Speaker: Jenneke van der Wal (Harvard) Title: The AWSOM and RANDOM in Bantu object marking Time: Thursday, December 8/12:30pm-1:50pm Location: 32-D461 Abstract:
Many Bantu languages mark objects on the verb by a prefix agreeing in noun class:(1) N-a-va-et-eaa anca mUhUmba. [Nyaturu, Hualde 1989] 1SG.SM-PAST-2OM-bring-APPL 2.girls 1.boy
‘I brought the girls a boy.’
However, object marking (OM) shows fascinating microvariation across Bantu, along the following parameters:
1. the nature of the OM: doubling / non-doubling (OM and DP can co-occur in the same domain in Nyaturu = doubling); 2. the behaviour in ditransitives: asymmetric / symmetric (only benefactive and not theme can be OM-ed in Nyaturu = asymmetric); 3. the number of object markers allowed: one/two/multiple (Nyaturu is restricted to one).
This talk maps the parameter settings of 50+ Bantu languages, revealing two gaps:Asymmetry Wants Single Object Marking correlation (AWSOM) → Almost no language has multiple markers that are doubling. Relation between Asymmetry and Non-Doubling Object Marking (RANDOM)
→ No language has non-doubling asymmetrical object marking.
I argue that these gaps are in fact not random, but can be understood as obligatory marking of salience, in the form of a [Person] feature in either the non-clausal domain (doubling) or the clausal domain (symmetry)
(The abstract can also be read here.)