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The morphosyntax of adverbs in Shupamem

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Université de Yaoundé 1 - Master en Linguistique Générale 2016

précédent sommaire suivant


The previous sectionof the work entitled General Introduction presented the aims, the objectives, the motivation, the language and the review of previous studies made on Shupamem. It also presented relevant information on the language, among which the geographical situation, the linguistic classification and the sociolinguistic situation of Shupamem. This chapteron grammatical sketch of Shupamempresentssome aspects of Shupamemgrammar. It is divided into five sections, which are the phonological sketch, the noun class system, the determiners, the verb tenses, aspects and moods, and the basic sentence structure of Shupamem. The phonological sketch involves the consonants, the vowels and the tones attested in Shupamem. I shall also present the fifteen noun classes attested in the language, alongside the determiners. Finally, as far as verbs are concerned, I shall lay emphasis on theirtenses, aspects and moods.


As mentioned above, this section presents an overview of the Shupamem sound system. This concernsthe consonants, the vowels and the tones.

1.1.1. The consonants

The previous studies on Shupamemphonology (Boum 1977, Nchare 2005, 2012...) revealed that a total of twenty-eight consonantal elements are attested in Shupamem. The language hasfive bilabials, one labiodental, seven alveolars, five palatals, five velars, three labiovelars and two glottals. Theseconsonants are presented in the table below:










p b


t d


k g

kp gb



f v


s z

? ? j















l r








Table2: Shupamem consonants chart, from Nchare(2005:43)

These consonants are illustrated in (1) below:

(1) /p/: piìn (dance) /b/: muÌm (eggs)

/t/:t(head) /d/: ndaìp(house)

/k/:k(strength) /g/:m?Ì?g?ìp (chicken)

/kp/:kp(four) /gb/:mgb?Ìm (big)

/?/:faÌ?(work) /f /: f (white)

/v/:v??ì(loss) /s/:ns?ìm(farm)

/z/:jiÌnz??Ìm(to smell) / ?/:???ì(those)

/j/:j??Ì (that) / ÷/:÷?Ìm (ten)

/ k÷/:(okra) /m/:m(eyes)

/ ?/: jiÌ?fiì(to sell) / n/:naÌ?(cow)

/ ?/:?iÌ?iÌ(God) / ?/:?gu?Ìm (plantain)

/l/:l(name) /r/:r(chair)

/y/:p(badness) /w/:w(death)


1.1.2. The vowels

Shupamem displays eight canonical vowels that can be long or short. They are presented in the chart below:







? ?














Table 3, Shupamem vowels chart, adapted from Nchare (2005:38)

These vowels are presented in (2) below:

(2) /i/:mkp(wood) / ?/:n??Ì (blood)

/ ?/:?k(bone) / u/:f(medicine)

/e/:léraÌ?(teacher) /?/:pu(we)

/ o/:pkériì(good) / ?/:pn(fufu)

/ ?/:mn(child) / a/:f?(work)

1.1.3. The tones

Like the other Bantu languages, Shupamem displays three level tones (high, mid, low). It also has some contour tones, whereofthe rising and the falling tones are the most present in discourse.I present these tones in the table below:

Level tones



Low `

Contour tones


Falling à


Table 4, Shupamem tones chart

These tones are illustrated in (3) below:

(3) - High ('):p(badness)

- Mid ():jéj?n (yard)

- Low ( `):p(we)

- Rising ():jiÌnda?m(to gossip)

- Falling ( à)nda^m (gossip)


This section focuses on the noun class system in Shupamem and the personal, the demonstrative and the possessive pronouns that exist in the language.

1.2.1. The noun class system in Shupamem

Shupamem has fifteen noun classes. They are grouped in the light of the paradigm pair singular/plural, (Nchare 2012: 94). In Shupamem, the noun class 1 is made up of some words which begin with the sound /m/ in their singular form. Class 2 on its part is the plural form of class 1. Words of this class begin with the sound /p/. It is the case with the class 1 noun «m-?ìn» (child) and its class 2 counterpart «p-?ìn» (children). There are also some nouns classified within the classes 1 and 2.

The ones are those which begin with the sound «in the singular form, and which sound disappears in the plural form. It is the case with «n-saÌs?» (elder, class 1.a) and «sa?s?» (elders, class 1.b). The others are those whose singular form is not overtly marked, whereas the plural form is marked with the prefix «pa». This can be illustrated with the words «wa?» (father, class 1.c) and «paÌ-wa?» (fathers, class 1.d).

The noun classes 3 and 4 concern some words whose singular form is marked by the prefix «m?Ì», which becomes «p?ì» in the plural form. The words «m?Ì-mviì» (goat, class 3) and «p?ì-mviÌ» (goats, class 4) better illustrate these classes.

As far the classes 5 and 6 are concerned, their singular form is not overtly marked, while the plural form take the prefix «?». As examples, we have the words «kuÌt» (foot, class 5) and «?-kuÌt» (feet, class 6).

The noun classes 7 and 8 concern words that are duplicated in the plural form. As example, we have the words «nsén» (forest, class 7) and «nse?n nse?n» (forests, class 8).

For the classes 9 and 10, tones are relevant to their classification. In fact, while the singular form displays the tonal combination low/low, the plural form displays the combination low-high/high. This is the case with «?iÌrè» (trap, class 9) and «?i?» (traps, class 10).

Similar to the classes 9 and 10, the noun classes 11 and 12 are influenced by the tones. In fact, the tonal combinations on the word of class 11 are low-high/low, while those on the class 12 are low-high/high. This can be seen from the words «maÌtwa^» (car, class 11) and «ma?twaì» (cars, class 12).

The classes 13 and 14 are concerned with words whose singular form is marked by the prefix «jiÌ», and whose plural form is marked by the prefix «piÌ». This is he case with «jiÌ-mbo^két» (the good, class 13) and «pi-mbo^két» (the good, class 14).

Finally, the noun class 15 concerns the nouns which are derived from verbs and that bear the prefix «n». It is the case with «n-da^m» derived from «la?m» (gossip, verb). The noun class sytem of Shupamem is summarized in the table below:






m-?ìn p-?ìn

«child» «children»



n-saÌs?ì Ø-sa?s?ì

«elder» «elder»



wa? paÌ-wa?

«father» «fathers»



m?Ì-mviì p?^-mviì

«goat» «goats»



Ø-kuÌt ?-kuÌt

«foot» «feet»



nseìn nse?n nse?n

«forest» «forests»


low-low/ low-high+low

?iÌreÌ ?i?reÌ

«trap» «traps»



maÌtwa^ ma?twa^a

«car» «cars»



jiÌ-mbo^keìt pi-mbo^keìt

«the good» «the bad»



la?m n-da^m

«gossip»(verb)«gossip» (noun)

Table5, Shupamem noun classes, adapted from Nchare (2012:95)

1.2.2. The pronouns

This section presents the unmarked forms of the personal, the possessive and the demonstrative pronouns in Shupamem. The personal pronouns

According to Nchare (2012), Shupamem displays eight personal pronouns. There exist the first, the second and the third persons singular (1sg, 2sg, 3sg), three first persons plural (1pl. inclusive, 1pl. exclusive, 1pl. duality), the second and the third persons plural (2pl. 3pl.).They are presented in the table below, according to their functions (subject, object).






1 sg










3 sg




1pl incl.





1pl excl.




1pl dual.





2 pl










Table 6, Shupamempersonal pronouns, adapted from Nchare (2012:239)

The object pronouns presented in the table above are in the accusative form. Their dative form is obtained by adjunction of a preposition before the accusative form, as is the case in (4) below:

(4) a. (accusative)

m?Ì j?e?n -iì

1sg. saw him

«I saw him»

b. (Dative)

m?Ì faÌ paÌm n? -iì (niì)

1sg. gave bag to him

«I gave him the bag»

The example in (4.a) shows the accusative form of the third personal pronoun in Shupamem. As for (4.b), it shows that the preposition «n?» (to) is adjoined to the accusative form of the pronoun to have its dative counterpart.

Let's note that the non-human pronoun in Shupamem is «» (it), used for things. Possessive pronouns

With respect to the number of personal pronouns listed above, Shupamem has eight possessive pronouns. They are not really different from the accusative personal pronouns presented in the table (6) above. Here, the morpheme «j-»comes before each of the accusative personal pronoun to form its possessive counterpart. There is a change of tones, as they all become high.The resulting possessive pronouns are presented in the table below:




1 sg






3 sg



1pl incl.



1pl excl.



1pl dual.



2 pl






Table 7, the Shupamem possessive pronouns, from Nchare (2012:239) Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used to point at persons or things. They vary depending on the distance between the speaker and the referent. Shupamem has two types of demonstrative pronouns which vary in number according to the persons or things they refer to. This is shown in the table below:

Demonstrative pronoun









Table 8, Shupamem demonstrative pronouns

The demonstrative pronouns above are illustrated in (5) and (6) below:

(5) a) ji? ndaìp gb?Ì

Dem.Sg. house fell down

«This house fell down»

b) ?i? ndaìp ndaìp bg?Ìke?t

Dem.Pl. houses fell down

«These houses fell down»

These data show that the demonstrativepronouns vary in number. The singular form is «ji?», while the plural form is «?i?». Let's also note that the noun «ndaìp» (house) makes its plural by reduplication. That is why it has become «ndaìp ndaìp» (houses) in (5.b) above.

(6) a. j??? ndaìp bg?Ì

Dem.Sg. House fell down

«That house fell down»

b. ???? ndaìp ndaìp bg?Ìke?t

Dem.Sg houses fell down

«Those houses fell down»

The data in (6.a) and (6.b) show that distal demonstrative pronouns are «j???» (that) in the singular form, and «????» (those) in the plural form.


This section on the determiners in Shupamem deals with the qualifying adjectives, the numerals (cardinals and ordinals), and the articles.

1.3.1. Qualifying adjectives

In many Bantu languages, qualifying adjectives are divided into two types, namely simple adjectives and participial adjectives, (Nchare 2012).Thus, Shupamem has simple and participial adjectives. Simple adjectives

They are found in the wordlist of Shupamem and are considered inherent to the language. In Shupamem, some of these adjectives are pre-nominal, while the others are post-nominal. They are shown in (7)below:

(7) a) Pre-nominal

kuìm laìpaì? *laìpaì? kuìm

old shoes shoes old

«Old shoes» Intended: «Old shoes»

b) Post-nominal

laìpaì? siì *siì laìpaì?

shoes black black shoes

«Black shoes» Intended «Black shoes»

These adjectives make their plural forms by reduplication. For instance, «fyì» becomes «fyì fyì» (white), «siì» becomes «siì siì» (black), «kuìm» becomes «kuìm kuìm» (old) in the plural form. Participial adjectives

Participial adjectives are those derived from verbs. In Shupamem, they can come before or after the noun that they determine. Theadjectives in (8) below are respectively derived from the verbs «ji-mbu?» (to be beautiful), «ji-nze?m» (to smell) and «ji-mi?n» (to be dirty).

(8) Pre-nominal Post-nominal

a) p??keìt m?ìn m?ìn mb??keìt

good child child good

«Good child» «Good child»

b) r?Ìmkeìt ?k?Ì ?k?Ì nz?Ìmkeìt

smelling water water smelling

«Smelling water» «Smelling water»

c) miÌnkeìt m?ìn m?ìn miÌkeìt

dirty child child dirty.

«Dirty child» «Dirty child»

1.3.2. Numeral adjectives

Numeral adjectiveshave to do with number. There exist two types of numeral adjectives, namely cardinals and ordinals. Cardinals

They are used to count persons or things. Like the qualifying adjectives, they can come before or after the noun that they determine. The cardinals from zero to ten are presented in (9) below:

(9) nd?ìm nd?ìm (null) iì-m?? (one) iì-pa? (two) iì-t?ìt (three)

iì-kpaì (four) iì-tiÌ?ìn (five) iì-ntuì (six) iì-saaÌbaÌ (seven)

iì-faìm?Ì (eight) iì-vyì? (nine) ??ìm (ten)

Nine and ten can bear the prefix «ko» and remain grammatical. When these numbers are pre-nominal, they all loose their prefixes «i-/ko?».When they are post nominal, they vary in number according to the noun they determine, and therefore, bear the singular morpheme «» or the plural morpheme «piì», as illustrated in (10) below:

(10) pre-nominal post-nominal

a. ndiÌ m?ìn m?ìn iì-m???

one child child sg-one

«One child» «One child»

b. p?Ì? p?ìn p?ìn piì-pa?

two children children pl-two

«Two children» «Two children» Ordinals

They are used to present elements in an established order. In Shupamem, apart from the number one (1),the free morpheme «mbaìr?Ì»1(*)is used in front of the numbers to mark the order. For the ten first numbers, we have the following in (11):

(11) puÌm-iÌ (first); mbaìr?Ì iì-pa? (second); mbaìr?Ì iì-t?ìt (third);

mbaìr?Ì iì-kpaÌ (fourth); mbaìr?Ì iì-ti?Ìn (fith); mbaìr?Ì iÌ-ntuì(sixth)

mbaìr?Ì iÌ-saaÌmbaÌ (seventh); mbaìr?Ì iÌ-fa?Ìm?Ì (height);

mbaìr?Ì i-Ìvyì? (ninth); mbaìr?Ì ??ìm (tenth).

1.3.3. The articles

Articles are words that accompany substantives and precise whether they are definite or indefinite. There exist two types of articles, namely indefinite and definite articles. Indefinite articles

Shupamem does not have indefinite articles unlikeIndo-European languages. To mark indefiniteness however, it makes use of the indefinite pronoun «m???» (some).This pronoun whose plural form is «?iÌ-m???»provides information about the noun that it determines.Itis always placed before the nouns, as shown in(12) below:

(12) a) Singular

m??? Ìm?Ìn m??? j?ìm m??? ?k?Ì m??? ndaìp

Indef.person Indef. thing Indef. water Indef. house

«A person» «A thing» «Water» «A house»

b) Plural

?i?-m??? p???ìn ?i?-m??? ??ìm ?i?-m??? ?k?? ?k?Ì ?i?-m??? ndaìp ndaÌp

Indef. Persons Indef. persons Indef. waters Indef. houses

«Persons» «Things» «Waters» «Houses» Definite articles

Shupamem does not have a class of definite articles. However, demonstratives, possessives and cardinals can be used to mark definiteness. When the cardinal «(?i?-) m???»(one) is used for this purpose, it comes after the noun. It is also an insistence of relativization, given that relativization in Shupamem can be made through the same morphemes.This is shown in (13) below:

(13) m?ìn m?ì? tuì? n?ì j?Ì p?ìn

child Def.(Rel) came Rel. ate fufu

«The child that came has eaten fufu»

Here, the morpheme «m?ì?» (one) is used to mark both definiteness and relativization (when followed by the morpheme «n?ì»).


This section briefly presents the tenses, the aspects and the mood of verbs in Shupamem.

Nchare (2012) observed that the infinitive in Shupamem is marked by the morpheme «jiÌn»(Inf.) as shown in (14) below:

(14) jiÌn-n??ì jiÌn-nt?Ìr?ì jiÌn-?kaÌm?ì

«to eat» «to jump» «to play» Tenses

There are three main tenses in Shupamem, which are the present tense, the past tense and the future tense. Each of these tenses is expressed in many ways as shall be seen throughout the section. The present tense

The present tense in Shupamem is almost not dissociablefrom the aspects. In fact, there are the progressive present, the habitual present and the evidential present (Nchare 2012).

The progressive present is marked by the morpheme «tiì?» (Prog.) placed before the verb. For the habitual present, Shupamem makes use of the morpheme«kaì» (Hab.)placed before the verb. Finally, the morpheme «na^» (Evid.)precedes the verb to mark the evidential present tense. These are shown in (15), (16) and (17) below:

(15) a) Progressive (affirmative)

Nsangou tiì? n?uoÌp ?k?Ì

Nsangou Prog. sing song

«Nsangou is singing (a song)»

b) Progressive (negative)

Nsangou tiì? ntaìp n?u?ob-iÌ ?k?Ì

Nsangou Prog. Neg. Sing-SM song

«Nsangou is not singing (a song)»

(16) a) Habitual (affirmative)

Nsangou kaì n?uoìp ?k?Ì

Nsangou Hab. sing song

«Nsangou sings song»

b) Habitual (negative)

Nsangou kaì ntaìp n?uob-iÌ ?k?Ì

Nsangou Aff. Neg. sing-SM song

«Nsangou does not sing»

(17) a) Evidential (affirmative)

Nsangou na^ n?uoìp ?k?Ì

Nsangou Evid. sing song

«Nsangou sings»

b) Evidential (negative)

Nsangou na^ ntaìp n?uoìb-iÌ ?k?Ì

Nsangou Evid. Neg. sing-SM song

«Nsangou does not sing»

The examples in (15), (16) and (17) above show that the present tense in Shupamem is always accompanied by the aspects. The morpheme «ti?ì» denotes the progressive aspect, while the morphemes «kaì» and «na^» denote the habitual and the evidential present respectively. The past tense

The past tense is realized in four ways in Shupamem. There exist the immediate past (P1), the recent past (P2), the remote past (P3) and the remotest past (P4). P1 expresses actions that just occurredand is marked by a null morpheme before the verb. P2 on its part describes actions that occurredminutes, hours ago or later in the day and is marked by the morpheme «peì» (P2). As for P3, it is marked by the morpheme «piì» (P3) placed before the verb. Finally, P4 is marked by the morphemes «kaÌ piì» (P4). It expresses actions that occurred long time ago, and which at times have no clear reference in the past. They are all illustrated in (18), (19), (20) and (21)below:

(18) a) P1 affirmative

maÌtwaì Ø kuÌm m?Ìmviì

car P1 knock goat

«The car has knocked the goat»

b) P1 negative

maÌtwaì Ø ma^ ?kuÌm-iÌ m?Ìmviì

car P1 Neg. Knock-SM goat

«The car has not knocked the goat»

(19) a) P2 affirmative

maÌtwaì pé kuÌm m?Ìmviì

car P2 knock goat

«The car knocked the child»

b) P2 negative

maÌtwaì pé ma^ ?kuÌm-iÌ m?Ìmviì

car P1 Neg. knock-SM goat

«The car did not knock the goat»

(20) a) P3 affirmative

maÌtwaì piì kuÌm m?Ìmviì

car P3 knock goat

«The car had knocked the goat»

b) P3 negative

maÌtwaì piì ma^ ?kuÌm-iÌ m?Ìmviì

car P3 Neg. knock-SM goat

«The car had not knock the goat»

(21) a) P4 affirmative

maÌtwaì kaÌpiì kuÌm m?Ìmviì

car P4 knock goat

«The car had knocked the goat»

b) P4 negative

maÌtwaì kaÌpiì ma^ ?kuÌm-iÌ m?Ìmviì

car P4 Neg. knock-SM goat

«The car had not knocked the goat» The future tense

The future tense in Shupamem is divided into three tenses (F1, F2, and F3) according to their remoteness from the present. F1 expresses actions that will take place very soon and is marked by the morphemes «naì ntw?ì» (F1),placed before the verb. F2 on its part expresses actions that will be performed later in the future and is marked by the morpheme «l???»(F2),placed before the verb. Finally, F3 expresses actions that are remote from the present, and at times not specified. It is marked by the use of «ntw?ì l???»(F3) before the verb, that is the association of the F1 and F2 morphemes. These tenses are presented in (22), (23), and (24) below:

(22) a) F1 affirmative

maÌtwaì naì2(*) ntw?ì ?kuÌm m?Ìmviì

car F1 knock goat

«The car shall knock the goat»

b) F1 negative

maÌtwaì ntaìp ntw?ì ?kuÌm-iÌ m?Ìmviì

car Neg. F1 knock-SM goat

«The car shall not knock the goat»

(23) a) F2 affirmative

maÌtwaì naì l?Ì? ?kuÌm m?Ìmviì

car F2 knock goat

«The call shall knock the goat»

b) F2 negative

maÌtwaì ntaÌp l?Ì? kuÌm- iÌ m?Ìmviì

car Neg. F2 knock-SM goat

«The car shall not knock the goat»

(24) a) F3 affirmative

maÌtwaì naì ntw?ì l?Ì? kuÌm m?Ìmviì

car F3 knock goat

«The car shall knock the goat»

b) F3 negative

maÌtwaì ntaìp ntw?ì l?Ì? kuÌm-iÌ m?Ìmviì

car Neg. F3 knock-SM goat

«The car shall not knock the goat»

All these negative forms give way to the possibility that the action occurs or not. In case there is certainty that the action will (never) happen, the morpheme «laì?3(*)» is added to the future morpheme to mark the certitude of the utterance, as shown in (25) below:

(25) maÌtwaì ntaìp ntw?ì l?Ì? laÌ? ?kuÌm-iÌ m?Ìmviì

car Neg. F3 Cert. knock-SM goat

«The car will never knock the goat» Aspects

Aspects inform about the status of the action in discourse. The action maybe progressive, perfective, dynamic, static and others. Here, I discuss the progressive, the habitual, the dynamic, the static and the reciprocal aspects. The progressive aspect

The progressive aspect in Shupamem is marked by the morphemes «ti??» (Prog.) in the present tense and «p?Ì m?Ì4(*)» (Prog.) followed by the infinitive form of the verb in future and past tenses. This is shown in (26) below:

(26) a) Present tense

m?ìn ti?? ?gw?Ìn leìr?ÌwaÌ

child Prog. go school

«The child is going to school»

b) Past tense

m?ìn pé mb?Ì m?Ì jiÌn-?gw?Ìn leìr?ÌwaÌ

child P2 Prog. Inf-go school

«The child was going to school»

c) Future tense

m?Ìn naì ntw?ì p?Ì m?Ì jin-?gw?Ìn leìr?ÌwaÌ

child Aff. F1 Prog. Inf-go school

«The child shall be going to school» The habitual aspect

The habitual aspect in Shupamem is marked by the morpheme «kaì» (Hab.) followed by the verb in the past tense. One can also use «meÌtn?ì» (use to) and «?g?Ì?» (love) followed by the infinitival form of the verb. This is shown in (27) below:

(27) a) Habitual with «kaì»

m?Ìn kaì ?gw?Ìn leìr?ÌwaÌ

child Hab. go school

«The child used to go to school»

b) Habitual with «meÌtn?ì»

m?Ìn meÌtn?Ì jin-?gw?Ìn leìr?ÌwaÌ

child Hab. Inf-go school

«The child is used to going to school»

c) Habitual with «?g?Ì?»

m?ìn naì ?g?Ì? jin-?gw?Ìn lér?Ìwa

child Aff. like go school

«The child likes going to school» The dynamic and static aspects

These aspects, like in other languages, are inherent to the verbs of movement and the verbs of state, respectively. The dynamic aspect can be found in verbs like «jin-?gw??n» (to go), «jiÌn-ntw?ì» (to come), and«jiÌn-nt?Ìr?Ì» (to jump). As far as the static aspect is concerned, it can be found in verbs like «jiÌn-mb?ì» (to be) and «jiÌn-ndieì» (to sleep). The reciprocal aspect

The reciprocal aspect includes two participants in the action described by the verb. Crosslinguistically, the reciprocal aspect is expressed by such verbs as «to love, to hate, to help», and others. In Shupamem, one uses «?waÌt» (body) followed the pronominal morpheme that indicates the participants. We have the following in (28):

(28) a) 2 persons (you)

p?ìn naì ?g?Ì?-n?Ì ?waÌt-t?ìn

you Aff. love-pl. Recip-excl.

«You love each other»

b) 2 persons (we)

py? naì mb?Ìn-n?Ì ?waÌt-tyì

we Aff. hate-pl Recip-incl.

«We hate each other»

c) 2 persons (they)

paì naì ?gaÌm-m?Ì ?waÌt-taìp

they Aff. help Recip-excl

«They help each other» The mood

The mood is a category or a form which indicates whether a verb expresses a fact (indicative), a command or exhortation (imperative), a condition (conditional), etc. In the following, I present the indicative, the imperative and the conditional moods in Shupamem. The indicative mood

The indicative mood marks certitude in language. In Shupamem, it is marked by a null morpheme. In other words, there is no indicative marker in Shupamem. This can be seen in the data below:

(29) m?ìn juÌ p?ìn

child ate fufu

«The child ate fufu»

The example above, though presenting a fact, has no element marking the indicative mood. It simply presents the subject of the sentence (m?ìn), the verb (juÌ) and the object (p?ìn). The imperative mood

Imperative is used when giving orders or advice, and for exhortation. It is expressed in three persons, namely the second person singular (you), the first person plural (we) and the second person plural (you).In Shupamem, the imperativeismarked by the omission of the subject of the sentence, except for the first person plural inclusive, that is, when the speaker is also concerned by the action being carried out. Note that the verb varies according to the person to whom the request, the order or the advice is addressed. This is shown in (30) below:

(30) a) tw?Ìt-?? liÌ ?uì

Write name Poss.

«Write your name»

b) puÌ? tw?Ìt-?ì liÌ ?uìpu?Ì

we write name Poss.

«Let's write our names»

c) tw?Ìt?Ì-n?ìn liÌ ??ìn

write-SM name Poss.

«Write your names» The conditional mood

The conditional mood is overtly marked in Shupamem. This is through the use of the discontinued expression «k?Ì....mbuì» (Cond.). The morpheme «k?Ì» precedes the conjugated verb and introduces the conditional clause, while «mbuì» introduces the main clause. In the past tense, the tone on «k?Ì» will change and become high. But in the future tense, it remains low. The use of «k?Ì....mbuì» (Cond.) is only when the conditional clause introduces the sentence. However, if the main clause comes before the conditional, the latter will be marked by the discontinued element «m?Ì j???...n?ì» (Cond.), wherein «m?Ì j???» introduces the conditional clause and «n?ì» comes at the end of the sentence. The conditional mood in Shupamem is illustrated in (23) below:

(31) a) The conditional with «k?Ì...mbuì»

m?ìn k?ì mbg?ì mbuì iì naì ntu?ì k?Ìp pu?Ì-iì

child Cond1. fall Cond2 he Evid. F1 break arm-poss.

«If the child falls, he will break his arm»

*mbuì iì naì ntu?ì k?Ìp pu?Ì-iì m?ìn k?Ì mbg?ì

Cond2 he Evid. F1 break arm-poss. child Cond1 fall

Intended: «The child will break his arm if he falls»

b) The conditional with «m?Ì j???...n?ì»

m?ìn naì nt??ì k?Ìp pu?Ì-iì m?Ìj??? iì mbg?Ì n?ì

child Evid. F1 break arm-poss. Cond1 he falls Cond2

«The child will break his arm if he falls»


The basic sentence structure of Shupamem is Subject-Verb-Object (SVO), though some transformation can modify this canonical structure. In fact, the subject comes at the sentence initial position, while the finite verb comes at the second position. The objects (direct or indirect) come at the sentence final position. This can be seen in (32) for the unmarked structure and (33) for a marked structure.

(32) m?ìn j?Ì p?ìn

child ate fufu

«The child ate fufu»

(33) aì j?Ì m?ìn p?Ìn

Cl. ate child fufu

«It is the child that ate fufu»

In (32) above, the sentence structure is SVO, wherein «m?ìn» (child) is the subject, «j?Ì» (ate) the verb, and «p?ìn» (fufu) the direct object. As far as the example in (33) is concerned, the structure of the sentence is VSO. In fact, the use of the cleft copula «aì» (it is) has initiated subject inversion. Therefore, the verb «j?Ì» (ate) precedes the subject «moìn» (child).

* 1«mbaìr?Ì» is derived from the verb «ji-mbaìr?Ì» (follow).

* 2«naì» marks the affirmative nature of the sentence

* 3«laÌ?» semantically means «stay long»

* 4«p?Ì m?Ì» has the sense of «on doing something».

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