Marking Exhaustivity in Dagbanli
The paper examines the semantics of the so-called focus particle ko as an exhaustive marker in Dagbanli, a Gur language spoken in Ghana. The paper argues that ko expresses exhaustivity in both in situ and ex situ when it occurs in a focus sentence. In Dagbanli, contrastive focus is marked only by the presence of a focus marker. The paper explores ko as an operator expressing exhaustive focus on constituents and examines exhaustivity of ko as a pragmatic inference giving specific meaning to it. It shows that the particle only occurs in exhaustive focus environments in the language and focuses on both non-subject constituents and subject constituents. The paper argues that Dagbanli expresses exhaustive in ex-situ and in-situ with evidence to show that the construction of Dagbanli is established as monoclausal. Finally it shows that ko can co-occur with the focus markers [ka, n, la] in ex-situ. The paper employs four standard tests for exhaustivity using mainly Kiss’s (1998) distinction between the two types of focus and a test of exhaustivity developed by Szabolcsi (1981).
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