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Accepted Paper:

Ngəmba interrogatives  
Roland Kießling (University of Hamburg) Solange Mekamgoum (University of Hamburg)

Paper short abstract:

Ngəmba, Grassfields Bantu, Morphosyntax, Interrogative verb, Question words, Interrogation

Paper long abstract:

This contribution presents an overview of the interrogative system of Ngəmba, a Ghɔmáláʔ variety of the Eastern Grassfields Bantu group in Cameroon. The Ngəmba interrogative system is characterized by the following typological profile: polar questions are formed by clause final enclitics which combine with a specific interrogative intonational pattern. Constituent questions are formed by question words which include pronouns, adjectives, and an interrogative verb. The basic array of primary question words for concepts such as WHO, WHAT and WHERE is considerably expanded by secondary and tertiary question words most of which are derived from primary WHAT. In a wider comparative perspective, Ngəmba stands out by two properties: (a) the presence of an interrogative verb, and (b) the fact that all instances of questions are morphologically marked, i.e. interrogative status cannot be expressed by intonation alone. While the paper focuses on the paradigmatic structure of the system of question words, their semantic contrasts, and individual etymologies, it will particularly flesh out a model of the emergence of the interrogative verb ghě/ghʲɛ̌ 'do what?' from a contraction plus fusion of a prior verb DO with an interrogative element, as supported by comparative evidence from neighbouring Ghɔmáláʔ varieties.

Panel P33
  Session 1 Thursday 10 June, 2021, -