On the development of two progressive constructions in U̱t-Ma'in


U̠t-Ma’in (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 U̠t-Ma’in Progressive Constructions with cognate elements from four Kainji language clusters. No single source component has grammaticalized to mark progressive aspect in U̠t-Ma’in. 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 U̠t-Ma’in Progressive Constructions, gradually spreading throughout the lexicon.

Folia Linguistica Historica 40 (2): 509-554

Citable as

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