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Linguistics

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Volume 57, Issue 5

Issues

Regular and copular fragments in Basaá

Paul Roger Bassong
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Linguistics and Language Practice, University of the Free State, P.O. Box 339 Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
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Published Online: 2019-07-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2019-0024

Abstract

The aim of this Article is to propose that fragment answers in Basaá (Bantu) derive from two different sources, namely, a regular source and a copular source. Regular fragments are those that are derived by movement of a Negative Polarity Item (NPI) or a CP complement to the left periphery of the clause followed by clausal ellipsis (Merchant 2004 and related work). Conversely, copular fragments involve a biclausal structure whereby the focalized fragment, no matter the syntactic function it fulfills in clause structure, finally ends up being the subject of the null verbal copula of the main clause. The fragment is initially selected as the external argument of the null verbal copula within the matrix VP along the lines of the VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis (Koopman and Sportiche 1991). From Spec-VP it raises to Spec-TP to satisfy the EPP requirements. The internal argument of the null copula is a headless relative in which a relative operator (covert/overt) moves to Spec-CP, a position above FocP the target of ellipsis. This gives rise to a structure whereby the fragment answer in the matrix clause and the relative operator in the embedded clause resist ellipsis. The analysis also provides semantic evidence that copular fragments are not clefts. The ellipsis approach is supported by a range of grammatical properties such as connectivity effects, locality constraints and subcategorization requirements. This paper is not only a contribution to Merchant’s (2004) ellipsis approach but it also provides new evidence for our understanding of the crosslinguistic variation of ellipsis.

Keywords: Basaá; ellipsis; regular and copular fragments

1 Introduction

In this paper, I propose that fragmentary utterances as realized in Basaá (Narrow Bantu language spoken in Cameroon) derive from two different sources, namely; a regular source and a copular source. By regular fragments, it is meant those that involve movement of a Negative Polarity Item (NPI) or a CP complement to the clausal left periphery followed by clausal ellipsis (Merchant 2004 and related work). Conversely, copular fragments are the ones that have a biclausal structure made up of a main clause and an embedded one. The main clause is headed by a null verbal copula which selects an external subject argument within the VP domain along the lines of Koopman and Sportiche’s (1991) VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis and an internal object argument, namely; a headless relative clause. The goal of this paper is to show that no matter which syntactic function it fulfills (e.g. subject, object, adjunct etc.); the copular fragment always ends up in the matrix TP where it fulfills the classical EPP requirements i.e. the condition that every clause should have a subject (Chomsky 1982, Chomsky 1995; Grimshaw 1991 etc.). The headless relative clause which is selected as an internal argument of the null copula contains a relative operator which can be overt or covert. It is this relative operator that undergoes A-bar movement to Spec-CP above a functional focus phrase (FocP), the target of ellipsis. As A-bar movement of the relative operator takes place in Spec-CP i.e. above FocP (Rizzi 1997) which is the ellipsis site, this operator also evades ellipsis. This contradicts a standard view that fragment answers target a focus phrase category and that the target of ellipsis is a TP (tense phrase) projection (cf. Brunetti 2003; Merchant 2004; Temmerman 2013; Griffiths and Lipták 2014; Weir 2014 etc.) The paper shows that the null copula analysis and the existence of A-bar movement of a relative operator inside the relative clause are supported by a number of sentence internal properties such as quantifier and adjective floating, islands and connectivity effects. All these arguments lend support to the ellipsis approach.

The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 is concerned with some main properties of the language with focus on phonology, morphology and word order. More precisely, as Basaá is still understudied, the section deals with issues such as word order, tone patterns, pro-drop and briefly discusses some copular and copula-drop structures. Section 3 introduces Merchant’s (2004) ellipsis analysis of fragments and sets the stage for the whole discussion. More specifically, in this section, I make the main proposal of the paper by proposing the two sources of Basaá fragments and their syntactic derivations. Section 4 shows that Basaá fragments have two different sources. This is supported by a number of morphosyntactic evidence. Section 4.1 uses negation as the first argument for the (non) copulahood of certain fragments. In other words, while some fragments cannot be negated, others on the contrary can. As a result, I propose that the presence of negation in such contexts is an indication for their copulahood. In Section 4.2 I discuss copula drop and headless relatives. I propose that focus fronting is a biclausal structure which hides a verbal copula and the nominal head of a relative clause. I resort to the parallel between focus fronting and their paraphrases to support the null copula analysis. The analysis shows that copula drop works in tandem with headless relatives. Section 4.3 argues against a cleft source for Basaá fragments in particular and focus fronting at large. This is supported in light of a wide range of semantic and syntactic tests such as else-modification (see Section 4.3.1), focus fronting of indefinite and universal quantifiers (Section 4.3.2), scope relations as well as quantifier and adjective floating (Section 4.3.3). Section 5 deals with sluicing in Gungbe and Hungarian and attempts to draw a parallel between Basaá and these two languages. Copular fragments in Basaá seem to exhibit interesting similarities with sluicing in these languages, modulo some salient disparities at the level of clause structure. Section 6 provides arguments in support of the ellipsis approach to Basaá fragments with focus on binding connectivity effects (Section 6.1), scope and bound pronouns (Section 6.2). In Section 7, I present arguments in support of the movement analysis. These arguments include preposition stranding (Section 7.1), the distribution of NPIs (Section 7.2), binding ambiguity (Section 7.3), island effects (Section 7.4) and other semantic and morphosyntactic evidence such as the distribution of relative operators and focus markers (Section 7.5.1), and subcategorization (Section 7.5.2). An interim conclusion is provided in Section 7.5.3. Section 8 is concerned with the syntactic derivation of the two types of fragment answers attested in the language. It is suggested that regular fragments are derived by A-bar movement of an NPI or a CP complement into the left periphery followed by clausal ellipsis, while copular fragments rather involve a biclausal structure in which the fragment raises to the matrix TP for the purpose of satisfying the EPP, while a relative operator (overt/covert) moves inside the relative clause into Spec-CP, a position above FocP which is the target of ellipsis. The discussion in Section 8.1 reveals that there exists a null operator in non-emphatic fragment contexts. The existence of this null operator is supported by syntactic and semantic tests such as island and quantifier binding. Section 8.2 is about island sensitivity attested in fragment utterances. It is proposed that island-sensitivity effects attested in Basaá fragments are due to the presence of an offending *marked trace above the ellipsis site as proposed by Merchant (2004). Section 9 is the conclusion.

2 Some main properties of the language

As the language under investigation is still understudied, this section discusses some of its main properties with special focus on its phonology, morphology and syntax in order to familiarize the reader with the data, although all of them will not have a direct impact on the analysis. Basaá belongs to the Narrow Bantu language family and is mainly spoken in the Centre and Littoral Regions of the Republic of Cameroon. Some speakers are also found in the South and South-West Regions of the country. The language has been analyzed as evidenced by a good number of scientific works. Very recent works include (Hyman 2003; Makasso 2008; Bassong 2010, Bassong 2012, Bassong 2014; Hamlaoui and Makasso 2011, Hamlaoui and Makasso 2015; Jenks et al. 2017), to name only a few. From a phonological perspective, there are two main tones namely, a high tone [ ́] and a low one [ ̀], and two contour tones, namely a high-low/falling tone [ ̂], and a low-high/rising one [ ̌]). These are illustrated in turn below.

(1)
a.sɔ̀
‘to clean’
b.sɔ́
‘to escape/run away’
c.sɔ̌
‘clean!’ (2PL imperative)
d.pɔ̂
‘sore’

Syntactically, the canonical word order is SVO (2a), but sometimes, it can change in some contexts such as question formation, focus and topic constructions. These are illustrated in (2b), (2c) and (2d) respectively. In question formation, some wh-phrases (object and referential adjuncts) can be fronted to the so-called Immediately After Verb position (IAV) or to sentence initial position as indicated by the brackets in (2b). 1 Recall that it is not the case that the question word kíí ‘what’ in (2b) is doubly pronounced. (2b) simply shows that wh-movement can take place either immediately after the verb or at clause initial position.

(2)
a.
Mudaaa-bí-tíɓɔ́ɔ́ŋgɛ́makalajaaní
1.woman1.sm-pst2-give2.children6.doughnuts1.yesterday

‘The woman gave the doughnuts to the children yesterday.’

b.
(Kííj)mudaáia-bí-tí(kííj)ɓɔ́ɔ́ŋgɛ́tj
9.what1.woman1.sm-pst2-give9.what2.children
jaaní
1.yesterday

‘What did the woman give to the children yesterday?’

c.
makalajmɔ́-nproiai-bí-tíɓɔ́tjjaaní
6.doughnuts6-foc1.sm-pst2-give2.them1.yesterday

‘Doughnuts are what she gave to the children yesterday.’

d.
makalajmɔ̂j-k,projaj-bí-tíɓɔ́kmɔ́j
6.doughnuts6-top1.sm-pst2-give2.them6.them
jaaní
1.yesterday

‘As for the doughnutsi, shej gave themi to themk too.’

Another salient characteristic of Basaá is that it is a pro-drop language. This can be observed in (2c) and (2d), where the subject of the sentence mudaá ‘woman’ is omitted. Note that in this language, pro-drop is possible due to a rich verbal morphology. 2 More specifically, like in many noun class Bantu languages, the subject marker (sm) that underlies subject verb agreement and which agrees in noun class and number with the subject of the sentence helps recover the interpretation of the missing subject. By the same token, recently, it has been observed that focus drop as well as topic drop is attested in the language (cf. Bassong 2014). For instance, in some discourse contexts, more precisely when a discourse referent is known, given, or has been mentioned in the discourse, it can be omitted as shown in (3) and (4).

(3)
A.
n-nɔ̂glɛ́mudaáa-bí-tíɓɔ́ɔ́ŋgɛ́
Ipst1-hearthat1.woman1.sm-pst2-give2.children
makalajaaní
1.yesterday6.doughnuts

‘I heard that the woman gave the doughnuts to the children yesterday.’

B.
ŋŋ́(makala)mɔ́-nproiai-bí-tíɓɔ́
yes6.doughnuts6-foc1.sm-pst2-give2.them
jaaní
1.yesterday

‘Yes, they (doughnuts) are what she gave them yesterday.’

(4)
A.
n-nɔ̂glɛ́mudaáia-bí-tíɓɔ́ɔ́ŋgɛ́
Ipst1-hearthat1.woman1-sm-pst2-give2.children
ŋgandaggwɔ̌m,ɓaáproia-bi-tíɓé
many8.thingsPol1.sm-pst2-giveneg
ɓɔ́makalaja
2.them6.doughnutsPol

‘I heard that the woman gave many things to the children. Didn’t she give them the doughnuts?’

B.
ŋŋ́(makalaj)mɔ̂i-k,proia-bí-tíɓɔ́mɔ́j
yes6.doughnuts6-top1.sm-pst2-give2.them6.them

‘Yes, as for the doughnutsi, she gave themi to them too.’

The focus-drop construction in (3B) shows the peculiarity of Basaá in the sense that no language in the literature, to the best of my knowledge, has been reported to license focus-drop. The latter seems to be subject to parametric variation, and as pointed out by an anonymous reviewer, Basaá seems to differ from Romance languages where the overtness of focus is a condition on ellipsis. In a very recent analysis of the interaction between focus and ellipsis in Spanish, Ortega-Santos (2016: 166–167) has proposed the EXPRESS-FOCUS constraint within the framework of OT. As shown in (3) and (4), the discourse referent makala ‘doughnuts’ is first of all mentioned in A’s statements so much so that when omitted in B’s, it can be easily recovered due to the presence of an agreeing noun class focus/topic marker.

In negative sentences, negation always follows and never precedes all the other morphemes that make up the verbal complex as shown in (5a)–(5b). 3 Any other positioning of negation gives rise to ungrammaticality. This is illustrated in (5c)–(5d).

(5)
a.
Maaŋgɛ́a-bí-sómb-ólɓélíwándádʒé
1.child1.sm-pst2-buy-applneg5.friend5.his/her
makalajaaní
6.doughnuts1.yesterday

‘The child did not buy the doughnuts for his/herfriend yesterday.’

b.
hiŋgɔndahí-lémb-h-áƔɓémúdaá
19.girl19.sm-cook-caus-prog.pst1neg1.woman
βidʒɛ́kbilâm
8.food8.nice

‘The girl was not making/causing the woman (to) cook nice food.’

c.
*Maaŋgɛ́a-bí-ɓésómb-óllíwándádʒé
1.child1.sm-pst2negbuy-appl5.friend5.his/her
makalajaaní
6.doughnuts1.yesterday
d.
*hiŋgɔndahí-lémb-h-ɓé -áƔmúdaá
19.girl19.sm-cook-caus-negprog.pst11.woman
bidʒɛ́kbilâm
8.food8.nice

Negation plays a central role in the morphosyntax of the language under discussion. In the context of this paper, it is a good indicator of copulahood in copula-drop constructions. This is illustrated in the following sentences.

(6)
a.
liwándádʒɔ̂ŋ(lí-jé)lɛ́ndʒɛ́ɛ́
5.friendposs.2sg5-sm-be.prsthat1.who

‘Who is your friend?

b.
liwándádʒɛ̂m(lí-jé)lɛ́Tɔɲɛ́
5.friendposs.1.sg5.sm-be.prsthat1.Tonye

‘My friend is Tonye’

(7)
a.
liwándádʒɔ̂ŋ(lí-tâ)ɓélɛ́ndʒɛ́ɛ́
5.friendposs.2sg5-sm-be.prsnegthat1.who

‘Who is not your friend?’

b.
liwándádʒɛ̂m(lí-tâ)ɓélɛ́Tɔɲɛ́
5.friendposs.1.sg5.sm-be.prsnegthat1.Tonye

‘My friend is not Tonye’

Sentences (6) and (7) are instances of positive and negative question-answer pairs respectively. A striking issue in these sentences is the optionality of the verbal copula 4 (present tense, positive form) along with the subject marker (class 8). This is also the case with its negative verbal counterpart (negative present form) along with the subject marker lí-. Note that in usual speech, speakers tend to omit the copula. In the absence of negation and the verbal complex (subject marker and copula), it seems hard to decide whether the above constructions are full sentences or not. The presence of negation and the optional copulae in these constructions indicate that they are full sentences. As the discussion goes on, I capitalize on the presence of negation to support the view that some fragment answers involve a copula structure.

3 Basaá fragments and ellipsis

Merchant (2004: 673) proposes that fragmentary utterances such as (8b), although subject to ellipsis, contain fully-fledged syntactic structures as their non-elliptical counterparts in (8c).

(8)

  1. Who did she see?

  2. John

  3. She saw John

According to Merchant, the fragmentary DP John in (8b) undergoes syntactic movement into the clausal left periphery, followed by ellipsis of the clause containing its trace (silent copy). This is illustrated in (9) where angled brackets indicate ellipsis.

(9)

(Merchant 2004: 675)

In Merchant’s analysis, FP is a functional projection which may be identified with Rizzi’s (1997) Focus Phrase. The functional head F hosts the E-feature which has phonological, syntactic and semantic properties (cf. Merchant 2004 for further details on these properties).

The goal of this paper is to analyze Basaá fragments along the lines of Merchant’s (2004) ellipsis approach and related work, and to show that they have two different sources, namely; regular fragments like in (10) and (11), which undergo focus movement followed by ellipsis as illustrated in (12), and copular fragments like in (13) and (14), whose derivation is given in (15).

(10)
a.
ndʒɛ́ɛ́imudaáia-bí-ɓɔmati
1.who1.woman1.sm-pst2-meet

‘Who did the woman meet?’

b.
tɔ-muti
no-1.person

‘Nobody’

c.
proia-bí-ɓɔmáɓétɔ-mut
1.sm-pst2-meetnegno-1.person

‘She didn’t meet anybody’

(11)
a.
Uŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ̂llɛ́láá
2.sgprs-believethathow

‘What do you believe?’

b.
[lɛ́mudaáa-gá-lɔjáání]
that1.woman1.sm-fut2-come1.tomorrow

‘That the woman will arrive tomorrow’

c.
ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ̂l[lɛ́mudaáa-gá-lɔjáání]
Iprs-believethat1.woman1.sm-fut2-come1.tomorrow

‘I believe that the woman will arrive tomorrow.’

I propose that regular fragments like (10b) and (11b) are similar to English-like fragments as analyzed by Merchant (2004). Clearly put, I propose that regular fragments are moved to the clausal left periphery followed by clausal ellipsis (angled brackets indicate ellipsis). The fragmentary utterance in (10b) is given the syntactic derivation in (12).

(12)

Conversely, I propose that fragment answers such as (13b) and (14b) are copular structures as depicted in (15) where angled brackets indicate ellipsis while strikethrough indicates movement.

(13)
a.
Kííimudaáia-n-sɔ̂mbti
9.what1.woman1.sm-pst1-buy

‘What has the woman bought?’

b.
makúɓé
6.bananas

‘Bananas’

c.
makúɓémɔ́-nproiai-n-sɔ̂mbti
6.bananas6-foc1.sm-pst1-buy

‘Bananas are what she has bought’

d.
proia-n-sɔ̂mbmákúɓé
1.sm-pst1-buy6.bananas

‘She has bought the bananas’

(14)
a.
Kííiímudaáia-n-sɔ̂mbti
9.what9.rel1.woman1.sm-pst1-buy

‘What is it that the woman has bought?’

b.
makúɓé<mɔ̂-nproiai-n-sɔ̂mbti>
6.bananas6.rel6-foc1.sm-pst1-buy

‘Bananas are what she will buy’

c.
makúɓémɔ̂-nproiai-n-sɔ̂mbti>
6.bananas6.rel6-foc1.sm-pst1-buy

‘Bananas are what she will buy’

d.
proia-n-sɔ̂mbmákúɓé
1.sm-pst1-buy6.bananas

‘She has bought the bananas’

(15)

As can be seen in (15), the only difference between (15a), which is the derivation of (13b) and (15b), the derivation of (14b) is that the relative operator in the former is covert while it is overt in the latter. In fact, there is no fundamental syntactic disparity between the two. Whether the relative operator is overt or covert, the target of ellipsis in both cases is a focus phrase. However, it should be noted that while a non-emphatic question such as (13a) (repeated below as 13aʹ for convenience) can be answered negatively (13bʹ), 5 its emphatic counterpart in (14a) (repeated as 14aʹ) is incompatible with a negative answer as shown in (14bʹ).

(13ʹ)
a.
Kííimudaáia-n-sɔ̂mbti
9.what1.woman1.sm-pst1-buy

‘What has the woman bought?’

b.
tɔ-jɔ̌mi<proa-n-sɔ̂mbɓê ti>
no-9.thing1.sm-pst1-buyneg

‘Nothing’ (Intended: She hasn’t bought anything’)

(14ʹ)
a.
Kííiímudaáia-n-sɔ̂mbti
9.what9.rel1.woman1.sm-pst1-buy’

‘What is it that the woman has bought?’

b.
#tɔ-jɔ̌mi<proa-n-sɔ̂mbɓêti>
no-9.thing1.sm-pst1-buyneg

‘Nothing’ (Intended: She hasn’t bought anything’)

In concrete terms, in a context like (13ʹa) the speaker does not assert that the woman bought something. Rather, s/he only defeasibly presupposes it. On the contrary, (14ʹa) denotes a presupposition of existence, that is, it is known to discourse participants that the woman has bought something which is contextually salient, although that thing remains unknown to the speaker. As a result, while a felicitous answer to the non-emphatic interrogative can be negative (13ʹb), an emphatic wh-question such as (14ʹa) is incompatible with a negative answer (cf. 14ʹb).

In this paper, I propose that in copular fragments, the remnant originates from the subject position within the matrix VP, and along the lines of the VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis (cf. Koopman and Sportiche 1991 among others). This fragment raises to Spec-TP to satisfy the EPP requirements. Adopting Kayne’s (1994) head raising approach to relative clauses, I propose that what undergoes A-bar movement inside the headless relative clause is a silent nominal head along with a relative operator (overt or covert). This operator stands in a predication and agreement relation with the fragment DP by virtue of sharing the same noun class, person and number features. It is this semantic identity which allows reconstruction effects within the embedded clause. The idea that the subject DP in copular fragments originates in the matrix VP is supported by a number of diagnostic tests such as scope relations as well as adjective and quantifier floating. In Section 4, I provide arguments in support of the copulahood of certain fragmentary utterances and their non-elliptical counterparts.

4 On the (non) copulahood of fragments

In Section 3, I have briefly introduced the two instances of fragment answers discussed in this paper. The aim of this section is to provide evidence that these two fragment types have different sources as they do not share the same morphosyntactic and semantic properties.

4.1 Interaction with negation

I use negation as the first argument in support of the copular nature of some fragments and their corresponding non-elliptical counterparts. While some fragments can be negated as in (16) and (17), others cannot, as shown in (18) and (19). As will be observed throughout the discussion, each time a focused constituent is fronted to clause initial position, whether in elliptical or non-elliptical contexts, it is morphologically marked for focus.

(16)

The teacher was giving the presents to somebody, but the speaker didn’t know who it was (Here it is known to A, B and C that someone is receiving the presents. Participant C contradicts B)

A.
njɛ́ɛ́malêta-tí-n-áƔmákebla
1.who1.rel1.teacher1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst16.presents

Lit: ‘Who was it that the teacher was giving the presents to?’

B.
hiŋgɔndai<hjɔ́-nproia-tí-n-áƔti
19.girl19.rel19-foc1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst1
mákebla>
6.presents

Intended: ‘The girl is whom she/he was giving the presents to.’

C.
tɔ̀,hiŋgɔndaiɓé<hjɔ́-nproia-tí-n-áƔti
no19.girlneg19.rel19-foc1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst1
mákebla>
6.presents

Lit: ‘The girl is not whom he was giving the presents to.’

(17)

It is known that the teacher was going to give the presents to someone but A’s speaker has no complete knowledge of the beneficiary (i.e. the beneficiary is unknown).

A.
njɛ́ɛ́malêta-tí-n-áƔmákebla
1.who1.teacher1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst16.presents

‘Who was the teacher giving the presents to?’

B.
hiŋgɔndai<hjɔ́-nproia-tí-n-áƔtimakebla>
19.girl19-foc1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst16.presents

Intended: ‘The girl is whom he was giving the present to.’

C.
tɔ̀,hiŋgɔndaiɓé<hjɔ́-nproia-tí-n-áƔti
no19.girlneg19-foc1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst1
mákebla>
6.presents

Lit: ‘The girl is not whom she/he was giving the presents to.’

The above examples in (16)–(17) are instances of emphatic and non-emphatic information-seeking questions. In a context where participant C contradicts B’s statement, one can realize that B’s statements can be negated as shown in C. This can be done in the form of a fragment answer or in the form of a fully-fledged clause (recall that angled brackets indicate ellipsis).

As mentioned earlier, some fragments cannot be negated. Sentences (18B)–(18C) convey the same meaning and are felicitous answers to (18A). While (18B) is a regular fragment, I suggest its counterpart in (18C) is a biclausal copular focus construction (angled brackets indicate ellipsis).

(18)
A.
kííjmalêtia-tí-n-âghíŋgɔndatj
9.what1.teacher1.sm-give.epth-pst1.prog19.girl

‘What was the teacher giving to the girl?

B.
tɔ-jɔ̌mj<proia-tí-n-âgɓéhjɔ́tj>
no-9.thing1.sm-give-epth-pst1.progneg19.her

Nothing (Intended: She was not giving her anything (cf. C below).

C.
tɔ-jɔ̌mɓé<jɔ́-nproia-tí-n-âghjɔ́tj>
no-9.thingneg9-foc1.sm-give-epth-pst1.prog19.her

‘Nothing’ (Intended: She was not giving her anything).

The following examples in (19) show that although a clausal complement can be a regular fragment, it cannot be negated. The illicitness of (19D) indicates that a clausal complement can be neither negated nor focalized.

(19)
A.
Kíímudaáa-kal-âgɓɔ́ɔ́ŋgɛ́i
9.what1.woman1.sm-tell-pst1-prog2.children

‘What was the woman telling to the children?’

B.
lɛ́proiɓái-ŋ́-kɛ̀jááníísǔklu
that2.sm-fut-go1.tomorrowloc9.school

‘That they will go to school tomorrow.’

C.
proia-kal-âgɓɔ́jlɛ́projɓáj-ŋ́kɛ̀
1.sm-tell-pst1-prog2.themthat2.sm-fut1-go
jááníísǔklu
1.tomorrowloc9.school

‘She was telling them that they will go to school tomorrow.’

D.
*[lɛ́proiɓáiŋ́-kɛ̀jááníísǔklu]ɓé
that2.sm-fut-go1.tomorrowloc9.schoolneg
njɛ́-na-kal-âg
1-foc1.sm-tell-pst1-prog

In this section, I have shown that when a constituent is focus fronted to clause initial position it is morphologically marked and can be negated. I have used the presence of negation as a first assumption for the copulahood in these constructions. Conversely, CP complements can be fronted without being negated and/or focalized. The following section deals with copula drop. It will be shown that the fronted foci (fragmentary and non-elliptical) actually contain a silent verbal copula and a silent relative clause head.

4.2 Copula and relative head-drop

In this section, I provide evidence that focus fronting in Basaá is actually a bi-clausal construction which hides an underlying verbal copula and a relative clause head. That fronted foci hide a verbal copula and the head of a relative clause is supported in the following examples.

(20)
A.
njɛ́ɛ́malêta-tí-n-áƔmákebla
1.who1.rel1.teacher1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst16.presents

Lit: ‘Who was it that the teacher was giving the presents to?’

Aʹ.
njɛ́ɛ́a-jeímutmalêt
1.who1.sm-be.prsdef1.person1.rel1.teacher
a-tí-n-áƔmákebla
1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst16.presents

‘Who is the man to whom the teacher was giving the presents?’

B.
ŋúdú<njɛ́-n proia-tí-n-áƔ
1.student1.rel1-foc1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst1
mákebla>
6.presents

Intended: ‘The student is whom she/he was giving the present to.’

Bʹ.
ŋúdúa-jeímut
1.girl1.sm-be.prsdef1.person1.rel
<(*njɛ́-n)proia-tí-n-áƔmákebla>
1-foc1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst16.presents

Intended: ‘The student is the person whom she/he was giving the present to.’

C.
tɔ̀,ŋúdúɓé<njɛ́-nproi
no1.girlneg1.rel1-foc
a-tí-n-áƔmákebla>
1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst16.presents

‘No, the student is not whom s/he was giving the presents to’

Cʹ.
tɔ̀,ŋúdúa-taɓéímut
no1.girl1.sm-be.prsnegdef1.person1.rel
<(*njɛ́-n)proia-tí-n-áƔmákebla>
1-foc1.sm-give-epth-prog.pst16.presents

Lit: ‘The STUDENT is not the person to whom he was giving the presents’.

To begin with, in an emphatic question context like (20), each of the sentences in (20A)–(20C) is a reduced form of (20Aʹ), (20Bʹ) and (20Cʹ). Here, the italicized copula je/ta ‘be’, the subject marker (sm) and the nominal head mut ‘person’ of the relative show up. As can be observed, whenever the verbal copula and the relative head are overt, the presence of the focus marker is ruled out. This is shown in (20Bʹ) and (20Cʹ). In other words, there is incompatibility between the focus marker, the verbal copula and the relative head. The source of this PF incompatibility is still unexplained so far, and shall be explored in future research. The above examples show that the reduced forms hide a copula and a relative head that are overtly realized in the full forms (in prime).

The idea that focus fronting hides a verbal copula and the head of a relative clause is also attested in the context of non-emphatic questions as illustrated in the following examples. In (21), A, B and C are discourse participants. B answers to A’s question and C contradicts B by negating the focus of his statement. Sentences (21Bʹ) and (21Cʹ) are paraphrases of (21B) and (21C) respectively. Like in (20), the presence of the focus marker is ruled out in the full forms (i.e. the one with an overt copula and the relative head (See 21B’ and 21 Cʹ).

(21)
A.
ɓɔ-ndʒɛ́ɛ́mudaáa-bí-náŋâ
PL-who1.woman1.sm-pst2-invite

‘Who (lit. ‘the who’)did the woman invite?’

B.
ɓɔ̀ɔ̀ŋgɛ́<ɓɔ́-n proa-bí-náŋâ>
2.children2-foc1.sm-pst2-invite

Intended: ‘The children are whom she invited’

Bʹ.
ɓɔ̀ɔ̀ŋgɛ́ɓá-jéíɓotɓá
2.children2.sm-be.prsdef2.persons2.rel
<(*ɓɔ́-n)proa-bí-náŋâ>
2-foc1.sm-pst2-invite

Intended: ‘The children are the persons that she invited’

C.
tɔ,ɓɔ̀ɔ̀ŋgɛ́ɓé<ɓɔ́-n proa-bí-náŋâ>
no2.childrenneg2-foc1.sm-pst2-invite

Intended: No, ‘The children are not whom she invited’

Cʹ.
tɔ,ɓɔ̀ɔ̀ŋgɛ́ɓá-táɓêíɓotɓá
no2.children2.sm-be.prsnegdef2.persons2.rel
<(*ɓɔ́-n)proa-bí-náŋâ>
2-foc1.sm-pst2-invite

Intended: ‘No, the children are not the persons whom she invited’

A closer look at the C and Cʹs examples enables to see that what resists ellipsis in C is the fragment DP and negation, while ellipsis targets the remaining part containing the focus marker and all the elements following it. In the paraphrases in (21Bʹ) and (21Cʹ), it seems that everything should normally delete except the focused constituent ɓɔ̀ɔ̀ŋgɛ́ ‘children’, the subject marker, the copula, negation and the nominal head of the relative clause.

4.3 Against a cleft analysis

This section discusses arguments against a cleft analysis of Basaá fragments in particular and focus fronting in general.

4.3.1 Else-modification

Else-modification has been used in the literature as one of the main arguments against a cleft analysis of English sluicing (cf. Merchant 2001: 122; van Craenenbroeck 2010: 1716). However, it has been noted crosslinguistically that else-modification is subject to parametric variation. Rodrigues et al. (2009: 183-184) have shown that while else-modification is compatible with clefts in Brazilian Portuguese (BP), such compatibility is impossible in Spanish. According to them, this (in) compatibility is linked to the fact that clefts in BP are associated with a non-exhaustive reading while in Spanish they are associated with an exhaustive reading. I build on this test to argue against a cleft-based analysis of Basaá fragments and sluicing. 6 The following examples show that else-modification is possible in sluicing and in fragment utterances. Note that in (22), part of the sentence can be elided as shown by the angled brackets.

(22)

Context:

The teacher has just given the presents to some students. But there are still others to whom he is giving the presents as well.

a.
ndʒɛ́ɛ́núm-pɛ́<malêta-ń-tímákebla>
1.who1-else1.rel1.teacher1.sm-prs-give6.presents

Lit: ‘Who else is the teacher giving the presents to?’

b.
ŋúdúnúm-pɛ́<njɛ́-nproa-ń-tí
1.student1-else1.rel1-foc1.sm-prs-give
mákebla>
6.presents

‘Another student’ (Lit: *Another student is whom he is giving the presents to’

The grammaticality of (22) provides semantic evidence in support of non-exhaustivity in the else-modification test as expected. As a result, I use this to argue against a cleft-based analysis. In other words, as clefts are generally said to be associated with exhaustivity (cf. Rodrigues et al. 2009 for contradictory arguments), the preceding example clearly indicates that the list of the people who receive the presents is not exhaustive (i.e. it is not closed), rather, it remains open (i.e. it indicates that in addition to ‘some students’, others were given the presents as well’). The set of students who received the presents is not closed. At this juncture, a simple copula analysis seems to be more plausible as it overrides a cleft analysis.

4.3.2 Negative indefinites and universal quantifiers

The fact that negative indefinites and universal quantifiers can be focused and negated is another argument in favour of a copular analysis. This is illustrated in the following examples whereby angled brackets indicate ellipsis.

(23)
a.
ndʒɛ́ɛ́a-gá-lɔɔ́jáánííɓɔmá
1.who1.sm-fut2-come1.tomorrowloc7.meeting

‘Who will come to the meeting tomorrow?’

b.
tɔ-mut<a-gá-lɔ̀ɓé>
no-1.person1.sm-fut2-comeneg

‘Nobody<will come>’

c.
tɔ-mut*(ɓé)<njɛ́-nproia-gá-lɔ̀>
no-1.personneg1-foc1.sm-fut2-come

‘Nobody<will come>’

(24)
a.
ndʒɛ́ɛ́a-gá-lɔɔ́jáánííɓɔmá
1.who1.sm-fut2-come1.tomorrowloc7.meeting

‘Who will come to the meeting tomorrow?’

b.
ɓotɓɔ́-ɓásónâ<ɓá-gá-lɔ̀ɔ́>
2.persons2-all2.sm-fut2-come

‘Everybody’

c.
ɓotɓɔ́-ɓásónâ<ɓɔ́-n proia-gá-lɔ̀>
2.persons2-all2-foc1.sm-fut2-come

‘Everybody<will come>’

d.
tɔ,ɓotɓɔ́-ɓásónâɓé<ɓɔ́-nproia-gá-lɔ̀>
no2.persons2-allneg2-foc1.sm-fut2-come

‘No, everybody will not come’

Assuming that negative and universal quantifiers are inherently exhaustive, in the sense that they cover a closed set of entities such that nothing out of that set can be excluded, it is obvious that the focus constructions containing the indefinite tɔ-mut ‘nobody’ and the universal quantifier ɓot ɓɔ-ɓásónâ ‘everybody’ in (24c)–(24d) are not clefts, but simple bi-clausal structures with a hidden verbal copula. In a well-defined context, neither the negative quantifier tɔ-mut ‘nobody’ nor its universal counterpart ɓot ɓɔ́-ɓásónâ ‘everybody’ excludes anything from a closed set of entities. On the contrary, each of them conveys an exhaustive interpretation and needs not be cleaved. É. Kiss (1998: 253) analyzes almost similar facts in English by showing that universal quantifiers, also-phrases and even-phrases are incompatible with clefts. The following section deals with two semantico-syntactic arguments against the cleft analysis.

4.3.3 Scope relations, quantifier and adjective floating

Before the analysis proceeds, I would like to briefly recall the syntactic derivation proposed in (15) for the derivation of copular structures. This would enable us to understand the discussion on scope relations as well as quantifier and adjective floating. It is proposed that the null verbal copula acts like a light verb that originates within the matrix VP and raises into T. The focus constituent (here DP) is initially merged with the quantifier/adjective in Spec-VP such that it can raise to Spec-TP, leaving the quantifier within VP as shown in (25). The relative clause (DP) is merged as the complement of the null copula.

(25)

In the following examples, scope relations hold both for elliptical (26 B) and non-elliptical (26 C) constructions (angled brackets indicate ellipsis).

(26)
A:
íḿ-poonámɛ́lɛ̂ŋgandagɓáúdú
EXPLprs-seemmethat10.many2.students
í-ḿ-pɔ̂tɓásaá
10.sm-prs-speakBasaá

‘It seems to me that many students speak Basaá’

B:
tɔ,ŋgandagɓáúdúɓééjɔ́-ní-ḿ-pɔ̂tɓásaá
no10.many2.studentsneg10-foc10.sm-prs-speakBasaá

‘No, many students do not speak Basaá’[many >not / not >many]

  • (i)

    There is a list of many students such that they do not speak Basaá (it is the case that none of them speaks Basaá).

  • (ii)

    There is a list of students such that many do not Basaá (It is case that some speak Basaá).

C:
tɔ,ŋgandagɓáúdúɓéé<jɔ́-ní-ḿ-pɔ́tɓásaá>
no10.many2.studentsneg10-foc10.sm-prs-speakBasaá

Intended: ‘No, many students do not speak Basaá’ [many >not/not >many]

  • (iii) There is a list of many students such that they do not speak Basaá (it is the case that none of them speaks Basaá).

  • (iv) There is a list of students such that many do not Basaá (It is case that some speak Basaá).

The preceding examples show that scope relations between negation ɓéé ‘not’ and the quantified phrase ŋgandag ɓáúdú ‘many students’ are possible either at S-Structure or at a certain stage of the derivation; namely, prior to A-movement of the quantifier phrase ŋgandag ɓáúdú ‘many students’ to Spec-TP as briefly depicted. In other words, each of the readings (not > many and many > not) is obtained as follows: First of all, considering the VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis (Koopman and Sportiche 1991 a.o.), the quantified subject originates within VP i.e. under the scope of negation, hence the ‘not > many reading. Secondly, when the quantified subject ŋgandag ɓáúdú ‘many students’ is raised to Spec-TP, it occupies a position where it c-commands negation at S-structure, hence the many > not interpretation.

Last but not least, another argument in support of a biclausal structure for some fragmentary and non-elliptical utterances discussed in this paper has to do with quantifier and adjective floating. The fact that quantifier and/or adjective floating is/are allowed only in the matrix and never in the embedded clause is an indication that the fronted element does not originate elsewhere (i.e. inside the embedded relative), but within the matrix VP (headed by a null verbal copula) before raising to Spec-TP where it complies with the EPP requirements. The following are instances of adjective and quantifier floating.

(27)
A:
Mudaáia-bí-ɓɔmáɓáúdúɓɔ́támâ
1.woman1.sm-pst2-meet2.students2.lonely

‘The woman met the lonely students.’

B:
hɛ́ɛ́ní,ɓáúdú(ɓɔ́támâ)ɓéé<ɓɔ́-nproia-bí-ɓɔma
no2.students2.lonelyneg2-foc1.sm-pst2-meet
(*ɓɔ́támâ)>
2.lonely

Lit: ‘The lonely students are not whom she met (i.e. they were accompanied by their parents).’

C:
hɛ́ɛ́ní,ɓáúdúɓééɓɔ́támâ<ɓɔ́-nproia-bí-ɓɔma>
no2.studentsneg2.lonely2-foc1.sm-pst2-meet

Lit: ‘The lonely students are not whom she met (i.e. they were accompanied by their parents).’

In (27), the adjective ɓɔ́támâ ‘alone’ and the head noun ɓáúdú ‘students’ co-occur in sentence final position (27A) whereas in focus fronting contexts, the whole noun phrase occurs in sentence initial position (27B). Adjective floating is disallowed in sentence final position (27B) while it is permitted in-between negation and the focus marker (27C). The same results are obtained with quantifier floating as illustrated below.

(28)
A:
βìkaatgwɔ́-βísónâβígwɔ́-nmalêtia-bí-âŋ
8.books8-all8.rel8-foc1.teacher1.sm-pst2-read
(*gwɔ́-bísónâ)
8-all

Intended: ‘The teacher read all the books.’

B:
hɛ́ɛ́ní,βikaatgwɔ́-βísónâɓééβí<gwɔ́-n
no8.books8-allneg8.rel8-foc
proia-bí-âŋ>
1.sm-pst2-read

Intended: ‘He did not read all the books’ [not>all/ all>not]

  • (i)

    There is a list of books such that he read some of them (not >all)

  • (ii)

    There is a list of book such that he read none of them (all >not)

C:
hɛ́ɛ́ní,βikaatɓéégwɔ́-bísónâβí<gwɔ́-n
no8.booksneg8-all8.rel8-foc
proa-bí-áŋ>
1.sm-pst2-read

Lit: ‘No, the books are not all that he read’ not >all / *all>not

Just like adjective floating, quantifier floating is possible in-between negation and the overt relative operator βí in (28C) while quantifier floating in sentence final position is disallowed in (28A). Interestingly, quantifier floating is permitted not only in full sentences, but also in elliptical ones. As can be seen, only (28B) as opposed to (28C) is ambiguous. The ambiguous reading in (28B) is possible if and only if one assumes that scope relations between negation and the QP ‘all the books’ take place at S-structure and prior to movement. Conversely, in (28C) the quantifier gwɔ́βísónâ ‘all’ cannot scope over a c-commanding negation. This explains why only the ‘not >all’ reading is possible. The syntactic derivation for (28C) also holds for (27C).

The only disparity lies in the fact that there is no overt relative operator in (27C), while the operator is overtly realized in (28C). I propose that both sentences have the same syntactic derivation, the difference being at the level of overtness/covertness of the relative operator. Besides, I assume that both (27C) and (28C) contain a silent relative nominal head. This silent relative head raises along with the relative operator (overt or covert) from AgrSP/TP to Spec-CP in line with Kayne’s (1994) Head Raising Approach to relative clauses (angled brackets indicate ellipsis, while strikethrough indicates movement).

(29)

As illustrated in (29), the target of ellipsis in copular fragments is a functional Focus Phrase (FocP) (Rizzi 1997 onwards), the head of which is occupied by an agreeing noun class focus marker. What resists ellipsis is the fragmentary DP along with negation and the relative operator. The Basaá data are reminiscent of the Hungarian and Gungbe sluicing inside relative clauses (cf. van Craenenbroeck and Lipták 2006; Lipták and Aboh 2013 respectively). I briefly talk about their analyses and show the similarities that exist between Basaá and these languages. The data, when compared with Basaá, offer interesting results which bear on clause structure and the theory of ellipsis crosslinguistically.

5 Sluicing within relatives in Gungbe and Hungarian

As reported in Lipták and Aboh (2013), sluicing in Gungbe and Hungarian is not a biclausal construction like copular fragments in Basaá. Nevertheless, there seem to be some morphosyntactic similarities between these typologically unrelated languages. In Gungbe (Kwa), not only the relative operator, but also the focus marker survive ellipsis in sluicing (Aboh 2010; Lipták and Aboh 2013). 7 This is illustrated in (30).

(30)

Gungbe sluicing

a.
Kòfíyrɔ́ɖéàmɔ́nnyɔ́n
Kofifutcallpersonindbut1.sg.negknow
[mɛ̀ɖěwɛ̀]
personrelfoc

Lit. ‘Kofi will call someone, but I don’t know the person who.’

b.
Kòfíyrɔ́ɖéàmɔ́nnyɔ́n
Kofifutcallpersonindbut1.sg.negknow
[mɛ̀ɖěwɛ̀]Kòfíyrɔ́
personrelfocKofiwillcall

Lit. ‘Kofi will call someone, but I don’t know the person who Kofi will call.’

(Lipták and Aboh 2013: 106, Ex. (9) and (11)).

First of all, note that the sequence Rel-Foc that is attested in Basaá copular fragments (see, 28C and 29) is the one attested in relative sluicing in Gungbe. In addition to the fact that Gungbe sluicing is monoclausal while Basaá copular fragments are bi-clausal, these two African languages also differ at the level of the target of ellipsis. In Basaá, ellipsis targets a functional FocP, the complement of C, the head of CP that hosts the [E] feature. On the contrary, in Gungbe, 8 the target of ellipsis is a TP the complement of a functional Foc head that hosts the focus marker.

Similarly, and as pointed out by an anonymous reviewer, Basaá and Hungarian also seem to be similar to some extent. In their analysis of relative clause deletion (RD) in Hungarian, van Craenenbroeck and Lipták (2006) show that in this specific construction, everything deletes except the relative pronoun and one more constituent. This is illustrated below.

(31)

Hungarian sluicing

a.
KornélAZTALÁNYThívtameg,akit
Kornélthat-ACCthegirl-ACCinvitedPVrel-who-ACC
ZOLTÁN[e]
Zoltán

‘The girl who Kornél invited was the one who ZOLTÁN did’

b.
KornélAZTALÁNYThívtameg,akit
Kornélthat-ACCthegirl-ACCinvitedPVrel-who-ACC
ZOLTÁNhívottmeg
ZoltáninvitedPV

‘The girl who Kornél invited was the one who ZOLTÁN invited’

(van Craenenbroeck and Lipták (2006: 248–249))

Interestingly, relative clause deletion in Hungarian exhibits the same clause structure as Gungbe, modulo a slight difference with respect to the landing site of the remnants. Like in Gungbe, the target of ellipsis is a TP projection, the complement of Foc, the head of the Focus Phrase (cf. van Craenenbroeck and Lipták 2006:262). In Hungarian, the focused constituent lands in Spec-FocP while the relative pronoun is hosted in Spec-CP. The resulting structure is the one in which only the relative pronoun and the focalized material survive ellipsis. 9 Gungbe and Hungarian seem to be similar at the level of the trigger and target of deletion, namely; Foc0 and TP respectively. However, both languages differ at the level of the landing site and nature of the remnants (cf. fn. 8 and 9). Basaá and Hungarian are similar to the extent that the relative operator resists ellipsis in both languages, although the relative operator may be silent in Basaá (see 15a). This discussion has revealed the crosslinguistic variation of ellipsis from typologically unrelated languages. So far, we assume that Basaá fragments are derived from fully-fledged sentential structures that are subject to PF-deletion. The following section deals with the arguments that support the ellipsis approach to fragments in Basaá.

6 Evidence for ellipsis

In this section, I capitalize on well-known arguments in the literature that show that fragment answers contain an unpronounced structure. These arguments, also known as sentence internal dependencies, have been used crosslinguistically (cf. Morgan 1973; Merchant 2001, Merchant 2004; Nishigauchi 2006; Ince 2012 etc.). They show that connectivity effects hold between fragment answers and their correlates in non-elliptical clauses.

6.1 Binding connectivity effects

Fragmentary reflexives and reciprocal pronouns exhibit the same connectivity effects regulated by Binding Theory (henceforth, BT) as their in-situ correlates in full sentential utterances.

(32)
Ndʒɛ́ɛ́Tɔɲɛ́ia-ḿ-mɛmlɛ́
1.who1.Tonye.masc1.sm-prs-admire

‘Who does Tonye admire?’

a.
njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i
1.prn-refl

‘Himselfi

b.
Tɔɲɛ́ia-ḿ-mɛmlɛ́njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i
1.Tonye.masc1.sm-prs-admire1.prn-refl

‘Tonyei admires himselfi.’

Principle A of Binding Theory requires that an anaphor (a reflexive and /or a reciprocal) should be properly bound by a c-commanding antecedent. This applies to the fragmentary non-fragmentary utterances in (32a)–(32b) above and in the following example in (33) where the matrix DP subject Tɔnjɛ́i (+male) as well as its embedded counterpart ŋgɔ ɓásɔ́ŋj (+female) successfully binds the reflexive njɛ́-mɛdɛ́ ‘himself/herself’ in the embedded clause. As the grammaticality of (33a) shows, the same binding and ambiguity effects hold for both the fragmentary reflexive njɛ́-mɛdɛ́ ‘himself/herself’ and its counterpart in the fully-fledged clause in (33b).

(33)
ndʒɛ́ɛ́Tɔnyɛ́ia-ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ́llɛ́ŋgɔɓásɔ̂ŋj
1.who1.Tonye.masc1.sm-prs-thinkthatŋgɔɓásɔ́ŋ.fem
a-bí-náŋâ
1.sm-pst2-invite

‘Who does Tonyei think that ŋgɔ ɓásɔ́ŋj invited?’

a.
Njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j
1.prn-refl

‘Him/herself’

b.
Tɔnyɛ́ia-ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ́llɛ́ŋgɔɓásɔ̂ŋj
1.Tonye.masc1.sm-prs-thinkthatŋgɔɓásɔ́ŋ.fem
a-bí-náŋânjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j
1.sm-pst2-invitehim/herself

‘Tonyei (male) thinks that ŋgɔ ɓásɔ́ŋj (female) invited himselfi/herselfj?’

Note that in Basàá the reflexive njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j can corefer either with Tonye, the subject of the main clause or with the embedded subject ŋgɔ ɓásɔ́ŋj. Besides, in Basaá there is no male/female distinction in the distribution of pronouns. The distinction is simply sensitive to noun classes. Given that all kinship names and proper names bear human characteristics in the language, they belong to the same noun class; namely class 1. It is certainly the reason why in the absence of a specific context, it is not easy to notice whether the anaphor njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i ‘him/herself’ is bound by the matrix subject Tonye or by its embedded counterpart ŋgɔ ɓásɔ́ŋj.

Similarly, reciprocals can be bound by a c-commanding DP both in elliptical and non-elliptical contexts as shown in (34). This state of affairs is tantamount to saying that at a certain stage, precisely prior to movement and PF-deletion, the anaphors are properly bound by their corresponding antecedents.

(34)
ndʒɛ́ɛ́ɓɔɔŋgɛ́iɓá-ŋ́-gwês
1.who2.children2.sm-prs-love

‘Who do the students love?’

a.
[ɓɔ́niɓɔ́]i
2.themconnthem

‘Each other’

b.
ɓɔɔŋgɛ́iɓá-ŋ́-gwés-ná[ɓɔ́niɓɔ́]i
2.children2.sm-prs-love-rec2.themconn2.them

‘The childreni love [one another]i.’

The same connectivity effects are obtained in emphatic questions in the following examples.

(35)
ndʒɛ́ɛ́Tɔɲɛ́ia-ḿ-mɛmlɛ
1.who1.Rel1.Tonye.masc1.SM-PRS-admire

‘Who is it that Tonye is admiring?’

a.
njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i
1.prn-refl1.Rel

‘Himself’

b.
Tɔnyɛ́ia-ḿ-mɛmlɛ́njɛ́-mɛdɛi
1.Tonye.masc1.sm-prs-admire1.prn-refl

‘Tonyei admires himselfi.’

(36)
ndʒɛ́ɛ́Tɔɲɛ́ia-ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ́llɛ́ŋgɔɓásɔ́ŋj
1.who1.rel1.Tonye.masc1.sm-prs-thinkthatŋgɔɓásɔ́ŋ.fem
a-bí-náŋâ
1.sm-pst2-invite

‘Who does Tonyei think that ŋgɔ ɓásɔ́ŋj invited?’

a.
Njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j
1.prn-refl1.rel

‘Him/herself’

b.
Tɔɲɛ́ia-ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ́llɛ́ŋgɔɓásɔ́ŋj
1.Tonye.masc1.sm-prs-thinkthatŋgɔɓásɔ́ŋ.fem
bí-náŋânjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j
1.sm-pst2-invite1.prn-refl

‘Tonyei (male) thinks that ŋgɔ ɓásɔ́ŋj (female) invited himself/herselfi/j?’

(37)
ɓɔ-ndʒɛ́ɛ́ɓáɓɔɔŋgɛ́iɓá-ŋ́-gwês
PL-who2.rel2.children2.sm-prs-like

‘Who is that the students like?’

a.
[ɓɔ́niɓɔ́]iɓâ
2.themconn2.them2.rel

‘Each otheri

b.
ɓɔɔŋgɛ́iɓá-ŋ́-gwés-ná[ɓɔ́niɓɔ́]i
2.children2.sm-prs-like-rec2.themconn2.them

‘The childreni like each otheri.’

In the same vein, Principle B effects are attested in the distribution of fragmentary pronouns and their counterparts in non-elliptical sentences. This holds for regular and emphatic question-answer pairs.

(38)
ndʒɛ́ɛ́mudaáia-ŋ́-gwéskéβel
1.who1.woman1.sm-prs-wantserve

‘Whom does the womani want to serve the food to?’

a.
*nyɛ́i
1.her

‘*Heri

b.
*proia-ŋ́-gwéskéβêlnjɛ́i
1.sm-prs-wantserve1.her

‘*The womani wants to serve heri the food’

(39)
ndʒɛ́ɛ́mudaáia-ŋ́-gwéskéβel
1.who1.rel1.woman1.sm-prs-wantserve

‘Who is it that the woman wants to serve the food to?’

a.
*nyɛ́i
1.her1.rel

‘*Heri

b.
*mudaaia-ŋ́-gwéskéβêlnjɛ́i
1.woman1.sm-prs-wantserve1.her

‘*The womani wants to serve heri the food’

Sentences (38) and (39) show that Principle B of BT is violated because the pronoun njɛ́ ‘heri’ is not free. It is bound by the antecedent mudaá ‘woman’ in the fragmentary answers in (a) and in their non-elliptical counterparts in (b).

Similarly, Principle C which bans coreference between a name/an epithet and a c-commanding name or pronoun is illustrated in (40). The name Bikun in (40) corefers with the epithet í maaŋgɛ́ wándá nú ‘that young man’, hence the illicitness of the sentences.

(40)
KííBíkûnia-ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ̂l
9.what1.Bikun1.sm-prs-think

‘What does Bikuni think?’

a.
*lɛ́[ímaaŋgɛ́wándá]ia-jenlâm
thatdef1.childyouth1.dem1.sm-be.prs1.nice

*‘That that young mani is handsome.’

b.
*Bíkûnia-ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ̂llɛ́ [ímaaŋgɛ́wándá
1.Bikun1.sm-prs-thinkthatdef1.childyouth
]ia-jenlâm
1.dem1.sm-be.prs1.nice

*‘Bikuni thinks that [that young man]i is handsome.’

The ungrammaticality of (40b), (40c) stems from coreference between the proper name Bíkûn in the subject position and the epithet í maaŋgɛ́ wándá nú ‘that young man’. Both cannot refer to the same person, hence the illicitness of these sentences.

6.2 Scope and bound pronouns

First of all, an indefinite direct object can take scope over a quantified subject. This is possible in the fragment utterance in (41c) and its non-elliptical counterpart in (41b).

(41)
a.
ndʒɛ́ɛ́híkiíŋúdúa-bí-ɓɔma
1.whoevery1.student1.sm-pst2-meet

‘Who did every student meet?’

b.
híkiíŋúdúa-bí-ɓɔmámálêt
every1.student1.sm-pst2-meet1.teacher

‘Every student met a teacher.’

c.
malêti<njɛ́-nhíkiíŋúdúa-bí-ɓɔma ti>
1.teacher1-focevery1.teacher1.sm-pst2-meet

‘Every student met a teacher.’

Each of the readings below holds for both (41b) and (41c).

  • (i)

    There is a list of teachers such that every student x met a teacher y from that list.

  • (ii)

    There is one teacher y such that every student x met that teacher.

Similar ambiguity effects are attested in the distribution of bound pronouns. In (42), the possessive dʒéi/j ‘his/her’ contained in the DP líwándá dʒéi/j ‘his/her friend’ in the object position can bind either the noun maaŋgɛ́i ‘child’ in the quantified subject híkií maaŋgɛ́i ‘every child’ or any other salient subject in the discourse, hence the ambiguity as shown by co-indexation.

(42)
a.
ndʒɛ́ɛ́híkiímaaŋgɛ́a-bí-tɛ́hɛ̂ ti
1.whoevery1.child1.sm-pst2-see

‘Who did every childi see?’

b.
híkiímaaŋgɛ́ia-bí-tɛ́hɛ́líwándádʒéi/j
every1.child1.sm-pst2-see5.friend5.his/her

Intended: ‘Every childi saw hisi/j/heri/j friend’

c.
líwándádʒéi/j<dʒɔ́-nhíkiímaaŋgɛ́ia-bí-tɛ́hɛ̂>
5.friend5.his/her5-focevery1.child1.sm-pst2-see

Intended: ‘Hisi/j/heri/j friend’

  • (i)

    There is a list of friends s.t. every child x saw his/her friend y

  • (ii)

    There is a one individual X’s friend s.t. every child saw that friend

Notwithstanding the reading in (42ii) which indicates that the direct object líwándá dʒéi/j ‘his/her friend’ does not bind the noun maaŋgɛ́i ‘child’ inside the quantified subject, the reading in (42i) clearly shows that such binding effects are still possible. Parallel grammatical dependencies exhibited in fragments and their sentential counterparts in (41) and (42) are expected under an ellipsis approach which assimilates fragment utterances with the well-known syntactic properties. The binding binding effects obtained in (42) are interesting as they do not only show evidence for ellipsis, but also for syntactic movement operations.

7 Evidence for the movement analysis

This section addresses arguments which support the idea that fragments undergo syntactic movement prior to ellipsis. These arguments are taken from a wide range of sentence internal dependencies such preposition stranding, complementizer deletion, subcategorization properties, binding ambiguity, island effects, the distribution of negative polarity items etc.

7.1 Preposition stranding

Although Basaá is a non-preposition stranding language in wh-question contexts as shown in (43a) and (44a), preposition stranding is successfully operative in fragment answers as illustrated in (43b) and (44b).

(43)
a.
nindʒɛ́ɛ́uβí-ɓɔ́máMááh(*ni)
prep1.whoyou.2sgpst1-meet1.Maahwith

‘Who did you meet Maah with?’

b.
(ni)Pɔ́ndí
prep1.Pondi’

‘Pɔ́ndí’

c.
βí-ɓɔmánjɛ́niPɔ́ndí
Ipst2-meet1.himprep1.Pondi

‘I met him with Pondí’

(44)
a.
sɔ́hɔ́,tīmbákalɓês,nindʒɛ́ɛ́uń-niŋ(*ni)náanɔ́
pleaserepeattellusprep1.who2.sgprs-liveprep1.now

‘Please, tell us with whom you are living now’

b.
(ni)liwándádʒɛ̂m
prep5.friend5.my

‘With my friend’

c.
ń-nǐŋniliwándádʒɛ̂mnáanɔ́
Iprs-liveprep5.friend5.my1.now

‘I am living with my friend now.’

The optionality of pied-piping in the above examples indicates that preposition stranding under fragments is possible. As a result, the possibility of having preposition stranding is an argument in favor of a movement plus deletion analysis. In more concrete terms, the fact that the preposition ni ‘with’ can be left out in (44b) indicates that its DP complement liwándá dʒɛ̂m ‘my friend’ can move alone without any illicitness. When this happens, it is assumed that the complement of this preposition, namely the DP liwándá dʒɛ̂m undergoes A-bar movement, followed by PF deletion of the clause which contains the stranded preposition ni ‘with’.

These facts seem to run counter to Merchant’s (2001: 92) cross-linguistic generalization on ellipsis, and sluicing in particular, but with similar results in fragment answers:

(45)

Form-identity generalization II: P-stranding

“A language L will allow preposition stranding under sluicing iff L also allows preposition stranding under wh-movement.” (Merchant 2001: 92).

In fact, Basaá is not an isolated case because similar facts have been reported in the literature cross-linguistically. For example, it has been revealed that Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and Spanish are two non-preposition stranding languages under regular wh-movement. However, they allow preposition stranding in sluicing (cf. Rodrigues et al. 2009 and references cited therein for further details). Of interest is the fact that these authors demonstrate that only in those cases where sluicing has a cleft source is preposition stranding possible. 10 Although the present paper argues against a cleft analysis of copular fragments, a unifying factor between Basaá (Bantu) and Brazilian Portuguese & Spanish (Romance) is that these typologically unrelated languages have a biclausal structure in ellipsis (fragments and sluicing). The following subsection deals with the distribution of NPIs as additional evidence in support of the ellipsis analysis.

7.2 The distribution of NPIs

Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) in Basaá are made up of the item ‘no’ used in yes/no questions followed by a nominal element. 11 The following examples show that NPIs should occur in the presence of negation ((46a) and (47a)), and are not licensed in positive contexts ((46b) and (47b)).

(46)
a.
hilɔ́ɣáhí-βí-sɔ́mbɓétɔ-jɔ̌m
19.boy19.sm-pst2-buynegno-9.thing

‘The boy didn’t buy anything’

b.
*hilɔ́gɣáhí-βí-sɔ́mbtɔ-jɔ̌m
19.boy19.sm-pst2-buyno-9.thing
(47)
a.
n-náŋáɓétɔ-mut
Ipst1-invitenegno-1.person

‘I haven’t invited anybody’

b.
*n-náŋátɔ-mut
Ipst1-inviteno-1.person

They can be used as fragment answers as in (48b) and (49b) and can be fronted in fully-fledged sentences as in (48c) and (49c).

(48)
a.
Kíímudaáia-n-sɔ̂mb
9.what1.woman1.sm-pst1-buy

‘What has the woman bought?’

b.
tɔ-jɔ̌m
no-9.thing

‘Nothing’

c.
tɔ-jɔ̌mproia-n-sɔ́mbɓê
no-9.thing1.sm-pst1-buyneg

Intended: ‘She hasn’t bought anything.’

(49)
a.
ndʒɛ́ɛ́mudaáia-ŋ́-gwês
1.who1.woman1.sm-pst1-love

‘Who does the woman love?’

b.
tɔ-mut
no-1.person

‘Nobody’

c.
tɔ-mutproia-ŋ́-gwêsɓê
no-1.person1.sm-pst1-loveneg

Intended: ‘She doesn’t love anybody.’

I argue that these NPIs are licensed by the negative marker ɓé ‘not’ and postulate that the grammaticality of the (b) and (c)’s sentences is explained under the assumption that NPIs are c-commanded by negation either at S-Structure or LF. In this case, c-command relations between negation and NPIs take place at a certain stage of the derivation i.e. prior to the movement of the NPI to clause initial position. In the context of (46a) and (47a), it is obvious that c-command between negation and NPIs takes place on the surface while in the context of (48b)–(48c) and (49b)–(49c) it takes place at LF. I consider the licitness of these sentences as a core evidence that Basaá NPIs undergo syntactic movement followed by ellipsis of part of the clause containing a licensing negation. Whatever the case, I consider that the moved NPI leaves a copy inside the clause such that that copy is activated and licensed by a c-commanding negation.

7.3 Binding ambiguity

Ince (2012) uses binding ambiguity as an argument in favour of a movement analysis of fragments in Turkish (cf. Ince 2012 for more details on Turkish). I capitalize on his ideas and show that this also holds for Basaá fragments.

The following sentence in (50) is ambiguous because the third person possessive ‘his’ in the embedded clause can be bound either by the matrix DP subject Ntogue, the embedded DP subject Konde or any other contextually salient discourse referent. Both the matrix and embedded subjects c-command the possessive ‘his’.

(50)
Ntogueia-ŋ́-kallɛ́Kondeja-bí-nímîs
1.Ntogue1.sm-prs-saythat1.Konde1.sm-pst2-loose
káati/j/k
7.book7.his

‘Ntoguei says that Kondej lost hisi/j book’

The same binding ambiguity holds in the context of fragment utterances and fully-fledged sentences with focus fronting as illustrated in (51b) where ellipsis is indicated by angled brackets.

(51)
a.
KííNtogueia-ŋ́-kallɛ́Kondeja-bí-nímîs
9.what1.Nogue1.sm-prs-saythat1.Konde1.sm-pst2-loose

‘What does Ntogue say that Konde lost?’

b.
kaati/j/k<jɔ́-nNtogueia-ŋ́-kallɛ́
7.book7.his7-foc1.Nogue1.sm-prs-saythat
Kondeja-bí-nímîs>
1.Konde1.sm-pst2-loose

Lit: ‘Hisi book is what Ntoguei says that Kondei lost.’

The grammaticality of (51b) is understood if we assume that prior to movement, the possessive ‘his’ contained in the fronted object DP kaat jěi/j/k ‘his book’ is bound by the c-commanding subjects. However, if such an analysis is true, it nevertheless raises a striking issue about the syntactic derivations proposed in (15), whereby the fronted constituent in copular structures is said to be based-generated in the main clause headed by a null verbal copula. I postpone this discussion to Section 8.

7.4 Island effects

Island sensitivity is used as another argument for the ellipsis approach (cf. Merchant 2004: 688–689, Merchant 2008; but see also Ince 2012 for a contradictory approach). Since Ross (1967), a number of restrictions on movement have been proposed. These restrictions serve as diagnostic tests for movement. If movement applies out of a domain which is not transparent to extraction, the resulting structure becomes illicit. It is true that testing for island sensitivity with fragment answers is not simple as noted by Merchant (2004: 687). This is due to the fact that the questions that are used to test for island sensitivity are themselves found in islands, that is, they constitute island violations. Merchant resorts to two strategies to test for islands in the context of fragment answers. The first strategy proposed consists in asking multiple wh-questions where one wh-phrase occurs inside an island as in the context in (52).

In Basaá, a full sentential answer is perfect when the targeted constituent occurs in an in-situ position inside an island (52b), but a corresponding fragment answer as well as its non-elliptical counterpart is ruled out in the same context as shown in (52c)–(52d) respectively (strikethrough indicates deletion of the moved constituent).

(52)

Question-answer pairs in a multiple question context

a.
númɓɛ́málêta-ŋ́-gwêsɓɔ́má[ímut
1.which1.teacher1.sm-prs-wantmeetdef1.person
a-ḿ-pɔ́túmbɛ́hɔ̂p]
1.rel1.sm-prs-speak1.which3.language

‘Which teacher wants to meet the man who speaks which language?’

b.
Ntoguenjɛ́-na-ŋ́-gwêsɓɔ́má[ímut
1.Ntogue1-foc1.sm-prs-wantmeetdef1.person
a-ḿ-pɔ́tŋgísi]
1.rel1.sm-prs-speak9.English

Intended: ‘Ntogue wants to meet [the person who speaks ENGLISH].’

c.
*Ntogueŋgísi
1.Ntogue9.English

*‘Ntogue English.’

d.
*ŋgisijɔ̌-nNtoguea-ŋ́-gwêsɓɔ́má
9.English9-foc1.Ntogue1.sm-prs-wantmeet
[ímuta-ḿ-pɔ́tŋgisi]
def1.person1.rel1.sm-prs-speak

‘*English is what Ntogue wants to meet the person who speaks.’

The second strategy consists in asking a polar (yes/no) question with stress on a specific constituent within an island as in (53). In a context where the target constituent is in-situ inside an island in a yes-no question, a fully-fledged sentential answer is successful as in (53b) while a fragment is ruled out (53c). In the same vein, a fully-fledged sentential answer with a fronted constituent is ruled out (53d).

(53)

Yes-no question context

a.
ɓaámalêtiɓasàaa-ń-lanííƔá
Pol1.teacher2.Basaá1.sm-prs-canteach
[íɓaúdúɓáɓá-ḿ-pɔ́tdʒámánɛ
def2.students2.rel2.sm-prs-speak5.GermanPol

‘Can a Basaá teacher teach [the students who speak German]?’

b.
tɔ,proiai-ń-lanííƔá[íɓaúdúɓá
no1.sm-prs-canteachdef2.students2.rel
ɓá-ḿ-pɔ́tbúlu]
2.sm-prs-speak9.Bulu

‘No, he can teach the students who speak Búlu’

[Bantu language spoken in Cameroon].’

c.
*tɔ,búlu
noBúlu
d.
*búlujɔ̌-nproiai-ń-lanííƔá[íɓaúdú
9.Bulu9-foc1.sm-prs-canteachdef2.students
ɓáɓá-ḿ-pɔ́tbúlu]
2.Rel2.sm-prs-speak

‘*Búlu is what he can teach the students who speak’

These island-sensitivity effects can be explained iff one admits that the fragmentary answers ŋgísi ‘English’ in (52c) and búlu ‘Búlu’ in (53c) have been extracted from an island by A-bar movement, the phonetic realization of which goes missing at the PF component.

7.5 Other morphosyntactic and semantic diagnostic tests for movement

This section is concerned with three other arguments that militate for a movement analysis of Basaá fragments. The arguments include the distribution of relative operators, focus markers as well as subcategorization.

7.5.1 The distribution of relative operators and focus markers

In Basaá, neither the relative operators nor the focus markers can show up when the focused constituent appears in-situ (54A1). The relative operator and the focus marker show up in every context where the focalized constituent is fronted to clause initial position as in (54A2). As illustrated in (54A2), both the relative operator and the focus marker are mandatory when constituent fronting takes place; otherwise, one ends up with an illicit construction. As it has been shown all along, only the relative operator resists ellipsis in the context of emphatic questions such as (54). The focus marker is banned from fragmentary utterances as shown in (54A3), (see also Example 15, among others).

(54)
Q:ndʒɛ́ɛ́malêtia-ḿ-ɓégês
1.who1.rel1.teacher1.sm-prs-congratulate

‘Whom is the teacher congratulating?’

Lit: ‘Whom is it that the teacher is congratulating?’

A1:proia-ḿ-ɓégêsŋúdú**njɛ́-n
1.sm-prs-congratulate1.student1.rel1-foc

‘He/she is congratulating the student.’

A2:ŋúdú*()<*(njɛ́-n)proia-ḿ-ɓégês>
1.student1.rel1-foc1.sm-prs-congratulate

‘The student is whom he is congratulating.’

A3:ŋúdú*njɛ́-n
1.student1.rel1-foc

‘The student.’

The distribution of relative operators and focus markers lends support to the movement plus deletion analysis of fragmentary utterances.

7.5.2 Subcategorization

In Basaá, the declarative lexical complementizer lɛ́ ‘that’ and its interrogative counterpart tɔɔ́ ‘if/whether’ always select for clausal complements (see 55B and 56B) and never for DPs as shown in (57a)–(57c).

(55)

Context: A and B are out of the classroom

A.Kííí-ń-tâgɓɛ́ɲɔ̂íketé
9.what9.sm-prs-passthereloc9.inside

‘What’s happening inside there?’

B.ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ̂llɛ́[ɓaúdúɓáɓɔ́-nmalêt
Iprs-thinkthat2.students2.rel2-foc1.teacher
a-ḿ-pód-ôs]
1.sm-prs-talk-obl

Lit: ‘I think that the students are whom the teacher is talking to.’

Intended: ‘I think that the teacher is talking to the students.’

(56)
A.ɓaámalêta-n-lɔ́ɔ
Pol1.teacher1.sm-pst1-arrivePol

‘Has the teacher arrived?’

B.ń-jíɓêtɔɔ́[proa-n-lɔ̂]
Iprs-knownegif1.sm-pst1-arrive

‘I don’t know if he has arrived.’

The sentences in (57) in which a lexical complementizer (57a)–(57b) or a series of two complementizers (57c) is followed by a DP complement are unacceptable in out-of-the-blue contexts. In other words, the sentences in (57) can only be correct in specific discourse contexts, precisely when the complement clause is overtly realized, salient or implied in the discourse. In the last two cases, the missing constituent is subject to ellipsis.

(57)
a.
#ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ̂llɛ́ɓaúdúɓâ.
Iprs-thinkthat2.students2.rel
b.
#ń-jíɓéétɔɔ́ɓaúdúɓâ.
Iprs-knownegif2.students2.rel
c.
#ḿ-ɓat-ɓálɛ́tɔɔ́ɓaúdúɓâ.
Iprs-ask-RFMthatif2.students2.rel

The following sentences indicate that in a specific discourse context, precisely in a question-answer pair context, (57a)–(57c) can be improved both in fragments and fully fledged sentential answers.

(58)
Q.ɓɔ-ndʒɛ́ɛ́ɓámalêtia-ḿ-pód-ôs
PL-who2.rel1.teacher1.sm-prs-talk-obl

‘Who is it that the teacher is talking to?’

A1.ŋ́-hɔ́ŋɔ̂llɛ́ɓaúdújɓâ<ɓɔ́-nproi
Iprs-thinkthat2.students2.rel2-foc
a-ḿ-pód-ôstj>
1.sm-prs-talk-obl

Lit: ‘I think that the students are whom s/he is talking to.’

A2.ń-jîɓéétɔɔ́ɓaúdújɓá<ɓɔ́-nproi
Iprs-knownegif2.students2.rel2-foc
a-ḿ-pód-ôs tj>
1.sm-prs-talk-obl

Lit: ‘I don’t know if the students are whom s/he is talking to.’

A3.Mɛ-mɛdɛ́ḿ-ɓat-ɓálɛ́tɔɔ́ɓaúdúj
1.SG.prn-reflIprs-ask-RFMthatif2.students
ɓâ<ɓɔ́-nproia-ḿ-pód-ôstj>
2.rel2-foc1.sm-prs-talk-obl

Lit: ‘*I wonder myself that if the students are whom s/he is talking to.’

It is clear from (57) and (58) that the fragment answer ɓaúdú ‘students’ is not subcategorized/selected by the lexical complementizers. It is rather the case that a fully-fledged clause has undergone PF-deletion after syntactic movement of the remnant DP has taken place. These subcategorization facts do not only constitute evidence for ellipsis, but also for movement. The movement analysis holds along the lines if we assume that relativization and focus fronting in Basaá involve A-bar movement. In this case, the presence of both the relative operator ɓâ and the focus marker ɓɔ́-n (within the elliptical part) in (58) is clearly suggestive of syntactic movement. In other words, the proposal made throughout is that there is A-bar movement inside the relative clause. If this is true along the lines, it cannot be the case that the relative operator ɓâ and the focus marker ɓɔ́-n in (58) occur in an in-situ context. On the contrary, their presence is a signal of syntactic movement as these markers never occur in in-situ contexts.

7.5.3 Interim conclusion

Hitherto, the discussion has revealed that Basaá fragments include a syntactic structure that is subject to ellipsis at PF. Arguments such as connectivity and island effects as well as other morphosyntactic and semantic tests have been used to support this view. The following section comes back to the syntactic derivation of Basaá fragments with some clarifications on the motivations for having a null operator in those structures that lack an overt relative operator.

8 The syntactic derivation of fragments

In Section 2, I have proposed three derivations for Basaá fragments (cf.12 and 15). More precisely, on the one hand, I suggested that regular fragment answers i.e. the ones that realize as CP complement clauses and/or NPIs undergo run-of-the-mil A-bar movement to the left periphery of the clause (Spec-CP) followed by PF-deletion of the clause (TP/AgrSP). This analysis is in line with Merchant’s (2004) proposal (see also Merchant 2003). In this vein, fragmentary utterances such as (59b) and (60b) are syntactically derived as briefly depicted in (61a) and (61b) respectively.

(59)
a.
Kíímudaaia-ŋ́-kɔnwɔ́ŋí
9.what1.woman1.sm-prs-be sick3.fear

‘What is the woman afraid of?’

b.
*(lɛ́)proia-gá-sôɣlíkɔdá
that1.sm-fut2-be late5.meeting

‘That she will be late for the meeting’

c.
proia-ŋ́-kɔnwɔ́ŋí*(lɛ́)proia-gá-sôɣ
1.sm-prs-be sick3.fearthat1.sm-fut2-be late
líkɔdá
5.meeting

‘That she will be late for the meeting.’

(60)
a.
Kíímudaáa-bí-sɔ̂mb
9.what1.woman1.sm-pst2-buy

‘What did the woman buy?’

b.
tɔ-jɔ̌m
no-9.thing

‘Nothing’

c.
proia-bí-sɔ̂mbɓétɔ-jɔ̌m
1.sm-pst2-buynegno-9.thing

‘She didn’t buy anything’

(61)

As can be observed in (59b)–(59c), complementizer deletion is not possible in both the elliptical and non-elliptical structures (see also Merchant 2004: 689–692 for similar cases in English). Complementizer deletion in these sentences will result in ungrammaticality. Following Merchant’s (2001, 2003, 2004, etc.) [E]-feature analysis, the null C in (61) does not only attract the fragment to Spec-CP, but it also triggers non-pronunciation of its TP/AgrS- complement.

On the other hand, copular fragment answers to emphatic questions (62) and their non-emphatic counterparts (63) are said to involve a biclausal structure that requires two major independent movement operations, namely; A-movement of the fragment DP into the matrix TP and A-bar movement of an overt or covert relative operator to the embedded Spec-CP via Spec-FocP. These two structures are represented in (64a)–(64b) respectively.

(62)
a.
ndʒɛ́ɛ́uḿ-pód-ôs
1.who1.relyou.2.sgprs-talk-obl

‘Who is it that you are talking to?’

b.
mudaá
1.woman1.rel

‘The woman.’

c.
mudaánjɛ́-nḿ-pód-ôs
1.woman1.rel1-focIprs-talk-obl

‘The woman is whom I am talking to.’

(63)
a.
Kííubí-sɔ̂mb
9.whatyou.2.sgpst2-buy

‘What did you buy?’

b.
βikaat
8.books

‘The books’

c.
βikaatgwɔ́-n<mɛbí-sɔ̂mb>
8.books8-focIpst2-buy

‘The books are what I bought’

(64)

I propose that copular fragments are derived in two main stages: the fragment DP originates as the internal subject of the null verbal copula inside the matrix clause before raising to the matrix TP. I suggest this movement takes place to satisfy the EPP requirements, namely; the condition that the main T should have a subject in its specifier position (Chomsky 1982, Chomsky 1995; Grimshaw 1991). This movement is necessary because focus fronting constructions in Basaá lack expletive subjects that would otherwise fulfill the EPP requirements. More precisely, since focus fronting in this language does not follow the English pattern (it-be-XP) and/or French (ce-être-XP) cleft structures (cf. Akmajian 1970; É. Kiss 1998; Lambrecht 2001; Belletti 2005 among others.), the focalized constituent needs to raise into the subject position to comply with the EPP condition.

The second step in the derivation takes place into a headless relative clause in the complement position of the null verbal copula. It involves successive cyclic A-bar movement of a silent NP head along with a relative operator (overt/covert) into Spec-CP via FocP. I suggest that A-bar movement into Spec-FocP takes place because the relative operator on its way to Spec-CP needs to check the focus features against those of the focus marker in Foc. More precisely, in the context of (62b), the derivation of which is given in (64a), the focus marker njɛ́-n and the relative operator agree in noun class (class 1) and number features (singular). These features, along with the focus features hosted in Foc need to be checked by a matching relative operator. One way of accounting for (64b) is to assume that although the relative operator and the nominal head of the relative clause are silent, they nevertheless bear the same features as the focus marker gwɔ́-n in Foc, so much so that although the silent relative NP head and operator have a null spell-out, feature checking is still possible as in (64a). Adopting Kayne’s (1994) head raising approach to relative clauses, 12 the functional D head of DP selects a CP complement such that the target constituent that raises into Spec-CP is a silent NP head along with a relative operator (overt/covert). Recall that in this approach, the null copula in the matrix clause selects the fragment DP as its subject and a headless relative clause as its complement. It is D, the head of this DP in the object position that selects a CP complement. If this analysis is plausible, one can raise the question about the existence and implications of a null operator in non-emphatic fragment contexts as in (63c) and (64b) above.

8.1 The syntax and semantics of the null operator

The preceding analysis has shown that in cases such as (64b), there is a null operator that corresponds to an overt relative operator in emphatic structures (see (63c) and (64a)). In this section, I provide structural and interpretative arguments in favour of the existence of a null relative operator.

Note that whether focus fronting takes place in emphatic or non-emphatic contexts, one always ends up with the same semantic and syntactic effects. This is supported by reconstruction and island effects.

(65)
a.
bîmbɛ́ɛ́bítitîhíkiímudaáia-ŋ́-gwês
8.which8.picturesevery1.woman1.sm-prs-like

‘Which pictures does every woman like?’

b.
híkiímudaáia-ŋ́-gwês[bititîgwééi/jnjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j]
every1.woman1.sm-prs-like8.pictures8.poss1.prn-refl

Lit: ‘Every womani likes pictures of herselfi.’

c.
[bititîgwééi/jnjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j]gwɔ́-nhíkiímudaái
8.pictures8.poss1.prn-refl8-focevery1.woman
a-ŋ́-gwêsFocus fronting
1.sm-prs-like

Lit: ‘The pictures of herselfi/j are what every woman likes.’

d.
[bititîgwééi/jnjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j]Fragment answer
8.pictures8.poss1.prn-refl

Lit: ‘pictures of herselfi.’

(66)
a.
bîmbɛ́ɛ́βíbítitîhíkiímudaáia-ŋ́-gwês
8.which8.rel8.picturesevery1.woman1.sm-prs-like

‘Which are those pictures that every woman likes?’

b.
híkiímudaáia-ŋ́-gwês[bititîgwééi/j
every1.woman1.sm-prs-like8.pictures8.poss
njɛ́mɛdɛ́i/j]
1.PRNREFL

Lit:‘Every womani likes pictures of herselfi.’

c.
[bititîgwééi/jnjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j]βígwɔ́-n
8.pictures8.poss1.prn-refl8.rel8-foc
híkiímudaáia- ŋ́-gwêsFocus fronting
every1.woman1.sm-prs-like

Lit: ‘The pictures of herselfi/j are what every woman likes.’

d.
[bititîgwééi/jnjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j]βîFragment answer
8.pictures8.poss1.prn-refl8.rel

Lit: ‘The pictures of herselfi.’

The above examples show that the quantified subject híkii mudaá ‘every woman’ can bind a possessive and a reflexive found inside the focused constituent [bititî gwééi/j njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j] ‘pictures of herself’ not only in non-elliptical contexts but also in the elliptical ones. The licitness of these constructions is an indication that the reflexive and possessive contained in the fronted constituent [bititî gwééi/j njɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j] ‘pictures of herself’ reconstruct. The reconstruction effects in (65c) and (65d) are a good signal that there is a null operator inside the relative clause that has the same semantic properties as the fronted constituent in the matrix subject position. In the same vein, the idea that there is a null operator even in non-emphatic contexts is also supported by the following examples.

(67)
a.
*[bititîgwééi/jnjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j]gwɔ́-nbí-tɛ́hɛ̂
8.pictures8.poss1.prn-refl8-focIpst2-see
híkiímudaáa-ŋ́-gwês
every1.woman1.rel1.sm-prs-like

Lit: ‘*The pictures of herselfi/j are what I saw every woman who likes.’

b.
*[bititîgwééi/jnjɛ́-mɛdɛ́i/j]βígwɔ́-nbí-tɛ́hɛ̂
8.pictures8.poss1.prn-refl8.rel8-focIpst2-see
[híkiímudaáa-ŋ́-gwês]
every1.woman1.rel1.sm-prs-like

Lit: *‘The pictures of herselfi/j are what I saw every woman who likes.’

These structural dependencies and interpretative effects support the view that even in cases like (67a) where the relative operator has a null spellout, this operator nevertheless exists in the syntax and is subject to A-bar movement inside the relative clause. There is feature identity and a predication relation between the relative operator and a co-indexed fragmentary constituent in the matrix subject position.

Implementing Merchant’s (2001, 2004, 2008) ellipsis approach and considering (64) to be the correct derivation for copular fragments in Basaá, I propose that Merchant’s abstract [E] feature which is said to be responsible for PF-deletion is the same in Basaá. However, while the target of ellipsis is claimed to be a functional TP projection in English (Merchant 2004), in this Bantu language, two different cases arise. The target of ellipsis in regular fragments in Basaá is a TP (or AgrSP) category like in English, while the target of PF-deletion in copular fragments is a functional FocP.

8.2 Island sensitivity and Merchant’s (2004) *trace approach

In (52) and (53) (see Section 6.4.), it was shown that Basaá fragments are island-sensitive. In this section, I will build on Merchant (2004) and assume that these island effects are due to the presence of a *marked trace that resists ellipsis. In the case of Basaá, I suggest that this *marked trace evades ellipsis because it is located above the C head that hosts the [E] feature which triggers non-pronunciation of FocP. Following Merchant’s analysis, I assume that there is an extra CP layer above the [E]feature so much so that A-bar movement of the relative operator on its way to the highest CP layer leaves an offending *marked trace in the lower Spec-CP (called FP) such that this trace resists ellipsis. In this vein, the ungrammatical structure such as (68c) will be briefly derived as in (69) (here, the fragment answer ŋgisi ‘English’ is extracted out of a complex DP).

(68)

Question-answer pairs in a multiple question context

a.
númɓɛ́málêta-ŋ́-gwêsɓɔ́má[ímut
1.which1.teacher1.sm-prs-wantmeetdef1.person
a-ḿ-pɔ́túmbɛ́hɔ̂p]
1.rel1.sm-prs-speak1.which3.language

‘Which teacher wants to meet the man who speaks which language?’

b.
Ntoguenjɛ́-na-ŋ́-gwêsɓɔ́má[ímut
1.Ntogue1-foc1.sm-prs-wantmeetdef1.person
a-ḿ-pɔ́tŋgísi]
1.rel1.sm-prs-speak9.English

Intended: ‘Ntogue wants to meet [the person who speaks English].’

c.
*Ntogueŋgisi
1.Ntogue9.English

*‘Ntogue English.’

(69)

With (69) in mind, the proposal is easily accommodated by postulating an extra FP layer between CP and FocP. The null operator raises in a cyclical fashion to Spec-CP via Spec-FocP and Spec-FP. Given that the *marked trace is located above FocP the target of ellipsis, an island violation arises in (68c) as depicted in (69).

Although the use of *trace in Merchant’s approach seems to violate Chomsky’s (1995) Inclusiveness Condition, his proposal is nevertheless appealing as it easily accounts for island violation in fragments. 13

9 Conclusion

In this paper, I have discussed two instances of fragment answers in Basaá; a Bantu language spoken in Cameroon. The discussion has shown that there exist two sources of fragment answers in this language; namely a regular source and a copular one. It was proposed that regular fragments are derived by A-bar movement of the fragment in the left periphery of the clause followed by clausal deletion like in Merchant (2004). As for copular fragments, I proposed that they involve a structure in which a null verbal copula selects the fragment as a subject and a complex DP (relative clause) as an object. The null verbal copula analysis has been supported by a number of arguments such as adjective and quantifier floating, scope effects etc. That fragmentary utterances are derived by movement has been supported by sentence internal dependencies such as connectivity effects, preposition stranding, island effects and subcategorization requirements. In addition, it was shown that copular fragments do not originate inside the embedded clause, but are rather generated in the subject position of the main clause as supported by quantifier and adjective floating among others. It was revealed that what undergoes A-bar movement inside the relative clause is a relative operator which has the same featural make-up as the fragment in the matrix clause. Consequently, reconstruction effects come out as a result of feature identity between the fragment and the relative operator. Overall, the analysis of Basaá fragments provides additional evidence that fragmentary utterances are derived from fully-fledged sentential structures that are subjected to ellipsis, supporting therefore the ellipsis approach. This paper has also contributed to current advances in the crosslinguistic variation of the syntax of ellipsis at large and fragment answers in particular.

Abbreviations

1.SG

First person singular

AgrC

Agreement Complementizer

AgrCP

Agreement Complementizer Phrase

Agr-S

Agreement Subject

AgrSP

Agreement Subject Phrase

Asp

Aspect

AspP

Aspect Phrase

BEN

Benefactive

BT

Binding Theory

CAUS

Causative

CP

Complementizer Phrase

CONN

Connective

D

Determiner

DEF

Definite

DEM

Demonstrative

DP

Determiner Phrase

EPP

Extended Projection Principle

EPTH

Epenthetic

FEM

Feminine

FOC

Focus

FocP

Focus Phrase

IMPF

Imperfective aspect

LOC

Locative

MASC

Masculine

NEG

Negation

NegP

Negative Phrase

NP

Noun Phrase

OBL

Oblique

Op

Operator

PERF

Perfective aspect

Pol

Polarity/yes-no question particle

POSS

Possessive

PREP

Preposition

PRN

Pronoun

PROG

Progressive aspect

REFL

Reflexive

REL

Relative operator

RFM

Reflexive marker

SM

Subject Marker

T

Tense

TP

Tense Phrase

TAM

Tense, Aspect and Mood

pro

Null subject in tensed clauses

PRS

Present

PST1

Past Tense one

PST2

Past Tense two

TOP

Topic

V

Verb

VP

Verb Phrase

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers of Linguistics for their valuable and insightful comments and suggestions. Special thanks are due to Ann Kelly for helping throughout the process.

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Footnotes

  • 1

    Starting from Watters (1979), Hyman (1979), Aboh (2007), Hyman and Polinsky (2010) etc. it has been proposed that this position is a focus position in many Bantu languages. Bassong (2014) shows that only some wh-phrases are allowed to front to this position in the language and that there exists a lower FocP in the VP left periphery of Basaá. As pointed out by an anonymous reviewer, this lower FocP in the VP periphery is a good indication of phasehood of the verb phrase in the language. This means that when the argument kíí ‘what’ in (2b) occurs in sentence initial position, it moves cyclically via a lower phase position, namely the VP periphery (FocP) as briefly depicted in (i) where angled brackets indicate movement.

    (i)
    [CPkííi[C[AgrSPmudaá[AgrSa[TP [T [AsP[Aspj [FocP<kííi>[Foc[<kííi>]]]]]]
    9.what 1.woman 1.smpst2-give VP[V<j>
    This is an appealing argument that goes beyond the scope of this paper and shall be discussed in future research. 

  • 2

    There have been crosslinguistic evidence that pro-drop does not necessarily depend on the richness of agreement. Pro-drop licensing is subject to parametric variation (Gilligan 1987; Muller 2011). There are pro-drop languages with rich morphlogical verbal properties just as there are languages that license pro-drop without any morphological richness. On the other hand, there exist languages like French which exhibit rich verbal morphology with no pro-licensing. Gilligan (1987) crosslinguistic survey shows that of twenty-six languages with no subject agreement, only seventeen of them allow null subjects (see also Muller 2011 for more details on pro-drop). 

  • 3

    Note that sentential negation is marked by the particle ɓéé that can be realized as ɓé depending on its structural position in the clause. When it is followed by a lexical item, it usually realized as ɓé while when it occurs at the end of a phonological phrase, it realized as ɓéé. However, its realization does not affect the morphosyntax.Consider the following examples:

    (i)
    maaŋgɛ́a-bí-lɔɓéjáání
    1.child1.sm-pst2-comeneg1.yesterday
    ‘The child did not come yesterday’
    (ii)
    maaŋgɛ́a-bí-lɔɓéé
    1.child1.sm-pst2-comeneg
    ‘The child did not come’
     

  • 4

    In Basaá, the English equivalent for ‘BE’ is ɓá. When inflected in the simple present tense, the latter realizes as je/jé (am/are/is) in the positive form and as tá/tâ/ta in the negative form. The fact that the copula can bear different tones boils down to its syntactic environment. 

  • 5

    This can be informally called stressed question, not from a prosodic point of view but from a pragmatic angle. 

  • 6

    A detailed study of sluicing in Basaá is beyond the scope of this paper (see Bassong 2014 for details). 

  • 7

    Sluicing in Basaá exhibits almost the same morphosyntactic properties as fragments, but the similarity between Basaá copular fragments and sluicing in Gungbe and Hungarian is much more obvious. A detailed study of sluicing in Basaá is beyond the scope of this paper (see Bassong 2014 for a detailed analysis). 

  • 8

    Following van Craenenbroeck and Lipták (2006) implementation of the [E]-feature, Lipták and Aboh (2013: 112) propose that relative sluicing in Gungbe is represented as follows where angled brackets indicate ellipsis (cf. Example (30) above). 

  • 9

    Clause structure in relative clause sluicing in Hungarian is depicted below (van Craenenbroeck and Lipták 2006: 262). …CP 

  • 10

    According to these authors, sluicing in Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish has two different sources:

     

  • 11

    Consider this example where Pol stands for polarity question marker.

    (iii)
    Q.
    ɓaámudaáia-n-sɔ́mbbikaatɛ
    Pol1.woman1.sm-pst1-buy8.booksPol

    ‘Has the woman bought the books?’

    A.
    ,proia-n-sɔ́mbɓégwɔ̂
    no1.sm-pst1-buyneg8.them

    ‘No, she hasn’t bought them’

     

  • 12

    In the spirit of Kayne’s (1994) head raising analysis, a relative clause such as (i) is derived as (ii).

    • (i)

      The pictures which I saw

    • (ii)

      [DP [D the [CP [DP picturesi [which [e]i]][C [IP…[e]i…]]]

    In this analysis, the definite artcle the is externally merged under D. D selects CP while what raises into Spec-CP is the relative head pictures along with the relative pronoun which (cf. Kayne 1994 chap 8 for more details). In this analysis, D does not selects for the NP/DP category containing the relative head pictures. The complement of D is CP but DP/DP only appears as the complement of D as a result of syntactic movement. 

  • 13

    Cf. Ince (2012) for arguments against Merchant’s (2004) island-sensitivity effects. 

About the article

Published Online: 2019-07-03

Published in Print: 2019-09-25


Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 57, Issue 5, Pages 915–966, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2019-0024.

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