A Grammar of Jalonke Argument Structure
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MPI series in psycholinguistics ; 30
Number of pages
XIV, 481 p.
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 28 februari 2005
Promotores : Levinson, S.C., Heine, B. Co-promotor : Bohnemeyer, J.
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SubjectMPI series in psycholinguistics; Structure and Variation; Structuur en variatie
This thesis provides a systematic account of the patterns of morphosyntactic behaviour of ca. 400 Jalonke verbs. The thesis is based on fieldwork on Jalonke, a variety of Yalunka, a Western Mande language of Guinea. Based on an analysis of differentiating morphosyntactic properties, semantic components that distinguish verb classes in the language are proposed. Furthermore, a quantitative study explores the alignment between lexical argument structure and argument realisation in discourse. Chapter 1 introduces the theoretical framework used and gives background information on the language and its speakers. Chapter 2 sets out to summarise essential grammatical features of this previously undescribed language. Chapters 3 to 6 establish the parameters that underlie the basic argument structure configurations of Jalonke verbs, grouping them into the large classes of base-intransitive, reflexive-only, base-transitive verbs, and causative/inchoative alternating verbs.. Further verb classes according to syntactically relevant components of meaning are proposed. Chapter 7 introduces a number of processes that change the lexical meaning of a verb - the unexpressed object alternation and the distributive and iterative derivations - or alter the valence of a verb - the passive and the causative derivation. Chapter 8 examines a split among intransitive verbs that is manifest when nominalised verbs occur in possessive constructions, and discusses it in the context of unaccusativity. Chapter 9 is based on a quantitative study of natural discourse and investigates how often speakers realise all arguments of a given verb type in discourse and how often different types of alternations occur. It is then examined to what degree argument realisation varies according to genre, speaker, and verb type. It is shown that in Jalonke, the alignment between lexical argument structure and argument realisation in discourse is much closer than in English. Chapter 10 offers a summary, outlines the contributions of this thesis to theoretical and descriptive linguistics, and raises some questions for future research.
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