Accounting for the features of Shape and Transitivity in a Functional-Typological approach to the Ring Languages
Citation:BROWNE, CIARA, Accounting for the features of Shape and Transitivity in a Functional-Typological approach to the Ring Languages, Trinity College Dublin.School of Linguistic Speech & Comm Sci, 2020
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The Ring languages, an understudied sub-group of the Grassfields Bantu family is examined from a function-typological perspective in relation to features of [Shape] and [Transitivity] as per Rijkhoff (2002, 2003). The word classes of noun, adjective and verb of a selection of these languages are examined as to their sensitivity to these features along with implications of these findings in areas such as the position of modifiers in the NP, how these relate to the notion of iconicity and NP word order, and the impact on voice and valence-changing constructions. Evidence to suggest that the Ring languages do not a have a large distinct adjectival class suggests that its nominals may be characterised by the feature [-Shape]. While Rijkhoff (2002) largely points to sortal numeral classifiers as evidence for [-Shape] nominals, an examination of the semantics of Ring noun classes along with the presence of partially grammaticalised numeral classifier systems in line with findings form Dimmendaal (2011) and Kiessling (2018) suggests that noun class markers that encode shape/configuration may also be a useful tool in diagnosing [-Shape] nominals. An analysis of the feature of [Transitivity] in Ring verbs suggests that, due to the presence of A-labile verbs in a language like Kom, it may in fact be the feature of [Dynamicity] that is the differentiating feature when it comes ot the presence of a distinct verb class in a given language, contra Rijkhoff (2003). An analysis of the feature of [Transitivity] in so-called 'semi-transitive' and 'bi-transitive' verbs of Babungo is significant however in a reanalysis of such as complex predicates. This finding has implications for an understanding of the causative -sə suffix in Ring, which when examined in light of evidence from Creissels (2016) on the Manding languages and Bostoen et al. (2015) on the presence on an anti-passive marker in Bantu, suggests that an anti-passive fuction may be encoded in the -sə suffix. These findings point to a need to use typologically appropriate frameworks when describing understudied languages such as Ring thus avoiding the pitfalls of purely semantic or syntax-first approaches and point to a need for further shape-based investigations into the Ring languages from both a typological and cognitive perspective. Support was provided for Kiessling (2018) and Dimmendaal's suggestion that apparent emergence of numeral classifier systems in related languages is compensating for the loss of noun classes. Future research into the understudied field of numeral classifiers in shape-based semantics in Bantoid and Bantu could further strengthen these assertions. The analysis of word classes and their impact on the NP in Ring supported Rijkhoff's (2002) suggestion that a misattribution of elements to particular categories in the simplex NP may skew findings as they relate to the notion of iconicity. While findings on [Transitivity] features suggest the need for a clarification of definitions in Rijkhoff's (2003) proposal and lay the groundwork for research on grammaticalisation paths of the causative suffix in Ring as it potentially relates to an anti-passive function.
Author: BROWNE, CIARA
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Linguistic Speech & Comm Sci. C.L.C.S.
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available