The Bantu-Romance connection in verb movement and verbal inflectional morphology

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Romance and Bantu languages show a range of contrasting morphological and syntactic properties, ranging from WH extraction strategies and the existence of V2 to directionality of affixation and degree of fusion and agglutination in verbal inflectional morphology. Using Isizulu and Chishona (Bantu) and standard French and Italian (Romance) as examples, this paper correlates these contrasts in terms of a common right-branching Split-INFL structure, and contrasting preferences for movement (STAY, in Optimality Theoretic terms). It is proposed that the same preference which motivates WH extraction strategies in the four languages also motivates the contrast between the relatively prefixal and agglutinative verbal inflectional morphology of Isizulu and Chishona and the suffixal and more fusional verbal inflectional morphology of French and Italian. The conclusions reinforce intuitions that languages belonging to the Romance and Bantu language families are typologically similar.


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