Morphological causatives

Causative constructions describe a situation involving two events: (1) the causing event, in which the causer does or initiates something; and (2) the caused event, in which the causee carries out an action, or undergoes a change of condition or state as a result of the causer’s action. Causation can be expressed one of three ways: lexically[1], morphologically, or syntactically (also known as analytically or periphrastically). This parameter considers only morphological strategies for expressing causation.

Morphological causatives are characterized by the use of morphological markers on the action verb, with both the causing event and the caused event expressed in the same clause. Accordingly, a causative structure is not considered morphological if these two events appear in separate predicates.


NoMorphCC: The language uses a non-morphological (periphrastic) strategy to express causation.[2]

PrefCC: Causation is expressed using a prefix on the action verb.

SuffCC: Causation is expressed using a suffix on the action verb.

IntCC: Causation is expressed using an interfix on the action verb.[3]

InfCC: Causation is expressed using an infix on the action verb.[4]

CrcfCC: Causation is expressed using a circumfix on the action verb.

ElseMorfCC: Causation is expressed using internal flexion, tone, or reduplication.[5]

When a language displays more than one type, two values can be listed. If one type is dominant, a slash (/) can separate the two values, with the dominant value appearing first; if neither is dominant, they are listed with an ampersand (&) separating the two.


[1] Lexical causatives are those words that simultaneously express the causing event and caused event, such as kill (‘cause to die’) and push (‘cause to move’). In some cases, causative and non-causative verb pairs may differ only in terms of internal flexion or other phonetic/phonological contrast (for example, English fall fell). However, these contrasts are generally not systematic. All languages use lexical causatives in addition to relying on either morphological or periphrastic strategies to form new causatives. For this reason, only morphological and periphrastic strategies are worth considering for typological classification.

[2] If this value applies, the value of parameter Non-periphrastic causative will be NoNonpfrCC.

[3] For a causative morpheme to be considered an interfix, it must appear between two other affixes, rather than immediately before or after the stem of the action verb. Otherwise, it constitutes a prefix, suffix, infix or circumfix.

[4] An infix is a functionally independent morpheme that is inserted into the verb stem. If a given morpheme cannot be verified as independent from the verb stem, it may be an example of internal flexion. In that case, the value ElseMorfCC would apply.

[5] If this value applies, the value of parameter Non-periphrastic causative will be FlexNonpfrCC.