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SIL Electronic Working Papers 2008-003

The Moloko verb phrase

Authors  Friesen, Dianne
Mamalis, Megan

The Moloko verb phrase is as complex as its vowel inventory is simple. While the language has only one phonemic vowel (but ten phonetic vowels), a study of the intricacies of its verb phrase morphology reveals an even greater diversity of grammatical functions. This paper looks at some of these complexities of the verb phrase in Moloko (Chadic Biu-Mandara A5), an SVO language. Verbs are built on a consonantal skeleton with a superimposed tonal melody. The system is aspectual and modal, not based on tense. Tone on the subject prefix realises aspect, and vowel quality realises mood. There is a rich verbal morphology, with verbal extensions expressing the perfect aspect, as well as the direction and location of the action. A flexible valence system allows variations in transitivity for a given verb with no morphological marking. Ideophones figure greatly in the expression of the action. Reduplication in the verb stem expresses repetitive and iterative aspects.

  The Moloko verb phrase
Published  2008
Language  Moloko [mlw]
Country  Cameroon
Subject  Verbs
Keywords  verb phrase; vowel; directional; locational; body part; Verbs