Cut and break verbs in Ewe and the causative alternation construction
Ameka, F. K., & Essegbey, J.
Cut and break verbs in Ewe and the causative alternation construction. Cognitive Linguistics, 18
(2), 241-250. doi:10.1515/COG.2007.011.
Ewe verbs covering the cutting and breaking domain divide into four morpho-syntactic classes that can be ranked according to agentivity. We demonstrate that the highly non-agentive break verbs participate in the causative-inchoative alternation while the highly agentive cut verbs do not, as expected from Guerssel et al.'s (1985) hypothesis. However, four verbs tso 'cut with precision', 'cut', 'snap-off', and dze 'split', are used transitively when an instrument is required for the severance to be effected, and intransitively when not. We reject a lexicalist analysis that would postulate polysemy for these verbs and argue for a construction approach.