Nominal Suffixes as Markers of Information Structure in Basketo

Hideyuki Inui

Abstract


This paper deals with the information function of two nominal suffixes, -i appearing in all
nouns, and -n- in first- and second-person pronouns in Basketo, a North Omotic language
predominantly spoken in the Basketo Special Woreda in Ethiopia. The suffix -i is often
described as nominative. However, object nouns without definite marker can be marked
by -i, and as a result -i can appear in both subject and object in the same sentence. We
analyze morpheme -i as a marker of specificity. Suffix -n- distinguishes short and long
forms of the first- and second-person subject pronoun. The short form is the same as the
possessive. In general, possessive does not bear any pragmatic information in discourse.
Likewise, short pronouns also show no pragmatic function, but show what is subject or
agent in a clause. On the other hand, long pronouns are morphologically and pragmatically
marked. We analyze morpheme -n- as the foregrounded topic in discourse in contrast
with zero anaphora.


Keywords


Basketo, nominal suffix, topic, specificity, case marking

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References


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