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In linguistics, a causative (abbreviated CAUS) is a form that indicates that a subject causes someone or something else to do or be something, or causes a change in state of a non-volitional event.

All languages have ways to express causation, but differ in the means. Some languages have morphological devices (such as inflection) that change verbs into their causative forms, or adjectives into verbs of becoming. Other languages employ periphrasis, with idiomatic expressions or auxiliary verbs. All languages also have lexical causative forms (such as English riseraise).

Note that the prototypical English causative is make, rather than cause. Linguistic terms traditionally are given names with a Romance root, which has led some to believe that cause is the more prototypical. While cause is a causative, it carries some lexical meaning (it implies direct causation) and is less common than make. Also, while most other English causative verbs require a to complement clause (e.g. "My mom caused me to eat broccoli"), make does not (e.g. "My mom made me eat broccoli"), at least when not being used in the passive.[2]:36–7


There are various ways of encoding causation, which form somewhat of a continuum of "compactness."[2]:74–5


In many cases, a language simply uses a different lexical item to indicate a causative form. For example, the causative of English rise is raise, and the causative of eat is feed. English allows a notable freedom in verb valency, resulting in verbs like break, burn or awake, which may be causative or not (he burns it = he causes it to burn). Causativeness is therefore zero-marked in many English verbs.

In Japanese, there are a large number of verbs that alternate in various semi-regular patterns between intransitive forms and causative transitive forms, for example:

  • agaru "to go up, to rise" → ageru "to raise"
  • magaru "to turn" → mageru "to bend"
  • kowareru "to be broken" → kowasu "to (cause to) break"
  • kaeru "to go back" → kaesu "to send back"

For the purpose of syntax, a derivation that turns an adjective or noun into a "verb of becoming" works the same as a causative construction for intransitive verbs. For example, in English the derivational suffixes -(i)fy can be thought of as a causative:

  • simplesimplify = "to make simple", "to cause (sthg.) to become simple"
  • objectobjectify = "to make into an object", "to cause (sthg.) to become an object" (figuratively, that is)


There are eight different morphological processes by which a causative may be marked, roughly organized by compactness[2]:34:

Process Basic Verb Causative Form Language
internal change tìkti 'be suitable' táikyti 'make suitable' Lithuanian
tone change nɔ̂ (high falling) 'be awake' nɔ̄ (low level) 'awaken, rouse' Lahu
consonant repetition xarab 'go bad' xarrab 'make go bad, ruin' Gulf Arabic
vowel lengthening mar 'die' ma:r 'kill' Kashmiri
reduplication bengok 'shout' be-bengok 'make shout' Javanese
prefix gǝbba 'enter' a-gǝbba 'insert' Amharic
suffix -kam- 'die' -kam-isa- 'kill' K'iche'
circumfix -č'am- 'eat' -a-č'm-ev- 'feed (make eat)' Georgian

Within morphological causatives, this degree of compactness bears an important variable when considering the semantics of the two processes. For example, mechanisms that do not change the length of the word (internal change, tone change) are shorter than those that lengthen it. Of those that lengthen it, shorter changes are more compact than longer.

Two verbs in one predicate[edit]

A number of languages involve a form of analytic causative which involves two verbs in a single predicate. This occurs in French, Spanish, Italian, and Catalan[2]:35. For example, when French faire is used as a causative, the causee noun phrase cannot occur between it and the next verb.[4]

je ferai manger les gâteaux à Jean
1sgA make+FUT+1sg eat+INF the cakes CAKES Jean
"I shall make Jean eat the cakes." [2]:35

Note that unlike most other Romance languages, Portuguese employs a periphrastic construction like English, discuss below.

Kiowa employs a similar mechanism. Verbs can be compounded with the transitive verb ɔ́m to create a causative[5]:

"Go ahead and run it [the tape recorder]!" (lit. "make it start off")

Periphrastic constructions[edit]

Some languages use a periphrastic construction in order to express causation. This typically includes two verbs and two clauses. English causatives prototypically use make (though other verbs such as cause, order, allow or force can be used) in the main clause with the lexical verb in a subordinate clause, as in "I made him go." [2]:35–7

Other languages, such as Persian[6]have the opposite syntax: the causative is in a subordinating clause and the main verb is in the main clause. The following example from Macushi shows this:

[imakui'pî kupî Jesus-ya] emapu'tî yonpa-'pî makui-ya teuren
bad do Jesus-ERG CAUS try-PAST Satan-ERG FRUST
"Satan unsuccessfully tried to make Jesus do bad."[8]

Canela-Krahô has a combination of the two, where the causee is marked twice, once in each clause:

Capi te [i-jōt na] i-to
"Capi made me sleep."[9].

Portuguese also has a periphrastic construction like English, unlike most other Romance languages:

Eu fiz José comer os bolos
1sg make+PAST+1sg Name eat+INFIN the cakes
"I made José eat the cakes."[10]


A language may have one or more different formal mechanisms for expression causation. For languages with only one, the semantic range is broad. For those with multiple, there is always a semantic difference between the two.[2]:61 R.M.W. Dixon breaks down these semantic differences into 9 parameters, involving the verb itself, the causee, and the causer[2]:62–73:

(a) Parameters that relate to the verb itself
  • 1. State/Action: Can the causative apply to state and process verbs or does it apply to action verbs?
  • 2. Transitivity: Does the causative apply to only intransitives, to intransitives and some transitives, or to all verbs?
(b) Parameters that relate to the thing being caused (the original S or A)
  • 3. Control: Does the causee have control of the activity?
  • 4. Volition: Does the causee do the action willingly or unwillingly?
  • 5. Affectedness: Is the causee completely or partially affected?
(c) Parameters that relate to the causer (the new A in a causative construction)
  • 6. Directness: Does the causer act directly or indirectly?
  • 7. Intention: Is the result achieved accidentally or intentionally?
  • 8. Naturalness: Does the activity happen fairly naturally or is it with effort, violence, or force?
  • 9. Involvement: How involved was the causer in the activity?

These parameters are not mutually exclusive. Many causative constructions involve the semantics of two or more parameters. However, the difference between the causatives in a language most likely will be distinguished by one of the parameters.

Relationship between semantics and mechanisms[edit]

Dixon shows that there is a strong correlation between the semantics of a causative and the mechanism by which it is expressed. The following table shows this relationship[2]:76. In this table, L refers to lexical causatives, M1 refers to more compact morphological processes while M2 refers to less compact processes, CP refers to complex predicates (two verbs, one predicate), and P refers to periphrastic constructions. These processes are explained more clearly in the devices section above.

Parameter Meaning Mechanism Language
Causative type 1 Causative type 2 Causative type 1 Causative type 2
1 state action M1 M2 Amharic
M P Bahasa Indonesian, Malay
2 intransitive all transitive M P Austronesian languages, Mayan languages, etc.
intransitive and simple transitive ditransitive M P Basque, Abkhaz
3 causee lacking control causee having control L M Japanese
M1 M2 Creek
4 causee willing causee unwilling M1 M2 Swahili
M CP Tangkhul Naga
M P Swahili
5 causee partially affected causee fully affected M1 M2 Tariana
6 direct indirect M1 M2 Nivkh, Apalaí, Hindi, Jingpaw
M P Buru, Chrau, Alamblak, Mixtec, Korean
7 intentional accidental M CP Kammu
P M plus P Chrau
8 naturally with effort L M Fijian
L P English
M P Russian, Tariana

Note that Parameter 9, Involvement, cannot be included in the table because the only two languages with this distinction, Nomatsiguenga and Kamayurá, the morphemes are about the same length[2]:75. When a larger sample of languages show this distinction, perhaps this parameter can be included in the table.

The table shows that for each of eight semantic parameters outlined in the semantics section above, more compact causative processes show one distinction while less compact processes show the other distinction. For example, Parameter 6 distinguishes between more direct and less direct causation. In Hindi, M1, or the shorter morphological process, shows direct causation while M2, the longer morphological process, shows indirect causation.

Summarizing the table, Dixon has give two prototypes for causatives[2]:77:

Prototype 1
  • Causer achieves the result natural, intentionally, and directly
  • Causee either lacking control or being willing and may be partially affected
  • Less transitive verbs affected
Prototype 2
  • Causer achieves the result accidentally, with effort, or acts indirectly
  • Causee is in control but unwilling and is completely affected.
  • More likely to apply to all types of verbs

All eight of the components in each prototype are never attested in a single causative. However, a single process may have two or three components. Dixon admits to these being very tentative and in need for further investigation[2]:77–8.

Susceptibility to causativization[edit]

Shibatani (2001) classifies verbs into four categories, according to how susceptible they are to morphological causativization:

  1. Inactive intransitives [=unaccusatives], e.g., 'faint'
  2. Middle/ingestive verbs, e.g., 'eat'
  3. Active intransitives [=unergatives], e.g., 'work'
  4. Transitive verbs, e.g., 'carry'

In what can be seen as a re-characterization of Dixon’s (2000) criteria (2; transitive/intransitive/ditrasitive), (6; ‘directness of causer action’) and (8; ‘causer effort’), Shibatani argues that this hierarchy of susceptibility to causativization can be characterized in terms of the semantic role of the causer, which he characterizes, in turn, in terms of the difficulty the causer experiences in bringing about the caused event. He argues [in terms reminiscent of Talmy’s (2003) force dynamics] that a patientive causee [S, who prototypically is reassigned to O] poses less resistance than an agentive causee; in the former case, the only counterforce to overcome is the causee’s inertia, either in continuing to be at rest or in continuing to undergo a change. In the latter case (some kind of caused agency), however, causation requires the participation of another entity: in force-dynamic terms, the potential resistance is greater [and, causer control over the realization of [Veffect] is lower], hence the hierarchy:

  • inactive intransitives > active intransitives > transitives.[11]

Changes of state[edit]

In languages with stative verbs (equivalent to English adjectives), the acquisition of a quality, or changes of state, can be expressed with causatives in the same way as with regular verbs. For example, if there is a stative verb to be large, the causative will simply mean to enlarge, to make grow. The reflexive form of this causative can then be used to mean to enlarge oneself, or even as a middle voice, to grow.

Syntactic causative constructions[edit]

A causative form or phrase can be thought of as a valency-increasing voice operation, which adds one argument. If the original verb is intransitive, then the causative construction as a whole is transitive: to fallto make (sbdy./sth.) fall, to topple (sbdy./sth.), or indeed, to fell, a fossilised form from when causatives were an inflexional part of English grammar. If the original verb is transitive, the causative is ditransitive: to eat (sth.)to make (sbdy.) eat (sth.), to feed (sth.) to (sbdy.).

Causative voice[edit]

The causative voice is a grammatical voice promoting the oblique argument of a transitive verb to an actor argument. When the causative voice is applied to a verb, its valency increases by one. If, after the application of the grammatical voice, there are two actor arguments, one of them is obligatorily demoted to an oblique argument.

Japanese and Mongolian are examples of languages with the causative voice. The following are examples from Japanese:

Tanaka-kun ga atsume-ru
name NOM collect-PRES
"Tanaka collects them."
Tanaka-kun ni atsume-sase-yō
name DAT collect-CAUS-COHORT
"Let's get Tanaka to collect them."
kodom ga hon o yom-u
children NOM book ACC read-PRES
"Children read books."
kodomo ni hon o yom-aseru
children DAT book ACC read-CAUS-PRES
"(They) make children read books."



Shibatani[12] lists three criteria for entities and relations that must be encoded in linguistic expressions of causation:

  1. An agent causing or forcing another participant to perform an action, or to be in a certain condition
  2. The relation between [the] two events [=the causing event, and the caused performing/being event] is such that the speaker believes that the occurrence of one event, the ‟caused event,” has been realized at t2, which is after t1, the time of the ‟causing event”
  3. The relation between causing event and caused event is such that the speaker believes the occurrence of the caused event depends wholly on the occurrence of the causing event—the dependency of the two events here must be to the extent that it allows the speaker a counterfactual inference that the caused event would not have taken place at a particular time if the causing event had not taken place, provided that all else had remained the same.[citation needed]

This set of definitional prerequisites allows for a broad set of types of relationships based, at least, on the lexical verb, the semantics of the causer, the semantics of the causee and the semantics of the construction explicitly encoding the causal relationship. Many analysts (Comrie (1981), Song (1996), Dixon (2000) and others) have worked to tease apart what factors (semantic or otherwise) account for the distribution of causative constructions, as well as to document what patterns actually occur cross-linguistically.


Bernard Comrie[13] focuses on the typology of the syntax and semantics of causative constructions proper. Crucially, Comrie (and others to be discussed here) distinguish between the linguistic encoding of causal relations and other extra-linguistic concerns such as the nature of causation itself and questions of how humans perceive of causal relations. While certainly not irrelevant, these extra-linguistic questions will, for now, be left aside. Comrie usefully characterizes causative events in terms of two (or more) microevents perceived of composing a macroevent, and encoded in a single expression (of varying size and form). Formally, he categorizes causatives into 3 types, depending on the contiguity of the material encoding the causing event and that encoding the caused event. These are: 1) lexical causatives, in which the two events are expressed in a single lexical item, as in the well-discussed case of English kill; 2) morphological causatives, in which the causing event and the caused event are encoded in a single verbal complex via causative morphology, and, prototypically, morphological marking showing the status of affected arguments. Finally, Comrie discusses analytic causatives, in which the causing event and the caused event are encoded in separate clauses.

Comrie’s work is also noteworthy for having brought the notion of syntactic hierarchy to bear on the typology of causative constructions. A hierarchy of grammatical relations had already been formulated to help explain possibilities for relative clause formation (first presented as Keenan and Comrie’s (1972) NP accessibility hierarchy; see Croft 1990: 147), and Comrie argued that a similar hierarchy was in play, at least in some constructions, in the marking of the original A argument when a base transitive clause is causativized. The hierarchy is as follows:

  • subject > direct object > indirect object > oblique > genitive

Comrie’s argument was, in short, that some causativized-transitive constructions mark the new A as belonging to the leftmost available slot in the above hierarchy. Dixon (2000) fleshes out a version this analysis in more detail.


Presenting a typology of causatives and causation based on a database of 600 languages, Song[14] is very critical of typological work that depends on statistical inference, citing data from the Niger-Congo family that contradicts some earlier claims that “languages within genera are generally fairly similar typologically”.[citation needed] Song therefore culls data from every language for which adequate documentation is available to him, and categorizes the various causative constructions gleaned therefrom into three classes: COMPACT, AND and PURP.

Song employs the following terminology:

  • [Scause] – the clause which denotes a causing event
  • [Seffect] – the clause which denotes the caused event
  • [Vcause] – verbal elements of [Scause]
  • [Veffect]- verbal elements of [Seffect][14]:20

The major differences between Song’s analysis and Comrie (1981) and Dixon (2000), is that Song lumps the range of lexical and morphological causatives together under the label COMPACT [14]:20, in which [Vcause] can be “less than a free morpheme” (e.g., bound morpheme [prefix, suffix, infix, circumfix, reduplication], zero-derivation, suppletion); or “a free morpheme”[14]:28, in which [Vcause] and [Veffect] form a single grammatical unit. I[who?] note that most of the examples given look like serial verb constructions, and no in-depth analysis is undertaken for some of the constructions in which [Vcause] and [Veffect] are less formally contiguous. Song notes this non-contiguity, but does not undertake to explain why it might be important.

The AND causative, for Song, is any construction with a separate [Scause] and [Seffect] i.e., in which “two clauses [are] involved”[14]:35. This, in theory, could include larger, multi-clausal expressions of causal relations which many analysts probably would not label a ‘causative construction’, e.g.: ‘It rained yesterday, so they stayed home’, but the boundaries of the AND causative category are not discussed.

One of Song’s major contributions to the literature[according to whom?] is fleshing out an analysis of his PURP causative. These are constructions which encode intended causation on the part of the causer, but which do not encode any outcome: i.e., the speaker encodes [Vcause] and causer intentionality, but remains agnostic as to whether [Veffect] was felicitously effected.


Leonard Talmy[15] conducts an in-depth investigation of different types of causal relations. Talmy refers to these as “lexicalization patterns,” a term which remains unclear to me[who?], given that few of the examples given in his discussion are lexical items, and most interpretations of “different types of causation incorporated in the verb root” are in fact wholly dependent on other morphosyntactic material in the clause. Let us[who?] first examine his list of possible (semantic) causative types [15]:69–70, with examples:

  • autonomous events (non-causative) The vase broke.
  • resulting-event causation The vase broke from a ball’s rolling into it.
  • causing-event causation A ball’s rolling into it broke the vase.
  • instrument causation A ball broke the vase.
  • author causation (unintended) I broke the vase in rolling a ball into it.
  • agent causation (intended) I broke the vase by rolling a ball into it.
  • undergoer situation (non-causative) My arm broke (on me) when I fell.
  • self-agentive causation I walked to the store.
  • caused agency (inductive causation) I sent him to the store.

One question remaining to be explored is how this set of divisions usefully differs from other analysts’ typologies of the semantics of encoding causal relations. Some overlap in the types of semantic information in play is immediately apparent, however: in cases of instrument causation (‘the hammer broke the cup’), we would certainly expect the ‘causer’ to be acting directly [Dixon’s criterion 6] and to be involved in the activity [criterion 9]; likewise, we would expect instances of caused agency to include more information on causee control on willingness [criteria 3 & 4].




In Sanskrit, there is a causative form of the verb (ṇijanta), which is used when the subject of a clause forces or makes the object perform an action. The causative suffix -ay is attached to the verbal root (this may cause vowel sandhi to take place).

  • bhū "to be, exist" → bhāv-ay; e. g. bhāvayati "he causes to be"
  • khad "to eat" → khād-ay; e. g. khādayāmi "I cause to eat" = "I feed"


In Proto-Germanic, the parent language of the Germanic dialects including English, causative verbs are formed by adding a suffix -j/ij- to the past-tense ablaut of a strong verb, with Verner's Law voicing applied. (All of these characteristics derive from the way that causative verbs are formed in Proto-Indo-European, with an accented -éy- suffix added to the o-grade of a non-derived verb.) Examples:

  • *rīsaną (I) "to rise" → *raizijaną "to raise", i.e. "to cause to rise"
  • *frawerþaną (III) "to perish" → *frawardijaną "to destroy", i.e. "to cause to perish"
  • *nesaną (V) "to survive" → *nazjaną "to save", i.e. "to cause to survive"
  • *ligjaną (V) "to lie down" → *lagjaną "to lay", i.e. "to cause to lie down"
  • *grētaną (VII) "to weep" → *grōtijaną "to cause to weep"

In English, to sit / to seat : to settle, and in German, sitzen/setzen : stehen/stellen form pairs of causatives/resultatives.


In Persian, causative form of the verb is made by adding ân(i)dan to the present stem:

  • xordan (to eat) → xor (present stem) → xorândan (to cause/make to eat)
  • xandidan (to laugh) → xand (present stem) → xandândan (to cause/make to laugh)


In Lithuanian, causative form of the verb is made by adding suffix -in- to the present stem:

  • skraidyti (to fly) → skraidinti (to make to fly)
  • sėdėti (to sit) → sodinti (to make to sit)
  • juoktis (to laugh) → juokinti (to make to laugh)


Latin has inherited a few Indo-European causatives.

  • *iaceo "to lie down" vs. *iacio "to throw"
  • *sedeo "to sit" → *sīdō, "to settle", from an older meaning "to put down"

Hindi and Urdu[edit]

Hindi and Urdu use the infix "-(l)ā-" and -(l)vā-" to render verbs causative.

  • karnā "to do" → karānā "to have done" → "karvānā" → "to have s.o. make s.o. do."
  • paṛhnā "to read" → parhānā "to make s.o. read" → "paṛhvānā" "to cause s.o. to make s.o. read."
  • hilnā "to move" → hilānā "to have moved" → hilvānā "to have s.o. make move."
  • pīnā "to drink" → pilānā "to have s.o. drink" → pilvānā "to have s.o. make s.o. drink" e.g.: "Usne naukrānī se bachchõ-ko pānī pilvāyā" - "She had the maid make the kids drink water."


In most Semitic languages there is a causative form of the verb. It is postulated that in Proto-Semitic the causative verbal stem was formed by the š- prefix, and this has become ʾa-, hi- or ī- in different languages.

  • Syriac: kəθav "he wrote" → ʾaxtev "he composed"
  • Arabic: ʿalima "he knew" → ʾaʿlama "he informed"
  • Hebrew: ṣaħak "he laughed" → hiṣħik "he made sb. laugh"

Arabic also has a causative form (Form II) created by gemination of the central consonant of the triliteral root, as follows:

  • ʿalima "he knew" → ʿallama "he taught"

The ʾa- form (Form IV), while used in Modern Standard Arabic, is no longer productive in many of the colloquial varieties of Arabic, which uniformly prefer Form II.


In Japanese there is a similar causative/obligative inflection: (causative affix in bold, imperfective suffix in italics)

  • 食べる taberu "to eat" → tabesaseru "to make to eat, to feed"
  • 読む yomu "to read" → yomaseru "to make to read"


Khmer has six prefixes and one infix to derive the causative form of verbs, although they vary in frequency and productiveness. The consonantal prefix p- is one of these affixes.

  • coap "joined" → pcoap "to join"
  • cum "around" → pcum "to gather"


Causative forms are also found in the Uralic languages of Europe, such as Finnish.

  • syödä "to eat" → syöttää "to feed"
  • täysi "full" → täyttää "to fill"
  • haihtua "to evaporate" → haihduttaa "to vaporize"

Notice that the causative suffix is often used irregularly and/or because of historical reasons, e.g. Finnish:

  • olla "to be" → olettaa "to assume", not "to make exist"
  • kirja- ancient "patterns (of embroidery or text)", but modern "book" → kirjoittaa "to write" ("transform into patterns of text"), not "to transform into books"



In the Māori language of New Zealand, the whaka- prefix can be added to a verb, for example:

  • ako "to learn" becomes whakaako "to teach" (to cause to learn)

Philippine languages[edit]

In Philippine languages such as Tagalog and Ilokano, the pa- prefix is added to verbal forms and to adjectives to form causatives.

  • dakkel "big (adj)" → padakkelen "to enlarge" (Ilokano)
  • kain "eat" → pakainin "to make eat, to feed" (Tagalog)


In Guaraní, an Amerindian language, there are three causatives, one for transitive and two for intransitive verbs.[16] In some texts the first one is called "coactive".[17]

The -uka suffix (or one of its allomorphes: -yka, -ka) is added to transitive verbs:[16]

  • ajapo "I make" → japouka "I make (someone) do".

The mbo- prefix is added to intransitive oral verbs, and mo- to nasal verbs:[16][17]

  • puka[18] "to laugh" → mbopuka "to make (someone) laugh"
  • guata[18] "to walk" → mboguata "to guide"
  • pu'ã[18] "to go up" → mopu'ã "to elevate"

The guero- (rero- or just ro-) prefix can also be added to intransitive verbs. It has a comitative meaning, translating roughly as "to cause something or someone to participate in an action with the subject":[19]

  • guata "to walk" → roguata "to make (someone) take a walk with (the subject)"

Notice that the same root (guata) can take both causatives, but take on different meanings.


Classical Nahuatl has a well-developed morphological system of expressing causation by means of the suffix -tia:

  • tlacua "he eats" → quitlacualtia "he feeds him/her/it" the causative makes the intransitive verb "eat something" into the bitransitive verb "feed someone something", requiring a pronominal prefix, in this case qui- "him/her/it")

Causativity is often used in honorific speech in Nahuatl, where rather than simply "doing" the honored person "causes himself to do".[20]


Rice makes the following points about morphological causatives in Athabaskan:[21]:212

  • In all Athabaskan languages surveyed [including Hupa, for which an ample data set is presented], the causativizing morphology can causativize at least some intransitive verbs with patientive subjects."[21]:200–2
  • For intransitive verbs with agentive patients, the family shows a split: only some languages allow morphological causativization in this case.[21]:208
  • Koyukon (Northern Athabaskan; Alaska) was found to be the only language in the survey allowing productive morphological causativization of transitive verbs."[21]:211
  • Perhaps the presence of the direct object pronoun in the causative construction has something to do with whether the causee is human or animate, or capable of being regarded as such. When the causee or the verb cannot be or is not perceived as a potential controller, then the pronoun is not found [in the Athabaskan languages surveyed].[citation needed]

The semantic factor of causee control; that is, the degree of control that that causee wields over the effecting of the caused microevent (also discussed as parameter #3 on Dixon’s (2000:62) list), and which Rice (2001) finds to be a major factor in other Athabaskan causatives, helps account for quite a bit of the distribution of the Hupa syntactic causative (below).


Golla, in his (1970) descriptive grammar of Hupa (summarized in Sapir and Golla (2001)), describes three classes of morphologically-derived causatives:

  1. causatives from descriptive neuters with ƚ-classifier (176)
    ni-whon’ ‘be good, beautiful’ → O ni-(w)-ƚ-whon’ ‘cause O to be beautiful’
  2. causatives from primary extension neuters with ƚ- classifier (76-77, 201)
    na-…‘a’ ‘O hangs’ → na-O-ƚ-‘a’ ‘hang O up’
  3. causatives from primary intransitive action themes (76-77, 204)
    ti-ch’id ‘grow tired’ → O-ti-ƚ-ch’id ‘tire O out’

While Golla does not generalize about the semantics of verb themes that are compatible with causative ƚ-, several preliminary generalizations can be made. First of all, in the three cases described by Golla, O [the undergoer] is neither controlling nor agentive; O is largely patientive in all cases. Second, the causer appears to be acting directly on O. Third, none of the examples given (including the examples above, of course) involve the causativization of a base-transitive theme.


Mithun (2000) lists nine causatives for Central Alaskan Yup'uk and describes each in detail.[22]:98–102 The following is a brief description of each:

Morpheme Approximate meaning
-vkar-/-cete- 'let, allow, permit, cause, compel'
-te- 'let, allow, cause, compel'
-nar- 'cause'
-rqe- 'intentionally or deliberately cause'
-cetaar- 'try to cause'
-narqe- 'tend to cause'
-naite- 'tend not to cause'
-cir- 'let, wait for, make'
-(r/l)i - 'become or cause to become'


  1. ^ a b c Dixon, R.M.W. and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, eds. (2000). Changing Valency: Case Studies in Transitivity. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Dixon, R.M.W. 2000. “A typology of causatives: form, syntax and meaning”. In Dixon & Aikhenvald (2000)[1] p.30–83.
  3. ^ Shibatani, M., ed. (1976). Syntax and semantics, Vol VI, The grammar of causative constructions. New York: Academic Press.
  4. ^ Comrie, B. (1976). "The syntax of causative constructions: cross-language similarities and divergencies." pp. 261–312. In Shibantani 1976.[3]
  5. ^ Watkins, L.J. (1984). A grammar of Kiowa Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. p. 153. Cited in Dixon (2000).[2]:35
  6. ^ Mahootian, S. (1997). Persian. London: Routledge. Cited in Dixon (2000)[2]:36
  7. ^ a b Derbyshire, D. C. & Pullum, G. K., eds. (1986). Handbook of Amazonian languages Vol 1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Cited in Dixon (2000)[2]:36
  8. ^ Abbot, M. (1991). "Macushi" pp. 40 in Derbyshire & Pullum (1991)[7]
  9. ^ Popjes, J. & Popjes, J. (1986). "Canela-Kraho". p. 143 in Derbyshire & Pullum (1986)[7]
  10. ^ Aissen, J. (1974). "Verb raising," Linguistic Inquiry 5.325–66. Cited in Dixon (2000)[2]:37
  11. ^ (portions not in brackets summarized from Shibatani 2001: 8-9)
  12. ^ Shibatani, M., ed. (2001) The grammar of causation and interpersonal manipulation. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  13. ^ Comrie, B. (1981). Language Universals and Linguistic Typology: Syntax and Morphology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p.158–177
  14. ^ a b c d e Song, J.J. (1996). Causatives and causation: A universal-typological perspective. London and New York: Addison Wesley Longman.
  15. ^ a b Talmy, L. 2000. Toward a Cognitive Semantics Volume 2: Typology and Process in Concept Structuring. Cambridge: MIT Press. p.67–101
  16. ^ a b c Sebastian Nordhoff: Nomen/Verb-Distinktion im Guarani, ISSN 1615-1496, version in the internet (German)(downloaded 17. October 2012)
  17. ^ a b Description of the language (German) (downloaded 19. September 2012.)
  18. ^ a b c Dictionary (German) (downloaded 19. September 2012)
  19. ^ Gregores, Emma & Jorge A. Suárez (1967). A Description of Colloquial Guaraní. The Hague: Mouton. p 126.
  20. ^ Karttunen, Frances. "Conventions of Polite Speech in Nahuatl." Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl 20(1990)
  21. ^ a b c d Rice, Keren. 2000. “Voice and valency in the Athabaskan family”. In Dixon & Aikhenvald (2000) [1]
  22. ^ Mithun, Marianne. (2000). "Valency-changing derivation in Central Alaskan Yup'ik". In Dixon & Aikhenvald (2000)[1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Croft, W. 2003. Typology and Universals, 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dixon, R.M.W. and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald. 2000. “Introduction”. In Changing Valency: Case Studies in Transitivity, Dixon, R.M.W. and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, eds: 1–28. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Goertz, G. et al. 2006. “Use of causatives in Navajo: Syntax and morphology.” In Santa Barbara Papers in Linguistics, Volume 18: Proceedings from the Ninth Workshop on American Indigenous Languages.
  • Huang, S. and Lily I-Wen Su. 2005. “Iconicity as Evidenced in Saisiyat Linguistic Coding of Causative Events.” Oceanic Linguistics, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Dec., 2005): 341–356.
  • Song, J.J. (2001) Linguistic Typology: Morphology and Syntax. Harlow and London: Pearson (Longman).
  • Talmy, L. 2000. Toward a Cognitive Semantics Volume 1: Concept Structuring Systems. Cambridge: MIT Press.

External links[edit]