Table of contents
- Linguistic classification
- Tone system
- Noun Class System
- Pronominal System1
- Word Order
- Verb System
- Question Formation
- Mabia Central
- Mabia Kusaal
- Mabia Kusaal
- Mabia Central
Kusaal has three level tones and a downstepped high tone.
In Kusaal, the perfective and future negations are expressed by tone marking on the preverbal particles. The particles pʊ/ku both are negative future morphemes. If these particles are expressed by a low tone, they are translated as will not, while if they are expressed by a high tone, they are translated as did not.
|- ŋ/-mis||gúŋ/gúmís||kapok tree/kapok trees|
In Kusaal, the personal pronouns are homonymous with the possessive pronouns. The only difference between both kinds of pronouns is that personal pronouns can occur in subject and object positions, while possessive pronouns are restricted to genitive positions meaning that they obligatorily immediately precede the nominal element they modify.2 The table below illustrates the paradigm for both kinds of pronouns.1
|Person||Subject / Possessor||Object||Emphatic|
Emphatic pronouns are used in order to emphasize a certain role, meaning that they pragmatically are exclusive in the discourse.
‘It is me he gave it to.’1|
‘The elders were insulting each other.’1|
|Personal Pronoun||Suffix||Singular||Reflexive Pronoun||Plural||Reflexive Pronoun|
|1st||-mɛŋ||M||m mɛŋ||ti||ti mɛŋ|
|2nd||-mɛŋ||fu||fu mɛŋ||ya||ya mɛŋ|
|3rd [+human]||-mɛŋ||o||o mɛŋ||ba||ba mɛŋ|
|3rd [-human]||-mɛŋ||di||di mɛŋ||di||di mɛŋ|
Relative clauses in Kusaal can be headed either externally or internally, meaning that the head of the relative clause either is outside or inside the relative clause.34 There are two relative pronouns in Kusaal, kane and onɛ. While the former can refer to human and non-human entities and has a plural form bane, the latter can only refer to human entities and does not have a plural form.1 the contrast between these relative pronouns is shown in (6a) and (6b).
There are four demonstrative pronouns in Kusaal, which make a distinction in terms of number and distance. Thus, there is a distinction between proximate and distal demonstrative pronouns, whereby nwa and nɛ’ɛŋa/nɛ are used in singular for proximate elements, while bamma and 'banna'' are used in plural and refer to distal elements.1
Interrogative pronouns in Kusaal can occur either clause-initially or they can stand in situ. The table below provides an overview of the interrogative pronouns in Kusaal, whereby kanɛ and banɛ can be used for human and non-human entities.2
|kanɛ||which one||banɛ||which ones|
|Non-human||din(ɛ)/ lin(e)||which one|
|dakanɛ||which day/ when|
Kusaal has a strict SVO word order, but clefting is common. The following examples show the word order for an intransitive, a transitive and a ditransitive clause with either an adverbial or with an adjunct.
'Adam will work in France.’|
'Adam slaughtered the fowl yesterday.’|
'Ziema gave Napog a pot yesterday.’|
The VP in Kusaal consists of preverbal particles encoding tense, aspect, mood and polarity, and the main verb.
The table below provides an overview of the most common preverbal particles.2
|da/daa||DIST.PST||two or more days ago|
|saa + na||FUT.CRAS||only tomorrow|
Verbs in Kusaal do not inflect for number, but for aspect. The aspectual system is split into the perfective form and the imperfective form. The perfective is marked by the suffix -ya, whereas the imperfective is marked by the suffix -t/-d. For instance, the verb di ('eat') in the perfective form is diya ('has eaten'), while in the imperfective it is dit ('eats'). In the progressive form on the other hand, it is ditnɛ, thus the imperfective form of di with the additional suffix -nɛ as a marker indicating the progressive.2 The examples below show the different aspectual marking of the verb in Kusaal, but note that the habitual marker in the glosses corresponds to the imperfective marking on the verb.
‘The man dances.’|
'Awam is eating rice.'2|
In general, negation in Kusaal is expressed by a negator that precedes the negated element like the verb or nominal. There exist also verb forms that are inherently polar to each other like mi' ('know') and zi' ('not know').
'I don't know.'2|
'I know the child.’|
'I don't know the child.'2|
In order to negotiate a nominal predicate, the generic nominal negator ka' is placed immediately before the predicate. This form is the polar equivalent to the copula ã ('to be') and also reflects the negative form of bɛ ('be at') and mɔr ('to have'). Note that the abbreviation SFE in the glosses stands for sentence final element.
'S/he is my child.’|
'S/he is not my child.'2|
'Our father is at home.’|
'Our father is not at home.'2|
'His wealth/money has no end.’2|
In contrast to the nominal negator ka', there also exists a generic verbal negator pʊ that is mainly used for ditransitives in the present and past tense, but importantly not for future tense and imperatives. The verbal negator functions like a preverbal particle in that it immediately precedes the verb, as in (17a). In cases in which there are other preverbal particles as well, the verbal negator still immediately precedes the verb and thus follows other preverbal particles, like in (17b).
'S/he has still not had time.’|
'The children did not return here.'2|
If a delacrative is negated in the perfective form, the verbal negator again immediately precedes the verb, but as a result the verb loses its perfective marker -ya, whereas the final vowel is lengthened.
'S/he has eaten.’|
'S/he did not eat.'2|
Declaratives in the imperfective form, either habitual or progressive, are negated in the same way, but the verb does not lose its imperfective marker.
'S/he washes every day.’|
'S/he doesn't wash every day.'2|
The negator that is used in order to negate a clause in the future tense is kʊ. It reflects the negative meaning as well as the future reading. The preverbal particles for negation and future tense are thus in complementary distribution.
'S/he will wash the clothes.’|
'S/he will not wash the clothes.’|
'S/he will not wash the clothes.’2|
In order to negate an imperative, there is an additional preverbal particle da that is only used in imperatives. In contrast to the verbal negator that changes the verb form like in the perfective, the negator for imperatives does not change the form of the verb.
'Eat the food!’|
'Don't eat the food!'2|
The table below offers an overview of the most common question words in Kusaal.2
In general, questions in Kusaal strictly obey the word order SVO, whereby the subject is replaced by a question word, as in the examples below. In ex situ questions, the focus marker kā obligatorily immediately follows the question word.
‘Where is it that the meat is?’2|
‘What did the thief steal?’2|
‘Which day will you come?’2|
‘Whom did he give it to?’2|
‘Who (has) bought a lorry/car?’2|
Regular interrogative questions exhibit the question word in situ as the last element of the clause and also strictly obey the word order SVO, as shown below. These questions correspond to echo-questions.
‘Where are you (lit.: you be where)?’2|
‘What did the thief steal (lit.: the thief steal what)?’2|
‘Whom did s/he give it to (lit.: s/he take it give who)?’2|
‘How big is the cow (lit.: the cow is sized how)?’2|
‘Which room do you want (lit.: you want room which)?’2|
In embedded contexts, the question word can occupy several distinct positions. In (32a), it occurs in situ in the subordinated clause, whereas it occurs ex situ in the subordinated clause in (32b), where is appears between the complementizer introducing the embedded clause and the focus marker ka. In (32c) the question word occurs ex situ in the matrix clause, showing that long distance extraction is possible.
'Ama asked John slaughtered what?’|
'Ama asked what did John slaughter?'|
'What did Ama ask that John slaughtered?'|
In Kusaal, a question can consist of more than one question word, whereby one question word occurs ex situ and the other one in situ as in (33a). As shown in (33b), only one question word can occupy the clause-initial position, such that more than one question word at the beginning of the clause leads to ungrammaticality. The answer to the multiple question given in (33c) shows morphological focus marking on the subject, which is only possible in multiple questions.
'Who bought what?’|
Lit. 'What did who buy?'|
'NAPARI bought A HOUSE.'|
- 1. Bodomo, Adams, Hasiyatu Abubakari & Samuel Alhassan Issah (2020): Handbook of the Mabia Languages of West Africa. Glienicke: Galda Verlag
- 2. Agoswin Anthony Musah (2018): A grammar of Kusaal: a Mabia (Gur) language of Northern Ghana. Berlin: Schriften zur Afrikanistik = Research in African studies, Vol. 27
- 3. Hiraiwa, K., Akanlig-Pare, G., Atintono, S., Bodomo, A., Essizewa, K. & Hudu, F. (2017): A Comparative Syntax of Internally-headed Relative Clauses in Gur.: Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 2.1, 1-30. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.40
- 4. Order of Relative Clause and Noun, Dryer, M. S. , Leipzig, 2013, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology., In Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.) The World Atlas of Language Structures Online
- 5. Hasiyatu Abubakari (2011): Object sharing as symmetric sharing: predicate clefting and serial verb constructions in Kusaal. MA Thesis.: University of Tromsö
- 6. Hasiyatu Abubakari (2018a): Aspects of Kusaal grammar: the syntax-information structure interface. Ph. D. thesis. Wien: Universität Wien
- 7. Hasiyatu Abubakari (2018b): Information structure and the lexical funtional grammar framework. In: Miriam Butt & Tracy Holloway King (eds.) Proceedings of the LFG’18 Conference, University of Vienna. Stanford: CSLI Publications, 4-24
- 8. David Eddyshaw (2018): A grammar of Agolle Kusaal.:
- 9. Nora C. England (1985): Question formation in Kusaal .: Studies in African Linguistics suppl 9, 105-110
- 10. William A. Ladusaw & Nora C. England (1985): Papers in the Structure of Kusaal. Santa Cruz: Syntax Research Center, University of California
- 11. William A. Ladusaw & Nora C. England (1987): Control and complementation in Kusaal. In: David Odden (ed.) Current approaches to African linguistics 4. Dodrecht: Mouton de Gruyter; Foris Publications, 239-246
- 12. Agoswin Anthony Musah (2010): Aspects of Kusaal phonology. MA Thesis.: University of Ghana
- 13. Anthony Agoswin Musah, Tony Naden & Michael Awimbilla (2012): Handbook of Kusaal orthography.: SIL
- 14. Urs Niggli (2012): The structure of Burkina Faso Kusaal .: SIL