surface forms of noun class markers (NCs) are systematically related to the
morpho-syntactic environment. This suggests that NCs are - contrary to common
assumptions - manifestations of the same underlying morpheme, regardless of the
particular configuration they occur in. Following Carstens 1993), the categorial
status of NCs is identified as D, NC-marked nominals are thus DPs in which the
NC selects for an NP.
NP may be empty, i.e. pro, a discourse anaphoric referential element.
Being anaphoric, NC-pro structures are specific and thus VP-external,
where they occupy argument positions. Thus, overt lexical arguments may only
occur in two configurations:
a) without "verbal
agreement", i.e. without a coindexed NC-pro structure within the
verbal complex; in this case the argument is non-specific and must remain
b) with "verbal
agreement"; in this case, the argument is specific and must be VP-external.
Since the canonical VP-external argument position is occupied by the NC-pro
structure, the "agreeing" argument must be in adjunct position, which
explains the freedom of word order permutations with other typical adjuncts.
The present analysis of
Bantu noun class markers thus replaces a collection of heterogeneous claims
about the nature of class marking with a simple and unified analysis, and in
doing so, it provides the means to relate morpho-phonological, syntactic, and
semantic facts that would otherwise remain separate.