The Banarasi Bhojpuri verb system

Susan Blair Das, University of Pennsylvania


Previous descriptions of the Bhojpuri verb system have tended to focus on the Southern Standard dialect. Descriptions of the Western Bhojpuri dialects have not accounted for the full range of forms and, except for a few more recent studies, are quite dated. Most Bhojpuri dialects have two present indicative "be" verbs (√bā- or √bāt- and √ha-). In their main verb functions, √bā- has been described as an existential copula, and √ha- as an identificational one. In Southern Bhojpuri, the use of √ha- as an auxiliary is very restricted, but this root serves all present indicative auxiliary functions in Western Bhojpuri, along with √bā-. The patterning of √ha- and √bā- in their full range of semantic functions has nowhere been described. The present study details the verb system of Banarasi Bhojpuri, the Western Bhojpuri dialect native to the Indian city of Varanasi. It draws its data from sociolinguistic interviews recorded during fieldwork in the city in 1995 and transcribed to computer files. A basic outline of the Banarasi Bhojpuri verb system, obtained through library research and discussions with native speakers, was verified and expanded upon by careful readings of the transcriptions. A computer search conducted of the transcriptions revealed all tokens of √bā- and √ha-. These were coded for speaker and semantic function. Examples from the interviews are provided for each type of verb formation described. Included are a description of long and short verb stems, a discussion of the many Bhojpuri infinitives, and a reanalysis of the la- Present as a participle plus auxiliary verb. The accuracy of the hypothesis that √ha- is "identificational" and √bā- is "existential" is demonstrated. Within copular clauses, the specificational versus equative distinction proves important, and specificational sentences show patterns similar to the existentials. Among existentials, the presence of negation favors the use of √bā-. As an auxiliary verb, √bā- is found to be more common with the Continuous Present than with the Present Perfect, a finding analyzed as limited evidence that √ha- is favored in individual-level predications and √bā- in stage-level predications.

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Recommended Citation

Das, Susan Blair, "The Banarasi Bhojpuri verb system" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3211055.