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2018 | 99 | 34-46
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Yorùbá as a pro-drop language: a preliminary investigation

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The issue of the third person singular pronoun subject in Yorùbá is a controversial one. The controversy borders on whether Yorùbá has a phonetically realised third person singular pronoun subject or not. Some scholars believe that the occurrence of a morpheme presumed to be this pronoun is at best a high tone syllable (HTS); the implication of this is that the position of this pronoun in any structure in which it is presumed to have occurred is empty and without any phonetic content. There are three schools of thought to this controversy; while some scholars believe that Yorùbá has third person singular pronoun subject, some others believe that it is non-existent. Some also believe that there are two ways by which the morpheme assumed to be the third person singular pronoun subject could be interpreted. According to such school, the morphemes can be designated as a High Tone Syllable while, in the second instance, it can be interpreted as the third person singular pronoun subject; depending on the context in which it occurs. This paper is a contribution to the controversy but in another dimension. I argue in the paper that Yoruba language should be regarded as a pro-drop. This may be at variance to what obtains in some other established pro-drop languages in the world; however, language internal evidence appears to favour this assertion of pro-drop. Evidence is given to buttress my arguments. My argument is not limited to whether this morpheme exists or not in the subject position; I also explored other positions within the structure of Yorùbá language to show the erratic nature of this pronoun. The paper concludes that if my arguments are proved to be valid, then, the issue of whether Yorùbá́ has the third person pronoun subject would have been significantly addressed.
Physical description
  • Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria
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