Microvariation in nominal plurality in Northern Masa

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Guillaume Guitang
ㅤ ㅤOusmanou
Pierre Davounoumbi


This paper describes nominal plurality and examines microvariation in the marking of plural on nouns across three closely related Northern Masa languages, namely in Gizey, Masana, and Musey. These three languages use the same set of nominal plural exponents: -Vj, -ii/-ij, and -Vgi which are reflexes of Proto-Chadic *-ai, *-i and *-aki, respectively (Newman 1990). In addition to suffixal formation, the three languages have restricted sets of suppletive plural nouns in which two further formatives can be identified, namely -n and -u. Finally, traces of an erstwhile vowel internal ablaut can be observed in a few vestigial plurals. Although these languages constitute a more or less homogeneous lectal continuum, they have developed different plural assignment systems ranging from fully morphological (e.g., Masana) to fully phonological (e.g., Gizey). The three languages also differ in their potential for number-marking (numerality). Generally, nominal plurality seems to be on the decline.

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Author Biographies

Guillaume Guitang, Université libre de Bruxelles

Guillaume Guitang is a PhD student at the Center for Linguistics Research (LaDisco), Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium. His research focuses on the description of Masa languages. He is currently preparing a grammatical description of Gizey.

ㅤ ㅤOusmanou, University of Yaoundé I

Ousmanou is Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon (Department of African Languages and Linguistics), where he specialises in Cameroonian languages, with a particular focus on Masana (Chadic).

Pierre Davounoumbi, University of Maroua

Pierre Davounoumbi is a doctoral student at the Université de Maroua. His work focusses on the description of Musey (Chadic). He is also interested in the preservation of the material culture of the people who settled around the Logone River. He collects traditional artefacts for the Centre Culturel et Musée de la Vallée du Logone (Yagoua).