The University of Sussex

Ex-situ and in-situ focus in Hausa

Melanie Green, Philip J. Jaggar

This paper examines the syntax and semantics of focus constructions in Hausa,in the light of some new descriptive facts. Hausa is well known as a language that displays ex-situ focus. However, Jaggar (2001) claims that Hausa also displays in-situ focus. The aims of this joint paper are, firstly, to clarify the descriptive facts in terms of whether there exists any correlation between syntactic type of focus and semantic reading, and, secondly, to develop an analysis within a Principles and Parameters/Minimalist framework (Chomsky 1995). We argue, contra Kiss (1998), that a direct correlation between morphosyntax of focus and semantics of focus cannot be upheld, either for English or for Hausa, since both in-situ and ex-situ focus can correspond to a range of semantic readings, which are pragmatically determined. We also suggest that focus in-situ in Hausa is limited to constituents containing nuclear stress, which may explain why this type of focus is limited to non-subjects. These findings are discussed in relation to recent claims in the literature (Cinque 1993; Reinhart 1995; Zubizarreta 1998) concerning optionality and economy.


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