A whole lotta focusin' goin' on information packaging in Somali texts


  • Mauro Tosco


Somali, focus marking


The article deals with the pragmatics of focus marking in Somali written texts. The use of the nominal focus markers baa and ayaa, of clefts, of noun incor-poration and of the particle waa is analyzed. Concerning the latter, it is argued that the verbal-focus effect often associated with it is more the result of the absence of nominal focus than an inherent property of this particle, thereby confirming Saeed's analysis of waa as a "declarative classifier". A few text-building uses of the focus particles are discussed, namely, the use of subject focus in text-initial thetic sentences, the topic-shifting value of nominal focus, and the use of focus on a clausal or nominal adverbial as an action-enhancing device. In light of these considerations, it is argued that the nominal focus particles are perhaps better considered as generic "foregrouding particles".