Description of the Morphosyntax and the Functions of Relative Clauses in Argobba

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Addis Ababa University


The main objective of this study is to describe the morpohosyntax and the functions of relative clauses in Argobba. To do so, I use data elicited from interview which were collected during a stay in the village of Shonke in 2010. There are two kinds of verbs in relative clauses in Argobba: perfective and imperfective. The perfective relative verb contains a prefixing element i- while the prefix is im- with imperfective relative verbs. Argobba is a prenominal language for relativization. Two relativization strategies are used: The subject is relativized by gapping but non-subject constituents are relativized by a kind of pronoun retention, i.e., the relativized noun is always free since it is recoverable from the agreement markers of the relative verb. Argobba relativizes subjects, objects (direct and indirect) and adjunct constituents. If the head noun of a relative clause is definite both the perfective and the imperfective relative verbs also contain a definite marker. Argobba relative clauses are classified into restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses. Furthermore, relative clauses are distinguished between lexically headed relatives vs. free headed relatives. The characteristics and the elements of cleft constructions have also been pointed out.