Pronominal object markers in Romance and Bantu
Romance pronominal clitics and Bantu object markers vary in gender and number, replace arguments, and surface to the left of the verbal root in declarative clauses. Both types of morphemes are regularly analyzed as affixes on the verb. It is argued that both have syntactic properties that justify treating them differently from lexical affixes. The argument is first made for French unstressed pronominal objects like <i>me, le, en, </i>drawing from their distribution in contemporary French as well as from their historical behavior. It is shown that they are syntactic objects, and that their morphophonological affix-like properties should be treated independently of their syntactic behavior. Then evidence is presented pointing to the fact that Bantu object markers are also syntactic objects of some sort. The last section asks whether one can arrive at a unified treatment of both elements. The conclusion is that by focusing on the morphophonological properties of these pronominal elements, one runs the risk of overlooking their syntactic properties.