Ergative Constructions in Yorùbá: A Minimalist Approach

Jelili Adewale Adeoye, Owoyele Oluwasegun Joseph


Existing studies on Yorùbá syntax have shown that there are controversies among scholars on the motivation for DP movement in ergative construction in the language. Scholars have suggested theta theory and pragmatics as the explanation, while others lay credence to case or extended project principle. None of the existing works have address DP movement in ergative construction in Yorùbá with insight of the Minimalist Program. This present research dwells on Chomsky (1995, 1998 2000 &2001) Minimalist Program with Yorùbá internal language evidence to explain DP movement in the ergative construction. Findings in study show that the only DP in ergative construction performs dual functions. It is the subject based on the syntactic position and morphological marking, while it also functions as object because it bears theme theta role.


Case; Yorùbá, ergative/ unaccusative; A-movement; EPP (extended projection principle); outcomes

Full Text:



Akanbi , T.A. (2010) Distribution and Interpretation of ‘PRO’ in Yorùbá. An Unpublished

M.Phil Dissertation, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Ajiboye,J.O.(2006). A Morpho-Syntactic of Ni in Mọ̀bà Yoruba. Journal of West African Languages. XXX III (2)23-42

Awobuluyi, O.(1978). Essentials of Yoruba Grammar. Ibadan, Nigeria: Oxford University press

Awoyale, Y.(1990). On the Nature and Type of Alpha Movement in Yoruba. A Paper Presented at the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages Staff Seminar, University of Ilorin

Burzio, L. (1986). Italian Syntax. Boston: Dordrecht Reidel Publishing Company.

Chomsky, N. (1981). Lectures on Government and Binding. Dordrech: Foris .

Chomsky, N. (1986). Knowledge of Language: Its nature,origin and use.New York. Praeger

Chomsky, N. (1993). ‘A minimalist program for linguistic theory’, Hale and Keyser

(eds.) View from Building 20. Cambridge,MA: MIT Press

Chomsky, N.(1995)The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chomsky, N. 1998. Minimalist inquiries: The framework, MIT Occasional Papers in Linguistics, 15.

Chomsky, N. 2000. Minimalist inquiries. In Roger Martin, Daniel Micheals & Juan Uriegereka

(Eds.) Step by step: Essays on minimalism in honour of Lasnik Howard. Cambridge,

Mass: MIT Press. (83-155).

Chomsky, N. 2001. Derivation by Phase.A life in language. Ken Hale and M. Kenstowicz

(eds.) Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press

Crystal, D. 1980. A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics London: Andre Deutsch.

Epstein, S.D. and T.D. Seely (1999). SPEC-ifying the GF "subject": Eliminating A-chains

and the EPP within a derivational model. Ms., University of Michigan and Eastern

Michigan State University

Mc Fadden, T. (2003). Adventures in Resolving Redundancy: Case vs. the EPP. University of Penn working Papers in Linguistics 9(1) 137-150.

Fukui,Naoki & Margaret, Speas (1986). Specifiers and projection. MIT working papers in linguistics 8, 128-172. Cambridge, Mass,: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.

Grohmann,K., J. Drury & J.C. Castillo (2000) No more EPP. Proceedings of WCCFL 19, 139-152. Somerville, Mass.,: Cascadilla Press

Koopman, H & D. Sportiche (1985). Theta-theory and Extraction: GLOW Newsletter

Koopman, H &D. Sportiche (1990). The Position of Subject, Ms. University of Carlifornia, Los Angeles.

Kuroda, Y. (1988). ‘ Whether we Agree or not’, Linguistica Investigations,12: 1-47.

Lasnik, H. and Uriagereka (1988). A course in GB Syntax: Cambridge. M17 Press.

Marantz, A. 1991/2000. Case and Licensing. Proceedings of the Eastern State Conference on Linguistics. Columbus: Ohio State University. Reprinted in Reuland 2000.

Martin, Roger (1999). Case, the Extened projection principle and minimalism. Working

minimalism,ed. S. Epstein&N. Hornstein,1-25. Cambridge, Mass,: MIT Press

Working Minimalism. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.

Ndimele, O. M. (1992). The Parameter of Universal Grammar: A Government and Binding Approach. Owerri, Nigeria : African Educational Services

Perlmutter, D. (1978). Impersonal Passive and the Unaccusative Hypothesis, Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, 157-89

Perlmutter,D.(ed.)(1983).Studies in Relational Grammar I. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Radford, A (1988) Transformational Grammar. Cambridge: University Press

Radford, A. (1997a) Syntactic theory and the structure of English. Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press

Radford, A. (1997b) Syntax. A minimalist Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press

Radford, A. (2004) English Syntax: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press

Robberts, Ian (1997). Comparative Syntax. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Sabel, J., (2002) Wh-Question and extraction asymmetries in Malagasy. In Andrea Rackowski & Norvin Richards (eds.) Proceedings of AFLA 8 (MIT Working Articles in Linguistics

Yusuf, Ore (1998). Fundamentals of Syntax and the Study of Nigerian Languages. Ijebu-Ode,

Nigeria: Sebiotimo Publications.

Yusuf, Ore (1997). Transformation Generative Grammar: An Introduction. Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria:

Sebiotimo Publications.

Zwarts, F.(1993) There types of Polarity. Ms. Also appeared as Zwarts1998 in Plural

Quantification, ed. F. Hamn and E. Hinrichs, Kluwer, Dordrecht



Article Metrics

Abstract view : 1 times
PDF - 0 times


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License