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Topics on Yorùbá nominal expressions Ajíbóyè, Ọládiípọ̀ Jacob

Abstract

This thesis discusses four selected topics on Yoruba nominal expressions: the syntax of possessives, the construal of bare nouns, the marking of specificity and salience, and plural marking strategies. Regarding possessives, it is proposed that they have one base structure (a v P shell). The difference in surface linear order between verbal and nominal genitives is determined by which of the two arguments move. In nominal genitives, the possessum moves. In verbal genitives, it is the possessor that moves. Regarding the interpretation of Yoruba bare nouns, it is shown that they can be construed in one of three ways: as generics, as indefinites, or as definites. First, generics may be lexically conditioned (with permanent state predicates) or grammatically conditioned (with transitory predicates through the use of imperfective maa-n). Second, wherever a generic construal is illicit, an indefinite construal is licit. Third, definite construals are discourse-linked. Regarding specificity, it is shown that Yoruba overtly marks specificity on NPs with the element kan. Regarding salience, it is shown that definite DPs are morphologically marked as salient (by virtue of being unique, in an identity relation or additive) through the use of ndd. Finally, regarding plural marking, it is shown that Yoruba uses three different strategies: contextually, semantically, or morphologically determined plurality. It is proposed that the deployment of the PLURAL feature is determined by feature percolation or feature matching.

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