Encoding focus in Kanuri verbal morphology : Predication focus and the "Kanuri focus shift"

  • Focus on verbal operators such as aspect or tense ("predication focus", lucidly described by Hyman & Watters (1984) under the label "auxiliary focus") has been noticed to exist in African languages of Afroasiatic and Niger-Congo affiliation, but not so far in Saharan. The Saharan language Kanuri is assumed to have substantially reorganized its TAM system, particularly in the perfective aspect domain (Cyffer [2006] dates major changes between the years 1820 and 1900). The paper discusses, for the first time in Kanuri scholarship, the existence of a neat subsystem of predication focus marking by suffix in the perfective aspect which is made up of a total of six conjugational paradigms that uniformly encode predication focus by suffix {-ò}. Kanuri dialects differ in strategies and scope of focus marking encoded in verb morphology. In the light of data from the Yerwa (Nigeria) and Manga (Niger) dialects the paper discusses some "anomalies" with regard to general focus theory which we account for by describing the "Kanuri Focus Shift" as a diachronic process which is responsible for leftward displacement of scope of focus.

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Author:H. Ekkehard Wolff, Doris LöhrORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Papers on information structure in African languages : [resulted from the International Conference "Focus in African Languages" held October 6-8, 2005 at the Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) in Berlin] / eds.: Ines Fiedler ...
Publisher:Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung
Place of publication:Berlin
Document Type:Part of a Book
Year of first Publication:2006
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/11/14
GND Keyword:Thema-Rhema-Gliederung; Kanuri-Sprache; Niger-Kongo-Sprachen
Page Number:25
First Page:185
Last Page:209
Linguistik-Klassifikation:Linguistik-Klassifikation: Syntax
Linguistik-Klassifikation: Morphologie / Morphology
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:ZAS papers in linguistics : ZASPiL / ZASPiL 46 = Papers on information structure in African languages
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht