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Title:Agreement and Coordination in Xitsonga, Sesotho and isiXhosa: An Optimality Theoretic Perspective
Authors:Hazel Mitchley
Length:206 pp
Abstract:This thesis provides a unified Optimality Theoretic analysis of subject-verb agreement with
coordinated preverbal subjects in three Southern Bantu languages: Xitsonga (S53), Sesotho
(S33), and isiXhosa (S41). This analysis is then used to formulate a typology of agreement
resolution strategies and the contexts which trigger them.
Although some accounts in the Bantu literature suggest that agreement with coordinate
structures is avoided by speakers (e.g. Schadeberg 1992, Voeltz 1971) especially when
conjuncts are from different noun classes, I show that there is ample evidence to the contrary,
and that the subject marker used is dependent on several factors, including (i) the
[HUMAN] specification on the conjuncts, (ii) whether the conjuncts are singular or plural,
(iii) whether or not the conjuncts both carry the same noun class feature, and (iv) the order
of the conjuncts.
This thesis shows that there are various agreement resolution strategies which can be
used: 1) agreement with the [+HUMAN] feature on the conjuncts, 2) agreement with the
[-HUMAN] feature on the conjuncts, 3) agreement with the noun class feature on both conjuncts,
4) agreement with the noun class feature on the conjunct closest to the verb, and 5)
agreement with the noun class feature on the conjunct furthest from the verb. Not all of
these strategies are used by all languages, nor are these strategies interchangeable in the languages
which do use them - instead, multiple factors conspire to trigger the use of a specific
agreement strategy within a specific agreement featural context.
I show that these effects can be captured using Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky
2004). The analysis makes use of seven constraints: RES#, MAX[+H], MAX[-H],
DEP[-H], MAXNC, DEPNC, and AGREECLOSEST. The hierarchical ranking of these constraints
not only accounts for the confinement of particular strategies to specific agreement
featural contexts within a language, but also accounts for the cross-linguistic differences in
the use of these strategies. I end off by examining the typological implications which follow
from the OT analysis provided in
Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Bantu, typology, Morphology, agreement, coordination
Article:Version 1