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Michael Diercks

Pomona University

Monday, April 11th at 2:00 PM in AP&M 4301. 

Hidden Complexity in Object Clitics in Lubukusu and related Luyia Languages (joint work with Justine Sikiku)

Abstract: Object markers (OMs) in Bantu languages have long been argued to be either incorporated pronouns or agreement morphemes, distinguished mainly by their ability (or not) to co-occur with (i.e. doublein situ objects. Lubukusu appears to be an instance of OMs-as-incorporated pronouns, as OMs in neutral discourse contexts cannot double in situ objects in a broad range of syntactic contexts. As we show, however, certain pragmatic contexts in fact do license OM-doubling; we demonstrate that OM-doubling in Lubukusu is licit only on a verum (focus) interpretation, and provide a syntactic analysis of these facts. We also summarize relevant results in closely related Luyia languages, showing that surface similarities can obscure significant differences between the languages with respect to their object marking properties. 

Our conclusions follow other recent results in concluding that object markers in individual languages are epiphenomenal, arising from different syntactic structures/operations in different contexts. The findings also re-emphasize the importance of understanding the interpretive effects of OM-doubling in getting a full picture of the properties of OMing cross-linguistically.