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Ma- Verbs in Amis: A Role and Reference Grammar Analysis 1

By Joy Wu


This paper analyzes the verbs prefixed with ma- in Amis, a Formosan Austronesian language spoken in the east coast of Taiwan. This marker is notorious for its semantic complexity, which is manifested in its dual or even multiple presences in verb classes and voice marking. In this paper, I try to elucidate this complexity within the framework of Role and Reference Grammar (Van Valin and LaPolla 1997). In addition to the earlier verb classifying criteria such as argument structure and derivational process, ma- verbs are categorized primarily classified into activity verbs, state verbs, and active accomplishment verbs based on their properties of lexical aspect, and each class is represented with logical structures. The case marking patterns of ma- will fall out from their respective logical structures. For ma- verbs that have BECOME in the logical structures, they will follow the genitive-nominative pattern, while the nominative-dative pattern is found with maverbs lacking BECOME in their logical structures. The RRG analysis can thus help resolve the complexity of ma- without resorting the confusing “voice ” (or focus) status of this affix. 1

Year: 2013
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