Chapter published in:Similative and Equative Constructions: A cross-linguistic perspective
Edited by Yvonne Treis and Martine Vanhove
[Typological Studies in Language 117] 2017
► pp. 167–188
Comparison, similarity and simulation in Zaar, a Chadic language of Nigeria
This paper is a corpus-based typological survey of the linguistic expression of comparison (equative, comparative, similative, simulative), in Zaar, a Chadic language spoken in the south of Bauchi State, in Northern Nigeria. After a presentation of Zaar and its typological characteristics, the paper shows how the equative (comparison of equality), similative (comparison of similarity) and simulative (pretence clauses) structures are based on the preposition ɗan ‘like’ whereas the comparative structure centers on the verb mop ‘surpass’. The morphosyntactic status of the preposition ɗan ‘like’ is discussed in relation with the functions it takes outside the expression of comparison, in clause subordination (temporal adjuncts, relative clauses) and information structure (topicalisation). The last section shows how the morphemes ɗan ‘like’, the quotative tu and the specific particle ku form various combinations to express simulation. The conclusion summarizes the main properties of the expression of comparison in Zaar as follows: The comparison of superiority uses two competing verbal strategies, a serial verb construction strategy and a ditransitive strategy. The equative in Zaar does not have a parameter marker, and the comparative predicate which includes the parameter is a quality verb. Since similitude and equality comparison share the same syntactic frame in Zaar, their difference is dependent on the scalar nature of the comparative predicate. There is no difference in Zaar between specific and general equatives or similatives. The same equative/similative structure based on the preposition ɗan is used for other functions than the strict expression of similarity, i.e. substitution (‘instead of’), topicalization, role phrases and accord clauses, temporal adjuncts, relativization. From a typological point of view, the expression of similarity in Zaar is different from the “Standard Average European” equivalent. The three main differences are (i) the verbal nature of quality in Zaar; (ii) the absence of a parameter marker; (iii) the non-relative/interrogative base of the standard marker, which in Zaar is a preposition expressing manner. More generally, Zaar behaves as expected from a head-initial language, viz. the order parameter – standard marker – standard is respected.
Keywords: quotative, pretence clause, accord clause, role phrase, subordination
Published online: 31 May 2017
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