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Subject marking, object-verb order and focus in Mbuun (Bantu, B87)

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  • KONGOKING (Political centralization, economic integration and language evolution in Central Africa: An interdisciplinary approach to the early history of the Kongo kingdom)
Abstract
In this paper it is demonstrated that the marking of argument focus in Mbuun (B87), a western Bantu language from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), relies on syntactic and morphological devices that deviate from common tendencies reported in eastern and southern Bantu languages. Focalising a non-verbal constituent in Mbuun obligatorily involves deviations from the canonical SVO order. A focused object is fronted immediately before the verb in Mbuun, resulting in a SOV word order, which runs counter to the narrow focus site immediately after the verb in many other Bantu languages. The object also moves in Mbuun when other non-verbal clause constituents are focused. Both subjects and oblique arguments are focused in situ but their focalisation triggers a movement of the object to clause-initial position resulting in OSV. Morphologically speaking, Mbuun argument focus is peculiar, because it involves a Class 1 a-versus ka-allomorphy in the verbal subject-concord slot, which co-varies not only with focus, but also with tense/aspect. This morphological focus device has not been reported in eastern and southern Bantu, where the so-called 'conjoint/disjoint' distinction in the Tense-Aspect-Mood (TAM) slot is more common. It is, however, a wider western Bantu feature, which may have its origin in an identification copula.
Keywords
subject marking, Bantu, information structure, word order, focus, Mbuun

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Citation

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MLA
Bostoen, Koen, and Léon Mundeke. “Subject Marking, Object-verb Order and Focus in Mbuun (Bantu, B87).” SOUTHERN AFRICAN LINGUISTICS AND APPLIED LANGUAGE STUDIES 30.2 (2012): 139–154. Print.
APA
Bostoen, K., & Mundeke, L. (2012). Subject marking, object-verb order and focus in Mbuun (Bantu, B87). SOUTHERN AFRICAN LINGUISTICS AND APPLIED LANGUAGE STUDIES, 30(2), 139–154.
Chicago author-date
Bostoen, Koen, and Léon Mundeke. 2012. “Subject Marking, Object-verb Order and Focus in Mbuun (Bantu, B87).” Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 30 (2): 139–154.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Bostoen, Koen, and Léon Mundeke. 2012. “Subject Marking, Object-verb Order and Focus in Mbuun (Bantu, B87).” Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 30 (2): 139–154.
Vancouver
1.
Bostoen K, Mundeke L. Subject marking, object-verb order and focus in Mbuun (Bantu, B87). SOUTHERN AFRICAN LINGUISTICS AND APPLIED LANGUAGE STUDIES. 2012;30(2):139–54.
IEEE
[1]
K. Bostoen and L. Mundeke, “Subject marking, object-verb order and focus in Mbuun (Bantu, B87),” SOUTHERN AFRICAN LINGUISTICS AND APPLIED LANGUAGE STUDIES, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 139–154, 2012.
@article{2086839,
  abstract     = {In this paper it is demonstrated that the marking of argument focus in Mbuun (B87), a western Bantu language from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), relies on syntactic and morphological devices that deviate from common tendencies reported in eastern and southern Bantu languages. Focalising a non-verbal constituent in Mbuun obligatorily involves deviations from the canonical SVO order. A focused object is fronted immediately before the verb in Mbuun, resulting in a SOV word order, which runs counter to the narrow focus site immediately after the verb in many other Bantu languages. The object also moves in Mbuun when other non-verbal clause constituents are focused. Both subjects and oblique arguments are focused in situ but their focalisation triggers a movement of the object to clause-initial position resulting in OSV. Morphologically speaking, Mbuun argument focus is peculiar, because it involves a Class 1 a-versus ka-allomorphy in the verbal subject-concord slot, which co-varies not only with focus, but also with tense/aspect. This morphological focus device has not been reported in eastern and southern Bantu, where the so-called 'conjoint/disjoint' distinction in the Tense-Aspect-Mood (TAM) slot is more common. It is, however, a wider western Bantu feature, which may have its origin in an identification copula.},
  author       = {Bostoen, Koen and Mundeke, Léon},
  issn         = {1607-3614},
  journal      = {SOUTHERN AFRICAN LINGUISTICS AND APPLIED LANGUAGE STUDIES},
  keywords     = {subject marking,Bantu,information structure,word order,focus,Mbuun},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {139--154},
  title        = {Subject marking, object-verb order and focus in Mbuun (Bantu, B87)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.2989/16073614.2012.737588},
  volume       = {30},
  year         = {2012},
}

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