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The long and short of verb alternations in Mauritian Creole and Bantu languages

Jenneke van der Wal and Tonjes Veenstra
From the journal Folia Linguistica

Abstract

Mauritian Creole displays an alternation between a short and a long form of the verb, which is reminiscent of the conjoint–disjoint alternation found in some eastern Bantu languages. Based on comparison with other French-based creoles and socio-historical evidence, we conclude that the Bantu substrate must have had an impact on the grammatical system of Mauritian Creole. We compare the synchronic properties of the alternations in Mauritian Creole and the most likely substrate Bantu languages of northern Mozambique and examine two possible scenarios for the influence of Bantu on the Mauritian verbal alternation, concluding that probably only the (syntactic) basics of the Bantu alternation motivated the persistence of the alternation in Mauritian Creole.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Tore Janson, Ian Roberts, Philip Baker, Fabiola Henri, Muhsina Alleesaib and two anonymous reviewers for their comments, as well as the audiences at 40th Colloquium of African Languages and Linguistics (CALL 40) in Leiden (2010), the 6th International Contrastive Linguistics Conference in Berlin (2010), and Bantu 4 in Berlin (2011), where we presented this work. The points of view expressed here and any errors or misrepresentations are our own. The research for this paper was carried out when Jenneke was employed at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, within the GRAMIS project. Tonjes’ participation in this project was made possible through the support by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) of Germany (grant number 01UG0711). We hereby gratefully acknowledge the financial support of these institutions.

Abbreviations

1/2/3 = 1st/2nd/3rd person; a = aspect, asp = aspect; cj = conjoint; CP = complementizer phrase; det = determiner; dj = disjoint; dur = durative; IP = inflectional phrase; lf = long form; loc = locative; m = mood; om = object marker; pass = passive; pfv = perfective; pl = plural; pro = (independent) pronoun; prog = progressive; prs = present; sf = short form; sg = singular; sit= situative tense; sm = subject marker; t = tense;

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Received: 2014-7-25
Revised: 2013-8-8
Revised: 2014-5-23
Accepted: 2014-8-18
Published Online: 2015-4-28
Published in Print: 2015-5-1

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