The formation of existential constructions in Western Serengeti – a micro-comparative exploration of variation and change

Rasmus Bernander, Antti Laine

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This study is a micro-comparative investigation of the expression of existentials in the closely related Bantu language varieties of the Western Serengeti (WS) subgroup of the South Mara branch of East Nyanza, itself a branch of Great Lakes Bantu or Zone J. After introducing the locative agreement system and copula paradigm, viz. the main subparts of the existential constructions, we offer a detailed presentation of the various types (and subtypes) of existentials as they appear in Ikoma, Ishenyi, Nata (all JE45) and Ngoreme (JE401). We show that there is remarkable variation not only within and between the members of the WS group but also in comparison to prototypical (Eastern) Bantu traits. In particular, some existential constructions do not adhere to the canonical criteria distinguishing an existential from a plain locational, namely an inversed constituent order and the specialized use of post-finals on copulas. To account for this anomalous behavior and for the variation in general, we reconstruct the original sources and explore the diachronic forces behind the formation of these WS existentials.
TidskriftAfricana Linguistica
Sidor (från-till)59-102
Antal sidor44
StatusPublicerad - 2020
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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