Chapter published in:The ‘Noun Phrase’ across Languages: An emergent unit in interaction
Edited by Tsuyoshi Ono and Sandra A. Thompson
[Typological Studies in Language 128] 2020
► pp. 330–362
Robust argument phrases (DPs) but unruly NPs in Maa
Maa (sometimes referred to as Maasai) discourse and syntax largely require determined phrases. NP is not a robust construction in Maa, partly because ‘noun’ is not highly distinguished morphosyntactically from ‘adjective.’ Either can be a syntactic argument just if preceded by a determiner; ‘ablity to serve as an argument’ does not correspond to a lexical N or NP category. The paper proposes a definition of ‘determiner’, which includes Maa demonstratives and gender+number proclitics. The latter do not signal identifiability, givenness, or referentiality. Gender is not lexical feature of most noun/adjective stems, but is specified by whatever determiner is used. The determiners appear to help hearers cognitively establish a referent based on attributed gender (sometimes at the moment of speech), and make a phrase able to serve as an argument.
Published online: 15 July 2020
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