Analysing converbs

Author : Igor Nedjalkov

Publication date : 1993

Bibliographical references :

Nedjalkov, Igor. 1993. "Questionnaire on Converbs".


This questionnaires, based on semantics and syntax, aims to guide the linguist in their investigation on converbs.

Protocol summary

This questionnaire is made up of 17 questions to be answered. Each question goes along with a list of English sentences to be translated in the target language. Translated sentences are required to be at least accompanied by a morphemic line, but the full translation is not necessary.
It is divided into three major parts:
- Formal characteristics of converbs (questions 1-5)
- Semantic properties (questions 6-10)
- Syntactic properties (questions 11-17).

Development context

"A non-combined (or prototypical) converb may be defined (a) positively - as a verb form semantically related to another verb form, and (b) negatively - as a verb form which does not occur in the position (1) of the predicate of a simple non-elliptical sentence, (2) of the attribute to a noun, (3) of the complement in complement (object) clauses, (4) of the subject. In the above mentioned four positions the following verb forms occur: (1) a finite form, (2) a participle, (3) an infinitive, (4) a gerund. [...] A converb may be also defined as a non-finite verb form whose main function is to mark adverbial subordination. (Martin Haspelmath, p.c.). Prototypical converbs are opposed to combined converbs which in addition to their main converbal function may also perform one (or several) of the other functions mentioned above. [...] Thus, converbs may be typologized in accordance with the quantity of syntactic functions they may perform and also restrictions of their use in different syntactic functions. [...] From the semantic point of view converbs may be divided, first of all, into specialized (which express one, more rarely two clear-cut meanings) and non-specialized or contextual (the interpretation of one of their meanings depends upon a definite set of conditions, e.g. the lexical meanings of the verbs involved or upon the context). (Nedjalkov, 1993: 1)

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