DOI: 10.3390/languages9010007 ISSN: 2226-471X

Absence of Clausal Islands in Shupamem

Hagay Schurr, Jason Kandybowicz, Abdoulaye Laziz Nchare, Tysean Bucknor, Xiaomeng Ma, Magdalena Markowska, Armando Tapia
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

Decades-long research on islands has led to the conclusion that island constraints are candidates for language universals. A recent surge in research on islandhood in African languages has revealed some would-be island configurations that are transparent for A¯- dependency formation. In this article, we show that in Shupamem, all clausal configurations expected to have the status of opaque island domains fail to block the formation of long-distance A¯- dependencies involving object ex situ focus. In support of the claim that A¯- movement has occurred in such cases, we rely on evidence from three wh- movement diagnostics (weak crossover effects, reconstruction phenomena and quantifier float). Furthermore, we show that non-movement dependencies across purported island boundaries in the language are also possible through the licensing of “island”-internal negative concord items by external non-local negators. We conclude that clausal island effects fail to materialize in Shupamem ex situ focus constructions and negative concord item-licensing domains. Based on an exploratory typological survey of islands in African languages, we indicate a trend toward varying degrees of island permeability in the area, concluding that while Shupamem is not an isolated example, it features one of the most permissive grammars known to date in this respect.

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