Structural Properties of Rutooro Ditransitive Constructions

a lexical functional analysis


  • Bebwa Isingoma Gulu University


Ditransitive verbs in Rutooro (JE12, Uganda) are mainly realized multimorphemically in the double object constructions (DOC), while there are a few cases of prepositional phrase constructions (PPC). Couched within the Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG) formalism, the current study shows that despite the existence of both the DOC and the PPC in Rutooro, it seems implausible to posit that the derivation process of the verb in the DOC involves the permutation of grammatical functions by rearranging semantic participants of the base verb to different grammatical relations, as Ndoleriire & Oriikiriza (1996) suggest in consonance with Kroeger's (2004) applicative rule. Rather, this study reverts to Alsina & Mchombo's (1993) applicative rule, and augments it so as to accommodate both the DOC and PPC, whereby all multimorphemic ditransitive verbs in Rutooro are derived from monotransitive verbs which have the potential of introducing a third argument (Harford 1993) by means of a verb extension mechanism or provided that such verbs can be used with appropriate prepositional phrases. Since the Rutooro goal PPC is constrained by the 'locomotional criterion' (Isingoma 2012), there are very few occurrences of goal PPCs in Rutooro, which moreover are ambiguous. While structural ambiguity is usually resolved in LFG by providing a different constituent structure for each meaning, the ambiguity of the Rutooro PPC cannot be resolved at this level, since one interpretation contains a non-overt NP that would appear here as an empty category in contravention of LFG axioms. Thus, a functional structure that treats the non-overt NP as 'higher structure' (cf. Attia 2008) is posited in one of the interpretations.




How to Cite

Isingoma, B. (2021). Structural Properties of Rutooro Ditransitive Constructions: a lexical functional analysis. Linguistica Atlantica, 39(1). Retrieved from