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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents an overview of the most important syntactic properties of African languages and language families. It investigates the status of syntactic word categories (noun, verb, adjective, pronoun, etc.) and examines the different word orders and word order alternations that are observed phrase-internally and at the level of the clause. Also discussed are syntactic constructions such as the passive, wh-questions, and relative clauses, as well as morphological phenomena that bear a close relation to syntax, such as case and agreement. Special attention is drawn to syntactic traits which are attested in African languages but which occur rarely, or not at all, outside Africa, such as the SVO–S-Aux-OV word order alternation (found in Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan languages as well as in Northern Khoisan), the construct state nominal (a characteristic of Afro-Asiatic languages), or logophoricity (a feature of subgroups of Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, and Afro-Asiatic).

Keywords: word order, logophoricity, wh-question, relative clause, passive

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