ASPECTS OF THE MORPHOSYNTAX OF IGBO FUNCTIONAL CATEGORIES: A MINIMALIST APPROACH

AUTHOR: OBIAMALU, GREG ORJI

DEPARTMENT: LINGUISTICS

AFFILIATION: NNAMDI AZIKIWE UNIVERSITY, AWKA

The study of functional categories has dominated syntactic research in the last two decades, especially among the generativists. The interest in the functional categories, which is defined as categories that lack descriptive content but make very important contributions to the grammar of a language, stems from the Universal Grammar assumption that all languages are the same but differ mainly by the predefined parameter settings for the functional categories and the lexicon. This study seeks to analyse the morphosyntactic realisations of the Igbo functional categories: tense, aspect, negation and determiner, with a view to determining their categorial features and how they relate to the substantive categories: verb and noun. The analysis is based on the Minimalist Program (MP), the most recent version of Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG). This study observes that, contrary to the assumption by many Igbo syntacticians that the category of tense is not morphologically marked in Igbo, the rV verbal suffix instantiates past tense. This implies that Igbo has the category, Asp(ect) as well as T(ense). It is also observed that negation, which is suffixally marked on the Igbo verb, can prevent the verb from raising to T, thereby triggering off an overt realisation of agreement element (a category hitherto assumed not to exist in Igbo). The agreement element appears in form of a verbal prefix occurring only after non-clitic subjects in the negative, as well as in the perfective and imperative constructions. This implies that aspect also blocks the verb from raising to T which could explain why tense and aspect morphemes do not co-occur in Igbo. Within the nominal phrase, which is assumed (within M ) to be headed by a functional category D(eterminer), it is observed that Igbo has a ero realisation of D The D head position could only be occupied by a functional element which could optionally co-occur with any type of nominal modifier: demonstrative, ad ective, uantifier, among others e therefore conclude that is the only overt realisation of the category D in Igbo. In the Igbo N-N genetive DP, D is only tonally realised.

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