Preverbal subject markers in ivie
Emuekpere-Masagbor, Grace Aboshuogwe
The goal of this study is to investigate the properties and functions of preverbal subject markers in Ivie. Ivie like most African languages and Romance languages, has features that indicate number in both verbs and nouns, gender and case in nouns, and person in verbs. In Romance languages such as French and Italian, information about these features is normally given by verbal desinences which are invariably suffixed to such verbs. These desinences realized on verbs indicate person and number. In Ivie, these same features (number and person) are marked on the verb in form of preverbal subject markers which occur between the nominal subject and the verb. Their presence is obligatory in all Ivie sentences. This thesis discusses these preverbal subject markers with a view to determining their grammatical status in the language.The descriptions of these elements are based on some assumptions of the Checking Theory within the Minimalist Framework (Chomsky 1993, 1995), together with ideas from other applicable theories. In the literature, similar grammatical elements have been variously described as clitics, incorporated pronouns and agreement markers. In languages like Quebec French (Roberge 1990), the Northern Italian dialects of Trentino and Fiorentino (Brandi and Cordin 1989) among others, it has been argued that sentences containing noun phrases together with these elements instantiate the phenomenon of subject doubling. Ivie seems to exemplify this phenomenon in view of the obligatory presence of preverbal pronominal elements with subject phrases in all Ivie grammatical constructions. In this work, a number of questions related to the properties and functional roles of the subject markers are elucidated. In particular, we showed that they are not clitic pronouns but rather agreement morphemes necessary between subjects and their verbs due to the lack of overt inflection on Ivie verbs. Drawing on theoretical foundation from morphology, syntax and phonology, as well as analogy and comparison from similar processes in many other languages, we showed that: (i) Ivie subject markers represent subject-verb agreement; and (ii) they are neither weak nor clitic pronouns since they are never in complementary distribution with Determiner phrases (DPs). This fact is further strengthened by the presence of pro when subjects are dropped in sentences. This evidence also shows that subject markers are realized in non-argumental positions in Ivie. In addition, our analysis indicates that only independent subject pronouns are attested in the language. Therefore, there is no basis to label the preverbal subject markers as weak or clitic pronoun as no overt dependent subject pronoun exists in the language. We have shown that subject markers are nothing but manifestations of subject-agreement in the language. Aside from subject-verb agreement, agreement is also triggered in a variety of other contexts in the language.