Department of Comparative Language Science(+41) 44 63 42859marine.vuillermet@uzh.chmarine.vuillermet

May 2014 – August 2016

Post 8 of 10

Mai 2014 – Août 2016 Bourse d’études postdoctorales de la Radboud Excellence Initiative pour travailler sur une typologie des constructions sérielles en Amazonie.

> Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Radboud Excellence Initiative to work on a typology of serial verb constructions in the Amazon.

A typology of serial verb constructions in the Amazon (research project summary)

This 2-year project aims to clarify the cross-linguistic differences and similarities found in major linguistic constructions called serial verb constructions (SVCs). This general term regroups various linguistic phenomena involving more than one verb in a single clause. For example, Ese’eja, an Amazonian language, uses SVCs to refer to a motion event or to cause-consequence event.

(1) [Ani-‘oke]-kwe!


     ‘Sit down!’            (Vuillermet 2012:628)

(2) Mei=pa                                    [jaja-pojo]-ka-ani-naje.

      stone=REPORTATIVE         cut-divide-3A-IMPERFECTIVE-PAST

     ‘It is said that they used to cut stones into pieces.’             (2012:395)

     SVCs are mostly reported in Africa, Southeast Asia and Austronesia, and started to be reported in the Amazon a decade ago (Guillaume 2013). Despite the large literature on SVCs, descriptions of SVCs from one language to another are still very heterogeneous (Enfield 2009).

     This project aims to describe and analyze the SVCs of 17 Amazonian languages, using a consistent analytical framework. The goal is to facilitate cross-linguistic comparison and to include the Amazonian SVCs into the current typologies. The project builds on a comparative database, with a multi-level annotation scheme. Grammaticalization and lexicalization processes, two issues typical of SVCs, will be objectively measured and taken into account thanks to appropriate methodological tools. Results will be disseminated through regular internal seminars, international conferences, and papers in international journals.

     The project will not only provide objective criteria to describe Amazonian multi-verb constructions, but it will also enrich the general typology of SVCs, as Amazonian SVCs were previously little mentioned. Other fields of research will benefit from that study, especially grammaticalization, language contact and morpheme-ordering theory.

This article was written by marine