Transitivity Alternations in Sorani Kurdish
Gharib, Hiba Esmail
University of Kansas
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Guerssel et al. propose Lexical Conceptual Structures to account for the syntactic properties of verbs in four languages. The Lexical Conceptual Structures reference a universal set of semantic components to predict the syntactic features of verbs. The authors neglect the fact that verbs in different languages often lack direct translations in other languages and may have different syntactic properties as well. This study explores the semantic components and the syntactic alternations of a group of cut and break verbs in Kurdish. The results indicate that there is no clear semantic line between cut and break verbs in Kurdish. Guerssel et al. (1985) consider these verbs to represent two distinct semantic classes of verbs. They assume that the syntactic behavior of a verb can be explained in light of its semantic representation. Guerssel et al. did not consider all the semantic and pragmatic contexts that determine verb meaning and use. I investigated the use of Kurdish verbs in different syntactic and semantic contexts. I chose contexts in which the verbs indicate real as well as metaphorical actions. The semantic components and the syntactic alternations of Kurdish verbs change according to their contexts of used. Although the Kurdish verbs are used in some of the same contexts as the English verbs cut and break, the Kurdish verbs have uses which are not predicted by the semantic representations of Guerssel et al. These results illustrate the difficulties involved in investigating semantic representations with translational equivalents in different languages.
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