Katharina Hartmann (Frankfurt)

The Conjoint–Disjoint Alternation in Dagbani

The talk presents an analysis of the conjoint-disjoint alternation in Dagbani (Mabia). It is shown that this dichotomy is firmly anchored in the morphological system of Dagbani. I argue that the conjoint and disjoint markers overtly express a functional head above the Aspectual Phrase. The distinction between conjoint and disjoint marking is syntactic and not focus-related, thus conjoint marking occurs if the verbal phrase is not yet completed, whereas disjoint marking marks the right edge of a completed VP.

In the second part of the talk, I discuss a hitherto unnoticed syntactic effect of conjoint / disjoint marking on the verb. I show that movement of the perfective verb to the functional head coding the dichotomy is blocked in operator constructions (wh-questions, focus constructions, relative clauses, and negation) to the effect that the disjoint marker cannot appear on the perfective verb. The blocking effect follows from the assumption that the operator constructions are all focus related inducing a focus specification on the head hosting the conjoint and disjoint markers. This feature specification is incompatible with the perfective verb. Progressive verbs, on the other hand, are shown to be inherently focal, hence may access the conjoint / disjoint head also in focal contexts.