Indefinite subjects in Durban Zulu

  • It has long been observed that subjects cross-linguistically have topic properties: they are typically definite, referential and/or generic (Givón 1976). Bantu languages are said to illustrate this generalization: preverbal position for NPs is equated with both subject and topic status and postverbal position with focus (and non-subject). However, there is a growing body of work showing that preverbal subjects are not necessarily syntactically or semantically equivalent to topics. For example, Zerbian’s (2006) careful study of preverbal position in Northern Sotho shows that preverbal subjects meet few of the semantic tests for aboutness topics. The study of restrictions on preverbal subjects in Durban Zulu presented in this paper builds on Zerbian (2006) and Halpert (2012). In particular, we investigate the interpretational properties of preverbal indefinite subjects. These subjects show us that preverbal subjects carry a presupposition of existence. We explore an analysis connecting the "strong reading" of preverbal subjects with how high the verb moves in Zulu (following Tsai’s 2001 work on Mandarin).

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Author:Lisa L.-S. Cheng, Laura J. Downing
Parent Title (English):Proceedings of the Workshop BantuSynPhonIS : Preverbal Domain(s), Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin; ZASPil Vol. 57, S. 5-25
Publisher:Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Place of publication:Berlin
Document Type:Part of a Book
Year of Completion:2014
Year of first Publication:2014
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2014/12/31
GND Keyword:Syntax; Zulu-Sprache
Page Number:21
First Page:5
Last Page:25
Linguistik-Klassifikation:Linguistik-Klassifikation: Syntax
Linguistik-Klassifikation: Grammatikforschung / Grammar research
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:ZAS papers in linguistics : ZASPiL / ZASPiL 57 = Proceedings of the Workshop BantuSynPhonIS : Preverbal Domain(s)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht