The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

MIT Colloquium 11/30: Martina Martinovic (University of Florida)

Speaker: Martina Martinovic (University of Florida)
Title: Bi-clausal progressives in Wolof (partly joint work with Marie-Luise Schwarzer)
Time: Friday, November 30th, 3:30pm-5pm
Place: 32-155

In many languages, clauses predicating location and progressive constructions are related. Progressives often develop from or contain locative markers/copulas, or entire locative constructions (Heine & Reh 1984, Heine et al. 1991, Demirdache & Uribe-Etxebarria 2000, Heine & Kuteva 2002). Much work has shown that progressive constructions are often bi-clausal, consisting of a locative clause that embeds a nominalized complement clause or an adjunct (Comrie 1978, Bybee et al. 1994, Fontanals & Simon 1999, Polinsky & Comrie 2002, Laka 2006, Salanova 2007, Coon 2010).

In this talk I discuss the syntax of default progressive construction in Wolof, which contain the element angi, in the literature most commonly considered to be progressive aspect. I reanalyze angi as a bimorphemic element composed of the A′-complementizer and a locative clitic. This is supported by the fact that progressive clauses can be extracted out of. Next, I propose that progressives in Wolof are biclausal, consisting of a locative clause that embeds a reduced imperfective infinitival clause. I give two pieces of evidence for this claim. First, PP modifiers can only follow the main verb in mono-clausal constructions in Wolof. In progressive constructions, however, they can precede the verb, suggesting that they are modifying a higher predicate. Second, progressive constructions cannot be negated, which would be puzzling under a mono-clausal analysis. A bi-clausal analysis straightforwardly accounts for this fact, because the two clauses that the progressives consist of — the locative clause and the reduced imperfective infinitival clause —  independently cannot contain negation. This work gives further cross-linguistic support for the bi-clausality of progressive structures, and enriches the typology of bi-clausal progressives.