Lubukusu object marking: at the interface of pragmatics and syntax

Michael Diercks

Pomona College

Friday, March 18, 2022
Noon–1:30 p.m.

Lattimore 513

This talk describes a complex system of object marking (i.e. object clitics) in Bukusu that interacts with pragmatics/discourse semantics. We show that object markers can co-occur with (aka "double") in situ lexical objects, but that this possibility is linked with 1) a discourse-given interpretation of the object, 2) the presence of a focused element inside the verb phrase, and 3) an emphatic interpretation of that focused element. That is, it appears that there is both a focus/givenness component of OM-doubling, but also an additional layer of emphasis (we show that both mirative readings and verum readings are possible). We propose that Bukusu (doubling) object markers arise via Agree relations generated by phi-features on a functional projections at the edge of vP, which include a focus operator and an operator contributing a conventional implicature generating the emphatic reading (Cruschina 2021). Therefore, rather than object marker (OM) doubling being driven by properties such as case, specificity, or linked with object shift as has been claimed for many clitic doubling languages, instead it appears that the closest empirical correlate of Bukusu OM-doubling is the semantics of focus and givenness in (for example) English intonation. Our analysis incorporates features of givenness/focus into a probe-goal system to account for intricate interactions of locality of Agree with interpretive effects of doubling.