The Morphosyntactic Coding of Focus Structure in Igbo
Received: Jul 06, 2013; Revised: Aug 27, 2013; Accepted: Sep 03, 2013
Published Online: Jan 01, 2017
Cross-linguistic studies have ascertained that the information units withinclause structure are systematically coded. These information units shape the information structure of the clause and focus structure is the term for it in the literature. Previous studies on Igbo focus structure centre exclusively on the syntactic derivation of the clause to determine the focus structure. Therefore, this study investigates how pragmatic considerations and morphological markings in the clause structure determine the various types of Igbo focus structure. The study adopts the Role and Reference Grammar (RRG) framework, which seeks out the relationship between referring expressions in a clause and the focus structure. RRG also has the advantage of formally projecting focus structure into the representation of clause structure. Four categorical types of focus structure occur in Igbo. These include, subject focus with the /e/, /a/, /kwá/, and /-nụ`/ markers; object focus with /má/ and /ká/ as markers; verb focus with /weé/, /nà/, and /gá/ as markers and sentence focus with gwá m΄ and /ghí/̣ as markers. The study reveals that morphological markings code focus structure in Igbo. In other words, it describes the information units within clause structure from the perspective of the interaction between morphology, pragmatics, and syntax, and not exclusively from a syntactic perspective.