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The Grammaticalization of "Say" and "Do" : An Areal Phenomenon in the Horn of Africa

Abstract : The grammaticalization of verbs meaning ‘say' and ‘do', in periphrastic constructions traditionnally named ‘descriptive compounds' allows transcategorial and intracategorial derivation, leading to more or less deep reorganizations of the verbal systems. This is a recurring phenomenon, attested over a period of five milleniums, in Afroasiatic languages. The issue is dealt with from a syntactic, morphological, semantic, diachronic, typological and areal perspective in dead and living languages of North-East Africa, genetically linked or not (Cushitic, Omotic, Afro-Semitic, Egyptian, Coptic, a Nilo-Saharan language and Nubian). The study in then extended to some Saharan and Chadic languages spoken further in Central Africa where the phenomenon has not always been recognized as such. A typological classification is proposed. The sudy shows that the use of descriptive compounds is linked to inter-subjective modalities but not to any TAM value, and that it is possible to find synchronically all the stages of the grammaticalization process.
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Contributor : Martine Vanhove <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 22, 2006 - 4:46:46 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-00009729, version 1


David Cohen, Marie-Claude Simeone-Senelle, Martine Vanhove. The Grammaticalization of "Say" and "Do" : An Areal Phenomenon in the Horn of Africa. Güldemann, T. et von Roncador, M. (éds.). Reported Speech : A Meeting Ground for Different Linguistic Domains, John Benjamins, pp.227-251, 2002, Typological Studies in Language 52. ⟨halshs-00009729⟩



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