A pragmatic view on clause linkages in Toposa, an Eastern Nilotic language of South Sudan

Authors

  • Helga Schröder Associate Professor, Linguistic Department, University of Nairobi

Keywords:

conceptual meaning, procedural meaning, clause-chaining model, foreground-background information, pragmatic routine, constraints on inference

Abstract

Toposa, an Eastern Nilotic language of South Sudan, has been identified as a clause-chaining language (Schröder 2013, Schröder 2020), because it does not allow two independent clauses following each other, but the fundamental sentence structure is that an independent clause is followed by a chained clause. The current paper claims that this clause-chaining constraint creates new syntactic and semantic functions of independent and subordinative clauses, whereby one syntactic function is clause-skipping that caters for adverbial clauses in the model. The structure of independent clause and chained clause yields semantically a distinction of foreground and background information. The foreground information is carried by the finite and the background information by the non-finite clauses. The interpretation of the foreground and background information is explained as cognitive pragmatic routines that guide the hearer to understand the foreground information as main events and the background information as explanations to the foreground information. The background information captured in the adverbial clauses provide explanations for time, reason-result, means-result, purpose, conditions and contrast. The pragmatic analysis is based on the insights of Relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson 1995).

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Published

08/03/2021

How to Cite

Schröder, H. (2021). A pragmatic view on clause linkages in Toposa, an Eastern Nilotic language of South Sudan. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 10(1), 329–352. Retrieved from https://laghana.org/gjl/index.php/gjl/article/view/317