of a valence-changing suffix does not apply. However, some sets of related verbs suggest strongly that there was a historical –  le  suffix which could be attached to root verbs and which may have had the effect of fronting the vowel. For example; ésa disperser tourner balancer répandre ésele tourner, se transformer ésate tourner, tournoyer être en désordre éparpiller   The following set is more complex, since Ngiemboon does permit verb stems with final –d and a CV suffix following in extended verbs. So the explanation of the –le suffix in the example below may well be assimilation of the –d to give the form ḿ bile ; ḿbáʼ tisser; tresser ḿbáʼte contourner, croiser les mains pour ne rien faire, chercher de prétexte ḿbid inverser; tourner le sens ḿbid(te) replier dans la forme concave (œil) ḿbile  se plier; replier; faire l'acrobatie Two other examples, illustrate the sense of the –  le  extension much more clearly; ḿbʉ monter; grimper ḿbʉle déverser; tomber; se verser; se déverser   ḿbʉ ́  interdire; refuser ḿbʉ ́le être facile, ramollir; adoucir, être conciliant -le was almost certainly a reversive, or antonymic, giving a sense opposite to the basic or non-extended root. The small number of examples of –la and the absence of corresponding non-extended roots make it impossible to determine if –la is an allomorph of –le. 3.2 A –  bE   extension?  Ngiemboon has about twenty verb stems ending in –be (and one case of -bɛ) which suggests a priori  an extension. However, proof is difficult to come by. Ngiemboon does permit verb stems to end in –b, although this is not common. There is a single –b/-be pair, which would explain an apparent –be extension as simply  –e. ńzáb mettre; poser; placer ńzébe  superposer percher; être sur; poser sur The following example is a possible case of an unproductive –be; ńgʉ ̀è  faire l'idiot ńgʉ ̀ bè déraisonner; faire le mongolien; aliéner assuming an srcinal verb stem ń  g  ʉ ̀ .
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