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Journal of African Languages and Linguistics

Ed. by Ameka, Felix K. / Amha, Azeb

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Volume 35, Issue 1 (May 2014)


In-situ and ex-situ wh-question constructions in Moro

Sharon Rose
  • Corresponding author
  • University of California, San Diego
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/ Farrell Ackerman
  • University of California, San Diego
  • Email:
/ George Gibbard
  • University of California, San Diego
  • Email:
/ Peter Jenks
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Email:
/ Laura Kertz
  • Brown University
  • Email:
/ Hannah Rohde
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Email:
Published Online: 2014-05-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jall-2014-0003


This paper addresses the formation of wh-questions in Thetogovela Moro, a Kordofanian language spoken in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Moro has both in-situ and ex-situ wh-questions, but exhibits a subject/non-subject asymmetry: while non-subjects may employ either construction, subjects must appear in the ex-situ form. Ex-situ wh-questions are analyzed as wh-clefts, and they share several properties with clefts and relative clauses. The fronted element is marked with a cleft particle and for noun phrases, a demonstrative that we analyze as a relative pronoun is used. Verbal tone patterns are those that are found in dependent clauses rather than main clauses. Subject questions, clefts and relative clauses are marked with a verbal prefix é-, while non-subject questions, clefts and relative clauses are marked with a verbal prefix ə́-. We analyze these prefixes as dependent clause markers and provide evidence of additional dependent clause uses in the language. Finally, non-subject wh-questions bear an optional particle nə́- on the subject and/or verb. We offer several arguments that this is best analyzed as a complementizer

Keywords: wh-question; cleft; subject/non-subject asymmetry; relative clause; dependent clause

About the article

Published Online: 2014-05-10

Published in Print: 2014-05-01

Citation Information: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-3811, ISSN (Print) 0167-6164, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jall-2014-0003. Export Citation

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