On the development of two progressive constructions in U̱t‑Maꞌin


U̱t‑Maꞌin (Kainji, Benue‑Congo), spoken in northwestern Nigeria, has two morphosyntactically distinct progressive constructions – the Intransitive Progressive Construction and the Transitive Progressive Construction. This paper presents the synchronic structure of each construction, proposed historical sources of the distinct morphological pieces, and a comparison of the U̱t‑Maꞌin Progressive Constructions with cognate elements from four Kainji language clusters. No single source component has grammaticalized to mark progressive aspect in U̱t‑Maꞌin. Rather, the combination of several elements created the progressive. Formal changes in several morphosyntactic elements within each of the constructions provide evidence that originally nominalized verb forms are gradually becoming less noun-like and more verb-like. These developments are examples of constructionalization, as the Progressive Constructions exist as new form-meaning pairs distinct from the source. These formal changes also show signs of adjustment, whereby a construction moves toward isomorphism, that is, a one-to-one correspondence between form and meaning. Specifically, various stages of morphological loss are evident in particular lexemes when used in U̱t‑Maꞌin Progressive Constructions, gradually spreading throughout the lexicon.

On the development of two progressive constructions in U̱t‑Maꞌin
Folia Linguistica Historica
November 2019

Citable as

Paterson, Rebecca. 2019. On the development of two progressive constructions in U̠t‑Maꞌin. Folia Linguistica Historica 40 (2): 509-554. doi: 10.1515/flih-2019-0020

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Rebecca Paterson
Rebecca Paterson
Associate Research Scholar

My research interests include field linguistics, grammatical description, and translation.