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4.2 Overt arguments with verbal agreement: subject only 

4.2.1 simple transitives

If the noun class marker on the verb agrees with the noun class of the subject, the subject can occur anywhere in the sentence, but it cannot intervene between the verb and a complement:


Since the subject NC manifests a full pronominal structure, it saturates the relevant q-role of the verb. Thus the overt subject DP can only occur in adjoined position, which explains the freedom with which it can undergo all permutations with typical adjuncts in (18a-d).[1]

Notice that the object behaves markedly different from the subject:


            The object cannot be separated from the verb by any adjuncts. Since no morphological affinities exist between verbal head and its complement (i.e. affinities as between prefix and stem), the blocking of intervening adverbials must be due to a syntactic mechanism. As stated above, the available facts do not allow me to draw a conclusion.      

4.2.2 double object constructions

Double object constructions extend the above noted adjacency requirement between the verb and the non-agreeing object to the indirect object: 


Again, the subject adjunct can freely permute with other adjuncts, here a 'locative temporal' (e-ntsambama ‘in the afternoon’) and a true temporal (kusasa ‘tomorrow’). If the subject precedes the direct object, the sentence is marginal, and if the subject precedes the indirect object, the sentence becomes ungrammatical. Thwala 1996: 213 states that 'the indirect object must precede the direct object when neither object triggers verb agreement', unless the indirect object is generated as a PP, in which case the direct object needs to be adjacent to the verb (Thwala: 214).

            This pattern is suggests that Theme must be saturated before Goal in a Larsonian shell (cf. Li 1990):


Prepositional manifestations of the IO, on the other hand, may have adjunct status: like nominal agreement, the preposition provides overt clues about the thematic status of the phrase. Thus, a prepositional IO is not required to remain in situ within the VP and is licensed to adjoin to a higher phrasal node.

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[1]               Notice that the word order in (d) poses an immense problem for the commonly made assumption that the agreeing subject is either located in [Spec, TP] or in a topic position (e.g. Thwala, 1996: 227). The data are not terribly clear here: in another context, Thwala (1996: 229) claims that the subject may not occur between object and manner adverb, unless the reading is contrastive. Nevertheless, the fact is that the subject can intervene in some reading, and hence [Spec, TP] is not a viable starting or intermediate position for the overt subject.