Emily Miller

Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Keith W. Slater


This thesis examines the information structure of Soumraye, also known as Somrai (common alternative spelling: Soumray; ISO: SOR; autonym: Chibne, Chibné or Shibne), a largely unstudied Eastern Chadic (Afro-Asiatic) language of Central Chad (Eberhard et al. 2020). Analysis is based on four fiction and two non-fiction narratives as well as part of an expository text and some previously published proverbs. I primarily use a framework from Lambrecht (1994). The default information structure of Soumraye is topic-comment or presupposition-focus. The construction for marked topic, or topicalization, consists of a preposed noun phrase ending with the topicalization particle da. Da's functions on the sentence and discourse levels are also examined. Other uses of da, including as a marker of clause-initial adverbial phrases, as a subordinator, and as a speech complementizer, are examined, but it is concluded that these constructions with da are not types of topicalization. I present two categories of marked focus, or focalization. Argument-focus is primarily through a preposed constituent, a cleft structure, or a focalization particle, but argument-focus of a subject can use a postposed emphatic pronoun. Sentence focus includes thetic and presentational sentences, of which Soumraye examples are included. Topicalization and focalization in Soumraye are compared and contrasted with topicalization and focalization in other Chadic languages, chiefly Barayin for topicalization and Lele for focalization. The applicability of the framework used in this thesis to other Chadic languages is also examined.