We are happy to announce a talk by Daniel Aremu (GU) in the Syntax Colloquium.

The talks will take place in person. Room IG 4.301

Date: December 04, 2023

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

Title: „A tale of two ‘onlys’ in Mabia”


A tale of two ‘onlys’ in Mabia
Earlier studies on the syntax-semantic mapping of the exclusive particle ‘only’ have proposed that while adverbial-only (1) corresponds to the semantic property/meaning of ‘only’, as a proposition operator, adnominal-only (2) poses a problem with respect to the proposition meaning of ‘only’. A proposal for salvaging the problem is to assume that adnominal-only is capable of type-shifting to compose with its DP associate, and then undergoes quantifier-raising to a scope-taking position at LF- the QR Approach (cf. Chomsky 1976, Rooth 1985, 1992, Wagner 2006). However, recent studies have shown that the problem can addressed in a more syntactic way. Thus, Adnominal-only maintains its structural position, while a (c)overt exclusive operator occupies a scope position higher in the clause. In other words, the exclusive interpretation of ‘only’ comes from the higher Op, while the adnominal-only is inert, or might introduce other related meanings in some instances- the Proposition Approach (cf. Bassi, et. al. 2022, Quek & Hirsch 2017, Hirsch 2017, 2019, Sun 2021, Yip t.a., ). This has also been called the bipartite analysis of ‘only’.
1. [John [only [vP bought [a shoe F]]]]
2. [John [bought [DP only a shoe F]]]
While all the earlier studies are based on prosodic and/or syntactic focus marking languages, as far as I know, morphosyntactic focus marking languages haven’t received much attention, if any. In this talk, first, I present novel data on association with focus from two morphosyntactic focus marking Mabia languages- Kasem and Kusaal- spoken predominantly in Northern Ghana. Secondly, I propose an Agree/concord analysis which supports the Proposition/Bipartite analysis (cf. Bassi, et. al. 2022, Mursell 2021, a. o.). In order to support this proposal, I present both semantic (split-scope) and syntactic (ellipsis, relativized minimality, and locality constraints) evidence. The conclusion is that, although there is a pervasive use of adnominal-only in the languages, there is a structurally higher exclusive operator that is responsible for the exclusive interpretation and scope, which then forms a concord relation with the former.