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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


This chapter aimed at studying the relative order of adverbs in Shupamem, in order to establish their hierarchy as posited by Cinque (1999). The analysisrevealed that Shupamem has two classes of adverbs according to their place of occurrence within the structure. These are the higher class adverbs, made up of the speech act adverb «m?Ìndaì ?gaÌm», (honestly), the frequency I adverb «m?ì? mb?ì» (maybe), and the lower class adverbs. The latter is divided into two types: pre-verbal adverbs (aspectual adverbs) and post-verbal adverbs (the rest of the adverbs). After a first analysis wherein I tested the order of adverbs co-occurrence, I realized that fifteen (15) out of some twenty-one (21) possible combinations studied are reversible. As for the pre-verbal lower class adverb, the hierarchy Anteriortense>Repetitive, Progressive>Durative/continuative, and Progressive>Repetitive is not reversible. This has led to the mapping of the adverbs hierarchy in Shupamem shown in (24) above. It should be noted that these order gives priority to the unmarked structures. For this reason, I shall examine adverbs fronting in Shupamem in the next chapter,alongside the left periphery.




In this chapter, I analyze the left periphery and adverbs fronting in Shupamem. In fact, fronting is generally known as a process which can cause raising of a sentence element to the left periphery. Given that the structure of the left periphery of Shupamem is not yet studied, I briefly present its overview, in the light of the Cartographic Approach (Rizzi 1997). The sectiondevoted to this task aims at presenting, with the aid of apt examples, the map of the syntactic configuration of the elements above TP. Following Rizzi (1997), some operations within a sentence are likely to cause raising to the non-argument position. Among others are question formation, topicalization, focalization, and relativization.As for the second section of the chapter, I look at adverbs fronting through focalization and topicalization.


The left periphery represents the elements that appear above TP in natural languages. It is also known as the non-argument or A-bar position. The major element that enters the left periphery is the complementizer phrase (CP). In order to map up the exact and detailed structures of the left peripheral elements, the Cartographic Approach (Rizzi 1997) advocates that CP splits into many projections. This section looks at the Focus Phrase, the Force Phrase, and the Topic Phrase. It also explores Matrix Wh-questions, Embedded Wh-questions, and relativization.

2.8.1. The Focus Phrase (FocP) in Shupamem

Focus constructions in Shupamem are marked through three (3) different ways, which are the use of cleft constructions introduced by the cleft copula «», the use of the focus morpheme «poì», and verb doubling, (Nchare 2012:461). For left peripheral focus, we have the cleft construction introduced by the copula «» «it», accompanied by the raising of the DP argument to the left periphery. For post-verbal focus constructions, we have the morpheme «poì» before the focalized element (this precedes direct object DPs, PPs, locatives, manner adverbs and others). We finally have verb doubling, for verb focalization. The structure of the focus sentences

Based on what has been said above, we have the following examples, according to the different ways of marking focus.

(1) a) Njoya j?Ì nd?ÌmbuÌ

Njoya ate banana

«Njoya ate banana»

b) aì j?Ì Njoya nd?ÌmbuÌ

Cl. ate Njoya banana

«It is NJOYA who ate banana»

The example in (1.b) above is a case of left peripheral focus. The noun «NJOYA» has been focalized through the use of the cleft copula «aì» (it is).

Focusing a post-verbal element (objects, adjuncts) implies the use of the focus particle «poÌ» as mentioned above. The said particle comes before the focalized elements as shown in (2) below:

(2) a) m?ìn swoÌ l?ìrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm

child put book into bag

«The child put the book into the bag»

b) m?ìn swoÌ poÌ l?ÌrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm

child put Foc. BOOK into bag

«The child put the BOOK into the bag»

c) m?ìn swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ po? t?Ì paÌm

child put book Foc. INTO BAG

«The child put the book INTO THE BAG»

d) m?ìn swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm po? n?Ìk?ì

child put book into bag Foc. QUICKLY

«The child put the book into the bag QUICKLY»

e) m?ìn swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm po? ?kuÌr?Ì

child put book into bag Foc. YESTERDAY

«The child put the book into the bag YESTERDAY»

f) m?ìn swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm po? ?kaì ji?moÌ?

child put book into bag Foc. ONCE

«The child put the book into the bag ONCE»

It can be seen from the data above that the focus particle «poì» precedes the direct object «l?ÌrwaÌ» (book) in (2.b), the locative adverb «t?Ì paÌm» (into the bag) in (2.c), the manner adverb «n?Ì k?ì» (quickly) in (2.d), the temporal adverb «?kuÌr?Ì» (yesterday) in (2.e) and the frequency I adverb «?kaì ji?moÌ?» (once) in (2.f).

In Shupamem, VP focalization is effective through verb doubling, (Nchare 2012, 489). For instance, we will have the following in (3):

(3) a) m?ìn swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm

child put book into bag

«The child PUT the book into the bag»

b) m?ìn swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ swoÌ t?Ì paÌm

child put book put into bag

«The child PUT the book into the bag»

It is worth mentioning here that the focus particle «poÌ» is post-verbal. Putting it before the verb renders the latter ungrammatical. In the same line, placing it before the subject DP renders the sentence ungrammatical. These are shown in (4) below:

(4) a) *m?ìn poÌ swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm

child Foc. put book into bag

Intended: «The child PUT the book into the bag»

b) *aì swoÌ poÌ m?ìn l?ÌrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm

Cl. put Foc. child book into bag

Intended: «The CHILD put the book into the bag».

In (4.a), the focus particle «poì» has been placed before the verb «swoÌ» (put). Similarly, it has been placed before the subject DP «m?ìn» (child) in (4.b). This renders the sentences ungrammatical. Matrix wh-questions

Essentially, Shupamem uses the following wh-phrases:

a) Arguments

«w?Ì?» (who)

«k?Ì?» (what)

b) Referential Adjuncts

«f?Ì? n??» (when, which time)

«jaÌ» (where)

c) Non-Referential Adjuncts

«?kyÌ n??» (how)

«m?Ì ?gaì k?Ì?» (why, because of what)

Wh-movement in Shupamem is optional. The question element may remain in-situ or move to a pre-TP position, as shown in (5) and (6) below:

(5) In-situ wh-questions

a) Njoya ?g?Ì? w?Ì?

Njoya loves who

«Njoya loves WHO?»

b) Njoya ?gw?Ìn ?kuìt?Ì n?yÌ? poÌ f?Ì?n??

Njoya goes to village Foc. when

«WHEN does Njoya go to the village?»

(6) Pre-TP Position

a) aÌ w?Ì? j??? Njoya ?g?Ì? n?Ì

Cl. who Rel. Njoya loves QM

«Who does Njoya love?»

b) aÌ f?ì? n?ì jé Njoya w?Ìn ?kuìt?Ì n?yÌ? n?Ì

Cl. which time since Njoya went to village QM

«WHEN did Njoya go to the village?

In (5) above,«w?Ì?» (who) and «f?Ì? n??» (when) are in si-tu. In (6) however, they have been raised to a higher position. It should be noted here that wh-movement implies the use of the cleft copula «aÌ» at the beginning of the sentence as can be seen in (6). It is in fact an instance of focalization of wh-item. Embedded wh-questions

In Shupamem, embedded questions are introduced as complements of the verbs like «jiÌ nzi?e» (to tell), «jiÌ ?guìpm?ì» (to think), «jiÌ mbiì??ì» (to ask), and «jiÌ n?iì» («to know). The wh-item here is the particle «miì», (If/whether). This is shown in (7) below:

(7) a) Njoya maÌa n?iÌ miì m?ìn-iÌ ntw?Ì f?Ìmn??Ì?

Njoya Neg. knows whether child-poss cometomorrow

«Njoya does not know whether his child comes tomorrow»

b) Njoya piÌ??Ì n?Ì m?ìn-iÌ miì iì ntw?Ì f?Ì?n?Ì n?Ì

Njoya asked to child-poss that 3sg. come when QM

«Njoya asks his child when he will come»

The data in (7) above show that Shupamem has a lexical complementizer «miì» (that, if) which appears in pre-TP position of clauses introduced by verbs mentioned above.Like in English, its presence is optional. This is illustrated in the examplesin (8) below:

(8) a) Njoya ri?Ì (miì) m?ìn-iÌ j?Ì nd?ÌmbuÌ

Njoya said that child-poss ate banana

«Njoya said that his child ate banana»

b) leìraÌ? naì ntaÌ? (miì) m?ìn-iÌ juì? l?ÌrwaÌ

teacher Aff. wants that child-poss understands course

«The teacher wants his child to understand the course»

Furthermore, focus word can also occur in indirect questions like in Tuki (Biloa 2010). This is shown (9) below:

(9) leìraÌ? ntaÌ? miì aÌ juì? wu?Ì l?ÌrwaÌ juì? n?Ì

teacherwants that Cl. understand. who course Foc. QM

«The teacher wants who to UNDERSTAND the course?»

The example in (9) is a case of indirect question. Itis also an instance of focalization of the verb, hence, its reduplication.

The focus particle «poÌ» can also be used to focalize the wh-items in-situ in Shupamem, (Nchare 2012, 486). This results in the following constructions in (10):

(10) a) m?ìn swoÌ poÌ k?Ì? t?Ì paÌm m?Ì?

Child put Foc. what into bag QM

«WHAT did the child put into the bag?»

b) m?ìn swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ poÌ jaì n?Ì?

Child put bag Foc. where QM

«Where did the child put the book?»

c) m?ìn swoÌ l?ÌrwaÌ t?Ì paÌm po? m?Ì?gaÌ k?Ì??

Child put book into bag Foc. why

«WHY did the child put the book into the book?»

In the examples above, the focus morpheme «poì» is placed before the wh-items «k?Ì?» (what) in (10.a), «jaì» (where) in (10.b) and «m?Ì?gaÌ k?Ì?» (why) in (10.c). Like the arguments and adjuncts to which they refer, wh-items can be focused through the use of the focus marker «poÌ». However,their extraction to the non-argument position involves the use of the cleft copula «».

2.8.2. The Force Phrase (ForceP) in Shupamem

According to some researchers, (Agouraki 1990, Biloa 1992, 1995 etc) there is a phrasal projection between CP and TP, called ForceP. As per Rizzi (1990, 2004), CP should undergo a split operation, known as The Split CP Hypothesis. Rizzi indicates that the complementizers should be analyzed as Force markers, heading a ForceP projection because complementizers contribute to specifying the nature of a clause, that is, whether a clause is declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclammative, relative or comparative. To verify the existence of a Force Phrase in shupamem, let's consider the data in (11) below:

(11) a) Njoya ri?ì miì m?ìn j?Ì ndoÌmbuÌ

Njoya said that child ate banana

«Njoya said that the child ate banana»

b) leìraÌ? naÌ ntaÌ? miì m?ìn-iÌ jaÌ? mkpaÌ?n?Ì

teacher Aff. wants that child-poss passes exam

«The teacher wants that his child passes the exam»

The examples in (11) show that the head of ForceP is occupied by the lexical complementizer «miì» (that). Relativization

A crosslinguistic hierarchy was established by Keenan and Comrie (1977)as far as relativization is concerned. This is namely Subject>direct object>indirect object of pre-or post-position possessor. Let's consider the following data in (12):

(12) a) Subject

m?Ìmgbieì j??? iì ?kwaìt mbaÌp m?ì paì ??ìn

woman Rel. SM eats rat Rel. is thief

«The woman who eats rat is a thief»

b) Direct object

m?Ìmv?Ì j??? Njoya juìn n?ì paì fyì

dog Rel. Njoya bought Rel. is white

«The dog that Njoya bought is white»

c) Indirect object

m?ì n??? n-?iìk?ìt niì n?ì paì m?ìn mfoÌn

child Rel. I-talked to Rel. is child king

«The child that I talked to is the king's child»

d) Possessor

m?Ìmgbieì j??? ??ìn j???t ?????-?iì n?ì ti?Ì ?k?Ì?

Wife Rel. thief stole clothe-poss Rel. Prog. cry

«The woman whose clothes the thief stole, is crying»

These data clearly show that Keenan and Comrie's Accessibility Hierarchy is licensed in Shupamem. Relativization in Shupamem is denoted by the use of «n?ì» which closes the relative domain. The morpheme «j???» which varies according to the contexts, opens the relative domain. This suggests that Shupamem uses a discontinued relative marker «j??? .....n?ì».

For me to identify the position of relativization in the left periphery, I consider the following examples in (13):

(13) a) aì w?Ì? j??? Njoya ?g?Ì? n?Ì

Cl. who that Njoya loves QM

«WHO does Njoya love?»

b) leìraÌ? piÌ??Ì miì w?Ì? j??? Njoya ?g?ì? n?Ì

teacher asked that Cl. who that Njoya loves QM

«The teacher asked WHO Njoya loves»

c) leìraÌ? j??? iì kaÌ tw?Ìt?Ì l?ÌrwaÌ n?ì piì kp?Ì

teacher who SM P4 write book Rel. P3 die

«The teacher who wrote a book died»

The constructionsin(13.a)and (13.b)above are represented by the phrase markers in (14) and (15) below:

(14) FocP

Spec Foc'

Foc0 RelP

Spec Rel'

Rel0 TP

Spec T'


Spec V'



aì w?Ì? j??? Njoya ?g?Ì? Njoya ?g?Ì? w?Ì? n?Ì

In (14) above, the wh-item «w?Ì?» (who) has been focalized, through the cleft copula «». Unlike in English where the focalized wh-item occupies the specifier position of FocP, Shupamem puts itas the head of FocP, so that the cleft copula(which precedes the focalized item) occupies Spec-FocP.

(15) TP

Spec T'


Spec V'

V0 ForceP

Spec Force'

Force FocP

Spec Foc'

Foc0 RelP

Spec Rel'

Rel0 TP

Spec T'


Spec V'



leraÌ? pres. leraÌ? piÌ??Ì miì aì w?Ì?j???Njoya pres. Njoya ?g?Ì?w?Ì? n?Ì

The phrase marker in (15) above shows that the lexical complementizer «miì» (that) occupies the head of ForceP, like in English. It also shows that RelP comes after FocP in the sentence in Shupamem.

2.8.3. Topicalization

Topicalization is considered by Lasnik and Saito (1984, 1992) cited in Bassong (2010) as being the adjunction to the left boundary of TP, that is, the specifier position of TP. Just like the focus constituents that occupy the Spec FocP, topicalized elements will occupy the Spec TopP position within the sentence, (Rizzi 1997). Let's consider the following data in (16):

(16) a) Njoya piì ?aÌ???Ì m?ìn maì-t?Ì kiì??Ìm

Njoya P3 greet. child in kitchen

«Njoya greeted the child in the kitchen»

b) M?ìn n??, Njoya piì ?aÌ???Ì-iì maì-t?Ì kiì??Ìm

child Top Njoya P3 greeted-OM in kitchen

«The child, Njoya greeted him in the kitchen.»

c) maì-t?Ìkiì??Ìm m??, Njoya piì ?aÌ???Ì m?ìn

in kitchen Top, Njoya P3 greet child

«In the kitchen, Njoya greeted the child»

In (16.b) above, the direct object complement has been topicalized and fronted. In (16.c), the Prepositional Phrase has also been topicalized and fronted. Both sentences display a topic marker, (n??)which becomes «m??»due to phonological assimilation with /m/, the last vowel of the preceding word. The topic marker intervenes in topicalization and follows the topicalized element directly. Given that the topicalized element occupies the specifier position of TopP and is directly followed by the topic marker, the said topic marker occupies Top0. The phrase markers for (16.b) and (16.c) are the following in (17) and (18):

(17) TopP

Spec Top'

Top0 TP

Spec T'


Spec V'



m?ìn-i n?? Njoya piì Njoya ?aÌ???Ì m?ìn-iì maì-t?Ì kiì??Ìm

In the structure represented by the phrase marker above, the NP «m?ìn-iì» (his child) has been topicalized and moved to the left periphery of the sentence, precisely at the Spec-TopP position. The topic morpheme «n??», thus, occupies the head of TopP.

(18) TopP

Spec Top'

Top0 TP

Spec T'


Spec V'



maì-t?Ì kiì??Ìm m??Njoya piì Njoya ?aÌ???Ì m?ìn maì-t?Ì kiì??Ìm

In the structure above, the Prepositional Phrase has been topicalized and fronted. Like with the previous case, the topicalized item occupies the Spec-TopP position, while the topic marker occupies the head of TopP.

Shupamem is similar to Tuki in that, topicalization can be characterized by the recursion of topics. In other words, one can have several topics in the left periphery of the clause. This is shown in (19) below:

(19) a) FoÌn fuì p?ìn ? kuÌr?Ì n?Ìl?Ìmnt?Ìm ?kuì ndaìp

king invitedchildren yesterday with joy to house

«The king invited the children with joy to the house yesterday»

b) p?ìn n??, ?kuÌr?Ì-?ì, ?kuì-ndaìp m?ì, n?Ì l?Ìmt?Ìm

children Top, yesterday Top to-house Top, with joy

m??, foÌn fuì waìp.

Top, king invited them

«The children, yesterday, to the house, with joy, the king invited them».

It is shownin(19.b) above that each topicalized element is followed by its topic marker. But those topic markers are likely to disappear in discourse. At times, the speaker usesjust one topic marker after the first topicalized element, and the rest of the topicalized elements are followed by an intonation break. The morpheme «waìp» above is a resumptive pronoun which appears at the trace position of the fronted object.

2.8.4. Negative Phrase and Interrogative Phrase

Another element that may enter into the structure of the left periphery is Negation. In fact, whenever the cleft copula «» (it is) has been used, it can be followed directly by «ndiì?» to mark negation. In short, we will have «aÌ ndiì?»(it is not) in negation, that is, Cl. +Neg. This suggests that if the left peripheral NegP occurs in a sentence, it will dominate FocP. Given that the cleft copula«aÌ» was hosted, as said previously, by Spec-FocP, and given that NegP cannot dominate the cleft copula, (*Neg+cleft), the cleft copulashall be hosted by Spec-NegP, while «ndiì?» will occupy Neg0 . The data in (20.a) below is ungrammatical, while that in (20.b) is not. The right structure is the one presentedin (21) below:

(20) a) * leìraÌ? piÌ??Ì miì ndiì? aÌ w?Ì? j??? iì kp?Ì n??

teacher asked that Neg. Cl. who that he died QM

Intended: «The teacher asked WHO did not die»

b) leìraÌ? piÌ??Ì miì m?ìn n??, aÌ ndiì? wiì j??? iì kp?Ì

teacher asked that child Top Cl. Neg. him that hedied



«The teacher asked thatTHE CHILD, is it not HE who died?»

The left peripheral elements of the structureabove (ForceP, TopP, FocP, NegP and RelP) are presented in the phrase marker below:

(21) ForceP

Spec Force'

Force0 TopP

Spec Top'


Spec Neg'

Neg0 FocP

Spec Foc'

Foc0 RelP

miì m?ìn n?? aÌ ndiì? aÌ wiì j???

The structure of the left periphery in Shupamem, then, will be ForceP>TopP>NegP>FocP>RelP.

To find out the place of the Interrogative Phrase (IntP) in the Shupamem clause, I explore the nature of «n?Ì». It is clear that the same morpheme is used to close the relative domain within a Shupamem sentence. In the same respect, the same morpheme occurs after question formation. This suggests that itfunctions as the question morpheme (QM) and the relative marker.Therefore, in all the interrogative data, it appears at the end of the clause after the VP. Thus, it does not belong to the left periphery. This is shown in (22) below:

(22) a) WuÌ j?Ì p?Ìn n??

you ate fufu QM

«Have you eaten fufu?»

b) aÌ jÌ?Ì w??? p?Ìn n?Ì

Cl. ate who fufu QM

«Who has eaten fufu?»

c) léraÌ? piÌ??Ì miì m?ìn n??? iì j? p?ìn n?ì po? w???

teacherasked that child Rel. SM ate fufu Rel is who QM

«The teacher asked who the child who ate fufu is»

It is also noticeable here that, if some movement operations are applied, this will generate an instance of heavy pied-pipping, (Nkemnji1995). Consider the data in (23) bellow:

(23) a) léraÌ? piÌ??Ì miì m?ìn n??? iì j?Ì p?Ìn n?ì po? w?Ì?

teacher asked that child Rel. SM ate fufu Rel. is who

«The teacher asked that who the child that ate fufu is»

b) miì m?ìn n??? iì j?Ì p?ìn n?ì po? w??? ?ì, leìra?

that child Rel. SM ate fufu Rel. is who QM teacher



«(That) who is the child that ate fufu, the teacher asked»

The whole ForceP introduced by the lexical complementizer «miì» (that) has been extracted and is now placed at the sentence initial position where it dominates the sentential subject. As far as IntP is concerned, it always comes at the end of the sentence. This leads to the conclusion that IntP is not a leftperipheral element in Shupamem.

2.8.5. Summary of the left periphery of Supamem

At the end of the analysis of the structure of the left periphery in Shupamem, and after the exploration of focalization, topicalization, relativization, wh-movement, I can argue that:

- The head of ForceP is occupied by the lexical complementizer «miì», (that, if);

- ForceP dominates TopP, NegP, FocP and RelP;

- When a wh-item is fronted, Shupamem will make use of the cleft copula «» (it is);

- The cleft copula precedes the fronted wh-item;

- Fronted wh-items land on Foc0, so as to let the cleft copulathat precedes them occupy Spec-FocP, in order to maintain the hierarchy;

- When Negation is used in the left periphery, NegP is found between ForceP and FocP.

- In the presence of NegP, the cleft copula «» which occupies Spec-FocP in positive constructions moves to Spec-NegP, in order to maintain the hierarchy;

- TopP hosts topicalized nominals and adjuncts and dominates FocP;

- RelP hosts the discontinued relative marker «j???....n?ì».

- IntP always comes at the clause final position and thus, is not part of the left periphery.

- The structure of the left periphery of Shupamem isForceP>TopP>NegP>FocP>RelP.


This section studies adverbs fronting in Shupamem. As previously argued, focalization and topicalization are likely to cause the raising of the sentence constituents. Here,I shall identify the adverbs that can be topicalized or focalized, and those that cannot. This will also lead to the identification of the syntactic changes that focalized and topicalized adverbs undergo.

Basically, a focus constructionis used to lay emphasis on new information within the sentence. Thetwo focalization methods used for the parts of speech other than verbs in Shupamem are the left peripheral focalization with the cleft copula «aì» and the in-situ focalization with the focus morpheme «poì». As far as topicalization is concerned, it is used to lay emphasis on known or previously mentioned information of the sentence. Topicalization in Shupamem is a left peripheral operation which is made through the use of the topic morpheme «n??» after the topicalized element. Hereafter, I discuss focalization and topicalization of higher class adverbs and lower class adverbs.

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