The Determiner Phrase Internal Structure in ngêmbà

Achille FOSSI


This paper investigates the internal structure of the Determiner Phrase (DP) in ngêmbà, a Grassfields’ Bantu language spoken in Cameroon, Central Africa. It is argued in this paper that ngêmbà exhibits a head first structure and the surface order of D-elements is the mirror image of their merged order. This linear order is derived via successive roll-up movements of the different DP internal constituents. The determiner or determiner-like units of language are generated in a position to the left of the head noun and the demonstrative determiner occupies the head D of DP. To account for the derivation and the agreement relation between the proximate (PROX) or the distal (DIST) particles, I postulate for the existence of a functional projection (FP) headed by the PROX/DIST particles above NumP. When the noun and the head of FP merge, the noun phrase is moved to Spec-FP and the agreement relation between the noun and the PROX/DIST particles is established under Spec-Head configuration. With regard to the number morphology, I assumed that the number prefix occupies the head of the functional projection NumP located above NP. When the demonstrative and the possessive co-occur in within the DP-complex in ngêmbà, the linear order is derived via successive roll-up movements. The noun first merges with the number prefix to form NumP; when NumP merges with the possessive phrase, NumP moves to Spec-PossP; after, when PossP merges with the functional projection heading the proximate or the distal particles, PossP also moves to Spec-FP and finally, when FP merges with DP, FP in turn moves to Spec-DP to yield the right linear order. 

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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