Towards a Typology of Locative Inversion – Bantu, Perhaps Chinese and English – But Beyond?
Article first published online: 3 APR 2011
© 2011 The Author. Language and Linguistics Compass © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Language and Linguistics Compass
Volume 5, Issue 4, pages 169–189, April 2011
How to Cite
Salzmann, M. (2011), Towards a Typology of Locative Inversion – Bantu, Perhaps Chinese and English – But Beyond?. Language and Linguistics Compass, 5: 169–189. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-818X.2011.00270.x
- Issue published online: 3 APR 2011
- Article first published online: 3 APR 2011
Locative inversion (LI) is a construction that is very prominent in Bantu languages. It involves inversion of a locative with the logical/thematic subject. The inversion is accompanied by a reversal of grammatical functions whereby the locative becomes the subject. LI is associated with a special discourse function, that of presentational focus. Within Bantu there is considerable variation, especially concerning thematic restrictions and the robustness of locative morphology. In addition, inversion may not always involve a reversal of grammatical functions. While the subjecthood of locatives is relatively easy to diagnose in languages where they agree with the verb, an alternative analysis in terms of topicalization suggests itself when there is no agreement. LI has been described for very few other languages, including English and Chinese. In both languages, the evidence for the subjecthood of the locative is limited or equivocal. LI thus appears to be a very rare phenomenon and this rarity may be the key to a fundamental understanding of the construction.