Vol. 33 No. 1 (2024): Nordic Journal of African Studies
General articles

Ditransitive Constructions in Lugbarati: A Preliminary Study

Peace Yikiru
Gulu University
Bebwa Isingoma
Gulu University

Published 2024-03-28


  • Ditransitive constructions, double object construction, prepositional phrase construction, Lugbarati, prior possession

How to Cite

Yikiru, P., & Isingoma, B. (2024). Ditransitive Constructions in Lugbarati: A Preliminary Study. Nordic Journal of African Studies, 33(1), 47–67. https://doi.org/10.53228/njas.v33i1.1033


This study examines how ditransitive constructions are realized in Lugbarati, a Central Sudanic language of the Moru-Madi subphylum. Lugbarati has both the double object construction (DOC) and what we refer to as the adpositional phrase construction (APC) configurations, with the former having two NPs as its non-subject arguments, and the latter having an NP and a complex NP – containing a suffixed adposition – as its non-subject arguments. However, for the DOC to occur in Lugbarati, the construction must meet a semantic criterion that requires ‘prior possession’ of the theme/patient referent by the recipient/beneficiary referent. Crucially, Lugbarati has three constituent orders in which ditransitive constructions manifest themselves, namely SVOO, SOVO, and SOOV, with SVOO corresponding to the SVO basic constituent order, while SOVO and SOOV correspond to the SOV constituent order. While the first constituent order accommodates only verbs in the perfective aspect, the other two only accommodate verbs in the imperfective aspect. Using the architecture of Lexical Functional Grammar, the study theoretically delineates the general syntactic properties of ditransitive constructions in Lugbarati, as well as the pronominalization of arguments in these constructions, since non-animate internal arguments in Lugbarati are grammatically realized as null elements. These are represented by a higher structure value (H-STR), whose grammatical specifications are retrieved from discourse referents congruently with the lexical entries of the predicate.


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