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On the structure of splitting verbs in Yoruba

Alicia Parrish; Cara Feldscher

Yoruba has a set of bisyllabic verbs that obligatorily split around a direct object,
as in Adé ba ilé nàá jé, meaning ‘Adé destroyed the house’, where both ba and
jé make up the verb for destroy. These are called “splitting verbs” and have previ-
ously been analyzed as requiring that the first verbal element be merged directly on
v. We introduce new data using an aspectual marker, tún, meaning again, which
changes the typical word order such that both verbal elements appear string ad-
jacent following the object, as in Adé tún ilé nàá bajé, meaning ‘Adé destroyed
the house again’. This data supports a movement-based analysis of splitting verbs
where both verbal elements are initially merged low in the structure, but the first
verbal element is moved through Asp to v.

 

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