Verb raising and subject inversion in Bantu relatives

Katherine Demuth, Carolyn Harford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Verb raising and subject inversion have long been topics of theoretical linguistic interest in Romance and Germanic languages, amongst others. Bantu languages also exhibit verb raising and subject inversion, though there has been no comprehensive investigation of these phenomena, nor an explanation of crosslinguistic differences. This paper provides a unified account of verb raising and subject inversion in Bantu languages. It shows that subject inversion in Bantu matrix clauses resembles that found in Romance languages. In contrast, however, verb raising to C (similar to V2 in German matrix clauses) occurs only in embedded relative clauses, and only in some Bantu languages. A natural explanation for these phenomena comes from the fact that verb raising interacts with the prosodic status of the relative complementizer, and that Bantu matrix clauses are IPs not CPs. The paper points to the importance of competing interactions between different aspects of the grammar (e.g., prosodic words, syntax) and provides support for the notion of extended projections (Grimshaw 1993,1997).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of African Languages and Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes

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