Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124
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As many other languages of northern sub-Saharan Africa, almost all Bobo and Samogo languages (two distantly related Mande groups) exhibit prominently clause-final negative markers (CFNMs), a cross-linguistically uncommon property. Unlike negators in other parts of the world, CFNMs in the area prove to be rather unstable diachronically and relatively easy to borrow, similar to discourse markers, focus particles and phasal adverbs, with which they also happen to share peculiarities of morphosyntax and paths of historical development. This article first provides an exhaustive overview of the data available on the use of CFNMs in these languages. Building on these data, I advance an account of the history of the default CFNMs in these languages. In particular, I argue that the default CFNMs of Jo, Seen and probably Kpeen (all Samogo) go back to the phasal adverbial *kè ‘(not) yet; still’, whereas the default CFNMs of Bobo and Dzuun, Ban and Kpaan ultimately go back to a phasal adverbial *kÚDà(C)á ‘(not) again’. However, the default CFNMs of Dzuun, Kpaan and Ban turn out to be only indirect reflexes resulting from a lateral transfer of the Bobo CFNM, which expanded an already rich system of semantically more specific CFNMs in these languages.


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