Pronouns and the Activation of Focus in Aíká: A Minimalist Description

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Abimbola Olabode Thomas,


Focusing is the previously unshared/unfamiliar (i.e. new) information. It is observed that not all pronoun types can activate focusing in Aíká. However, little has been said on how pronoun can be focused in Aíká. Therefore, this paper adopts the Copy Theory of movement in Minimalist Program as its theoretical framework and investigated Aíká pronouns in focus constructions with regards to identifying focusable vs unfocusable pronouns and derivation of pronoun focusing. The paper identifies two types of personal pronouns- emphatic [+emphasis] and unemphatic [-emphasis] pronouns. Emphatic pronoun is preposeable just like other DPs. Hence, it is movement licensing, activating focus without inducing pronoun substitution in the clause. It occupies spec-Focus Phrases as new information. Unemphatic pronoun is inert to movement. It does not move to specFocP/Emphatic Phrase (EmpP). It specifies [-emphasis; -focus] as given information. In derivation of pronoun focusing, the paper concludes that the computation selects emphatic pronoun for focus while unemphatic pronoun is selected for given information without substituting one pronoun for the other. The target derivation is determined by what the expected output is because that language speakers’ use pronouns referentially for discourse purposes as new/focus on the one hand and given/topic information on the other hand.

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How to Cite
Olabode Thomas, , A. (2018). Pronouns and the Activation of Focus in Aíká: A Minimalist Description. Journal of The Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 21(3), 221–239. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Abimbola Olabode Thomas, , Department of Linguistics and African Languages,

University of Ibadan, Ibadan



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