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The system of negation in Berber

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Abstract

This paper is a survey of the forms and functions of negation in various Berber languages covering a vast area in West Africa (Kabyle (Taqbaylit), Rifan (Tarifit), Shilha (Tashelhiyt), Tuareg (Tahaggart, Tayirt), Zenaga). It shows that negation in Berber is characterized by non-verbal predicates which encode the distinction between locative-existential and identificational-qualificational, as well as by clear-cut aspectual asymmetries with respect to the positive/negative opposition. All those features are shared to a certain extent by many languages of North-West Africa. They are also attested worldwide, in various phyla. We propose that such features are related to the importance of the topic/focus distinction, and the predominance of aspectual over tense distinctions in the language.

References

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