Asymmetries in Asante Twi A'-movement: On the role of noun type in resumption
Johannes Hein, Doreen Georgi
September 2021

Asante Twi (AT), a Kwa language spoken mainly in Ghana, exhibits an asymmetry in whether a focus-fronted constituent leaves a gap or a resumptive pronoun (RP) in its base position. It has been argued that this asymmetry is linked to the category of the extracted constituent (Korsah and Murphy 2020) such that constituents with a nominal [+N] core leave an RP while those with a non-nominal [–N] core leave a gap. In this paper, based on elicitation data from five native speakers, however, we observe that the [±N]-status of the extractee is not decisive. The data show that focus-fronting of some nominals obligatorily results in a gap in the base position, too. The relevant nominals are parts of idioms, predicative nouns, and non-specific indefinite bare nouns. What unites those nominals is that they form a subset of what is often termed non- or less referential nouns. The crucial factor in determining a gap or an RP thus seems to be a semantic/pragmatic one. As the relevant noun types do not match up entirely with the set of non-referential expressions, we propose to model the apparent influence of semantic properties as stemming from a structural difference between the two types of nominals. The nominals that leave an RP contain a D-layer, whereas the ones that leave a gap lack it. Given that (resumptive) pronouns are D-heads (Postal 1969, Abney 1987, Elbourne 2001) we suggest that partial deletion of the NP-part of the lowest copy in a focus movement chain is what creates a stranded D-head to be realized as an RP. For nominals that lack a D-layer independently, the result of partial deletion is the same as that of full copy deletion, namely a gap. Asante Twi thus exhibits a preference of RPs over gaps where possible, a pattern that is in conflict with economy constraints such as Avoid Pronoun (Chomsky 1981, Montalbetti 1984).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006197
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Proceedings of NELS 51
keywords: resumption, asante twi, noun type, referentiality avoid pronoun full vs. partial copy deletion, semantics, morphology, syntax
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