Functions of western Indonesian “applicative” affixes

Christina L. Truong
Paper presented at Workshop on Austronesian voice and related phenomena, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, 26 November 2019.

In this paper, I investigate the extent to which western Indonesian verbal suffixes involved in applicative constructions also perform non-applicative and non-valency increasing functions. I survey forms and functions of applicative morphology in a sample of western Indonesian languages of different types of voice systems, including Karo Batak, Sundanese, Pendau, Balantak, Tukang Besi.

A number of observations emerge from the study. First, the properties of a base are not sufficient to predict which which affix it will combine with, nor what the resultant meaning will be. Thus the constructions are not purely compositional. Second, the function of these affixes cannot be equated with bringing a participant from the periphery of a clause into the core in many cases. In some applicative constructions, the applied object is not a participant in the event, e.g. purpose applied objects. In other cases, no applied object with a peripheral role is present, as in many non-valency-increasing constructions. Furthermore, for many derived verbs, there is no base clause to speak of, and thus no peripheral roles can be identified. A satisfactory analysis of the so-called “applicative affixes” must take into account their non-applicative functions.
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Sundanese benefactives

Christina L. Truong
Working paper based on original data, May 2019

The Sundanese verbal system includes a substitutive benefactive construction which indicates that the agent performs the action on behalf of, and instead of, a beneficiary. This construction is formed with the prefix pang– and the causative/applicative suffix –keun. In this paper I describe the morphosyntax of this construction, including the morphological components found on the verb, the morphophonemic processes involved, and the syntactic properties of various types of clauses with substitutive benefactive meanings. Finally, I compare Sundanese substitutive benefactives with other Western Austronesian benefactive constructions and discuss their historical origin.

Based on the study, the Sundanese pang– prefix appears be derived from the agentive nominalizer *paŋ, which when used in applicatives came to have the meaning ‘to serve as an agent of an action for s.o.’ Sundanese substitutive benefactive verbs can be transitive or ditransitive, and ditransitive argument structure appears to be fully grammatical in both active and passive voice. However, Sundanese also has ditransitive instrumental and simple benefactive applicatives, but I present some evidence that these are not fully grammatical in active voice. The association between passive voice and such three-place verbal constructions might be linked to the four-way voice system of Proto-Austronesian, with earlier undergoer, instrumental, and beneficiary voice functions being subsumed into modern passive voice.
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Languages of Sulawesi

Bilinski Educational Foundation Grant. Summer 2018.

Many indigenous languages of Sulawesi remain underdocumented and many more are underdescribed. Despite this, the languages of Sulawesi may be key to understanding important linguistic issues in the region, such as the nature and development of Austronesian voice, and the prehistory of Indonesia. In partnership with local organizations and community leaders, recordings were made of native speakers in two language communities of Sulawesi. Materials to be archived in Kaipuleohone Language Archive.