This paper examines syntactic frames for verbs coding object separation in Emai (Niger Congo, West Benue Congo). Recent typological and experimental analysis of this domain has highlighted the relevance of alternations reflecting transitivity and conativity as well as instrument and degree of separation (Majid, Bowerman, van Staden and Boster 2007). With relatively predictable variation, syntactic frames reflecting these factors characterize Emai separation verbs. In addition, these verbs occur with a post-verbal change of state particle. The distribution of this particle with separation verbs is highly variable, however. It does not occur with all verbs that express a separation change of state or all event instances of a particular verb conveying a separation change. Rather, Emai's change of state particle codes an event of separation beyond which no further separation is acknowledged. For events in which objects undergo a change in material integrity, Emai's change of state particle thus marks telicity.
Selected Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages in Context
edited by Michael R. Marlo, Nikki B. Adams, Christopher R. Green, Michelle Morrison, and Tristan M. Purvis
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