The noncausal/causal alternation in Kagulu, an East Ruvu Bantu language of Tanzania

Sebastian Dom, Leora Bar-El, Ponsiano Sawaka Kanijo, Malin Petzell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the formal correspondences between the members of verb pairs participating in the noncausal/causal alternation in Kagulu, a Bantu language from Tanzania. Our investigation shows that Kagulu has a predominance of equipollent verb pairs, with the anticausative and causative correspondences following close behind. We argue that, diachronically, the causative correspondence was much more prominent than it is in present-day Kagulu. However, due to morphophonological changes triggered by the historical causative suffix *-i, a significant number of verb pairs that are diachronically causative can be synchronically reanalyzed as equipollent. This study highlights the complexity of diachronic morphology in synchronic analyses of comparative-typological phenomena such as the noncausal/causal alternation, and contributes to the growing body of research on noncausal/causal verb pairs in African languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-153
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of African Languages and Linguistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


  • Bantu
  • Kagulu
  • diachrony versus synchrony
  • noncausal-causal alternation
  • verbal derivation


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