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This paper introduces participant coding in Jalonke, a Central Mande language of Guinea. The paper gives an appraisal of noun/verb distinction in the language and establishes verbs as heads of verb phrases. It sets out to identify the syntactic status and thematic roles of the participants of Jalonke verbs. The paper further investigates argument structure classes of the language; that is, classes of verbs that can be distinguished based on the number and status of their participants. It is shown that Jalonke has intransitive, transitive, causative/inchoative alternating and reflexive-only verbs, and that the motivation for three of these classes lies in an interaction of the parameters of causation type, likelihood of the denoted event to be construed as uncaused vs. externally caused and the inclination of the language towards fundamental transitivity vs. fundamental intransitivity. The fourth class of reflexive-only verbs is determined through a positive specification for control. The main result of a quantitative study on argument realization in discourse are discussed in order to demonstrate that in contrast to other languages and approaches, argument structure in Jalonke can be taken to be lexically specified.


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