Skype talk on “Sentence-final particles in Barayin”

Joseph Lovestrand has sent the following invitation to another Skype Talk:

The Chadic Languages & Cultures group, run by Cameroonian linguists, is meeting online Saturday 28 August, 9 AM, Cameroon time (UTC+1). All are welcome to join the discussion (in French and English)!

Chadic Languages & Cultures
Saturday, 28 August, 2021
9 AM (Cameroon time, UTC+1)
Join via Skype:

Sentence-final particles in Barayin
Joseph Lovestrand
SOAS University of London

This presentation is a first exploration of the distribution and functions of seven sentence-final particles in Barayin based on the analysis of a 25,000-word corpus, primarily of transcribed monologues (Lovestrand 2017). The first two types of particles are widespread in Chadic languages: the negation marker /do/ and the interrogative marker /saŋ/. These markers only occur in a sentence-final position and appear to be monofunctional. These markers are closely related to the next two. The conjunction /sane/ ‘or’ can act as a conjunction presenting alternatives, but in a sentence-final position it is an interrogative marker with essentially the same function as /saŋ/. The sentence-final particle /kudi/ always follows the negation marker /do/. Its precise function is not clear, but it is assumed to intensify the negator in a similar sense to the expression “not at all” in English or “pas du tout” in French. The particle /atti/ seems to have a general affirmative function. It is used on its own to express agreement in dialogues. As a sentence-final particle in monologues, its function is less clear, but it could be interpreted as an intensifier analogous to “really” in English.

The other two sentence-final particles in the corpus are words from Chadian Arabic. The word /kalas/ or /halas/ is from Chadian Arabic ‘finished’. It is the 11th most frequent word in the corpus. In addition to occurring at the end of sentences, it is sometimes found transcribed in a sentence-initial position or on its own, suggesting it can appear as an interjection without being part of an adjacent clause. There are cases where /kalas/ or /halas/ is followed by the background marker /ná/ (Lovestrand 2018) thus verifying its integration in the syntax. The other Arabic-origin sentence-final particle is /bas/ ‘only’. This word is sometimes used to simply mean ‘only’, and in this function it can also occur in a non-final position. As a sentence-final particle, /bas/ can take on pragmatic functions of emphasis and downplaying in a manner analogous to some uses of “just” in English. Note that /bas/ in Chadian Arabic is not a sentence-final particle.

Lovestrand, Joseph. 2012. The linguistic structure of Baraïn (Chadic). Dallas, TX: Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics MA thesis. (2 December, 2020).

Lovestrand, Joseph. 2017. Recording and archiving Barayin (Jalkiya) language data. London, SOAS: Endangered Languages Archive. (2 December, 2012).

Lovestrand, Joseph. 2018. The background marker na in Barayin. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 39(1). 1–39.

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