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The composite matrix language in mixed possessive constructions in Ewe-English codeswitching

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journal contribution
posted on 02.06.2017, 02:10 by Amuzu, Evershed Kwasi
In Ewe (spoken in Ghana, West Africa), relational and non-relational possessum nominals distribute differently in possessive constructions. Relational possessum nominals follow their possessor NPs directly (as dada 'mother' does in John dada 'John's mother') while non-relational possessum nominals require a possessive linker (fe) in-between them and their possessor NPs (as avu 'dog' does in John fe avu ']ohn’s dog'). This morphosyntactic distinction is, however, not applicable in Ewe-English codeswitching: both English relational and non-relational possessum nominals occur after fe in mixed adnominal possessive constructions (APCs). Interestingly, too, no distinction is made between the two types of English possesssum nominals, i.e. those that occur as complements of's (e.g. mother and dog in John's mother/dog) and those that come before of (e.g. top in top of the desk and Queen in Queen of England). They all follow fe in mixed APCs (and neither's nor-of is acceptable in the mixed APCs). The paper's orientation is clearly theoretical. Working within Myers- Scotton's (2002) framework, I argue that a Composite Matrix Language— in which English and Ewe play definable roles—frames the APCs. A crucial point is that the morpheme distribution patterns defy explanation in terms of surface structure configurations, a point I demonstrate extensively in Section 2 with Poplack's framework for analysing mixed constituents. Section 3 is devoted to exploring the Composite Matrix Language account.


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