Definiteness and specificity in Runyankore-Rukiga

Asiimwe, Allen (2014-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigates the manifestations of the universal categories of (in)definiteness and (non-)specificity in the Runyankore-Rukiga determiner phrase by means of discourse-pragmatic and morpho-syntactic considerations. Runyankore-Rukiga, like all other Bantu languages, exhibits no (in)definite articles, but there are various ways the language employs to encode the definiteness. Lyons’s (1999) semantic principles of definiteness and his definition of specificity are adopted for the study, as well as the Minimalist and Cartographic approaches to syntax. The data come from authentic written materials, recorded spoken discourse and elicitation (backed up by other native speakers’ grammaticality judgement). The study considers modified and unmodified (bare) nouns. Bare nouns are generally (save for those with inherent unique semantic features) ambiguous between (in)definite and (non-) specific readings Thus, an appropriate reading is contingent on a correct discourse-pragmatic setting. Nominal modifiers are categorized into three groups (Visser, 2008). Those which contribute unambiguously to the definiteness interpretation of head nouns, e.g., demonstratives, the functional elements -a and nya-, some quantifiers and the absolute pronoun. The second category includes nominal modifiers which have neutral semantic features of (in)definiteness and (non-)specificity, namely, adjectives, numerals, possessives as well as nominal and clausal relatives. Thirdly, nominal modifiers occur which are assumed to possess an inherent semantic feature of indefiniteness, for example, some quantifiers and the lexicalized element haine. The study investigates the inferences associated with the Initial Vowel (IV) when it occurs optionally in the inflectional morphology of nominal modifiers with the neutral feature of (in)definiteness and (non-)specificity in prenominal, and postnominal positions, as well as in positions when the head of the phrase is a pro category. The intricate relation of the core morpheme of the demonstrative and the IV is investigated. The study concludes that the initial vowel occurring optionally in the inflectional morphology of neutral nominal modifiers and with bare object nouns following a negative verb evolved from the core demonstrative morpheme and exhibits anaphoric features in the absence of a full lexical head as well as functioning as a functional category determiner, expressing specificity, contrastive focus and sometimes emphasis features. Indefinite nominal modifiers contribute to indefiniteness reading of their head nouns although the indefinite feature is not inherent in them, in that they can appear in definite contexts as well. Indefinite quantifiers too allow the IV in their inflectional morphology as a determiner that mainly encodes contrastive focus or emphasis. The results from the study offer explanations of key areas of syntax, morphology and semantics relating to the Determiner phrase system from a perspective of no (in)definite articles, which constitutes a significantly major contribution to Bantu linguistic research.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die manifestasies van die universele kategorieë van (on)bepaaldheid en (nie-)spesifisiteit in die Runyankore-Rukiga bepalerfrase deur middel van diskoers-pragmatiese en morfo-sintaktiese oorwegings. Runyankore-Rukiga, soos ander Bantutale, het geen (on)bepaalde lidwoorde (bepalers) nie, maar daar is ‘n verskeidenheid middele wat die taalkluster van gebruik maak om die verskynsels te enkodeer. Lyons (1999) se semantiese beginsels van bepaaldheid en sy definisie van spesifisiteit word aanvaar vir die studie, asook die Minimalistiese en Kartografiese benaderings tot sintaksis. Die data van die studie kom uit oorspronklike geskrewe materiaal, opnames van gesproke diskoers en elisitasie (ondersteun deur ander sprekers se grammatikaliteitsoordele). Die studie ondersoek naamwoorde wat respektiewelik omskryf en nie-omskryf word deur bepalers. Naamwoorde in die algemeen (behalwe dié met inherente unieke semantiese kenmerke) is dubbelsinnig tussen (on)bepaalde en (nie-)spesifieke interpretasies. Dus is ‘n gepaste interpretasie afhanklik van ‘n gepaste diskoerspragmatiese konteks. Naamwoordelike bepalers kan in drie groepe geklassifiseer word (Visser, 2008). Daardie wat ondubbelsinnig bydra tot die bepaaldheids-interpretasie van kern-naamwoorde, bv. demonstratiewe, die funksionele elemente –a en –nya in Runyankore-Rukiga, sommige kwantifiseerders, en die absolute voornaamwoord. Die tweede kategorie sluit in naamwoordelike bepalers wat neutraal semantiese kenmerke het ten opsigte van (on)bepaaldheid en (nie-)spesifisiteit, naamlik adjektiewe, telwoorde, possessiewe, asook nominale en sinsrelatiewe. Die derde groep is naamwoordelike bepalers wat beskik oor ‘n kenmerk van inherente onbepaaldheid, bv. sommige kwantifiseerders en die geleksikaliseerde element haine in Runyankore-Rukiga. Die studie ondersoek interpretasies geassosieer met die aanvangsvokaal (AV) wanneer dit opsioneel verskyn in die infleksiemorfologie van naamwoordelike bepalers met die neutrale kenmerk van (on)bepaaldheid en (nie-)spesifisiteit in prenominale en postnominale posisie, asook in posisies waar die kern van die naamwoordfrase ‘n foneties leë pro kategorie is. Die ingewikkelde verhouding van die kernmorfeem van die demonstratief en die AV word ondersoek. Die studie maak die slotsom dat die aanvangsvokaal wat opsioneel verskyn in die infleksiemorfologie van neutrale naamwoordelike bepalers en met ongemodifiseerde naamwoorde wat volg na ‘n negatiewe werkwoord, ontwikkel het uit die kern demonstratiewe morfeem en anaforiese kenmerke toon in die afwesigheid van ‘n volledige leksikale kern naamwoord, en ook funksioneer as ‘n funksionele kategorie, bepaler, met spesifisiteit, kontrastiewe fokus, asook somtyds beklemtoningskenmerke. Onbepaalde naamwoordelike bepalers dra by tot die onbepaaldheidsinterpretasie van die kernnaamwoord alhoewel die onbepaaldheidskenmerk nie inherent is aan dié naamwoorde nie, omdat hulle in bepaaldheidskontekste kan verskyn. Onbepaalde kwantifiseerders vertoon die AV in hul infleksiemorfologie, as ‘n bepaler wat hoofsaaklik kontrastiewe fokus of beklemtoning enkodeer. Die resultate van die studie bied verklarings vir sleutel-areas van die sintaksis, morfologie en semantiek rakende die bepaler frase sisteem vanuit die perspektief van (on)bepaalde lidwoorde, wat ‘n betekenisvolle bydrae maak tot navorsing in die Bantutale.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95926
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