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Noun classes and grammatical gender in Wolof


Babou, Cheikh Anta; Loporcaro, Michele (2016). Noun classes and grammatical gender in Wolof. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, 37(1):1-57.

Abstract

In this paper, we propose a reassessment of Wolof noun morphology and morphosyntax. Wolof is usually said to possess a total of 10 noun classes (8 for the singular, 2 for the plural), marked today exclusively on agreement targets. We provide evidence that two more plural noun classes must be recognized, which have so far been misinterpreted as “collective” rather than plural: the evidence we provide is morphosyntactic (from verb agreement) as well as morphological (from class-related asymmetries in the paradigm of the indefinite article). As for method, the main thrust of the paper consists in showing that an accurate analysis of the Wolof data must make use of the three distinct notions “noun class”, “inflectional class” and “agreement class” (or gender). Under the analysis defended here, Wolof turns out to have a fairly complex gender system, featuring 17 distinct gender values. Our analysis – and especially the discussion of Wolof so-called “collectives” – also bears on the general theoretical issue of how to establish the values of the number category.

Abstract

In this paper, we propose a reassessment of Wolof noun morphology and morphosyntax. Wolof is usually said to possess a total of 10 noun classes (8 for the singular, 2 for the plural), marked today exclusively on agreement targets. We provide evidence that two more plural noun classes must be recognized, which have so far been misinterpreted as “collective” rather than plural: the evidence we provide is morphosyntactic (from verb agreement) as well as morphological (from class-related asymmetries in the paradigm of the indefinite article). As for method, the main thrust of the paper consists in showing that an accurate analysis of the Wolof data must make use of the three distinct notions “noun class”, “inflectional class” and “agreement class” (or gender). Under the analysis defended here, Wolof turns out to have a fairly complex gender system, featuring 17 distinct gender values. Our analysis – and especially the discussion of Wolof so-called “collectives” – also bears on the general theoretical issue of how to establish the values of the number category.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
08 University Research Priority Programs > Language and Space
Dewey Decimal Classification:800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
470 Latin & Italic languages
410 Linguistics
440 French & related languages
460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
Language:English
Date:16 October 2016
Deposited On:09 Jan 2017 14:39
Last Modified:16 Jun 2017 00:00
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0167-6164
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/jall-2016-0001

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