On verb-initial and verb-final word orders in Lokaa

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Verb phrases seem to be head initial in affirmative sentences in Lokaa (a Niger-Congo language of the Cross River area of Nigeria) but head final in negative clauses and gerunds. This article aspires to give a comprehensive description of this phenomenon, together with a theoretical analysis. It considers how a full range of grammatical elements are ordered in both kinds of clauses - including direct objects, second objects, particles, weak pronouns, complement clauses, serial verbs, adverbs, prepositional phrases, tense/mood particles, and auxiliary verbs. The pattern that emerges is a bit different from the one found in some superficially similar languages, such as Vata, Bambara, Nupe, and Nweh. I argue that the details are correctly explained by a "remnant movement" theory in which the Lokaa verb first moves out of the verb phrase to combine with tense/agreement inflection, and then the rest of the verb phrase moves as a unit into a specifier position at the top of the clause. This position is available because the notional subject undergoes dislocation in Lokaa, as has been claimed for many of its Bantu kin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-164
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of African Languages and Linguistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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