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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 5: Verbal Inflections


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Verbal Inflections


So far, I have discussed the process of creating complex stems in Bodo from a simple root. We have seen more than one hundred bound, lexically very specific suffixes, around a dozen of versatile verbs, and a couple of causative prefixes involved in the process of creating new stems. We can string these affixes together to form stems that compositionally express a whole range of meaning that is generally expressed in languages with separate words and phrases. Once we have the verb stem, we need a set of morphemes to affix to the stem in order to use the stem in an independent sentence in discourse. I will call this set of morphemes ‘inflectional morphemes’ or ‘verbal inflections’. The objective of the current chapter is to explore (i) the range of inflectional morphemes available in Bodo, (ii) their positions with respect to the stem, and (iii) their combinatorial possibilities. I will be primarily concerned with the distribution (position class) and functions of individual as well as concatenated inflectional morphemes (see below). Prominent among the inflectional morphemes are the TAM markers (i.e. tense, aspect, and mode), mood markers, and various negative markers. At the same time, the distinction between tense, aspect, and mode is rather artificial and more presentational than categorical. As we will see, there are no separate paradigms for these grammatical categories. Looking at the position class chart, we will see that markers of...

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