The Syntax and Semantics of Adverbal Clauses in Tonga

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Sikota, Edith
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University of Zambia
In Tonga of Zambia, there has not been a detailed account of the syntax and semantics of adverbial clauses exploring the structure and the various meanings different subtypes communicate. There is very little representation at syntax and semantics levels of the analysis of adverbial clauses in Tonga. This study provides a detailed account of the syntax and semantics of adverbial clauses in Tonga. It uses a descriptive research design in the analysis of both the syntax and semantics of adverbial clauses. At syntactic level, the research has found that adverbial clause types are not limited to a single order. The arrangement of constituents varies. Some clause types permit argument fronting while others do not. Although temporal, purpose, conditional, concessive, reason and place clauses can either be preposed or postposed, the ordering of these clauses in Tonga seem to be highly motivated by a number of factors such as the logical sequence of the events, complexity, focus, emphasis and the conjunction and elements signalling the adverbial clauses. With tense sequence, the study has shown that there is a general rule; the copy-rule by the adverbial clause of tense of the main clause verb for most adverbial types. However, there is also a wide range of tense sequences in clauses of reason, purpose, place, and condition. The mood varies considerably, depending on the effect of the syntactic expression. There are also conjunctions that govern particular moods. The study has also revealed that very few adverbial clause subtypes in the language solely use syntactic means, a few use both syntactic and morphological means while many adverbial clauses are signalled by morphological means alone. Under semantics, the study has established several types of adverbial clauses. The study has revealed that there are several specific meanings expressed by various semantic interpretations of adverbial clauses, guided by the subordinating conjunctions and verb forms used. The study has also revealed that some conjunctions are polyfunctional. Semantic analysis has used the principle of compositionality in which the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its constituent expressions and the rules used to combine them.
Tonga Language--semantics , Tonga language--Syntax.