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Cobbinah, Alexander (2017) 'Suffixed plurals in Baïnonk languages: Agreement patterns and diachronic development.' Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, 38 (2). pp. 145-185.

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This paper re-evaluates hypotheses about the agreement behaviour of nouns using plural suffixes in the Baïnounk languages (Niger Congo/ Atlantic/ North Atlantic). Although these languages dispose of a large and complex prefixing noun class systems which are involved in expressing number distinctions, a subgroup of nouns uses a suffix for pluralisation. It is shown here that plural-suffixing nouns do not engage in the typologically rare process of phonological agreement copying as has been claimed previously. Instead, they are prefixed nouns, triggering alliterative agreement. Several scenarios about the origin and further development of the plural suffixes are presented. Synchronic data suggest that plural suffixes are older than the split of Nyun-Buy languages from a common ancestor. It is highly unlikely that it is borrowed from Mandinka, a regionally influential lingua franca which does not have noun classes. Instead, it seems plausible that plural suffixes have arisen through internal processes in which animacy and collective semantics have played a role. Potential candidates for a source morpheme for the plural suffix include a plural morpheme from the verbal domain or alternatively an associative plural. The role and impact of language contact and large scale borrowing on the extent of plural suffixation in the various Baïnounk languages is discussed.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics > Department of Linguistics
ISSN: 01676164
Copyright Statement: © Walter de Gruyter 2017. This is the published version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2018 10:08

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