Table of contents
- Linguistic classificiation
- Tone System
- Noun Class System1
- Pronominal System1
- Word Order
- Verb System
- Preverbal Particles
- Temporal particles
- Tense particles
- Conditional particle
- Aspectual particles
- Negation particles
- Emphatic particle
- Epistemic particles
- Purpose particle
- Main Verb
- Postverbal Particles
- Preverbal Particles
- Question Formation
- Mabia Central
- Mabia Mid-Central
- Mabia Mid-Central
- Mabia Central
Gurenɛ marks two level tones, High and Low. Tone changes in this language have both an lexical and an grammatical impact on the semantics of a particular word.1
In the following example, all elements are the same segmentally, but the tone difference of the preverbal particle wa is responsible for different meanings. With a low tone the particle expresses future tense, and with a high tone it expresses aspect.2
'Ataŋa will drink the water.’|
'Ataŋa definitely drank the water.’2 |
Noun Class System1
Emphatic pronouns in Gurenɛ are allowed in focus positions, while the other personal pronouns are not. In (3a) the emphatic pronoun is followed by the focus marker ti and in (3b) by the focus marker n. Emphatic pronouns are used in an exclusiveness context, such that speakers use these to indicate that only one thing is true and not the other.
'It is me that he gave it to.’|
'It is you guys (not us) who destroyed the lorry. '1 |
To express reciprocity, the lexical marker taaba is used, which occurs after clausal constructions.
'The man and the woman love each other.’1 |
The reflexive pronouns in Gurenɛ are formed by a personal pronoun to which the reflexive morphem -miŋa in singular and -misi in plural attach. In contrast to other Mabia languages, the reflexive markers in Gurenɛ are sensitive to number, such that there exist two forms for each number singular and plural, while in Buli and Dagbani for instance there is only one reflexive morphem for both numbers. The example in (5) shows both reflexive morphems.
|Person||Reflexive Marker||SG||Reflexive Pronoun||Reflexive Marker||PL||Reflexive Pronoun|
'But I restrained myself.’|
'They will not beat themselves again.'1 |
There exist two relative pronouns, which are ti and the particle n. In contrast to other Mabia languages like Dagbani, the relative pronouns in Gurenɛ are not sensitive to number and do not make a distinction with regard to animacy. The relative pronoun n relativizes subject elements, whereas the particle ti relativizes objects. This is illustrated in (6).
'The man who came here is my father.’|
'The man that you saw is my father .'1 |
Interrogative Pronouns in Gurenɛ can appear either ex situ or in situ. In (7) and (9), the interrogative pronoun appears ex situ, while in (8) and (10) the interrogative occurs in situ.
'Who ate the food?’1 |
'Where did the students go?’1 |
'What food are they selling at the market?’1 |
'How much is the price of the cow?’1 |
In Gurenɛ the demonstrative pronouns reflect the noun class system, such that each demonstrative pronoun refers to a single noun class.
Gurenɛ has a SVO word order. In (11), an intransitive clause is shown, in (12) a transitive and in (13) a ditransitive clause, each demonstrating the strict word order SVO.
'I will go home tomorrow.’1 |
'The doctor will inject me.’1 |
'S/he gave me the money.'1 |
The VP in Gurenɛ consists of preverbal particles encoding aspect, tense, negation, imperative and conditional, the main verb, and postverbal particles, which also encode aspect and tense, but also focus.
Following Atintono (2011), the order of particles within the VP is strictly organized and can be described as in (14). Note that the second postverbal particle not only marks focus, but can also be used in order to mark aspect such as affirmative, completive and directional, respectively.
(14) Order of particles within the VP|
Time > Tense > Conditional > Aspectual > Future > Negation > Emphatic > Epistemic > Purpose > Verb > Tense > Focus/Affirmative/Completive/Directional|
In Gurenɛ, it is possible to have more than one aspectual preverbal particle in the clause and in these cases the order of aspectual particles is not fixed. On the other hand, it is not possible to have a combination of pre- and postverbal particles from every category listed in (14) in one clause. According to Atintono (2011), the maximum number of preverbal particles is five, while the maximum number of postverbal particles is even lower, namely two. The example in (15) illustrates a clause with the maximum number of preverbal and postverbal particles. Note that gaŋɛ is not a particle.
'The people yesterday certainly did more than what was just expected.’2|
'The trader went to the market yesterday.’|
|3SG||two days ago||eat||
'He married a wife two days ago.'|
|3PL||three days ago||burn||funeral||
'They performed the funeral three days ago.'|
'The owner of the house died last year in the dry season.'|
|famine||three years ago||fall||
'There was famine three years ago in Gureŋɔ.' |
'S/he should come tomorrow in the morning.'|
'S/he should farm in the river valley next year.'2 |
Preverbal tense particles mark either past or future tense. There is no preverbal particle expressing present tense. Within the VP, it is not possible to have a particle expressing time in a combination with a particle expressing tense, because particles refering to temporal adverbials measure definite time, while particles expressing tense measure time indefinitely.2
Dáá is a past tense particle, that is used in order to express contexts that are at least a week ago. Therefore, temporal particles are used for events and actions that happened within two to four days ago, meaning in less than a week ago.
'They told them.’|
'I stood there and saw this.'|
'The farmers started work again.'2|
The tense partcile yùùm also marks tense, but it denotes time that is at least one year ago. This particle is used often to describe situations or conditions that no longer exist.
'The chief once married ten wives.’|
'The native doctor once acquired witchcraft medicine.'|
'Once upon a time there lived a rabbit with his wife and children ..'2|
The future particle ná is mostly used in the Bongo dialect, while wán is used in Bolga and Nankani dialects. Note that the future particle ná is homophone with the aspectual particle ná. They are distinguished semantically by the form of the verb they precede. The future particle occurs before the perfective verb, while the aspectual particle occurs before habitual imperfective verbs.2
'The farmers will go to the river side to farm tomatoes.’|
'The mourners will go home in the afternoon.'2|
Following Atintono (2011), the future particle wà is the grammaticalized form of the verb wa'am ('come'). Some dialects as Bolga and Ninkani use wà and wán alternatively in order to mark the future. The particle wán also indicates focus in order to corroborate that the expression will definitely happen in the future.
'The land priest will offer the sacrifice tomorrow.’|
'The labours will weed the chief's farm.'2|
In Gurenɛ, the conditional particle sán is embedded immediately after the subject in a subordinated clause.
'If you have money you buy the cow.’|
'If you become healthy you sacrifice an animal four your father.'|
'If he even get drunk lying in the gutter they should leave him to be lying there.'2|
This preverbal particle is used to emphasize that an event or action was performed with ease, thus there are no complications or difficulties concomitant with that event or action. Moreover, the particle can also be combined with the habitual form of a verb, which is formed by the addition of the suffix -a as in (23).
'The wind just uprooted the trees.’|
'The cobra simply dropped on the ground.'2 |
'The farmer just cultivates millet and just rears fowls.’2|
This particle indicates that an event or action is completely achieved and can be best translated by even.
'The woman is even pregnant again.’|
'I have even asked about the women's case.'2|
This particle marks that an event or action was completed before the expected time and can be transalted with already.
'The bride is already pregnant earlier than expected.’|
'Mr Rabbit had already dug a hole and got to the chief's daughter and made her pregnant without the chief's knowledge.'2|
The particle nán indicates that an action or event was just moments ago.
'S/he .’has just gone out.'|
'They have left for the market a moment ago.'2|
The particle yèèm is used in Bolga, while the particle wèèm is used in Bongo and Nankani dialects. Both particles emphasize that the speaker just makes an expression or performs an action without any intent or purpose.
'S/he only asked about you.'2|
This particle indicates that an event or action is still continuing and thus can be best transalted with still.
'The pall bearers are still digging the grave.’|
'They still sell alcoholic drinks at the chief's palace.'2 |
This particle is semantically similar to kèlùm in that both mark the continuation of an action or event, but nán is mostly used to mark the continuation of a certain condition rather than an activity.
'The land is still wet and they are sowing.’2 |
The particle tábélɛ indicates that an event or action occured as a historical fact, meaning that the event is special in not occuring
'The woman indeed gave birth.’2 |
This particle emphasizes that an event or action happened a long time ago, at least a year ago or even after more time.
'The man did pay the wife's bride price and died.’2 |
This particle is a grammaticalized form of the verb lebe ('return') and indicates the repetition of an action or event. Thus, it can be best translated with again.
'They started to farm again.’|
'They returned and entered into the grave again.'2 |
This particle also marks repetition of an action or event. In some dialects as Bongo, the form of the particle is malegum. In combination with the preverbal particle lé the particle mààn indicates that an event or action is performed repetitively, as in (33b).
'Ataŋa weeded the farm once more.’|
'S/he again deliberately cooked the food.'2|
This particle gives a habitual reading of an event or action expressed by the verb. Whereas the Bongo dialect uses ná frequently, Bolga and Nankani on the other hand use ní more frequently.
'They always eat the shea nuts fruits.’|
'S/he has been coming to our house to eat tz.'|
'The watchman has been coming to keep watch over the school in the night.'2|
The particle ní is a habitual marker indicating that an action or event occurs regularly.
'The shepherds always take millet to drive the cattle to the field.’|
'We always sow millet and then sow groundnuts.'|
'The shepherds always take millet and drive the cows to the field.'|
'We always sow millet and then sow groudnuts'2|
This particle is also a habitual marker and refers to events that a certain person practicses regularly. Moreover, the particle is used frequently in order to denote negative habits of particular people.
'The thief as usual has stolen the goat.’2|
The particle nyàà marks the sequence of events and can be translated to then.
'By the time he had finished showing the water, it was cold and he then drank it.’|
This particle also indicates that an event occurs after another even had happened, but in contrast to the particle nyàà above, the particle lèèm does not indicate that an event is immediately following another event, but rather implies a particular amount of time between the events.
'When the child's father left for the farm she later disturbed her mother.’|
'If the child finishes eating he should keep watching over the animals.'2|
This aspectual particle expresses rather and indicates that something had happened against previous expectations.
'The land priest rather sacrificed a cow but not the sheep.’|
'The man unexpectedly beat his junior wife but no the senior wife.'|
This particle indicates that an action is necessarily performed due to the lack of alternatives.
'The man married the ugly woman (necesarily).’2|
This particle expresses that an action, which was expected not to happen, indeed or surprisingly happened.
'The girl that they said she will not marry, she instead got married.’2|
This particle is a negative past marker that occurs immediately before the finite verb. The following example illustrates this position by comparing a positive clause with its negated counterpart.
'The boy went to the market.’|
'The boy did not go to the market.'2|
This particle is the counterpart to kà and indicates negation in the future.
'They will not install the chief today.’|
'S/he will not do it.'2|
This negative particle is used for negation in imperatives.
'Do not quench the fire!'|
'They should not quench the fire.'2|
The particle dagi denotes the absence of a relation between two entities.
'He is my father.’|
'He is not my father.'2|
The emphatic particle in Gurenɛ is sìrùm and is used to emphasize that something actually had happened as in (28a) or will happen, if it is combined with the future tense particle wán as in (38b).
'The wealthy person actually bought a house.’|
'The farmers will certainly weed the chief's farm.'2 |
Epistemic particles in Gurenɛ indicate whether a given expression is true or not, whether it is probably true or not and whether it is speculated or not.
This particle is used in cases in which the occurence of an event is proposed, but not verified.
'The chief's linguist is probably gone to the palace.’|
This particle is similar to zí'ím and can be translated to may or might in English.
'You might think that I have eaten.’2 |
This particle is used in order to express the certainty of an event or action.
'The visitor certainly have gone home.’2|
This particle indicates that an action or event is performed intentionally.
'The child went to eat tz.’|
The verb in Gurenɛ expresses state, activity and process. It consists of an obligatory stem or root, which may take one or more suffixes. 2
Each verb has two forms, a perfective and an imperfective form. The perfective form has the suffix -ri and the imperfective form the suffix -ra. The imperfective form is used if something lasts or happened in the past, while the perfective form is used for expressions in the present. Both suffixes can vary in its consonant, but the vowel is specifically encoding aspect. The following table gives an overview of the most frequent verbs and its conjugation in Gurenɛ.3
|Root/Stem/Infinitive||Perfective -ri||Imperfective -ra|
|(single) closed event||open event|
|Gurenɛ||Gloss||follows Object/Adverb||follows Pronominal|
|parɛ||be a lot||pati||pata|
In general, there are five particles that occur postverbally, one particle each for tense, focus, affirmative, completive and directional aspect. They are ordered relatively simple as compared to the bunch of preverbal particles, also shown in (14). The maximum number of postverbal particles is constrained to two, thus similarly to the preverbal particles it is not possible to have a combination of all postverbal particles within one clause.
This particle is also a tense particle, but the only one that occurs postverbally. It denotes events and actions that happened not that long ago prior to the speech time.
'When I arrived he was eating.’|
'The visitors came in the morning.'|
'S/he had gone.'2 |
This particle is possibly one of the most interesting particles in Gurenɛ, since it realizes a number of grammatical functions. Its main function is to mark focus on elements it immediately follows, i.e. the verb. Note that there are further focus markers such as ti as in (3a), n as in (3b) and mɛ as in the following subpart of this section. According to Atintono (2011), these other focus marker need further investigation, since their difference to lá is still an open issue.
'S/he is going to some place.’|
'I beat him.'2|
Another function is to mark definiteness as a number of present examples illustrate, so this particle can either be a marker of definiteness or function as a demonstrative pronoun or determiner, respectively. Outside of the VP the particle can additionally function as a coordination between two NPs, as shown in the following example. Depending on its grammatical function the tone on the particle changes, such that as a definite marker it has a high tone, whereas it has a low tone if it is used as a focus marker.
'A Man and a woman.’|
'Three men and a woman.'|
'The three men and a woman.'4|
This particle marks affirmatives, but can also be used to mark focus, mainly contrastive focus.
'They have gone home.'|
'The goat is dead.'2|
The particle yá denotes completion and is the only postverbal particle that cannot cooccur with imperfective verbs.
'*S/he was eating.'|
'*S/he was dancing.'2|
This final particle is used as a directional marker and can be used in addition to local adverbials such as kalam in (56).
'S/he should come here.’|
'The visitor arrived in my house.'|
'The girl came and married my son.'2|
Questions can be formed by either an ex situ or an in situ strategy, they can be embedded or extracted and multiple questions are also possible depending on certain conditions.
Main Question words3
|-lɛ, se-, ŋwani, ŋwana||how much|
|yó||.. isn't it?|
|bem, bini, bɛ, bɛsa||where|
|bem, bem sɔi, bem basɛ||why|
|daandina, ŋwani, ŋwana||when|
|bem, beni, bɛ, ŋwani, ŋwana||what is it that ..|
|-ni, -na, beni, bem, bɛ||what|
Ex situ questions are formed in cases in which the question word represents the subject or functions as the agent of the clause, respectively. Thereby the strict SVO order in Gurenɛ is obeyed.
'Who is working?'|
Mostly, questions in Gurenɛ are formed by a raising intonation of the final tone, such that a high-low contour is generated as in (58a).
'Did you see him?’|
'You saw him.'3|
In embedded contexts, the question is preceded by the complementizer tí and depending on whether a question word is present, the order is CQVO or CSVO, respectively.
'I asked him whether he had seen Adongo.’|
'I asked him whom he saw.'3|
It is possible to form a question with more than one question word, such that one question word occurs ex situ in subject position and the other one(s) in situ. (60b) is marked as ungrammatical, because the question word beni does not represent the subject of the clause, but occurs in subject position and because the second question word occurs preverbally, whereas it could only occur postverbally due to the strict SVO word order.
'Who bought what?’|
'*What bought who?'|
'Napari bought a house.'|
Long distance extraction
In Gurenɛ the question word can occur in several different positions within the clause, such that it can also cross clause boundaries. The following examples illustrate different positions, in which the question word can appear.
'Ama asked what John slaughtered.’|
'Ama asked what John slaughtered.'|
'Ama asked what John slaughtered.'|
'Peter said John slaughtered fowl.'|
'What did Ama ask that John slaughtered?’|
'What did Ama ask that John is slaughtering?'|
'What did Ama ask that John slaughtered?'|
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