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Luganda applicatives

This page has been created by the TypeCraft Project

--Typecraft (talk) 12:59, 1 May 2016 (CEST)


The study of Bantu applicatives has a long tradition. Here are some references ordered by language[1]:

  • Sesotho – Morolong & Hyman, 1977; Machobane, 1989; Demuth, 2003;
  • Haya – Duranti & Byarushengo, 1977; Hyman & Duranti, 1982;
  • Chichewa – Marantz, 1984; Baker, 1988; Alsina & Mchombo 1990;
  • Kichaga – Bresnan & Moshi, 1990;
  • Chishona – Harford, 1993
  • Bemba - Marten, 2011


Bantu languages differ in whether they allow symmetric or asymmetric applicatives. Luganda belongs to the former class, which means that both objects behave like core objects: they can become the subject of a passive construction, and they can be expressed as pre-verbal pronominal affixes on the applicativized verb.

Two question areas stand central in the linguistic literature on applicativization in Banut: (a) Which arguments can be applicativized, and, under applicativization, is the applied argument independently lexicalized or expressed within the verb, or both? (b) which syntactic verb classes allow applicativization, can for example also ditransitive verbs be applicativized and do all verb classes support applicatives?

In the following we will focus our description of the Luganda applicative on six salient properties, using IGT examples from the TypeCraft's public Luganda corpus. The corpus contains at the point of writing (April 2016) 94 sentences where at least one verb is glossed for having an applicative extension.

These are the parameters we have considered:

  • The thematic role of the applied argument (AA)
  • The syntactic category of the AA (e.g. PN, N, PP)
  • Presence of argument indices
  • Linearization of the objects in ditransitive applicatives
  • Applied object topicalization
  • Applied object relativization


(1) VERB: tunuula Meaning: 'look', see' , Thematic Role: Stimulus, Argument index: "ki" is class 7, which gives a pejorative meaning to the applicativized object, Topicalization: -


(2) VERB: leeta Meaning: 'bring, Thematic Role: Beneficiary, AA-Category: AA not independently lexicalised , Argument index: + , Topicalization: -


(3)VERB:"nywa",'Meaning: 'drink', Themantic Role: Location, AA-Category: AA not lexicalized independently, Argument index: Locative endclitic on the verb, Topicalisation: -


(4) VERB: "kola" Meaning: 'do', AA':Bebe Cool Thematic Role: Beneficiary, AA-Category: Np , Argument index: -, Topicalisation: -


(5)VERB: tunuula Meaning: 'look', 'see' AA: akazimbe kaganyegenya , Thematic Role: Stimulus, AA_Category: CN Argument index: -, Topicalisation: -


(6)VERB: soma, Meaning': 'read',Themantic Role: Malficiary, AA-Category: AA not lexicalized independently, Argument index: +, Topicalisation: - Note: The meaning read to me is here interpreted as talking bad about me (might be a slang expression)


(7)VERB:suula Meaning: throw, Thematic Role: Theme, AA-Category: AA not lexicalised independently,Argument index: DIM.12, Topicalisation: -



(8)VERB: kaaba, Meaning: cry, AA: waggulu, Thematic Role: Locative, Category: CN/ADV place, Argument index: -, Topicalisation: -


(9)VERB: buuka Meaning: jump , AA: ebintu, Themantic Role: Locative, Category: CN, Argument Index: Locative; endclitic on the verb Topicalisation: -, Relativisation: +


(10)VERB: kaaba Meaning: cry AA: nju, Themantic Role: Locative, Category: PP


(11)VERB:"jjuza" Meaning: 'fill', ''Themantic Role: Beneficiary, AA-Category: Argument is not lexicalised, Argument index: -, Topicalisation: - Applicativized verb is an infinitive, main verb is an imperative. Applicative is an infix


(12)VERB:"tubuula" Meaning: 'look', Themantic Role : Stimulus, AA-Category: Argument is not lexicalised, Argument index: 3SG, animate, Topicalisation: -



(13)VERB:"tubuula" Meaning': 'look', AA: 'omusajja',Themantic Role : Stimuli, AA-Category: NP Argument index: -, Topicalisation: -


(14)VERB: fi Meaning: 'die', AA: 'mu leeba' , AA-Category: PP, Topicalisation: - Comment: the expression die in labour undergoes locative applicativization.


(15) VERB:"buuka" Meaning: 'jump', AA: 'kantu', Themantic Role : Location, AA-Category: NP Locative/Relative Marker: ko, Topicalisation: - Relativisation:+


(16)VERB: suula Meaning': 'throw', Themantic Role: Theme, Argument Index: DIM.12., Topicalisation: -


(17)VERB:"buuka" Meaning: 'jump', AA: ebintu, Themantic Role : Location, AA-Category: NP Locative/Relative Marker: 'ko', Topicalisation: - Relativisation:+


(18) applicative copula construction


(19) VERB 'kola' Meaning: 'do', Themantic Role: Beneficiary, AA-category: AA not independently lexicalised, Argument index: 3PL, Topicalization: -


(20) VERB: 'kasuka' Meaning: 'throw', Thematic Role:Recipiant, AA-category: AA not independently lexicalised,Argument index: 3PL , Relativisation:+


(21)VERB: 'tandika' Meaning: 'begin', Thematic Role: Event, AA-category: deverbal noun,


(22) VERB: 'gejj', Meaning: 'throw', Thematic Role: Reason, AA-category: CN, Topicalization: -


(23) VERB: yuza Meaning: 'tear', AA: olugoye lwange, Thematic Role: Patient, AA-category:CN, Argument index: 1SG, Topicalization: - , Comment: The applicativized argument is of class 11.It is a possessive NP (1.SG).



(24) VERB: okoza Meaning: 'wash' AA:lubalaza., Thematic Role: Location, AA-category:PP, Comment: the applicative extension is an infix


(25)VERB: jagua, Meaning: 'celebrate', AA:amazaalibwa, Thematic Role: Patient, AA-category: the AA is not independently lexicalised, Argument index: 6, Topicalisation : -, Comment: Annotation error, The applicative extension is an infix


(26)VERB: fuuka, Meaning: 'turn against'


(27) VERB: som, Meaning: talk, Themantic Role: Subject matter, AA-category: AA is not independently realized,


(28)VERB: ŋond, MEANING: 'easier', 'softer', Themantic Role: Beneficiary, AA-category: AA is not independently realized,


(29)VERB: w Meaning: 'give'


(30)VERB: w Meaning: 'give'


  1. Proper references will be added shortly