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Kavari, Jekura, Marten, Lutz and van der Wal, Jenneke (2012) 'Tone cases in Otjiherero: Head-complement relations, linear order and information structure.' Africana Linguistica, 18. pp. 315-353.

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Otjiherero has a system of tonal nominal inflection, or ‘tone cases’, through which nouns in different syntactic contexts are distinguished, including the so-called ‘complement’ and ‘default’ cases. Complement case marked nouns are found only when immediately following the verb, and only in a subset of tense-aspects, and the set of nouns which can take complement case includes direct and indirect objects, adverbial nouns, raised subjects and inverted subjects. Complement case is thus found on different nouns irrespective of grammatical function, as long as they are placed immediately after the verb. In addition, there are two pieces of evidence to show that the tone case system is (historically) related to information structure. First, complement case is not found in relative clauses or on dislocated nouns, and second, nouns following a verb in the negative factive-habitual tense can take either default or complement case depending on whether the noun is in focus. Based on the function and distribution of complement cases, the paper proposes that there is a close parallel between tone cases and verbal conjoint-disjoint alternations such as found in Tswana. Both systems involve prosodic marking, are only found with some tenses, mark the relation between a verb and an immediately following nominal irrespective of grammatical function, are restricted to structural domains such as clauses, and are related to focus and information structure. While the paper does not present a detailed reconstruction, it proposes that both tone cases and conjoint-disjoint systems are instances of grammaticalised information structure, and that the close similarities between the systems are indicative of a common function, and possibly of common historical origin.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: 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: 20338732
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2014 10:36

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