On Serial Verb Constructions in Zarma


  • Waheed Ayisa Jayeola University of Dar es Salaam


This article discusses serial verb constructionsin Zarma, a Songhay language of
the Nilo-Saharan family, along the lines of the claim that serialization is a
property of universal grammar (UG). This is contrary to some opinions held
about the status of the construction in the language. In this connection, the
data presented show a preliminary report that identifies three types of serial
verbs in Zarma: Resultative, Consecutive and Directional/motion. Unlike what
has been identified in related languages, Instrument and Causative
constructions in Zarma do not lend themselves easily amenable to a serial verb
analysis. Combining the VP shell hypothesis with the analysis developed in
Aboh (2009); the different types of verb series appear to point at some forms of
structural variability in the realizations of serial verb constructions. Taking
into account findings from comparable studies, an expansion of the VP shell is
required so that the unit gà, which separates the two predicates in verb series
can be accommodated within the expanded functional category.

Author Biography

Waheed Ayisa Jayeola, University of Dar es Salaam

Lecturer, Department of Linguistics and African Languages, Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo
University Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria


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