The associative copulative and expression of bodily discomfort in Northern Sotho

  • Mampaka Lydia Mojapelo Department of African Languages University of South Africa
Keywords: Associative copulative, verb classes, bodily discomfort, troponymy, Northern Sotho


This article discusses one of the meanings expressed by the associative copulative construction with -na le, ‘have’ in Northern Sotho, namely to ‘physically experience discomfort’, ‘suffer from’ or ‘be ill with’ something. In light of alternative available verbs that are employed to express the same concept in specific ways, this article aims to investigate the occurrence of such alternative verbs, their semantic relationship with -na le ‘have’ and with each other. A lexical semantics investigation involving verb classes, selectional restrictions and paradigmatic sense relations reveals that -na le ‘have’ functions as a superordinate in a troponymy relationship with these verbs. It also shows that these verbs are not on the same level in the hierarchical scheme, placing -bolaya ‘kill’, -tshwenya ‘trouble’ and -swara ‘catch’/ ‘hold’ just below -na le ‘have’ as they select both body-part and affliction arguments. The rest of the verbs are positioned on a lower level, selecting either body-part or affliction.