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Journal Article

Cut and break verbs in Ewe and the causative alternation construction


Ameka,  Felix K.
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Categories across Language and Cognition, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Ameka, F. K., & Essegbey, J. (2007). Cut and break verbs in Ewe and the causative alternation construction. Cognitive Linguistics, 18(2), 241-250. doi:10.1515/COG.2007.011.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-1A02-B
Ewe verbs covering the cutting and breaking domain divide into four morpho-syntactic classes that can be ranked according to agentivity. We demonstrate that the highly non-agentive break verbs participate in the causative-inchoative alternation while the highly agentive cut verbs do not, as expected from Guerssel et al.'s (1985) hypothesis. However, four verbs tso 'cut with precision', 'cut', 'snap-off', and dze 'split', are used transitively when an instrument is required for the severance to be effected, and intransitively when not. We reject a lexicalist analysis that would postulate polysemy for these verbs and argue for a construction approach.