How do words get in order? The role of speaker-hearer interaction in languages of southern Africa
This study will investigate how word order interacts with morphological marking and phonological phrasing, and how this correlates with information structure in the Nguni subgroup of Bantu languages in South Africa, such as Zulu and Xhosa.
The word order in the Nguni languages is very flexible and has importance for pragmatic meaning. Relatively little is still known about how the different word orders, in combination with grammatical agreement and prosody, map onto differences in meaning. What we do know is that the shared knowledge between speakers, as well as the intentions of the speaker, have an important role to play; how does the speaker add to already shared information, what is important in the conversation and what is suggested to be true or not.