On the status of subject markers in African languages
Kari, Ethelbert Emmanuel
PublisherJoongwon Linguistic Society of Korea, http://submission.jwl.or.kr/sobis/jwl.jsp
Rights holderEthelbert Emmanuel Kari
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This paper discusses subject markers in African languages, noting that whereas the grammatical functions of these morphemes are fairly clear; their status as affixes or clitics is not. The unclear status of subject markers has led to their analysis as affixes in some languages or as clitics in others. It has been suggested recently that African subject markers, which have been traditionally regarded as affixes, can be reanalyzed as clitics. The paper highlights the fact that in some African languages, subject markers that were previously analyzed as affixes have now been analyzed as clitics, suggesting that there is an on-going process of grammaticalization of African subject markers. On the basis of a variety of data and characteristic phonological and syntactic behaviour, this paper successfully and consistently shows that subject markers in some African languages should not be analyzed as affixes but as clitics. Consequently, the paper recommends that African subject (and/or object) markers in languages not discussed in this study should be investigated, based on cross-linguistic and language-internal evidence, to establish their status as morphological affixes or as syntactic clitics.