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Discontinuous DPs — DPs in which material outside the noun phrase intervenes between a noun and its modifier — present a puzzle for understanding underlying syntactic structure, given classical assumptions that material that belongs together will be positioned together (see e.g. Behagel 1932’s First Law; Fanselow and Cavar 2002’s Contiguity Principle). For many language families across the world, discontinuity has been reported as a special order of modifiers that arises in contexts of contrastive focus, accounting for only a small percentage of noun phrases in discourse (Fanselow and Cavar 2002; Louagie and Verstraete 2016, i.a.). In Tunen, a Bantu language of Cameroon, discontinuous modifiers are surprisingly common. For example, in (1), the focussed numeral báfàndɛ̀ ‘two’ appears postverbally, while the noun it modifies appears in a preverbal position. Previous work by Maarten Mous argued that Tunen modifiers may be discontinuous in this way when they are contrastively focussed (Mous 1997, 2003, 2005). In this paper I present results from my fieldwork study of discontinuity and information structure in Tunen that sought to test Mous’ proposal about the discourse configurations underlying discontinuity and to consider the implications for the syntax of Tunen, a language well-known amongst Bantu as having SOV rather than SVO as the default word order across all tenses (Rowlands 1969; Mous 1997, 2003, 2005, 2014; Bearth 2003). I show that Tunen has a high frequency of discontinuous numerals, and that, contra expectation, neither contrast nor focus is a perfect predictor of discontinuity. I demonstrate how tonal and syntactic tests diagnose the discontinuous modifier as being in a position outside of the verb phrase, and consider the classic question with (apparent) discontinuity: are the noun and modifier originally the same syntactic constituent, or are there two separate noun phrases?
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