LINGUIST List 14.2091

Thu Aug 7 2003

Sum: Trivalent Verbs, Passives and Agreement

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Mark Donohue, Passives with object agreement

Message 1: Passives with object agreement

Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2003 22:10:14 +0000
From: Mark Donohue <>
Subject: Passives with object agreement

A few weeks ago, which in my personal chronology is one major logic
board failure in my computer ago, I posted a query about the
occurrence of complex predicates in which the one verb form appears
with both passive morphology and object-agreement marking, for two
different arguments (either a base ditransitive, or a derived verb). I
cited some examples from Pancana, an Austronesian language from
Southeast Sulawesi, which *almost* shows this pattern, and asked if
anyone knew of any more languages that did this, less ambiguously
(Linguist 14.1833).

It is indeed possible for a language to permit object marking when the
clause is passive, as long as were talking about a different
object. Examples come from KiChaga, Haya and Runyambo.

Swahili also allows the object marking + passive on the one verb, but
under strict restrictions. The logic board crash unfortunately
destroyed the example I was so kindly sent, but it does happen.

KiChaga (tone marks omitted) (Bresnan and Moshi 1990)
M-ka	n-a-i-ki-lyi-o
1-wife	FOC-1S-PR-7O-eat-APPL-PASS
The wife is being [benefitted/adversely affected] by someones eating

Runyambo (Rugemalira 1993: 229)

omw�n�	a-ka-bi-reet-er-w-�	omus�ija
child	she-PAST-them-bring-APPL-PASS-FV	man
the child was brought them by a man

The following Haya example is a base-ditransitive verb, applicativised
(which makes for four core arguments), and then passivised; that
leaves room for two object prefixes:

omwaan	a-ka-ga-ba-siig-il-w-a	Kato
child	he-P3-it-them-smear-APPL-PASS-Kato
the child was smeared oil for them by Kato.

All interesting, and all Bantu. Id be curious to see if this happens
anywhere else: so far weve got multiple Bantu attestations, and some
near-misses in Austronesian. Any other takers?

Thanks to Alex Alsina and the now anonymous Swahili-information giver
for references and examples.


Bresnan, Joan, and Lioba Moshi. 1990. Object asymmetries in
comparative Bantu syntax. Linguistic Inquiry 20:�147-185.

Duranti, Alessandro and Ernest Rugwa Byarushengo. 1977. On the notion
of ''direct object''. In E.R. Byarushengo, A Duranti, and L.M. Hyman,
eds., Haya grammatical structure (Southern California Occasional
Papers in Linguistics No. 6): 45-71.

Rugemalira, Josephat M. 1993. Bantu multiple object
constructions. Linguistic Analysis 23 (3-4): 226-252.

-Mark Donohue 

Language-Family: Niger-Congo; Code: NC
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