Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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TSEHAY Abza Debo, Lecturer at Hawassa University and PhD. candidate at Addis Ababa University, Dep't of Linguistics, Ethiopia

This paper is concerned with the morphological focus marking in Inor, a Peripheral Western Gurage language in the Southern part of Ethiopia. Conducting research on this topic is a task well worth doing, as detailed work has not been carried out on this area. Focus is a discourse function, and it is a constituent which is of communicative interest to the interlocutors when compared to what has already been discussed. Focus is the information which is relatively the most important or salient in the given communicative setting and considered by the speaker to be essential for the addressee to integrate into his pragmatic information (cf. Dik 1997:326). Qualitative research methodology is used in the study. The linguistic data have been collected using key informants, and they have been analyzed thematically. The findings show that depending on the intention of the speaker to emphasize it, any constituent of a sentence can be marked for focus in Inor. In the morphological way of marking a focus, the focus particle (which is an affix) occurs in a variable position following the focused element in the presence of other suffixal elements with various functions. It is also found that the suffixes -ʃ and -m are the most frequently used type of focus markers which assign selective focus to the constituent they are suffixed to. Furthermore, the later has an expanding function. Moreover, the bound morpheme -x⁽ʷ⁾, which has a completive function, is another focus particle which is mainly used with questions. It is also attested that the focus markers -ʃe and -dar(əga) rarely occur with very limited distribution. This paper is organized as follows. The first section presents the background of the study, mainly focusing on the people and their language. The second section is about the contrastive (or identificational) focus marker. In this section, the expanding, selective or restrictive and replacive focus markers are discussed. The third section, on the other hand, focuses on the assertive (or completive or information) focus, and the final section summarizes the paper.