Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Magdalena KRZYŻANOWSKA, Universität Hamburg, Germany

Amharic epistemic verbs may be divided into two groups: those which entail knowledge on the part of the speaker, such as awwäqä ‘know’, gäbba(w) ‘understand’, tägänäzzäbä ‘realize’, and those which do not entail knowledge, like assäbä ‘think’, ammänä ‘believe’, gämmätä ‘assume’. All these verbs require two core arguments: an experiencer in the subject slot (A) and a complement clause in the object slot (O). In a sentence the complement clause always precedes the main clause; the two are linked paratactically. The aim of my paper is to analyse what kinds of complement clauses Amharic epistemic verbs may take and what is the semantic difference between the various kinds of complements. There are three methods of epistemic verb complementation: the complement clause may be a non-finite clause introduced by the complementizer ǝndä- ‘that’, a finite clause introduced by the inflectable subordinate linker bǝlo ‘he saying:’ or it may appear as a nominalized clause. I will show that the two above-mentioned groups of Amharic epistemic verbs show different preferences as to their choice of a complement clause strategy. Thus, the epistemic verbs which entail knowledge on the part of the speaker take either the ǝndä- complement clause or the nominalized clause. Those epistemic verbs which entail lack of knowledge on the part of the speaker can take the ǝndä- complement, the bǝlo complement or in some cases the nominalized clause. I will try to explain what the meaning of each of these three complement types is and, at the same time, why the ǝndä- complement clause and the nominalized clause are semantically compatible with both groups of epistemic verbs.