Aurelia Mallya: Locative-subject alternation constructions in Kiwoso

  • Aurelia Mallya University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Keywords: Morphosyntax, Bantu language, Kiwoso, locative inversion


Locative subject alternation constructions show variation within and across languages in terms of subject agreement pattern and the type of predicates involved. In Kiwoso, the preverbal locative DPs with and without locative morphology are best analysed as canonical subjects, as evidenced by the subject diagnostics, such as subject-verb agreement and its occurrence as a subject of passive verb and relative verb clauses. The examined examples demonstrate that the postverbal subject neither behaves like canonical subject nor shows features of canonical object in that it cannot passivize in alternation constructions or appear on the verb as an object marker (i.e., cannot be object marked). However, there is strong evidence to suggest that the preverbal locative (subject) DP in Kiwoso locative-subject alternation constructions is a grammatical subject. As in most languages, locative-subject constructions in Kiwoso serve a pragmatic-discourse function of presentational focus. The locative subject argument of the locative-subject alternation constructions is interpreted as a topic, whereas the postverbal thematic subject of these sentences is understood as focus. The postverbal subject provides information which is usually discourse new in relation to preverbal locative DPs. The data examined from Kiwoso challenges the view that formal and semantic locative inversions cannot co-exist in a single language.


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print ISSN: 2026-6596