Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Sotho Bantu Morphology Tone Nguni Niger-Congo

Major Advisor

Andrea Calabrese

Associate Advisor

Jonathan Bobaljik

Associate Advisor

Harry van der Hulst

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Morphosyntax and Tonology of Sotho Languages

This dissertation investigates some of the more prominent features of Sotho morphosyntax. The theoretical framework chosen for this work is Distributed Morphology. Among the problems for which it seeks to offer a solution are the disjoint/conjoint form contrast in all its manifestations, the nature of the verbal final suffix, the form of various concord morphemes, the phenomenon of imbrication and the status of subject and object markers. Additionally, this work proposes a system of tonal rules in order to account for tonal melodies observed in Sotho languages.

One of the main issues that is addressed in this thesis is the disjoint/conjoint form contrast. In the several chapters that are dedicated to the disjoint/conjoint distinction in Present and Perfect clauses, I propose an account that combines information structure with verb movement, arguing that the verb moves to T in conjoint forms but fails to do so in disjoint forms. I also draw comparison to Nguni languages, providing an account for similarities and divergencies in how the disjoint/conjoint distinction is expressed in the two groups of languages.