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Structure building and thematic constraints in Bantu inversion constructions

Marten, Lutz and Gibson, Hannah (2015) 'Structure building and thematic constraints in Bantu inversion constructions.' Journal of Linguistics, 52 (3). pp. 565-607.

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Abstract

Bantu inversion constructions include locative inversion, patient inversion (also called subject–object reversal), semantic locative inversion and instrument inversion. The constructions show a high level of cross-linguistic variation, but also a core of invariant shared morphosyntactic and information structural properties. These include: that the preverbal position is filled by a non-agent NP triggering verbal agreement, that the agent follows the verb obligatorily, that object marking is disallowed, and that the preverbal NP is more topical, and the postverbal NP more focal. While previous analyses have tended to concentrate on one inversion type, the present paper develops a uniform analysis of Bantu inversion constructions. Adopting a Dynamic Syntax perspective, we show how the constructions share basic aspects of structure building and semantic representation. In our analysis, cross-linguistic differences in the distribution of inversion constructions result from unrelated parameters of variation, as well as from thematic constraints related to the thematic hierarchy. With some modification, the analysis can also be extended to passives.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Pre-publication version. Please refer to the published version when citing: Journal of Linguistics / FirstView Article / August 2015, pp 1 - 43 DOI: 10.1017/S0022226715000298, Published online: 14 August 2015
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics > Department of Linguistics
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISSN: 00222267
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1017/S0022226715000298
Depositing User: Hannah Gibson
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2015 08:26
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/20638

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