The Syntax of Dagbani personal pronouns: an analysis
Cross-linguistically, personal pronouns are noted as being deficient in relation to some morphosyntactic and phonological properties. Some striking asymmetries have been identified between strong and weak personal pronouns in relation to modification, coordination/conjunction, whether they have a semantic referent, and can encode focus. This study explores the personal pronominal system of Dagbani along Cardinaletti and Starke’s (1994) typology and observed asymmetries. Using insights from published literature on Dagbani pronouns as well as my understanding as a native speaker, I argue that, unlike personal pronouns in Romance/Germanic languages, Dagbani personal pronouns can be modified by quantifiers, can be coordinated, and can occur in conjunction constructions, as well as encode topic and focus as salient semantic discourse properties. Furthermore, the pre/post verbal distinctions among nonemphatic pronominal forms in Dagbani still hold, even as these occur in coordinated and modified constructions, due to structural constraints imposed on them by coordinating conjuctions and quantifiers.
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