The Kurtöp -<i>si</i> construction
Asian converbs (Bickel 1998) have been an area of recent, theoretical interest in linguistics. Converbs have often been involved in clause-chaining, as has been described in many recent descriptions of Tibeto-Burman languages (e.g. Genetti 2005; Coupe 2007). Though he does not discuss converbs as a theoretical construct, DeLancey (1991) illustrates how clause-chaining constructions may give rise to serial verb constructions, diachronically. Kurtöp, a Tibeto-Burman language of Bhutan, is a prime example of DeLancey’s (1991) hypothesis. The present article explores the link between converbs, clause-chaining and serial verb constructions by describing the clause-chaining construction in Kurtöp. Clause-chaining involving converbs and a final verb is at the heart of Kurtöp syntax. Whether the final verb is lexical, auxiliary or copular has different formal and functional consequences. If the final verb is a copula, the non-final suffix is required on the converb and the interpretation may be monoclausal with durative aspect. The latter category, wherein the final verb in a Kurtöp clause-chain is an auxiliary, often yields a sequence of verbs without interceding material and is thus precisely where serialization may fully grammaticalize in the future, as DeLancey (1991) predicts.