Transitive L verbs (grade 2) and transitive H verbs (grades 1, 4, 5 and 6) in Hausa verbal compounds

Joseph McIntyre


This paper examines Hausa verbal compounds in terms of the division of regular verbs
(verbs in the “grade system”) into verbs which have a High or Low tone first syllable. The
focus of the paper is the surprisingly small number of transitive L-verbs (verbs beginning
with a Low tone – “grade 2”) and their limited use of compound markers which contrasts
strongly with the frequency of transitive H-verbs (verbs beginning with a High tone) and
their markers. I also describe several devices (e.g. grade-switching and covert subjects)
which “allow” the formation of verbal compounds with transitive L-verbs.


Hausa; verbal compounds; (modified) grade system

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