Journal of African Languages and Linguistics
Ed. by Ameka, Felix K. / Amha, Azeb
2 Issues per year
IMPACT FACTOR increased in 2015: 0.583
Rank 89 out of 179 in category Linguistics in the 2015 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Social Sciences Edition
SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.396
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 1.305
Impact per Publication (IPP) 2015: 0.684
Mande languages are characterized by a typologically unusual rigid S-O-V-X word order pattern, and do not fit neatly into the traditional category of “verb-final” languages. While subjects and objects precede the verb, all oblique arguments and adjuncts follow it. Several diachronic hypotheses have been advanced to account for the word order type of Mande (Givón, Serial verbs and syntactic change: Niger-Congo, University of Texas Press, 1975, Heine and Reh, Grammaticalization and reanalysis in African languages, Helmut Buske, 1984, Claudi, Die Stellung von Verb und Objekt in Niger-Kongo-Sprachen: Ein Beitrag zur Rekonstruktion historischer Syntax, Universität zu Köln, 1993), none of which are fully satisfactory. This paper discusses new evidence from the syntax of modern Mande languages that may shed light on the historical development of the S-O-V-X word order. I argue, based on the unusual behavior of Mande postpositional phrases, that the development of S-O-V-X was a consequence of categorial reanalysis of constructions with deverbal nouns as verb phrases, with subsequent replacement of the older type of verb phrase by the newly introduced structure. The analysis is supported by a number of characteristic parallels between the syntax of Mande verb phrases and noun phrases, such as the absence, in some languages, of both verb-phrase-internal and noun-phrase-internal postpositional phrases, the absence of the genitive vs. accusative distinction, and identical restrictions on the number of complements of nouns and verbs.
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