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LINGUIST List 21.748

Fri Feb 12 2010

Qs: Languages with Negative Participles

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        1.    Yvonne Treis, Languages with Negative Participles

Message 1: Languages with Negative Participles
Date: 09-Feb-2010
From: Yvonne Treis <y.treislatrobe.edu.au>
Subject: Languages with Negative Participles
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Dear colleagues,

Does anyone know of a language that has negative but no affirmative
participles (verbal adjectives)? Or a language that has negative relative
verbs with adjectival features but affirmative relative verbs without
adjectival features?

I am working on Kambaata, a Cushitic language of Ethiopia. In this
language, affirmative relative verbs have a purely verbal morphology,
i.e. they agree with the subject of the relative clause (see 3F
agreement with subject ‘salt’), they are marked for aspect etc.

[maxín-it       kot-táa]                               bun-á
salt-F.NOM   be_insufficient-3F.IPV.REL   coffee-M.ACC
'coffee in which the salt is insufficient'

However, when relative clauses are negated in Kambaata, a negative
participle (glossed “NREL”), which combines verbal and adjectival
morphology, has to be used. These negative participles agree with the
subject of the relative clause (see 3F marking in ex. (2) and 3M
marking in ex. (3)) but they also agree with the head noun in gender
and case (see the final inflectional morpheme -ú M.ACC in ex. (2) and -
ut in ex. (3)).

[maxín-it        kot-tumb-ú]                                  bun-á
salt-F.NOM    be_insufficient-3F.NREL-M.ACC    coffee-M.ACC
'coffee in which the salt is not insufficient (i.e. with enough salt)'

[bobír-u            qoh-úmb-ut]                         úull-at
wind-M.NOM    damage-3M.NREL-F.NOM    land-F.NOM
'(a plot of) land which the wind has not damaged'

The negative relative verbs/participles are clearly verb-adjective
hybrids; their argument structure is entirely verbal (they govern
nominative subjects, all types of objects and adverbial constituents
inside the relative clause) and they agree with their subject in
person/gender/number (as any other verb in the language does) but
they cannot be marked for aspect and, most importantly, they agree
with the head noun that they modify in the same way as an adjective
does in a Kambaata NP; see the case- and gender-agreeing adjectives
in (4) and compare them with the case- and gender-agreeing negative
relative verbs/particles in (2)-(3).

danaam-ú         bun-á
good-M.ACC    coffee-M.ACC
'good coffee' (accusative)

muccúr-ut        xénq-ut
clean-F.NOM    mug-F.NOM
'clean mug' (nominative)

I would appreciate any references to languages whose (relative) verbs
acquire adjectival features when they are negated. I will post a
summary to the list if replies warrant it. Thank you very much for your

Yvonne Treis
Email: y.treislatrobe.edu.au
Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, La Trobe University

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology

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