This paper examines two types of light-verb constructions in Ndebele, which differ in the form of the main, lexical verb (participle vs subjunctive). I argue, against existing approaches, that main verb morphology in those constructions is not an idiosyncratic property of individual light verbs, but that it falls out from their syntax; in particular, from the light verb's nature as a functional or a lexical verb. Functional verbs have a valued Infl-feature and enter in a direct agree relation with the main verb, assigning a participial form. Lexical light verbs do not have a valued Infl-feature and therefore cannot provide an Infl-value to the main verb. I propose that the subjunctive form is a morphological reflex of a syntactic configuration where direct valuation cannot obtain. The view of verbal forms such as participle and subjunctive is, then, treated as a configurational phenomenon, and subjunctive morphology as a reflex of the inflectional deficiency of its immediate syntactic context.
Proceedings of the 35th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Wm. G. Bennett, Lindsay Hracs, and Dennis Ryan Storoshenko
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