Agreement in thetic VS sentences in Bantu and Romance
Both Bantu and Romance languages use a V(erb) S(ubject) construction to express thetic (“out-of-the-blue”) sentences. Two types of languages can be distinguished within these language families, with respect to the verbal agreement in a thetic VS sentence: in type 1 the verb has default agreement, whereas in type 2 the verb agrees with the postverbal subject. In the Bantu languages these two types also display a difference in the use of conjoint and disjoint verb forms. Collins (2004), Carstens (2005), and Baker (2008) have previously analyzed such agreement and word order phenomena. These accounts, attributing the differences between types 1 and 2 to parameter settings of the Agree system, do not offer a satisfactory explanation. This paper proposes that the difference is due to the status of the agreement of the verb, which is pronominal in type 1 languages and purely grammatical in type 2. Arguments for this analysis are found in Case, Binding Theory and information structure. The focus in this paper is on the Romance languages French and Italian, and on the Bantu languages Sesotho and Makhuwa.