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Journal of African Languages and Linguistics

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

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Volume 39, Issue 2


The structure of Argobba nominal phrase

Amare Getahun
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  • Department of Amharic Language, Literature and Folklore, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Published Online: 2018-11-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jall-2018-0007


This paper analyzes the internal structure of Argobba nominal phrase in Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) formalism. Argobba is a seriously endangered Semitic language in Ethiopia. Unlike its sister languages in the Ethio-Semitic subfamily, Argobba nouns qualified by a demonstrative, possessive pronoun and genitive NP bear a definite article. It is argued in this paper that the definite article is not an independent syntactic element, but an affix, which is attached to indefinite nouns lexically. It is argued that the derivation of Argobba definite common nouns is captured by the Definite Lexical Rule (DLR). The paper also claims that the NP internal agreement of specifiers and modifiers with the head noun is accounted for by the SPEC and MOD features that impose certain constraints on the morphosyntactic features of the head noun.

Keywords: Semitic; nominal; lexeme; stem; root endangered; HPSG


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-11-09

Published in Print: 2018-11-06

Citation Information: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, Volume 39, Issue 2, Pages 127–151, ISSN (Online) 1613-3811, ISSN (Print) 0167-6164, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jall-2018-0007.

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