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3.1 Referentiality

 

The XP position in (4) may be filled with pro, which is fully referential as commonly assumed. NC structures are thus inherently imbued with referentiality. Even without an overt lexical complement, e.g. as elements of the verbal complex, NCs thus suffice to introduce arguments:

(5)

           

            In (5a), neither referential subject nor object NC markers are present, which yields an infinitival interpretation[1]. (5b) contains an NC marker which introduces a second person subject. Since there is no object NC marking, ‘see’ seems to have an intransitive feel here, as the translations suggests. In (5c), the NC marking for both subject and object are present, so ‘see’ is interpreted as transitive.

            While subject and object NC markers are fully referential, they need to be linked to a previously established discourse referent. Introduction of a new discourse referent or shifts from one discourse referent to another are typically executed via full overt NPs (cf. Taylor 1994: 98 and Wilkendorf 1994: 17; both investigate discourse structure in N¨maandE, Cameroon):

 

(6)

     

NC markers, on the other hand, are used by themselves to express continuity in reference (Taylor: 98, Wilkendorf: 20). Thus, NC markers gain their referentiality by virtue of being discourse anaphors (Canonici 1995: 31).

            Zulu has independent pronouns, so-called ‘absolute pronouns’, but they are only employed to put additional emphasis on the discourse referent:

 

(7)

            Once the subject is marked with an absolute pronoun, the verb can be visibly focussed (probably via movement to initial focus position), which yields a contrastive intepretation emphasizing the action:

 

(8)

 

            The literature generally agrees that the reason for the emphatic character of absolute pronouns lies in the independent referentiality of the noun class marking on the verb.

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[1]               To say that there is no AgrS may actually be too strong. As will become clear later, one may argue that ku- is, in fact, an expletive-like placeholder in AgrS. In any case, the example at hand does not contain typical referential agreement.