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The causative/applicative syncretism in Mbuun (Bantu B87, DRC): semantic split or phonemic merger?

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Abstract
In Mbuun (B87), a Bantu language spoken in the Bandundu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the valency-increasing functions of the causative and the applicative have, to a certain extent, the same formal expression. They are encoded morphologically by a derivational suffix which has an uncharacteristic morphophonological realization. It triggers the gemination of the root-final consonant. In this paper, we examine whether this causative/applicative isomorphism is the result of a semantic split or rather the outcome of a phonemic merger. In the first case, the semantic extension must have happened from applicative to causative rather than the cross-linguistically more common evolution from causative to applicative, since the consonant gemination associated with these forms has its origin in the Proto-Bantu applicative suffix *-Id-. In the case of a phonemic merger, however, this applicative suffix would have become homophonous with an originally distinct suffix having a causative effect as the result of convergent morphophonological change. This morpheme cannot be the Proto-Bantu causative suffix *-ici-, which still has a residual causative use in Mbuun.
Keywords
Bantu, applicative, phonemic merger, syncretism, Mbuun, Mbunda, causative

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Chicago
Bostoen, Koen, and Léon Mundeke. 2011. “The Causative/applicative Syncretism in Mbuun (Bantu B87, DRC): Semantic Split or Phonemic Merger?” Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 32 (2): 179–218.
APA
Bostoen, K., & Mundeke, L. (2011). The causative/applicative syncretism in Mbuun (Bantu B87, DRC): semantic split or phonemic merger? JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS, 32(2), 179–218.
Vancouver
1.
Bostoen K, Mundeke L. The causative/applicative syncretism in Mbuun (Bantu B87, DRC): semantic split or phonemic merger? JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS. 2011;32(2):179–218.
MLA
Bostoen, Koen, and Léon Mundeke. “The Causative/applicative Syncretism in Mbuun (Bantu B87, DRC): Semantic Split or Phonemic Merger?” JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS 32.2 (2011): 179–218. Print.
@article{1947530,
  abstract     = {In Mbuun (B87), a Bantu language spoken in the Bandundu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the valency-increasing functions of the causative and the applicative have, to a certain extent, the same formal expression. They are encoded morphologically by a derivational suffix which has an uncharacteristic morphophonological realization. It triggers the gemination of the root-final consonant. In this paper, we examine whether this causative/applicative isomorphism is the result of a semantic split or rather the outcome of a phonemic merger. In the first case, the semantic extension must have happened from applicative to causative rather than the cross-linguistically more common evolution from causative to applicative, since the consonant gemination associated with these forms has its origin in the Proto-Bantu applicative suffix *-Id-. In the case of a phonemic merger, however, this applicative suffix would have become homophonous with an originally distinct suffix having a causative effect as the result of convergent morphophonological change. This morpheme cannot be the Proto-Bantu causative suffix *-ici-, which still has a residual causative use in Mbuun.},
  author       = {Bostoen, Koen and Mundeke, L{\'e}on},
  issn         = {0167-6164},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS},
  keyword      = {Bantu,applicative,phonemic merger,syncretism,Mbuun,Mbunda,causative},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {179--218},
  title        = {The causative/applicative syncretism in Mbuun (Bantu B87, DRC): semantic split or phonemic merger?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/JALL.2011.007},
  volume       = {32},
  year         = {2011},
}

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