ChiShona periphrastic causatives as syntactic complex predicates: An HPSG analysis

  • Victor Mugaria
  • Maxwell Kadenge


This article examines the syntactico-semantic structure of periphrastic causatives in chiShona, a southern Bantu language spoken mainly in Zimbabwe. We argue that periphrastic causatives involve complex predication and are monoclausal. Evidence from scope related clause bound aspects in the form of negation, reflexivization, object and subject marking and passivization is used to corroborate the monoclausality. We utilise analytical insights from the notion of Argument Composition (AC) and Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) theory. Since AC is considered as a lexical process, its account of complex predicates satisfies strict compositionality whilst at the same time maintaining lexical integrity. Through the constraint satisfaction mechanisms of HPSG and the embedded semantic meta-theory of Lexical Resource Semantics (LRS) we provide evidence for the well-formedness of feature structures of periphrastic causatives in chiShona. We also demonstrate that as complex predicates, these causatives satisfy both the general and specific principles of both theories. The main argument that is proffered in this article is that through AC, the periphrastic causative shares much in common with its morphological counterpart, especially in the areas of valence, argument structure and lexical and compositional semantics.

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(1): 97–105

Author Biographies

Victor Mugaria
Department of Linguistics, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
Maxwell Kadenge
Department of Linguistics, School of Literature, Language and Media, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag X3, WITS 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117