This book demonstrates a feature-checking approach to sentence structure
and language typology within the framework of Chomsky’s Minimalist Program.
The study is both data oriented and theoretical. The analysis is based on
data from Toposa, an under-documented Eastern Nilotic language spoken in
Southern Sudan. Toposa is highly inflectional and derivational with a basic
VSO word order.
This work suggests that sentence structure is determined by multiple
feature-checking processes, driven by the interaction of morphology,
syntax, and discourse features such as antecedent relationships and focus.
In Toposa, these interrelationships explain the occurrence or absence of
the grammatical subject, direct object, and applied objects and result in
an ergative VS/VO word order in discourse, where the preferred structure is
to have only one argument after the verb. The complex relationships between
morphology, syntax, and discourse are demonstrated through the passive, the
reflexive, the subject prefixes in the verb, the causative, and the
This book will be a valuable resource for intermediate and advanced level
students of syntactic theory. It should also be helpful in the further
study of VSO languages and research on discourse within the framework of
the Minimalist Program.