Passive, locative inversion in Ndebele1 and the unaccusative hypothesis

  • Langa Khumalo


This article discusses the Ndebele passive derivation using the Lexical Mapping Theory (henceforth LMT). Using LMT the article discusses the syntactic properties of the passive sentence in Ndebele. The article demonstrates that the architecture of LMT is largely applicable to the Ndebele language. The article further demonstrates that Ndebele is unique by allowing active transitive verbs to undergo locative inversion. It is this uniqueness in the violation of the thematic hierarchy that persuades us to agree with Harford’s (1990) proposal that locative inversion may be formulated without any contextual restriction at all. Blevins’ (2003) argument is also tested, and it is our conclusion that Ndebele data presents a fresh challenge to the Unaccusative Hypothesis (henceforth UH) even after Blevins’ (2003) attempt to sharpen the distinction between passives and impersonals. In brief, the article demonstrates that whereas LMT is a theory that is largely applicable to and can account for the syntactic properties of the passive sentence in Ndebele, Ndebele data presents complications for the theory due to the theory’s restrictive nature.

S.Afr.J.Afr.Lang., 2010, 1

Author Biography

Langa Khumalo
Department of Linguistics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117