The immediate before the verb focus position in Nsong (Bantu B85d, DR Congo) : a corpus-based exploration

  • Nsong is a western Bantu language spoken in the neighbourhood of Kikwit (5°2'28"S 18°48'58"E, Kwilu District, Bandundu Province, DRC) and encoded as B85d in the New Updated Guthrie List (Maho 2009). To this B80 or Tiene-Yanzi group also belongs Mbuun, encoded as B87 by Guthrie (1971: 39) and spoken in the wider vicinity of Idiofa (4°57'35"S 19°35'40", Kwilu District, Bandundu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo). Both languages are closely related. They share a high percentage of fundamental and other vocabulary as well as several rather atypical phonological innovations (Bostoen & Koni Muluwa 2014; Koni Muluwa 2014; Koni Muluwa & Bostoen 2012). Preliminary elicitation-based research on Mbuun has pointed out that the pre-verbal domain plays a crucial role in the marking of argument focus in Mbuun (Bostoen & Mundeke 2011, 2012). In this paper, we assess whether this is also the case in Nsong on the basis of a text corpus which the first author has been collecting, transcribing and annotating in 2013 and 2014 as part of an endangered language documentation project funded by the DoBeS program of the Volkswagen Foundation through a 3-year grant (2012-2015). More information on the project can be found on This Nsong text corpus exclusively consists of oral discourse and currently counts 48.022 tokens and 11.973 types. The team’s 2013 fieldwork aimed at documenting Nsong speech events in as many different cultural settings as possible. As a result, the corpus comprises different text genres, such as political speeches, historical traditions, folk music, tales, proverbs, hunting language, ceremonial language used during circumcision and twin rites, and popular biological knowledge. In line with previous research on Mbuun, we concentrate here on mono-clausal argument focus constructions, even if preliminary research has pointed out that bi-clausal focus structures are more common in the Nsong corpus.

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Author:Joseph Koni Muluwa, Koen Bostoen
Parent Title (English):Proceedings of the Workshop BantuSynPhonIS : Preverbal Domain(s), Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin; ZASPil Vol. 57, S. 123-135
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:Bantusprachen; Demokratische Republik Kongo; Syntax; Thema-Rhema-Gliederung; Korpus <Linguistik>
Page Number:13
First Page:123
Last Page:135
Linguistik-Klassifikation:Linguistik-Klassifikation: Syntax
Linguistik-Klassifikation: Korpuslinguistik / Corpus linguistics
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:ZAS papers in linguistics : ZASPiL / ZASPiL 57 = Proceedings of the Workshop BantuSynPhonIS : Preverbal Domain(s)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht