While Turkana (Nilo-Saharan) word order is strongly VSO (Dimmendaal 1983), the syntax of the language also displays VOS order. VOS is obligatory with psych predicates, but impossible with pronominal subjects (Dimmendaal 1983). Furthermore, VSO and VOS can alternate where the object is pronominal and the subject is a full DP (Dimmendaal 1985). Arguments from adverb order and ellipsis are presented to motivate a low topic position in the functional structure of the clause below T (the target for V-movement), and a set of Optimality Theoretic constraints are proposed that interact with the structure to determine the manner in which this topic position is filled. When the subject raises, VSO order is derived, and when the object raises, VOS order is derived.
Selected Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Interfaces in African Languages
edited by Ọ
la Orie and Karen W. Sanders
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