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Towards an analysis of Yorùbá conditionals : its implications for the phrase structure Barczak, Leszek Krzysztof

Abstract

This study presents an analysis of conditional constructions in Yorùbá, as well as its implications for language-specific phenomena which are part of the Yorùbá phrase structure. Specifically, I propose a model for the interpretation of conditionals that is based on a tripartite quantificational structure. It is an explanatory model capturing the interdependency between meaning and form. It accounts not only for the Yorùbá data, but also for those in other languages (English, French, Italian and Polish), allowing at the same time for making crosslinguistic predictions. Crucially, the model reflects both: (i) CONDITION (restrictor)-RESULT (nuclear scope) partition of conditional constructions and (ii) existence of two situation factors: (UN)LIKELIHOOD OF SATISFACTION and TIME OF CONDITION, which play pivotal role in meaningform mapping. Note that, even though both factors contribute to overall interpretation, forms attested are a direct reflection of ways in which languages manipulate these factors in the process of mapping meaning onto form. E.g.: active UNLIKELIHOOD OF SATISFACTION yields two types of conditionals (REALIS and IRREALIS) in Yorùbá, while the three forms attested in the Standard Average European languages (INDICATIVE, NON-PAST SUBJUNCTIVE and PAST SUBJUNCTIVE) result from LIKELIHOOD OF SATISFACTION and TIME OF CONDITION being equally active. The above translates further onto differences in morpho-syntactic marking of conditional forms due to the fact that (UN)LIKELIHOOD OF SATISFACTION and TIME OF CONDITION factors are realised on the surface as Mood and Tense respectively. Moreover, this analysis of conditionals provides important insights into the PHRASE STRUCTURE of Yorùbá. It explains: (i) structural complexity of the future marker yóò which spans across the Mood, Time (Tense/Aspect) and Modal categories; (ii) meaning differences expected between the three future markers: yóò, ˋ á and máa (known for its aspectual readings) and based on their internal elements; (iii) the status of the High Tone Syllable - the Time (Tense/Aspect) marker; (iv) dialectal differences - future being marked by irrealis marker in Moba; and so on. I also argue that there exist two system-specific binary oppositions: (i) MARKEDNESS OPPOSITION(S) that specifies tonal value within each syntactic category and (ii) TONE POLARITY that determines tonal melody between adjacent syntactic categories.

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