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Verbal Semantics in a Tibeto-Burman Language

The Bodo Verb


Prafulla Basumatary

The aim of this book is to provide a comprehensive description of the verbal system of Bodo, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Northeast India, particularly Assam. The description is primarily based on a 1.2-million-word Bodo corpus, both written and spoken, involving different genres.

This is the first extensive work solely devoted to the description of the Bodo verb. The book provides a thorough description of the Bodo verb that will be comprehensive enough to be of use to Tibeto-Burmanists, on the one hand, and to language typologists, on the other. Second, it addresses certain pedagogic issues relating to the teaching of the Bodo language in schools.

The book encompasses a description of verbal roots, formation of verbal stems, inflection of verbal stems, and distribution of various verb forms in different types of clauses, such as independent clauses, embedded clauses, and chained clauses. Finally, a pedagogic perspective is provided with reference to the morphosyntactic aspects of the Bodo verb.

This book was the winner of the 2016 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in Linguistics.

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Chapter 4: The Verb Stem


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The Verb Stem


This chapter seeks to build on the minimalist perspective of the constituent element of the Bodo verb, namely, the root presented in the previous chapter. The focus thus shifts to a compositional perspective on the stem, which is the next highest constituent of the verb. In line with the typological characteristic of the language, the verb stem in Bodo has an agglutinating character. Multiple affixes (mostly suffixes) are strung together ‘loosely’ on the verb. These affixes include a few causative prefixes, around a dozen of ‘versatile verbs’, and more than one hundred other bound forms. These bound forms have very specific meanings akin to lexical items, such as ‘again’, ‘by mistake’, ‘more’, ‘for sure’, ‘at once’, ‘pretend’, ‘at first’, and so on. I will call these lexical-like bound forms, including the versatile verbs, adverbial suffixes.

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