Documentation and description of Borna verb morphology: An Omotic language of Ethiopia

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Addis Ababa University


This study was intended to provide a comprehensive documentation and description of the verb morphology of Borna, a little-documented North Omotic language spoken in Benishangul- Gumuz National Regional State of Ethiopia. The data was collected through recording of observed and staged communicative events and elicitation. As concerns documentation, comprehensive and representative linguistic practices of the speech community were made available. This was made by audio-video recordings of a variety of texts from a variety of genres. Similarly, under description of the verb morphology, an in-debth analysis of both the verb inflection and derivation was offered. The study hasshowed that verb stems can be derived from verb roots, verb stems, nouns, and adjectives. The derived verbs include passives, causatives, reciprocals, middles, and inchoatives. In the same way, it was identified that verbs are inflected for agreement, mood, tense, aspect, negation, and focus. Subject agreement is expressed in three ways: suffixation, pronominal proclitics and unreduced personal pronouns. Similarly, verbs displaya twofold tense distinction: past and non-past. Furthermore, verbs mark perfective and imperfective aspects. The imperfective aspect subsumes two types of aspects: habitual and progressive. Negation in Borna is commonly expressed in two ways, by affixation and by using a lexically negative word.Itwasidentified that verbal and nonverbal clauses follow different strategies of negation formation. The verbal clauses are negated morphologically, whereas the non-verbal clauses are negated by introducing a lexically negative word to the clause. Focus is expressed in three ways in Borna: by suffixation, by word orderalternation and by cleft constructions. It was also noted that some copula markers are also used to make an emphasis. In the language, either a constituent of a sentence or a whole sentence can be focused. Nonetheless, it is only one constituent of a clause that can be focused at a time. The study has also revealed that there are major morphophonemic processes operating in the language. These are an insertion, deletion, assimilation, internal change and verb final consonant alternation. Regarding copula clauses, it has been shown that the copula subject and the non-verbal copula predicate is linked by different bound morphemes attached to the copula complement. It was identified that the choice among the copula markers is determined by the copula subject. Finally, the nature of multi-verb constructions is identified. The multi-verb constructions are SVC, ideophone based multi-verbs, and converbs. The SVCs are formed by juxtaposing two verbs without the intervention of any other element. Similarly, the ideophone based multi-verbs are formed by juxtaposing an ideophone and dummy verb. The converbs are marked by two morphemes whose choice is determined by the aspect of the verb.



description of the verb, morphology of Borna