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Lecture | This Time for Africa! Series

From construct state, to reference, and beyond: the linker morpheme in Gorwaa

Friday 3 December 2021
This Time for Africa!
Online| Zoom: https://universiteitleiden.zoom.us/j/67821472988?pwd=VVJzOUNCa0VDL1JKM3hrTkRld1hJdz09


The linker in Gorwaa is a nominal morpheme with six different (sub)gender sensitive allomorphs. The bolded forms in slufi wák "one lip", desir'eé' "my girl", hhawató baabá "father's man"; kurkí "this year", ayeemá uren "big lands", and /aylá tleer "a long wedding song" are all linkers. Nouns do not show linker morphology in the following environments: unmodified subjects, unmodified objects in 'second position' (i.e. before the selector), and incorporated nouns. Nouns do show linker morphology everywhere else.

Earlier accounts of linkers in Southern Cushitic languages characterise them as construct state morphology - a form taken by nouns in many Afroasiatic languages when possessed. Following a discussion of why the idea of possession is not adequate to characterise all occurrences of linker morphology, an alternative is advanced: that linkers are obligatorily present on all nouns with reference, but go unpronounced when at the right edge of the phonological phrase. Finally, new analysis made in Kerr (2020) is considered, as well as prospects for better understanding this pervasive phenomenon in Gorwaa. 

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