Skip to main content
School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

LingLunch | Andrew Harvey (SOAS)

15 November 2017

Time: 1:00 - 2:00pm
Venue: Scape 1.04

As part of our LingLunch series, Andrew Harvey (SOAS) will present his recent research:

Word-Markers and Paradigms in Gorwaa

This talk examines the morphosyntax of nominal suffixes in Gorwaa, a South-Cushitic (Afro-Asiatic) language spoken in north-central Tanzania.

One of the most striking features of Gorwaa is its complex 'gender polarity': that is, when a noun is changed for number, its gender may also change.

       (1)       duukaa 'shop' (F)      | duukanáy 'shops' (M)

                  digir 'footprint' (M) | digirma' 'footprints' (N)

                  /aatloo 'jaw' (N)          | /aatltlee (F) 

Following a review of over 1400 Gorwaa nouns, the system behind this pattern, composed of 42 suffixes (bolded above) arranged into approximately 152 paradigms (e.g. -aa | -náy ; -(a)mó | -(a)ma' ; and -oo | -(a)tlee), may be defined as follows.  A) the grammatical gender of a noun is determined by the suffix, each of which possesses its own fixed gender value.  B) this set of suffixes may be divided into two sorts: i) those which impose a number value on the noun, and ii) those which typically do not, but may, depending on the paradigm into which they enter. C) the set of suffixes taken by any given noun is unpredictable.

Using Distributed Morphology (e.g. Halle & Marantz 1993, 1994) as a model, suffixes are broken down into constituent morphemes and a fine structure is proposed.  Using the Gorwaa data, evidence is presented for a Classifier Phrase (ClP) dominating a lexical NP, which is itself dominated by a Quantifier Phrase (#P) (Borer 2005: 96).  A further projection - nP - is proposed as a head dominating both the #P, as well as a root  which merges with the head n and is the locus of information relating to the suffixal paradigm.  Gender, a property of the suffix, is established as a feature realized at Spellout, which necessitates the establishment of Agree as an operation which occurs following the (narrow) syntax (c.f. Bobaljik 2008).

Back to top