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The role of the verb phrase and word order in the expression of definiteness in Bantu languages

The research project is funded by the Swedish Research Council

Researcher: Eva-Marie Bloom Ström

Period: 2018-2020

This project will break new ground by analysing the expression of definiteness in a language without articles, the Xhosa language of South Africa, and compare this to other Bantu languages through international collaboration with fellow linguists. How morpho-syntactic categories interact with pragmatics in order to differentiate definite from indefinite, specific from non-specific, is largely unknown for this language family.

The results will contribute to the understanding of the complex negotiation of discourse between speaker and hearer, where the speaker takes into account what she assumes that the hearer already knows or can figure out. Importantly, there are indications that word order variation plays a role in Bantu and this will therefore be the focus of the project, although the holistic approach will also consider other aspects of the verb phrase, such as tense-aspect-mood and object marking, as well as the influence on the noun phrase of e.g. demonstratives.

The project will contribute to the advancement of knowledge on definiteness effects of word order and the verb phrase, still a relatively under-researched field. We will make use of transcribed recorded speech and work together with field assistants, a computer linguist and the South African Rescource Management Agency (to be incorporated under the new South African Centre for Digital Language Resources) to make the Xhosa material accessible for a wider research audience, which will greatly contribute to the advancement of linguistic knowledge of this resource scarce language.

Page Manager: Annika Andersson|Last update: 2/9/2018
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