Fond bitcoin pour l'amélioration du site: 1memzGeKS7CB3ECNkzSn2qHwxU6NZoJ8o
  Dogecoin (tips/pourboires): DCLoo9Dd4qECqpMLurdgGnaoqbftj16Nvp

Home | Publier un mémoire | Une page au hasard


The morphosyntax of adverbs in Shupamem

Université de Yaoundé 1 - Master en Linguistique Générale 2016

précédent sommaire suivant


The general introduction presents the aims, the objectives, the significance of the study, my motivations in the choice of this topic, and the research methodology on the one hand, the review of literature related to the language, the scope and delimitation of the study, on the other hand. It also presents some information on the language under study, especially the name, the geographical situation, the linguistic classification and the sociolinguistic situationof Shupamem. Finally, it gives the outline of the work.


This section brings out the general aims of the study and the way it will be carried out, that is, the different steps to be followed in order to achieve its goal.

1.1. Aims of the study

The aim of this study is to bring out the morphological and syntactic description of adverbs attested in Shupamem.In addition, it seeks to analyze adverbs fronting, which will trigger the presentation of an overview of the left periphery of Shupamem.

1.2. Objectives of the study

First of all, morphology in linguistics is the study of the ways in which morphemes combine to form words in a given language. As for syntax, it refers to the ways in which words combine to form units such as phrases, clauses and sentences.

In this regard, the general objective of this study is to bring out the morpho-syntax of adverbs of Shupamem.This will help assess, at different levels, elements that will contribute to the description and understanding of the Adverbial Phrase in Shupamem.

In themorphological part of the study, emphasis shall be laid on the forms and formation processes of adverbs in Shupamem.

As for the syntactic part of the study,it will be concerned with the structure and the place of adverbs within the sentence. Here, Ishall work out the different positions that adverbs andadverbial expressions can occupy in a sentence.

Furthermore, through adverbs fronting, I shall determine whether adverb displacementis licensed in Shupamem or not.This will lead to the identification of the structure of the elements above TP in Shupamem.

Another objective of this study is to make Shupamem better known by linguists, by complementing and upgrading previous studies made on the language.


In his monograph titledSemantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar, Jackendoff(1972)says: «The adverb is perhaps the least studied and most maligned part of speech, maltreated beyond the call of duty«.

This point of viewseems to be true in the study of African languages in general, and Shupamem, in particular. It is clear that much has already been done in this perspective, but much attention has been paid rather to other parts of speech, namely nouns and verbs, than to adverbs. Thus, my work will providenew data that shall be tested against the assumptions made on the functioningand structure of adverbs in human languages.Also, this work is intended to fill the existing gap and to lay the foundation for further research on Shupamen as far as the study of adverbs is concerned.

Like other previous studies made on the language, it will be a contribution to the development of the grammar of Shupamem. Furthermore, it will help provide data that will be used in the elaboration of teaching materials, all this contributing to the promotion of National Languages as solicited by the Cameroonian government.


The choice of this topic is not at random. In fact, as mentioned above, and in the same perspective with Jackendoff's assumption on adverbs, I realized that less attention has been paid to the description of adverbs, especially in Shupamem.

Therefore, mywish is to make adverbs a subject of interest by describing in detail this class, as it is the case with other categories.

Also,another reason that justifies the choice of this topic is to verify whether the assumptions of the Minimalist Program and other theoriesof Universal Grammarare tenable in Shupamem or not.Concretely, I will verify Cinque's (1999) assumption on adverbs and functional categories, most precisely his advocate for a crosslinguistic fixed hierarchy, and see whether Shupamem licenses the same rules or not.

Finally, the choice of this topic participates in my wish to lay the foundation for upcoming research, given that much is still to be done on Shupamem and even on many other Cameroonian Languages.


The data provided in this work is partly from me given that I am a native speaker of Shupamem. But each time I judged it necessary, I met many other native speakers for clarifications, confirmations and data provision.This process called upon data collection techniques, mostly interviews and questionnaires. Ialso used data from previous researches made on Shupamem, especially those mentioned and summarized in the review of literature. In this vein, documentation played a significant role during the data collection and analysis. Ivisited many libraries in Yaoundé, many websites too.

My informants are native speakers of Shupamem, and they come from different villages. They are mature men and women, as presented in the table below:



Average age


Village of Origin

Moundi Amidou

Associate Professor




Njoya Chaïdou

Civil servant




Nsangou Amadou





Chichem Zenabou





Ngoupembie Blondelle





Njipendi Iliassou





Mefire Zakariahou





Njutapmvoui Isamaila





Ndam Arouna





Ayiwouo Mariama





Mfoundikou Jonathan





Table1, List of Informants

Finally, the New Information and Communication Technologies also helped me a lot for faster data processing. They eased the elaboration of questionnaires, recording of data and its numerization. These are computer, mobile phone, email, social network and internet at large.


This section presents the language nomenclature, its geographical situation, its linguistic classification and its sociolinguistic situation.

5.1. Nomenclature

Shupamem (?yìpa?m?Ìm) literally means «the language of the Bamun people». It is at times referred to as Bamun, Bamoun and Pamom (Ethnologue, Languages of the World, 15th Edition). However, a clear difference should be established between linguistic and ethnic nomenclatures. In fact, the words Bamun, Bamoun and Pamom are known to be used when referring to the ethnic group which is the native inhabitant of the Noun Division. As concerns the word Shupamem, it is known and accepted by the people as referring to their mother tongue. Therefore, Shupamem will be used throughout this work each time I shall be referring to the language. It should be noted that the language under study is different from «Shumom», a non-natural language which has been invented by King Njoya in the nineteenth century. The latter has a quite different writing system and its alphabet is known as the «A KA U KU Alphabet».

5.2. Geographical situation

Shupamem is spoken in the West Region of the Republic of Cameroon, precisely in the Noun Division. Figure 1below shows the localization of the Noun Division within the West Region of Cameroon.

Fig1, Geographical location of Shupamem in Cameroon,(Adapted from BINAM BIKOI and NDONGO SEMENGUE(2012).

Shupamem is spoken in all the nine Sub-divisions of the Noun Division. The map below shows the geographical delimitation of Shupamem within the West Region.

Fig2, Linguistic map of the West Region of Cameroon, from Binam Bikoi and Ndongo-Nsemengue 2012

As said above, the Noun Division is made up of nine (09) sub-divisions. These are Bangourain, Foumban, Foumbot, Koutaba, Kouoptamo, Magba, Malantouen, Massangam, and Njimom. These sub-divisions have in common the use of Shupamem as Mother Tongue. The people who live here are mostly native speakers of Shupamem. The only Sub-division that uses another National Language alongside Shupamem is Magba. Due to the presence of the Tikar community here, the language Tikari, represented with the code (501) is used as Mother Tongue by the minority.

Out of the Noun Division, Shupamem is also spoken in the Extreme North of the Mifi Division, precisely in the village called Bapi. This village is referred to as «Shupamem Linguistic Island» (ALCAM, Tome 1).In the same light, it is spoken in the Extreme South-east of the Bamboutos Division, most precisely in the village called Bamenyam, situated in the north of Galim Sub-division.

In addition, many Shupamem speakers live in the locality of Kyé-ossi in the South Region of Cameroon. Forthcoming studies will bring out much detail thereon and uncover its characteristics.

In brief, Shupamem is spoken all over the Noun Division, in the Extreme North of the Mifi Division, and in the Extreme South-east of the Bamboutos Division. It is obviously spoken wherever a Bamoun community is present. It co-occurs with Tikari in Magba Sub-division.

5.3. Linguistic classification of Shupamem

Greenberg J. (1963) classifies African languages into four major linguistic families. These are Congo-Kordofanian, Nilo-Saharan, Afro-asiatic and Khoisan.

The first three above mentioned families, namely Congo-kordofanian, Nilo-Saharan and Afro-asiatic are represented in Cameroon. Shupamem falls under the Congo-kordofanian family. It is a Grassfield Bantu language that falls under the Benue-Congo sub-family of the Niger-Congo family. It belongs to the East Grassfield and falls under the Noun group. It bears the code (991) of the Cameroon Linguistic Atlas, (ALCAM Tome 1). This classification is summarized in the diagram below:


Niger-Congo adamawa-oubanguienne

Ouest atlantique Benue-Congo

Jukudoide cross-river bantoide

Non-bantu Bantu

Jrarawan tuvoide ekoide nyang betoide grassfield-bantu

Momo Menchum Ring Nyemba Noun Nord


(Fig3, classification Chart of Shupamem, adapted from ALCAM Tome 1)

According to the 15th edition of Ethnologue, Languages of the World, Shupamem is classified as Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Bantoide, Southern, Wide grassfields and Narrow Grassfields.

As far as de Wolf's (1971) classification is concerned, Grassfield Bantu languages are divided into two main groups, which are the West Group and the Mbam-Nkam Group. Shupamem falls under the Mbam-Nkam Group and belongs to the Noun sub-group. This is shown in the diagram below:


Western Bantu Mbam-Nkam

Mamfé Noun Ngambe Bamilike


(Fig4, Classification chart of Shupamem, adapted from de Wolf 1971)

Shupamem is also classified in Cameroon Linguistic Atlas, Tome1, as belonging to the Ndop Group, alongside Babungo, Bamunka and Bamessing. The Grassfield Bantu Working Group (GBWG) has also classified Shupamem as belonging to the Grassfield-Bantu, Zone 9.

In short, all the classifications so far listed show that Shupamem belongs to the Congo-Kordofanian phylum. It falls under the Niger-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoide, Bantu, Grassfield, Mbam-Nkam, and Noun family.

5.4. sociolinguistic situation of Shupamem

As mentioned above, Shupamem is mostly spoken by the Bamun people. It has about 215 000 speakers in the Noun Division, (SIL 1982). It is a highly homogenous language given that no real contact has been identified with other National Languages within the Noun division, except the case with Tikari in Magba Sub-division.

The latter is used by the minority as Mother Tongue, and therefore, has no major impact on Shupamem. Shupamem has no officially recognized dialect, though there are few phonological variations among the speakers. These variations have led to the use of «accent de la capital» and «accent de la campagne» (ALCAM, Tome1) to mark the difference. However, they have no impact at the level of semantic interpretation.

Shupamem is also considered to be related to other Grassfield languages, such as Bafanji, Bamali, Bambalang and Bangolan, (Ethnologue, Languages of the World, 15th edition).

As concerns its use, Shupamem is the language of trade within the Noun Division. In fact, rural people sell their farm products in the local markets using mostly Shupamem. Even traders from other backgrounds are often obliged to use Shupamem in the way they can, so as to be understood by the local population.

Out of its use as language of trade, Shupamem is used in religious ceremonies, in churches and mosques all over the Noun Division. In this line, the Bible was translated into Shupamem in 1988, and recently, the Qur'an in 2013.

Also, Shupamem is used in traditional ceremonies such as marriages, birth celebrations and funerals. It is also used in traditional and modern music and films.


Like many other Cameroonian languages, Shupamem has been subject to many research works which have contributed to its development. The aim of this section is to present not all the literature of the language, but the salient works that concerns its description.

6.1. Review of related literature

Relatively much has been done on Shupamem in several domains, among which literature, phonology, morphology, language learning, lexicology, ethno-linguistics, and syntax. My attention is paid to those that are related to my topic.

As far as phonology is concerned, Ward (1938) published a paper titled «The phonetic structure of Bamun», in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. In the same vein, Boum (1977) wrote her Post-graduate Degree Diploma (DES) thesis on «Esquisse phonologique du Bamun». Therein, she studies Shupamem phonology and draws the path to other research on the same topic. It is the case with Ngueffo (1979) who describes the phonology of Bapi in his DES thesis.It is worth mentioning that Bapi is considered a «Shupamem Linguistic Island» (ALCAM, Tome 1).

In morpho-syntax, Djeunou (1981) worked on the VP in Shupamem, in his «Maitrise» dissertation titled «Le verbe en bamun».

In the same view, Ondoua (2004) worked within the generative approach on the sentence structure of Shupamem. Many other works within the generative approach have been carried out by Nchare (2005, 2011, and 2012). These works were centered on the DP, Greenberg's Universals 20, the syntax of body parts and spatial expressions, and the grammar of Shupamem at large.

Moreover, Rojas (2011) worked on «Definite and indefinite Numeral Phrases in Shupamem», which was the subject of an article published at the NYU Press. I give the brief summary of the key projects below.

6.1.1. Summary of salient works on Shupamem

This summary concerns mostly the few salient works done on the morpho-syntax of Shupamem.

Based on truth-value tests and distributional contrasts, Rojas (2011) in her paper entitled «Definite and indefinite numeral phrases in Shupamem»demonstrates that the orders Numeral>Noun vs. Noun>Numeral actually correspond to different interpretations of the corresponding noun phrases. Pre-nominal numerals give rise to indefinite interpretations, while post-nominal numerals are associated with a definite reading of the noun phrase in which they occur. In other words, when the numeral precedes the noun, the modified nounis considered indefinite, meanwhile it is considered definite when the noun precedes the numeral. She stresses the fact that the order between the noun and the numeral is flexible, that is, one can come before or after the other.

But the nuance is that the interpretation changes according to the order of occurrence. The following data from her illustrates both the flexibility of word order between noun and numeral and the change in interpretation:

(1) a. ndì m?ìn «one child»

b. p?ì? p?ìn «two children»

c. t?ì? p?ìn «three children»

d. kpà p?ìn «four children»

e. t?n p?ìn «five children»

f. ntù: p?ìn «six children»

(2) a. m?ìn í mò «one child»

b. p?ìn pí pà «two children»

c. p?ìn pí t?ìt «three children»

d. p?ìn pí kpà «four children»

Source: Rojas Vasquez (2011:18)

The word order in (1) is Num>N and calls on indefinite interpretation, whereas the situation in (2) displays N>Num word order and calls on definite interpretation. In (2), the word order triggers the obligatory presence of an agreement marker «i» for singular and «pi» for plural. Her analysis further goes to measure phrases where she shows that only the order Num>N is grammatical. The N>Num order will make the sentence ungrammatical as shown in the following data:

(3) a. m?ì nà n-z?ìt t?^n kíluÌ

Child IMPFVE PPLE-weigh five kilogram

«The child weighs five kilograms.»

b. * m?ì nà n-z?Ìt kíluÌ pí t?^n

Child IMPFVE PPLE-weigh kilogram AGR five

Intended: «The child weighs five kilograms.»

In brief, her paper brings evidence that, although Shupamem allows a numeral to be placed before or after the noun, the two positions of the numeral correspond to different interpretations. The configuration Num>N can introduce new discourse referents; it occurs in measure phrases and cannot recover previously mentioned antecedents. The order N>Num has only a definite interpretation. These phrases are excluded from measure expressions. They recover discourse-old antecedents. They also have maximal implications and can occur in indefiniteness effects contexts from which the Num>N configurations are excluded.

Nchare (2011) in «The syntax of agreement in the Shupamem DP and Greenberg's Universals 20», describes and explains data from Shupamem that provide significant counterevidence to Cinque's (2005:315) Theory of Greenberg's Universal 20. The said theory argues that only fourteen of the mathematically possible orders of the four elements Demonstrative, Numeral, Adjective and Noun are attested in the languages of the world. Contrary to Cinque's hypothesis, data from Nchare (2011) show that eighteen word orders of the four above-mentioned elements are grammatical in Shupamem.

Nchare (2012) in «The grammar of Shupamem» (a PhD thesis), makes a cross analysis of the grammar of Shupamem. Prominent aspects of the Shupamem morpho-syntax are discussed in this thesis. In addition to providing evidence that many movement operations in Shupamem are highly constrained, he analyzes the internal syntax of the DP, the words alternation between the head noun and its different modifiers, the syntax of negation, the syntax of focus, the syntax of body part expressions, the distribution of lexical categories within the Shupamem clause and many other syntactic issues. His analysis reveals that Shupamem displays a bipartite negation with a wide range of negation particles whose surface forms depend on the status of Tense, Aspect and Mood (TAM). Furthermore, the syntax of focus suggests two focus fields for Shupamem (the left peripheral field and the post-verbal field). It is worth noting here that adverbs are not studied in the thesis.


This section presents the scope and delimitation of the study. It stresses on the main aspects that shall be analyzed by the work. It also presents the outline of the work, that is, how the dissertation is structured.

7.1. Scope of the study

The focus of this study is the adverb and adverbial phrases. As mentioned above, I shall lay emphasis on the morphology and syntax of adverbs in Shupamem. This study will cover any sentence element that is identified as belonging to the Adverbial Phrase. The analysis is based both on the Minimalist Program of Chomsky, (1993-2001) and the Cartography as mirrored in the works of Rizzi (1990, 1997), Cinque (1999, 2004), Rizzi and Cinque (2008), BenincaÌ and Poletto (2004) and others.

7.2. Outline of the work

This dissertation comprises five chapters. It begins with a general introduction and ends with a general conclusion. The general introduction describes the aims, the objectives, the motivations, the scope, and the methodology used for data collection. It also presents the review of literature, that is, the salient works done on Shupamem.

Chapter one presents agrammatical sketch of Shupamem. It looks at the Shupamem sounds system, the noun classes, the determiners, verb tenses, mood and aspects, and basic sentence structure of Shupamem.

In chapter two, I present the frameworks adopted for this analysis. These are Chomsky's Minimalist Program and the Cartographic Approach as mirrored in the works of Rizzi (1997), Cinque (2002), Rizzi and Cinque (2008),Benincaì and Poletto (2004), and others.

As for chapter three, Iundertake the semantic classification of adverbs, followed by their morphological properties. In other words, this chapter is devoted to the presentation of adverbs in Shupamem, and the analysis of their derivation processes.

In chapter four, I present the order of appearance of adverbs within the structure. Furthermore, in the light of the Cinquean (1999) approach, I present the hierarchy of adverbs in Shupamem.

Finally, chapter fiveanalyzes the structure of the left periphery of Shupamem, with emphasis on the behaviour of adverbs in movements. That is, it looks at adverbs fronting and the left periphery of Shupamem.

The summary of the work is presented in the general conclusion. This concerns its findings, the difficulties encountered during the different stages of the work, and some recommendations for forthcoming studies.



précédent sommaire suivant