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Linguistics

An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

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Regular and copular fragments in Basaá

Paul Roger Bassong
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  • 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

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About the article

Published Online: 2019-07-03


Citation Information: Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2019-0024.

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