It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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Yes/no question-marking in Italian dialects
A typological, theoretical and experimental approach
This dissertation provides an account of polar questions in Italian dialects from a typological, theoretical and empirical perspective. Both data from the existing literature and new data from the author’s fieldwork are included in this study. In the first part of this dissertation, it is shown that Italian dialects display a large number of typologically diverse yes/no question-marking strategies, as opposed to Standard Italian and Romance. The variation found in Italian dialects is surprising, given that they are closely related from a typological point of view. Furthermore, it is shown that Several Tuscan, Central and Southern Italian dialects use a construction that poses a challenge for standard typological classifications of polar questions in the world’s languages. The second part of this dissertation focuses on the syntax and prosody of this yes/no question-marking strategy. A theoretical analysis is proposed in order to account for its syntactic properties. Although this construction includes two fully-inflected verbs, it is argued that it should be analyzed as a monoclausal utterance. A number of syntactic tests are developed to shed some light on its underlying structure. Further evidence for the proposed analysis comes from the results of empirical testing. A production
experiment was carried out to investigate the phonetic realization of this construction. The results of the experiment show that this construction patterns with specific prosodic cues, which unambiguously signal its monoclausal status. This study is of relevance to anyone interested in descriptive typology, theoretical syntax and experimental phonetics, as well as Italian dialectology.