The noun phrase in Shilluk

Bert Remijsen, Otto Gwado Ayoker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter presents a descriptive analysis of the noun phrase in Shilluk, surveying the variety of modifiers that combine with a nominal head. For the sake of accountability, 270 sound clips are embedded, many of them drawn from spontaneous speech. The set of noun-phrase modifiers includes possessors, adjectives, verbs, non-possessor nouns, quantifiers(including numerals), determiners, and a diminuitive. Of all of these modifiers, the diminuitive is the only one that preceeds the head. This fits with the interpretation that the diminuitive represents an instance of grammaticalization, which developed out of a possessive noun phrase construction. Of particular interest in relation to the numeral system is the fact that, for numbers below 10,the cardinal is morphologically derived on the basis of the ordinal, rather than the way around. Also, in noun phrases modified by a verbal predicate, we find past tense marking on the modification marker. Noun phrases are conjoined in an asymmetric manner, with the non-initial noun phrase representing a prepositional phrase. We also describe vocatives and associative plurals, both of which involve morphological marking at the right edge of the noun phrase. As such, they stand out in the context of Shilluk morphology, which is primarily head-marking in nature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Descriptive Grammar of Shilluk
Place of PublicationHawai'i
PublisherLanguage Documentation & Conservation
Number of pages91
VolumeSpecial publication 15
ISBN (Electronic)9780997329529
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021


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  • Floating quantity in Shilluk

    Remijsen, B. & Ayoker, O. G., Sep 2020, In: Language. 96, 3, p. e135-e156 22 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access

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