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Morphological alternation and event delimitation in Eegimaa

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JournalItalian Journal of Linguistics
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Feb 2017
DatePublished (current) - 2017
Issue number1
Volume29
Pages (from-to)53-74
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

It is rare for a language to be able to use noun class markers in the nominal
domain to categorise entities, and at the same time, use these same linguistic
markers to categorise events from the verbal domain. Such a system can
be found in Eegimaa and some other related Atlantic languages spoken in
the Basse-Casamance area of Southern Senegal, where non-finite verbs and
the events they refer to are classified using several different noun class prefixes.
In these languages, the use of individual noun class markers as nonfinite
verb classificatory markers is lexically determined. But, there are also
instances where different noun class prefixes can alternate on verbal stems.
Whenever these alternations are attested, one of the alternants must be e-, and the other can be any prefix attested on non-finite verbs, including class prefixes ga- and ba- which are studied here. I show that in these alternations, class marker e- is used to express event delimitation by expressing features such as individuation and telicity which, in the typological literature, have been associated with properties of high transitivity. However, when other prefixes like ga- and ba- alternate with e-, they express values of non-individuation and atelicity which are placed on the lower end of the transitivity scale.

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