Basic motion verbs in Nyakusa: lexical semantics and associated motion


  • Bastian Persohn University of the Free State / University of Cologne


Nyakyusa, Bantu, semantics, motion


This paper gives a descriptive account of the lexical semantics of seven basic verbs of translational motion in Nyakyusa (Bantu, M31), together with a description of the meaning and use of another motion verb that has grammaticalized to a marker of associated motion. The findings include, among other things, that Nyakyusa’s most simple verb of motion encodes solely a motion path and that only the ʻcomeʼ-verb, but none of the ʻgoʼ-verbs, encodes reference to the deictic centre. Applying a microcomparative perspective, the choice of ʻgoʼ-verb that has grammaticalized to a marker of associated motion is explained based on the relative salience assigned to the goal vis-àvis the path.