Language and Linguistics 'Brown Bag Lunch Talk': Week 4 with Dr Kyle Jerro, University of Essex

"The Nature of Verb Meaning: Roots, Templates, and Ditransitive Verbs in Kinyarwanda"

  • Thu 25 Oct 18

    12:00 - 13:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Dr Kyle Jerro, University of Essex

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Language and Linguistics Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Language and Linguistics, Department of

  • Contact details

We are releasing a brand new set of events called 'Brown Bag Lunch Talks' where our very own lecturers bring their research to an audience!


This week we have Dr Kyle Jerro taking the stage to discuss what they have been researching recently!

Bring your own lunch along, 12-1pm, 1N1.4.1: do not miss out!


What are the basic building blocks of verb meanings, how are they composed into more complex meanings, and how does this explain the grammatical properties of verbs and their relationships to other words with related meanings? 

On several different perspectives, verb meanings are assumed to be decomposed into an event template capturing the verb’s broad temporal and causal contours and an idiosyncratic root shared across templates naming specific actions and states for a given verb. While the nature of these elements varies from theory to theory, most researchers assume that there is a bifurcation in the semantic contribution of roots and templates.

In this talk, I present evidence against Bifurcation within the empirical domain of ditransitive roots in Kinyarwanda – a Bantu language spoken in Rwanda. Specifically, I show that the thematic role and relationship to the base verb depends on both the verb’s root and template in ways that suggest a more complex semantics to applicativized verbs than just monotonically adding an argument. Specifically, the variation in root entailments among Kinyarwanda ditransitives show that templatic meanings such as possession and co-location are distributed across the event structure, thus violating the Bifurcation. I then sketch an analysis of these facts and situate this findings within other recent work which has argued against Bifurcation.  


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