SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Innes, Gordon (1961) The structure of sentences in Mende. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (10MB)


Word classes are set up by assigning to a single class those words which occur in the same test frame (or set of test frames), those frames being chosen which yield those word classes demanded by the subsequent description of sentence structures. This classification differs markedly from that of all Mende grammars, perhaps especially in that here no class of verbs is recognised. A phrase like nya hale, "treat me with medicine", which has always been described as the imperative of the verb hale, preceded by the object pronoun nya, is here regarded as a possessive complex. Also treated as a possessive complex is the phrase nya hale, "my medicine", which is traditionally described as consisting of the possessive pronoun nya and the noun hale. The pair nya hale, "treat me with medicine" and nya hale, "my medicine', are here held to differ in respect of the kind of possessive complex, (called here subjective end objective complexes respectively), as is shown by the difference of tone pattern, and not in respect of a difference of the word class of hale. Syntactically comparable with the pair pay nya hale is the pair nya woli, ''my ear' (of my own body) nya woli, "my ear" (e.g. a cow's ear which belongs to me). A description is given of all the types of complex, both subjective and objective, which are distinguished. A small number of types of simple initiating sentences is recognised, and the minimum sentence of each type is described in terms of the number of contrastive positions which it contains, the relative order of these, and the word classes and complex types that occur in each. Expansions of each minimum sentence are then similarly described.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:10

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item