The syntax of locative inversion: The preverbal locative NP in Lexical Functional Grammar

  • Setumile Morapedi


Locative inversion construction in Setswana, as in other Bantu languages, defies straightforward analysis in the sense that the preverbal locative NP does not pass the subject hood test, while the post-verbal NP shows features atypical of objects. In the literature in locative inversion constructions, there is a predominant tendency to analyse the preverbal locative NP as the subject ( Bresnan and Karneva 1989 for Chichewa, Machobane 1995 for Sesotho Demuth and Mmusi 1997 for Setswana). I argue that the preverbal locative NP in Setswana is not the subject but the topic setting the scene for the focused NP. Data is drawn from some of the findings of the study I conducted on the locative inversion constructions in Botswana in 2003. I explore an information structure analysis of the findings. I also propose an analysis within Lexical Functional Grammar (Henceforth LFG), a non-transformational theory which considers languages that are discourse-sensitive and reserve particular positions for  pragmatically salient elements, such as topic and focus.

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eISSN: 1813-2227