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Ibibio Causative and Anti-Causative Verb Alternations
Ogbonna Anyanwu
106-114 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Causative and anti-causative verb alternations include the commonly attested cross-linguistic morphosyntactic phenomena. Most languages have different ways of marking the alternations. Whereas in some languages, there is a clear morphological marking on the verb to indicate the causative/anti-causative distinction, in some others, there may be no such morphological reflex to indicate a verb's status with respect to causativity Also, within some other languages, certain classes of verbs can be morphologically marked for causativity while other classes may not. This paper is aimed at providing a descriptive analysis of causative and anti-causative verb alternations in Ibibio. Following the categorizations of Haspelmath (1993) the paper identifies two major ways by which the causative/anticausative verb alternation can be expressed in Ibibio. The first is through the directed (morphological) alternation, by which the distinction between the causative/anti-causative is indicated by a morphological reflex on the anti-causative verb. The other option is the non-directed (lexical) alternation which is further divided into the suppletive and liable alternations. While for the suppletive alternation different verb roots are used for the causative/anti-causative alternations, in the labile one an ambitransitive verb occurs in both the causative and anti-causative alternations. The paper further observes that as has been noted in some languages, the anti-causative construction in Ibibio, unlike its causative counterpart, is characterized by a change in word order, absence of causative agentive noun phrase and an anti-causative affix (a morphological reflex of detransitivization and anti-causativization in the directed alternation). The data on which this study is based were collected from adult speakers of Ibibio by the author using an elicitation list. The database consists of acceptable words/expressions collected from standard Ibibio speakers within Uyo metropolis. Ibibio is spoken by about four million people (Essien, 1990) in fourteen (Uyo, Itu, Uruan, Etinan, Nsit Ibom, Nsit Atai, Nsit Ubium, Ibeskpo Asutan, Ikono, Ini, Ikot Abaasi, Mkat Enin, Ibiono Ibom, Onna and Eket (Urua 2007)) of the thirty-one Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. More recent classifications have placed Ibibio in the Lower Cross group of the (New) Benue-Congo language family (Williamson, 1989).

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Interfaces in African Languages
edited by lanik la Orie and Karen W. Sanders
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00