The Bantu-Romance-Greek connection revisited: Processing constraints in auxiliary and clitic placement from a cross-linguistic perspective

Abstract

This paper explores a connection between Romance and Greek on the one hand, and Bantu on the other. More specifically, we look at auxiliary placement in Rangi and clitic placement in Tobler Mussafia languages, with a special emphasis on Cypriot Greek, and argue that a common explanation for their distribution can be found once a move into a dynamic framework is made. Rangi exhibits an unusual word order alternation in auxiliary constructions under which the position of the auxiliary appears to be sensitive to an element appearing at the left periphery of the clause. A similar sensitivity to a left-peripheral element can be seen to regulate clitic placement in Cypriot Greek (and generally in the so-called Tobler Mussafia clitic languages). The paper presents a parsing-oriented account of these two phenomena in the Dynamic Syntax framework, arguing that the similarities in syntactic distribution are the result of the encoding in the lexicon of processing strategies that were potentially pragmatic preferences in earlier stages of the respective languages. The account thus leans on the role played by the lexical entries for auxiliary and clitic forms, as well as the assumption that underspecification is inherent in the process of establishing meaning in context. The account is further supplemented by possible pathways of diachronic change that could have given rise to the systems found in present day varieties.

Keywords

Bantu, Greek, grammaticalisation, language change, parsing dynamics, Dynamic ­Syntax, Romance

How to Cite

Chatzikyriakidis S. & Gibson H., (2017) “The Bantu-Romance-Greek connection revisited: Processing constraints in auxiliary and clitic placement from a cross-linguistic perspective”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1), p.4. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.135

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Authors

Stergios Chatzikyriakidis (FLoV, University of Gothenburg, Dicksonsgatan 4, 41124, Gothenburg, SE; Open University of Cyprus, B1 33, Latsia 2220)
Hannah Gibson (Department of Linguistics, SOAS University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG)

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