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Grammatical sketch of Beng

Complex sentences

Section 13
Denis Paperno
p. 89-101

Texte intégral

13.1. Postverbal embedded clauses

1This chapter describes various types of complex sentences attested in Beng. Two types of subordinate clauses, complement and goal clauses, can be properly embedded inside another clause in a postverbal position inside the main clause, while temporal and conditional clauses occupy a position before the main clause.

13.1.1. Complement clauses

2Complement clauses are marked by comlementizers , kēsá̰, sá̰ and sâ̰, which appear to be mutually interchangeable. Often, the complement clause is coreferent with a 3sg pronoun in an argument position in the same clause:

(232)

Ŋ́

à

mḭ́

nṵ̂.

1sg:Pst+

3sg

say:L

that

2sg:Pst+

come:L

‘I said that you had come’ (literally ‘I said it that you came’).

(233)

Ò

ŋ̄

nḭ̀

mḭ̀

nṵ̄.

3sg-St+

1sg

Benef

that

2sg:Hab+

come

‘I want you to come’ (literally ‘It’s for me that you come’).

3Such Beng sentences with complement clauses are reminiscent of the English sentences with embedded clause extraposition, and the 3sg pronoun seems analogous to the dummy it in English. The pronoun is not always present in sentences with complement clauses, but only when required by the argument structure of the main predicate. For instance, the verb ‘to say’ as in (232) is transitive, and requires the direct object position to be filled in, and the subject position is obligatory in the volitive construction in (233). In contrast, the intransitive verb wé ‘to reply’ does not select for a direct or indirect object with the semantic role of content of response, and it combines with a complement clause without any ‘dummy’ pronoun present:

(234)

wé

kē

nṵ́

ɛ́.

3sg:Pst+

reply

that

3sg:Pst-

come:L

Neg

‘He replies that he wasn’t coming’.

4Furthermore, complement clauses can combine with arbitrary verbs, adding the speech component to the sentence meaning regardless of whether the main verb has anything to do with speech:

(235)

Ó

ó

mlɛ̰̄

yē-nā.

3sg:Pst+

run:L

that

3sg:Pst+

snake

see-Prf

‘He was running saying that he had just seen a snake’ (literally: ‘He ran that he has seen a snake’).

13.1.2. Goal clauses

5The main strategy of marking goal clauses uses complementizer nà̰ followed by a clause in optative mood:

(236)

Zrṵ̄á̰

nà̰

mḭ̀

gbō

pí.

hunker

for.to

2sg:Hab+

feces

excrete

‘Hunker down in order to defecate’.

(237)

Ŋ-ó

sɔ̰̀ŋ̀

cícá-ló

nà̰

wà

wó

cá

ŋ̄

nḭ̀.

1sg-St+

person

search-Prog

for.to

3sg:Hab+3

IN

watch

1sg

BENEF

‘I am looking for someone to read me this letter’.

(238)

Ŋ

ŋṵ̀ɛ̰̀

nà̰

sɔ̰̀ŋ̀

bì-lɛ̀

ò

gā.

1sg-St+

fetish

fall

for.to

person

this-Def

3sg:Hab+

die

‘I will pray the fetish for this person to die’.

6Complementizer nà̰ can be omitted if the subject or the direct object of the matrix clause is coreferent to one of the participants of the goal situation:

(239)

Ŋ́i

kpɛ̰̀ -pɔ́

ŋ̄

lɛ́ŋ́

gɔ̄ŋ̄

nḭ̀

(nà̰)

1sg:Pst+

play-Mns

buy:L

1sg

child

man

BENEF

for.to

ŋ̀i

drɛ̰̄

mḭ̄dàlɛ́

lō.

1sg:Hab+

work

do

calmness

with

‘I bought my son toys in order to work undisturbed’.

(240)

Ŋ́

kɔ́pɛ́i

ŋ̄

lɛ́ŋ́

gɔ̄ŋ̄

nḭ̀

1sg:Pst+

hoe

buy:L

1sg

child

man

Benef

(nà̰)

drɛ̰̄

ài

lō.

for.to

3sg:Hab+

work

do

3sg

with

‘I bought my son a hoe to work with’.

7When such coreference does not hold, the complementizer is obligatory, compare (241) where the subject of the goal clause is not coreferent to the subject or the direct object of the matrix clause but to the indirect object:

(241)

Ŋ́

kɔ́pɛ́

lù

ŋ̄

lɛ́ŋ́

gɔ̄ŋ̄

nḭ̀

nà̰ / *ø

drɛ̰̄

1sg:Pst+

hoe

buy:L

1sg

child

man

Benef

for.to

3sg:Hab+

work

do

‘I bought my son a hoe in order for him to work’.

8Sometimes, the goal semantics is expressed with the complementizer followed by a sentence in optative mood, but it has an additional semantic component in addition to the goal. is only compatible with a verbalized goal:

(242)

Ŋ́

kɔ́pɛ́

ŋ̄

lɛ́ŋ́

gɔ̄ŋ̄

1sg:Pst+

hoe

buy:L

1sg

child

man

nḭ̀

drɛ̰̄

à

lō.

BENEF

that

3sg:Hab+

work

do

3sg

with

‘I bought my son a hoe (saying) that he should work with it’.

9Essentially, this goal usage of is a special case of its function, described in 13.1.1, of adding the speech component to the meaning of the sentence. The goal semantics in this case is just a pragmatic consequence of the optative.

13.2. Ways of encoding clausal arguments

10Strategies of encoding clausal arguments include:

  • complement clause with kē / sá̰ / kēsá̰, with various matrix predicates:

(243)

Ò-ó

pɔ̀

mḭ̀

nṵ̄.

3sg-St+

necessary

that

2sg:Hab+

come[Bsq]

‘You have to come’. (literally ‘It is necessary that you come’.)

(244)

Má̰

à

ó

nṵ̂?

1sg:Pst+

3sg

ask:L

that

3sg:Pst+

come:L

‘I asked if he had come’.

  • nominalization is used in NP positions:

(245)

Mɛ̰̄

[mḭ̄

vɔ̰̄ŋ̄

dɔ̄-lɛ̀]

mà̰

begin

2sg

hole

build-Nmlz

CONT

‘Start to dig your yam field!’

(246)

Ó

[sɛ̀wɛ́

pē-lɛ]̀

tùà

3sg:Pst+

paper

say-Nmlz

leave:L

‘He stopped reading’.

  • subordinate clauses with the goal complementizer nà̰ or often asyndetical are used with predicates of causation:

(247)

À

túà

[ŋò

drɛ̰̄

wō].

3sg

leave

3pl:Hab+

work

do

‘Make them work!’

(248)

Ó

mḭ̄

gblè

[nà̰

ŋ̀

mḭ̄

lō].

3sg:Pst+

2sg

force:L

for.to

1sg:Hab+

go

2sg

with

‘He forced you to go with me’.

  • verb phrases with verbs in the base form are used with the verb zḭ̄ ‘can’:

(249)

Mà̰

zḭ̀

yātrɔ́

flɔ̰́ɔ̰̄

ɛ̰́.

1sg:Hab-

can:L

sit[Bsq]

today

Neg

‘I cannot sit today’.

13.3. Serial construction

11Beng has a very limited instantiation of the serial construction in the form of “nṵ̄ or + verb phrase”. The verb nṵ̄ ‘to come’ or ‘to go’ has the same morphological form as the second verb:

(250)

Ó

à

wò.

3sg :Pst+

go:L

3sg

do:L

‘He went and did it’.

12Another constraint on the serial construction is that it is used only in those TAM values where the verbs are not marked by suffixes: in the preterite, the habitual, the optative, and the conditional; so the two verbs not only have identical form but the form is suffixless. In other TAM constructions (perfect, progressive, stative, and future) a goal converb (see 13.4) of the second verb is used instead of the serial construction with identical verb forms:

(251)

Ó

tá-nā̰

drɛ̰̄

*wō-nā̰

/ *wō /

OKwō-yà.

3sg:Pst+

go-Prf

work

do-Prf

do[Bsq]

do-GL

‘He went and worked / He went to work’.

13.4. Converb constructions

13A goal converb can depend on three verbs: with ‘to go’ and nṵ̄ ‘to come’ it describes the goal of movement; with bɔ̄ ‘to come from’ it depicts the subject’s activity at the point of departure:

(252a)

Ŋ́

nṵ́

drù-yâ.

1sg:Pst+

come:L

walk-GL

‘I came to walk’.

(252b)

(*Ŋ́

drɛ̰̄

wò

drù-yâ).

1sg:Pst+

work

do:L

walk-GL

(‘I worked to walk’.)

(253)

Ŋ́

bɔ́

drù-yâ.

1sg:Pst+

come.from:L

walk-GL

‘I came from a walk’.

14The goal converb cannot be separated from the motion verb by any constituent, behaving as a typical argument, rather than a modifier (see 12.2; compare (Gusev 2004)).

15As mentioned in 6.2, the locative nominalization in –ya can be used to express action simultaneity, although this usage is rare:

(254)

Ŋ-ó

jàtèlí

kɛ́-ló

drù-yá.

1sg-St+

thought

V-Prog

walk-Plc

‘I am thinking while walking’.

13.5. Temporal and conditional clauses

16This section describes subordinate clauses that precede the main clause and are structurally outside of it. Goal and complement clauses that are embedded inside the main clause have aleady been characterized; interestingly, the preposed vs. embedded subordinate clauses are marked with two distinct positional classes of complementizers. Embedded clauses (such as goal clauses) have a complementizer on the left edge; preposed subordinate clauses have a complementizer on the right edge. The distinction follows the predictions of J. Hawkins’ theory of word order whereby the head of a subordinate constituent should gravitate towards linear proximity to the head of the superordinate phrase (Hawkins 1990).

13.5.1. Temporal clause: the topic construction

17It is noteworthy that two common constructions (not counting juxtaposition) that express temporal relations between clauses are marked exacly like information structure relations of topic and focus. The main temporal complementizer is ná̰, identical to the topic marker:

(255)

Gbɔ̌ŋ̀

ó

pɔ̄ú

ná̰

ó

zrá

klɛ́ŋ́

nḭ̀

wó.

Gbong

3sg:Pst+

go

field

Top

3sg:Pst+

get.lost

forest

Def

IN

18‘Gbong went to the field and got lost in the forest’ (literally: ‘When Gbong went to the field, he got lost in the forest’. Beng’s fields are often located quite far from their villages, and there are even special temporary settlements for people working in those remote fields.)

(256)

Ŋ́

nṵ́

ná̰

ŋ́

zrô.

1sg:Pst+

come:L

Top

1sg:Pst+

wash:L

‘I came and washed’ (literally: ‘When I came, I washed’).

19The selection of TAM values in the main clause (after ná̰ ) follows general TAM semantics. TAM marking in the embedded clause adheres to special rules. If the situation of the subordinate clause precedes that of the main clause, as in (256), the preterite construction is used in the subordinate clause. Simultaneity of the two situations is marked in the subordinate clause by the future (sic!) construction, which has in this case progressive interpretation, or with a semantically appropriate construction with default present time reference (stative, adverbial clause, etc.). Clearly, this usage of the future construction reflects the fact that the future construction historically had a progressive meaning, even though it was replaced in the core progressive contexts by a newly grammaticized form in -lɛló, and was only retained in subordinate contexts and as a future form. Compare (255) and (257a):

(257a)

Gbɔ̌ŋ̀

ò-ó

pɔ̄ú

ná̰

ó

zrá

klɛ́ŋ́

nḭ̀

wó.

Gbong

3sg-St+

go

field

Top

3sg:Pst+

get.lost

forest

Def

IN

‘Gbong got lost when he was going to the field’.

(257b)

Ŋ-ó

klóó

ná̰,

ŋ̄

dā

1sg-St+

little

Top

1sg

mother

3sg:Hab+

gbéné

lɛ̀

zɔ̰̀

fɛ̰́

dōdō.

manioc

Def

pound

day

some

‘When I was little my mother would pound manioc sometimes’.

20Finally, conditional mood is used in the sense of habitual aspect:

(258)

Gbɔ̌ŋ̀

ô

pɔ̄ú

ná̰

ò

zrà

klɛ́ŋ́

nḭ̀

wó.

Gbong

3sg:Cnd+

go

field

Top

3sg:Hab+

get.lost:L

forest

Def

IN

‘When Gbong goes to the field he usually gets lost in the forest’.

21Particle fɛ̰̄ when added to a temporal clause gives it a conditional flavor, which can be expressed in English with the complementizer since:

(259)

[Fɛ̰̄

pè

wà-ā

tá

ɛ́

ná̰],

dé

Rel

3sg:Pst+3

say:L

3sg-St-

go

Neg

Top

who

blɔ̄

nà̰

bɛ̄

srá

ɛ̄?

St+

here

for.to

3sg:Hab+

3sg

trace

take

Foc

Since he said he’s not going, who’s here to replace him?

13.5.2. Temporal subordinate clause: the focus construction

22Temporal sequence of two clauses can also be marked by a special construction marked in the same way as the focus contruction: clause A + ɲɛ̰̄ + clause C + ɛ̄, meaning ‘A, then C’. Example:

(260)

ó

kpà̰ŋ́

nṵ̀ŋ̀

ŋò

srà]

ɲɛ̰̄

3pl:Pst

whip

PL

3pl

take:L

Foc

[ŋó

nṵ́

à̰ŋmô

mɛ̰̀

kpà̰]

ɛ̄.

3pl:Pst+

come:L

hyena

beat:L

much

Foc

‘They took whips and then came and beat the hyena hard’.

13.5.3. Conditional clause

23The structure of conditional clauses is protasis + conditional complementizer + apodosis. There are two conditional complementizers, dɛ́ɛ̄, used with protasis in affirmative polarity and nḭ̄, used with negated protasis. Before the protasis one can also find an optional marker fɛ̰̄ or ò dɔ̄ kē, literally ‘let it be set that…’

24TAM marking in the apodosis follows the general semantics of TAM. Protasis exhibits some special rules of TAM marking:

  • in case of a condition in the past or present that the speaker believes can be true (‘real conditional’), the same TAM constructions are used as in independent clauses:

(261)

Fɛ̰̄

mlɔ̰́

à

ɛ́

nḭ̄

Rel

3sg:Pst-

meet:L

3sg

with

Neg

if.Neg

wà-ā

à

jrɛ́ŋ́

dɔ̰̄-lɛ̀

ɛ́.

3sg-St-

3sg

enough

know-Res

Neg

25‘If he didn’t meet her he doesn’t know much’ (the protasis exhibits regular preterite construction);

  • in case of a condition in the future or a habitual condition without concrete time reference (‘potential conditional’), protasis is marked with conditional mood (or more rarely with the appropriate indicative TAM constructions, future or habitual):

(262a)

Fɛ̰̄

ô

srǒ

dɛ́ɛ̄

ŋó

nṵ̄

gbɔ̀.

Rel

3sg:Cnd

arrive

if

1sg-St+

come

also

‘If he comes I am coming too’.

(262b)

Mḭ̂

gō

sɔ̰̀ŋ̀

mà̰

dɛ́ɛ̄

Ècí

ɛ̀

mḭ̄

yē-lɛ̀.

2sg:Cnd

hide

person

CONT

if

sky

Def

St+

2sg

see-Res

‘If you hide from people, God still sees you;’

  • in case of a condition that the speaker believes to be false (counterfactual condition), protasis is marked with optative mood when referring to past events, or appropriate indicative forms when referring to the present. Besides TAM, counterfactual conditionals are obligatorily marked with particle ŋ́gǒ after the conditional complementizer (this particle can also optionally appear with potential future conditions that only possibly can be false). Example:

(263)

Ŋ̀

ɲḭ́-lɛ́

dɛ́ɛ̄

1sg:Hab+

water

cool-Nmlz

buy[Bsq]

if

ŋ́gǒ

wálí

ŋ̄

wɔ̄lì

drɛ̄

ɛ́.

NGO

money

St-

1sg

POSS

anymore

Neg

‘If I had bought cold water, I wouldn’t have money anymore’.

(protasis is marked with optative mood expressed by a combination of a habitual subject pronoun with the base form of the verb).

13.6. Relative clause

26Discussion in this section follows (Paperno 2008b), omitting the relativizing function of nominalizations that have been briefly characterized in sections 6.2, 6.3, 6.6, and 6.7.

13.6.1. Head-external relative construction

27Relative clauses are marked with the combination of a preposed particle fɛ̰̄ (which can also be thought of as a relative determiner, see 13.6.2 for arguments to this effect) and a postposed marker ná̰ that equals the topic marker. The ná̰ element can be omitted before a pause, and is always omitted before another ná̰ marker in the topic-marking function. The relativized position in the relative clause is filled by a resumptive pronoun that agrees in person and number with the head NP if a pronoun is possible in the given position or left empty otherwise. Rarely, when the noun phrase is topicalized and separated by a pause, the complementizer can, but does not have to, be omitted (264b).

28As mentioned above, the most common complementizer in relative clauses is ná̰. Relative clauses can also employ a conditional complementizer dɛ́ɛ̄ /nḭ̄ (dɛ́ɛ̄ occurs after affirmative conditional clauses and nḭ̄ after negative conditional clauses). Relative clauses with the conditional (dɛ́ɛ̄) differ in meaning from the main type of relative clauses (with ná̰) and include a conditional element in their semantics (246d). Unlike in relative clauses with ná̰, the statement expressed by a relative clause with a conditional is not presupposed to be true. Relative clauses with dɛ́ɛ̄ (examples 264d,e) can be roughly rendered in English using words whenever, whichever, etc. All of the following examples come from real texts; all of them feature topicalization of the whole relative construction.

29The conditional construction can be used to modify a noun with reference to a future event (264e), even when there is no sense of uncertainty as to whether this event will happen (uncertainty as to whether condition would hold seems to be a common meaning element of English conditionals). Compare (264e) to an analogous example but with a past event in the relative clause (264f), and no conditionality involved (the relative clause is presupposed true); ná̰ is used in this case. Examples:

(264a)

blànâ

[fɛ̰̄

ŋó

klà

Kùàsí

dḭ́

ná̰]

klṵ̀à̰.

3sg:Pst+

banana

Rel

3sg:Pst+

3sg

put

Kouassi

APUD

Top

steal:L

‘He stole the banana that had been put next to Kouassi’.

(264b)

Zrɛ̈

[fɛ̰̄

mḭ̄-ó

yé]i

mḭ̀

mḭ̄

[zrɛ̈

bì-ɛ̀]i

yā.

way

Rel

2sg-St+

3sg

on

2sg:Hab+

2sg

way

this-Def

walk

‘Walk on the way you’re standing on’.

(264c)

Ŋ̄

bábá

nṵ̀ŋ̀

[fɛ̰̄

mḭ́

ŋò

dɛ̀

ná̰],

ŋmā

ŋò

yɔ̀.

1sg

sheep

pl

Rel

2sg:Pst+

3pl

kill:L

Top

1sg:give

3pl

other

Give me the replacement for the sheep you killed’.

(264d)

Pɔ̄bɛ̄

[fɛ̰̄

yōnó

dɛ́ɛ̄]

wà

zìn

gō

ɛ́.

scar

Rel

3sg:St+

forehead

if

3sg:Hab-

can:L

hide

Neg

‘You can’t hide a scar on your forehead’ (literally: ‘Whichever scar is on a forehead, it can’t be hidden’).

(264e)

Yrámà̰

[fɛ̰̄

bàāŋ̀á̰nḭ́ŋ́yé

lɛ̀

pɔ̰́

dɛ́ɛ̄],

wà

mḭ̀

wálɛ́

lɛ̀

gá.

time

Rel

end.of.rain.season

Def

3sg:Cnd

come

if

3sg:Hab-

2sg:Hab+

yam

Def

pick

30‘When the rain season ends, gather yams’ (literally: ‘whenever there’s end of the rain season, gather yams’).

(264f)

Gblē

[̰̄

ŋ́

zīē

yä̰

ló

wē

cà

yesterday

Rel

1sg:Pst+

kapok

this

on

there

look

sḭ́ŋ́

ná̰]

ŋ́

dóbà

dō

yè

wē.

closely

Top

1sg:Pst+

monkey

one

see:L

there

‘Yesterday while watching this kapok tree closely, I saw a monkey there’.

13.6.2. Head-internal fɛ̰̄-construction with dɛ́ɛ̄ and other arguments for treating fɛ̰̄-constructions as originally head-internal

31Some properties of fɛ̰̄ suggest that it is not simply a relative clause marker but a relative determiner. For instance, before fɛ̰̄, the definite article lɛ̀ is blocked. After a demonstrative, lɛ̀ is generally required, but lɛ̀ is absent in the presence of a relative clause, cf. (265a) vs. (265b).

(265a)

[Pɔ̄

bì

fɛ̰̄

mḭ́

lù

ná̰]NP,

wà-ā

gɛ̄ŋ̄

ɛ́.

thing

this

Rel

2sg:Pst+

3sg

buy:L

Top

3sg-St-

good

Neg

‘This thing that you bought, it is not pretty’.

(265b)

Pɔ̄

bì

*(lɛ̀)

wà-ā

gɛ̄ŋ̄

ɛ́.

thing

this

Def

3sg-St-

good

Neg

‘This thing is not pretty’.

32The interaction of fɛ̰̄-relativization with the expression of the definite article can be explained if fɛ̰̄ is, at least historically, a determiner occupying the same position as the article lɛ̀. And fɛ̰̄ does occupy the position of a determiner (after the head noun) in a rare variant of the relativization construction with dɛ́ɛ̄, in which a head NP with fɛ̰̄ is found within the relative clause (such constructions are head internal):

(265c)

[Ô

[pɔ̄

fɛ̰̄]NP

srá

dɛ́ɛ̄]

wà

klà

bɛ̄ló

ɛ́.

3sg:Cnd

thing

Rel

take

if

3sg:Hab-

put:L

3sg

place

Neg

‘He doesn’t put things where they belong’ (literally: ‘whatever thing he takes, he doesn’t put it in its place’).

(265d)

[Tɔ̰̄

wā

[sɔ̰̀ŋ̀

fɛ̰̄]NP

mà̰

ɛ̰́

nḭ̄]

yròbítà

wà

sɔ̀bì

ɛ́.

curse

St-

person

Rel

on

Neg

if

water.snake

3sg:Hab-3

bite:L

Neg

‘If there’s no curse on a person, a water snake won’t bite him’ (literally: ‘If a curse is not on whichever person…’).

(265e)

[Mḭ̂

wlō

[gbě

fɛ̰̄]NP

wó

dɛ́ɛ̄]

2sg:Cnd

move

village

Rel

in

if

ŋà

gbōpì

yé

ɛ́.

3pl:Hab-

defecate:L

3sg

in

Neg

33‘One doesn’t defecate in the village one is moving from’ (literally: ‘whatever village you are moving from …’) .

34These examples suggest that even when the head noun is outside the relative clause, fɛ̰̄ might still be a determiner of the head NP.

35Another instance of head internal relativization can be seen in relative clauses with presentative markers like ɛ̀ ‘this is’:

(265f)

[[pɔ̄

fɛ̰̄]NP

ɛ̀

ná̰]Rel,

wà-ā

pɔ̄

bì-lɛ̀

dɔ̰̄-lɛ̀

ɛ́

thing

Rel

this.is

Top

3sg-St-

thing

this-Def

know-Res

Neg

‘This thing (lit. the thing that this is), he doesn’t know this thing’.

36Since ɛ̀ cannot function as a full sentence on its own, we have to assign this relative clause a structure where the head noun is its subject. This construction is essentially idiomatic, functioning as a complex demonstrative. Such demonstrative relativizations form a closed class, so they could be treated as lexicalized relics of head-internal fɛ̰̄-relativization.

37An additional piece of evidence comes from topicalization of phrases modified by relative clauses. Such topicalized phrases are never accompanied by an additional topic marker (ná̰ ), to which the complementizer ná̰ at the end of relative clauses is phonologically identical. The topic marker ná̰ can often be omitted, but it is usually present in topicalization of adverbial elements (265h). However, such a topic marker is not introduced if the topicalized adverbial is modified by a relative clause, compare (265g) vs. (265h). Topic markers are not used after relative clauses with the complementizer dɛ́ɛ̄, either, compare (265i) vs. (265j).

(265g)

[Flɔ̰́ɔ̰̄

[fɛ̰̄

lɛ́ŋ́

nḭ̀

ŋ̄

wɔ̄lì

ná̰]Rel]NP,

today

Rel

3sg

child

Def

St+

1sg

at

Top

ŋ̄

vḭ̄‑lí

ɛ̀.

1sg

loveAg

this.is

‘Today when I have her daughter she is my friend’.

(265h)

[Flɔ̰́ɔ̰̄]NP

ná̰,

ŋ̄

vḭ̄‑lí

ɛ̀.

today

Top

1sg

loveAg

this.is

‘Today she is my friend’.

(265i)

[Fɛ̰́

dō]NP

ná̰

mḭ̄

nà̰

lō

kà

blè

mṵ̂ŋ́.

day

one

Top

2sg

and

3sg

with

2sg:Hab+

agree:L

again

‘Some day you and she agree again’.

(265j)

[Fɛ̰́

[fɛ̰́

tètè

bō

yúó

day

Rel

3sg

self

3sg:Cnd+

3sg

take

3sg

mouth

kē

ma̰

sí

nā̰

dɛ́ɛ̄]Rel]NP

that

1sg:Pst+3

take

Perf

if

mḭ̄

nà̰

lō

kà

blè

mṵ̂ŋ́?

2sg

and

3sg

with

2sg:Hab+

agree:L

again

‘The day she (mother-in-law) says “I took her (your wife) away”, will you and she agree again?’

38The facts outlined above can be given a straightforward interpretation: the relativization marker fɛ̰̄ is, at least historically, a determiner; the most widespread relativization strategy features an extraction of the NP with fɛ̰̄ from the relative clause.

39The original syntax of relative clauses could have been correlative which is still found in the cases discussed above, examples (265c-265f):

[…[N fɛ̰̄]NP … Comp]S S2

with the option of topicalizing the fɛ̰̄ noun phrase:

[[N fɛ̰̄]NPComp]S S2,cf. example (265j).

These types of sentences could have been reanalyzed as involving a topicalized noun phrase with a relative clause, extracted from the main clause S2:

[N [fɛ̰̄ … Comp]S]NP S2

Undoing such topicalization gives the basic relativization pattern:

[…[N [fɛ̰̄ … Comp]S]NP…]S2, see example (264a).

The development proposed here is reminiscent of the scenario proposed by Nikitina (2012) for what she labels as ‘the rise of clause-internal correlatives’ in Southeastern Mande languages.

40To summarize the argument of this section, relative clauses in Beng are originally head-internal, at least in the historical sense. The argument can also be interpreted in favor of analyzing relative clauses as originally head-internal in syntactic derivation (Kayne 1994). Historical and derivational interpretations of head-internal syntax of relative clauses are compatible but not isomorphic, reminiscent of the relation between historical and derivational processes in phonology.

41There is one argument in favor of the historical rather than synchronic interpretation of the head-internal status of Beng relative clauses. One important piece of evidence used in the argument above was that the determiner lɛ̀ is not used in the presence of a relative clause marker fɛ̰̄. However, the definite article nḭ̀ (variant of lɛ̀ after /ŋ/, see 8.3), is attested before fɛ̰̄:

(265k)

Ŋ̄

baba

lɛ̀

sá̰nḭ̄ŋ̄

lɛ́

[à

1sg

sheep

Def

3sg

mark

3sg:Pst+:Cop:L

3sg

blɛ̀ŋ̀

trōŋ̄

nḭ̀

[fɛ̰̄

cḭ́-lɛ̀

ná̰]]NP

ɛ̄.

left

ear

Def

Rel

3sg:St+

cutRes

Top

Foc

‘The mark of my sheep is its left ear which is cut’.

42Examples like this suggest that the incompatibility of fɛ̰̄ and determiners is not strict, and the determiner status of fɛ̰̄ might not be synchronically valid but could rather be a historical relic.

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Référence papier

Denis Paperno, « Complex sentences », Mandenkan, 51 | 2014, 89-101.

Référence électronique

Denis Paperno, « Complex sentences », Mandenkan [En ligne], 51 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2014, consulté le 19 septembre 2017. URL : http://mandenkan.revues.org/569 ; DOI : 10.4000/mandenkan.569

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Auteur

Denis Paperno

University of Trento, Italy
denis.paperno@gmail.com

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