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Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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The polysemy of the neuter extension -ik in Citumbuka (N21) and Citonga (N15)

Jean Chavula

Abstract


Most studies of the Bantu verb have neglected detailed analyses of the less productive verb extensions including the neuter suffix -ik. This suffix is associated with the ‘stative’ construction in many Bantu languages, which usually also have a separate passive extension. Citonga (N15) and Citumbuka (N21) have shifted from using -iw, the reflex of the Proto-Bantu passive extension, to using the neuter extension -ik to derive passives. The same extension also derives anticausatives, facilitatives, and potential passives. Thus, in these languages, the extension -ik displays a high degree of polysemy. Underlying these polysemies are the properties shared by the derivatives of the extension. Subjects of the constructions derived by the extension -ik are patientive. This extension has both detransitivising and de-agentivising effects. In this article, I argue that -ik derivatives in Citumbuka and Citonga are situated within the middle voice continuum, falling short of deriving reflexives, reciprocals and autobenefactives.



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