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Constituent Order and Focus in Naro Language

Rose Letsholo, PhD*, Budzani G Mogara, PhD†


In Naro, the base word order is SOV (Visser, 2010). However, this language displays interesting variations in word order due to the fact that different constituents can occur in non-canonical positions, particularly the sentence initial position. It is in lieu of this that this paper investigates the following questions: (1) In Naro, what constituents can be fronted and which cannot? (2) What is the significance of the PGN marker in the order
of the constituents in Naro sentences? (3) What is special about the sentence initial position given that different lexical constituents can occupy this position? Regarding question (1), we show that different lexical constituents can be fronted in Naro, namely lexical subject NPs as well as full pronouns; lexical object NPs, verbs, and adverbs while grammatical elements such as tense morphemes and PGN markers cannot occur in sentence initial position.

We also show that the PGN marker has significant roles to play in the syntax of Naro since truncated forms of the PGN can function as pronouns.

In addition, we argue that PGN markers have an important role to play in the flexibility of word order in Naro since they act as resumptive pronouns that represent the right dislocated NPs in structures in which a constituent other than the subject is preposed.

In addition, we also conclude that the sentence initial position in Naro is important because it is a position that is occupied by focused constituents.


word order, focus, Khoisan languages, Naro, Botswana

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