Why contrast matters
Information structure in Gawwada (East Cushitic)
The article discusses the information structure of Gawwada, an East Cushitic language of Southwest Ethiopia, along the lines of the Prague School and Lambrecht’s (1994) theory. Gawwada does not have any dedicated focus-marking device – contrary to previous preliminary statements and in stark contrast with many Cushitic languages of the Horn of Africa. Moreover, it is argued that the category of focus itself is only scarcely grammaticalized in this language. It is rather “Contrast”, marked through a clitic element =kka, which is central to the information structure of the language. It is also argued that possibly other purported Focus Markers of other Cushitic languages (most notably Somali) may be interpreted, at least partially, as markers of contrast. Other pragmatic-marking strategies discussed in the article include the presence vs. absence of Subject-Verb agreement, the presence vs. absence of Subject Clitics, and, to a lesser degree, word order change and object-incorporation.