Applicative voice

Applicative voice

The applicative voice is a grammatical voice which promotes an oblique argument of a verb to the (core) patient argument, and indicates the oblique role within the meaning of the verb. When the applicative voice is applied to a verb, its valency may be increased by one, and intransitive verbs may be converted to transitive verbs. For example, in Yagua "He blows into it" may be expressed as "saduu ráviimú", where "saduu" is "blow" with a third person subject, and "ráviimú" is an oblique meaning "into an inanimate object." Expressed with an applicative it is "saduutára", where "ta" is a locative applicative and the locative oblique is no longer present. The verb indicates both the agent as before and adds a patient/object through "ra"; the verb is thus now a transitive one. Applicative constructions are found in various languages, particularly in highly agglutinative languages, such as Bella Coola ("Nuxálk"), Ubykh, Ainu and Bemba.

A language may have multiple applicatives, each corresponding to such different roles as comitative, locative, instrumental, and benefactive. Sometimes various applicatives will be expressed by the same morpheme, such as in the Bantu language Chichewa, where the morpheme "-ir-" forms both instrumental and locative applicatives. Some languages, such as Luganda, permit a 'second applicative' (known in Luganda as the Augmentive Applied), formed by a double application of the infix. In this case the second applicative is used to give an alternative meaning.

Applicatives may also be the only way of expressing such roles, as in the Bantu language Kichaga, where instrumental, benefactive, malefactive, and locative are formed solely by applicatives. In other languages applicatives coexist with other methods of expressing said roles. In these languages applicatives are often used to bring a normally oblique argument into special focus, or as in Nez Percé, to keep humans as core arguments.

Applicatives have a degree of overlap with causatives, and in some languages the two are realised identically. While differing from true applicatives, a similar construction known as dative shifting occurs in other languages, including English.


*cite book
first = Mark
last = Aronoff
coauthors = Kirsten Fudeman
year = 2005
title = What is Morphology?
publisher = Blackwell Publishing Ltd
id = ISBN 0-631-20319-2

*cite book
first = Sam
last = Mchombo
year = 1998
title = The Handbook of Morphology
chapter = 25: Chichewa
editor = Andrew Spencer and Arnold M. Zwicky
publisher = Blackwell Publishers Ltd
id = ISBN 0-631-22694-X

*cite book
first = Marianne
last = Mithun
year = 2001
title = The Languages of Native North America
publisher = Cambridge University Press
id = ISBN 0-521-23228-7

*cite book
first = Thomas
last = Payne
year = 1997
title = Describing Morphosyntax: A Guide for Field Linguists
publisher = Cambridge University Press
id = ISBN 0-521-58805-7

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