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A Syntactic Analysis of Relative Clauses in the Southern Cushitic Language, Iraqw

Chrispina Alphonce


The article offers an account of the syntax of relative clauses in Iraqw, a Southern Cushitic language of the Afroasiatic Micropylum spoken in northern Tanzania. It examines the structure of relative clauses, relativization strategies, relative markers and noun phrase accessibility hierarchy (AB). Using the descriptive research design, coupled with the qualitative approach, data were generated through elicitation. 8 informants were sampled through snowball technique to inform the study. Text collection was also done to identify relative clauses. The analysis of the data obtained revealed the following: (i) Iraqw displays postnominal relative clause, the feature that is common in most of the world and African languages; (ii) Iraqw speakers typically use overt morphological relative markers, namely demonstrative suffixes (-i/-ka,-sing, -qa1 and -da), and independent construct cases (oo, ar and awa) and covert phonological marker, the construct suffix (marked into the head noun by high tone); (iii) the language uses the gap strategy for relativization of nearly all grammatical relations, except the object of comparison, which uses resumptive pronoun; (iv) the direct object of ditransitive verbs uses both gapping strategy and resumptive pronoun; (v) Iraqw can relativize all six grammatical relations on the accessibility hierarchy, although the object of comparison is hardly relativizable.


Keywords: Iraqw, Southern Cushitic, postnominal relative clause, relativizer, accessibility hierarchy

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