Vol. 28:1 (2004) ► pp.83–104
Between zero and nothing
Transitivity and noun incorporation in Somali
The article analyzes the expression of understood objects in Somali. There is no object pronoun of 3rd person in Somali; this gap is usually interpreted as a “full Ø”, which saturates the valency of a transitive verb and forces a reading with an anaphoric object. The article shows that this is empirically incorrect: in certain configurations, Somali transitive verbs admit either an anaphoric or a generic reading even in the absence of either an object NP or a non-null pronoun. In order to ensure a generic-object reading, Somali has further recourse to noun incorporation. The article explores the productivity of this strategy as a detopicalizing, backgrounding mechanism and argues that the overall generality of the anaphoric reading is the result of the obligatoriness of focus marking.
Cited by 2 other publications
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