Demarcating Emai dative constructions


  • Ronald P. Schaefer


Emai, dative, spatial collectivity, temporal continuity


This paper investigates the formal and functional character of a dative relation and two additional structural relations in Emai, an Edoid language of West Benue Congo stock (Bendor-Samuel 1989, Williamson and Blench 2000). Each relation is grammatically expressed by a common morphophoneme. Postverbal particle li/ni marks Emai dative constituents. In addition, li/ni codes a limited range of subordinate clause types within complex sentences, and within noun phrases it designates a subset of modifying constituents. To bridge the common formal marking across these structural relations, we postulate their identification of a semantic ground type (within a figure-ground complex) characterized by spatial collectivity and temporal continuity. Our overall conclusion thus pertains to the function of perspective taking in grammar and its formal marking (Talmy 2000), with special emphasis placed on the dative relation.