Agreement Features and Lubukusu Null-Subject Structures

Khaemba N. Elizabeth


This paper reports an empirical qualitative study that sought to discuss the treatment of agreement features found in Lubukusu which is a pro-drop language. Its main objective was to interpret the agreement features which permit the missing pronominal subjects in Lubukusu structures. Two hypotheses governed this study: a) Agreement features are uninterpretable in nature; they are only assigned values by the subjects governing them. b) Agreement is interpretable in null subject languages and a pronoun of whichever nature (overt or covert) is therefore redundant. According to this study this prediction is false. Crucial evidence in support of the former hypothesis governing this study comes from Lubukusu structures. It is observed that such constructions can have both overt and phonetically empty subject pronouns which are called pro. These pronouns are formally licensed by virtue of the agreement on the finite verbs or auxiliaries. The study adopted the Government and Binding Theory (GB) with some slight aspects of the most recent developments within the Minimalist Program (MP): The Feature Theory. The study uses the researcher's native speaker intuition to generate appropriate data. Thereafter, native speakers of Lukubusu were chosen as informants to verify the generated data. The data collected was coded into simple sentences, embedded structures and expletives. The results show that the inflectional features found in these structures are uninterpretable and are only valued by the interpretability nature of the overt or covert subjects within the structure at hand.

Keywords: Feature, GoverningCategory, Interpretation, Phi-feature, Projection.

Lubukusu is one of the bantu languages found Kenya. Its speakers predominantly occupy western Kenya; more specifically Bungoma County

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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