Bill Forshaw, Lucinda Davidson, Barbara Kelly, Rachel Nordlinger, Gillian Wigglesworth, and Joe Blythe
This chapter reports on initial findings of an ongoing large-scale research project into the acquisition of Murrinhpatha, a polysynthetic language of the Daly River region of the Northern Territory of Australia with complex morphology. The complex verbal structures in Murrinhpatha, which can contain a large number of morphemes and bipartite stem morphology discontinuously distributed throughout the verbal template, raise a multitude of questions for acquisition. In this chapter we focus particularly on the acquisition of the complex predicate system in the verb, and the acquisition of subject-marking categories and tense/aspect/mood. Our findings are based on the language development of five Murrinhpatha acquiring children aged from 2;7–4;11 years.
Yakov Testelets and Yury A. Lander
Adyghe, a polysynthetic language of the West Caucasian family, shows the typological characteristics of ergativity, left-branching word order, and the flexibility of the lexical categories. Its word has a high degree of morphological complexity and consists of five ordered morphological zones, within which the order of affixes can vary, and recursion is possible. The information encoded in the predicate includes the argument structure, causation, and various aspectual and modal characteristics. Many meanings can be expressed, either with a combination of morphemes, or a combination of words, or with both simultaneously. There are structural asymmetries at the clause level and the principle C violations in cross-clausal syntax—the phenomenon that has been recorded also in many polysynthetic languages of America.
This chapter discusses compounding in Hebrew. Section 27.2 reviews constructs and compounds. Section 27.3 shows that there are at least two distinct types of N + N constructs: one, labelled an R-construct, whose nonhead is referential; and another, an M-construct, whose non-head is a modifier. It is shown that M-constructs, but not R-constructs, share important properties with compounds. Finally, Section 27.4 presents a sketchy outline of an analysis of constructs and compounds in Hebrew.
This article examines nonsubject relative clauses (RCs) in Turkic languages. It shows that all three types of nonsubject RCs in Turkish are amenable to a Kayneian derivation, in which the target of the RC moves to Spec/CP, and where the clause remnant moves leftward to Spec/DP or Spec/DemP. The article proposes the use of a Principles-and-Parameters version of government and binding theory in the analysis of RCs.
The small Kartvelian family is one of the three endemic language families of the Caucasus. The Kartvelian languages are double marking, with nominal case and two sets of person markers in the verb. Since the 17th century, linguists have attempted to accommodate the complexities of Georgian morphosyntax within the descriptive categories of their time, successively describing the language as nominative, (split) ergative, and active/inactive. In the present chapter, I will argue that its alignment can be most accurately described as split-intransitive, once the considerable number of monovalent dative-subject verbs are brought into consideration. Proto-Kartvelian would have had split-intransitive verb agreement, absolutively aligned verbal plurality marking, and incipient ergative-absolutive case assignment. Also discussed is the morphosyntactic orientation of the Kartvelian languages and dialects, that is, the distribution of morphological and syntactic privileges among the clausal arguments.
Mark C. Baker and Carlos A. Fasola
Mapudungun is the primary member of the small Araucanian family – its greater genetic affiliation is uncertain – and is spoken by some 300,000 Mapuche people in central Chile and adjoining areas of Argentina. Compounding is frequent and productive in Mapudungun, and constitutes an important part of the language's overall polysynthetic quality. Different types of compounds can be distinguished, with some cross-cutting similarities. Perhaps the most interesting theoretical issues raised by compounding in Mapudungun stem from the fact that different ordering principles apply to different kinds of compounds. These principles are at least partly independent of what categories are involved in compounding. This chapter discusses the three most prominent kinds of compounding in Mapudungun – V + N, N + N, and V + V – then briefly considers other sorts of compounds in the language, including those that contain an adjectival root.
Under the (compound) name Maipure–Yavitero, three languages of northeastern Amazonia, constituting a subgroup of the northern division of the Arawakan (or Maipuran) family, are gathered together: Maipure, Yavitero (or Parene), and Baniva (or Baniva/Baniwa of Guainía). Of the three members of the Maipure–Yavitero group, only Baniva has speakers today. The language is spoken in the villages of Maroa and La Comunidad, in the area of the Casiquiare river in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas, along the Caño Aki (a tributary of the Guainía) in Colombian territory, and along the Xié river (a tributary of the Rio Negro) in Brazilian territory (Warekena dialect), by about 1,200 people altogether. This chapter discusses the characteristics of compound words, phrasal and clausal compounds, incipient compounding, and compound words in languages with few compound words.
Compounds in the Athapaskan language Slave ([slevi]), also called Dene ([dene]), a language of northern Canada, have a set of properties that raise interesting analytic challenges. One is perhaps common to many languages, and concerns the definition of a compound. A second challenge to understanding Slave compounds relates to the phonological patterning of fricative-initial stems as a non-initial element of a compound. Stem-initial fricatives alternate between voiceless and voiced in Slave. The conditions that determine the distribution of voicing are interesting and complex, and occupy much of this chapter. Section 30.1 begins with a discussion of the definition of compounds in the Athapaskan literature. Section 30.2 provides an overview of the lexical categories that enter into compounds in Slave. Sections 30.3 through 30.6 examine structural, semantic, and phonological properties of compounds, proposing a division of compounds into three major types that are distinguished in their structures, semantics, and phonologies.
Caddo is a member of the Caddoan language family, which includes also Wichita, Kitsai, Pawnee, and Arikara. Its verbs are typically polysynthetic, with a base composed of a variety of elements that include incorporated noun roots and various derivational prefixes and suffixes. This base is accompanied by pronominal prefixes expressing person and number and their role as agents, patients, or beneficiaries. Unusual is the division of these pronominal prefixes into realis and irrealis sets that have scope over an entire event or state. The base is followed by suffixes expressing tense and aspect. Caddo is not only polysynthetic but also highly fusional as a result of extensive sound changes that have obscured morpheme boundaries as well as resemblances between different parts of a paradigm. Morphological analysis requires the internal reconstruction of an earlier stage of the language when the composition of a verb was more transparent.
Discussions about topic-prominent language verus subject-prominent language are old but still of current interest. According to the now classic work of Li and Thompson (1976), topic-prominent languages possess the following characteristics: the topic is coded on the surface, that is morphologically and/or syntactically; passive constructions either do not or only marginally exist or carry a special meaning; there are no dummy or empty subjects; double subject constructions are available; it is not the subject but the topic that controls coreferential constituent deletion; verb-final languages tend to be topic-prominent; there are no constraints on what kind of constituent may be the topic; and topic-comment sentences are basic. The traditional grammar of Japanese distinguishes between two types of postpositional particles: kaku-joshi (case particles) on the one hand and kakari-joshi (relating/charging particles) on the other hand. Japanese reveals a relatively free word order, while maintaining a rigid verb-final position. This article sketches synchronic and diachronic case-drop phenomena, and exemplifies some other typologically related as well as unrelated languages for their functional parallelism.
Nyamal is an Australian language of the Pama-Nyungan family, originally spoken in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. In Nyamal, as in many Australian languages, nominal suffixes serve a wide range of dependency-marking functions, which include but are not restricted to traditional ‘case’. Nyamal has a very complex system of case marking. This complexity is due to its very strong tendency towards multiple case marking combined with variation in the case marking selected by arguments of different predicates, in different clause types, and by different patterns of case syncretism in different classes of nominals. Morphological coding conventions determine the distribution of case suffixes to constituents within a phrase or clause marked for case. Patterns of suffix distribution predicted by the use of case suffixes at different functional levels and by the rules of concord are modified by certain morphological sequence constraints. This article describes and exemplifies that complexity. It sets out the variables affecting the choice of case marking for arguments in clauses and describes the patterns of multiple case marking.
The ‘classic’ paradigm of case marking assumes a unique and (pragmatically, semantically, or syntactically) coherent meaning for each phonologically distinct case. A different set of organisational principles govern case in Tukang Besi, an Austronesian language of central Indonesia. There is an unproblematic genitive case, an oblique case that marks modality, and two cases that mark core arguments (‘terms’), na and te. These case markers may not be reversed and the position of the two arguments is fixed. Although the clauses with P-agreement present a clear increase in the amount of morphology in the clause, they are more frequent in natural speech, and P-agreement markers are acquired earlier than the nominative agreement prefixes. Rather than being characterised as showing nominative-accusative or ergative-absolutive or semantic alignment, the case systems of the western and northern Austronesian languages directly mark grammatical functions, bypassing the standard notions of ‘alignment’ entirely.
This article describes case marking of core arguments in two extant Yukaghir languages, the Tundra Yukaghir language spoken in the Lower-Kolyma region of Saha (Russia) and the Kolyma Yukaghir language of the Upper-Kolyma region. The Yukaghir languages have rich, predominantly agglutinating morphology, which serves as the primary means of expressing syntactic information. The canonical word order is head-final, but it is very flexible at the clause level and cannot be used as a guide for discrimination of core participants. With minor exceptions irrelevant in the present context, verbs fall into two grammatical classes, intransitive and transitive, characterised by different inflectional paradigms. Intransitive verbs have a single core argument (S), which controls verb agreement and switch-reference in non-finite clauses. Transitive verbs have two core arguments (A and P), of which only A controls verb agreement and switch-reference. The core arguments formally differ from peripheral nominal constituents in that they can be represented by morphologically unmarked noun phrases (NPs). The case marking system is sensitive to person hierarchy and a cross-linguistically unusual grammatical classification of lexical NPs.
Michael Daniel and Dmitry Ganenkov
This article provides an overview of case systems in Daghestanian languages. First, it describes classification of the Nakh-Daghestanian, of which Daghestanian is a regional subset (rather than a genetic subgroup). In most Nakh-Daghestanian languages, declension mostly follows a two-stem pattern: all cases except nominative are derived from a common stem called oblique, while the nominative case is derived from a direct stem and is most often formally identical to it (thus being zero marked). The oblique stem is derived from the direct stem by adding various morphemes called oblique stem markers. A rare typological feature of the Daghestanian languages is the presence of an agreement position in some case markers, including genitives in human noun declension in Bagvalal (controlled by the class of the head) or affective in Andi and Tukita Karata and some locative forms in Dargwa and Lak. This article also describes case marking in Daghestanian languages as well as non-local cases, spatial forms, place names and natural locations, adnominal and predicative possession, and instrumental case.
Tlapanec is a head-marking language, in which case relations are marked by verbal suffixes. Four types of relations are marked in this way. Three of these bear many resemblances to cross-linguistically well-known cases: the ergative, absolutive, and the dative. The fourth, however, is a novel type of relation and called pegative. This encodes an actor involved in an event which also involves a dative-like undergoer. Tlapanec exhibits a VAO basic word order with the possibility of fronting A or O in a topicalisation construction. Predicates inflect for aspect, polarity, and person, while nouns may inflect for person of possessor. This article presents the Tlapanec system with special attention to the three following features: the markers attach to the predicate, the ergative case is morphologically unmarked, and the inventory includes the pegative relation. It also discusses the morphology of case marking, the morphosyntax of the Tlapanec case markers and their semantics, the mechanisms of case assignment, monopersonal verbs, and similarities between verbal suffixes and canonical case marking.
This article examines data from Lao, a radically isolating Southwestern Tai language spoken in Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, and asks how speakers of such a language might cope without case. Lao is like Mandarin, Thai, Vietnamese, and Riau Indonesian in exemplifying the extreme of pragmatically oriented grammar. Where case marking simply distinguishes who from whom, it is mostly dispensable, thanks to the richness of pragmatics. Moreover, for more ‘expressive’ functions of case marking, where features of transitivity are manipulated for expressive or information-structural effect, Lao finds constructional means to treat certain arguments in special ways, thereby explicitly marking non-redundant semantic information in case-like ways. This article also examines patterns of argument-predicate relations, focusing on monovalent predicates, symmetric and other non-oriented bivalent predicates, and asymmetric bivalent predicates. Finally, it considers the expressive functions which case marking might perform, that is where special treatment of one or another argument serves to manipulate semantic distinctions in the construal of event structure and participant involvement.
Africa is known for being a continent where there are not so many languages with a grammaticalised case system. In East Africa, there is one language which is quite exceptional. Not only does it have a case system distinguishing seven cases, which on African standards is a lot, but it is also unusual in that nearly all elements in the language are case-inflected, including nouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. Nevertheless, even though case is ubiquitous in Ik, the encoding of core participants, that is intransitive subjects (S), transitive subjects (A), and transitive objects (O), is so defective that it is questionable whether the elements under consideration are really cases and not something else. This article shows that case is a highly productive mechanism of Ik. Nearly all lexical items of the language can be case-inflected, including adverbs, conjunctions, adpositions, and verbs.
This article examines the syntactic patterns in Celtic languages. It discusses the existence of what is often termed I-SVO order (where I indicates the inflected element), which has been significant in generative analyses of Celtic clause structure. The analysis reveals that despite the close genetic relationship between the four surviving Celtic languages, their syntax differs in nontrivial ways. The general conclusion is that the Celtic languages are not syntactically exotic but, rather, can be analyzed with existing syntactic apparatus.
This is a sketch of polysynthesis in Central Alaskan Yupik (CAY) based on the Cup’ik dialect of Chevak, Alaska. CAY has well-defined words whose content is often holophrastic and whose parts are often word-like. Holophrasis is achieved by a combination of rich inflectional suffixation and by a derivational morphology in which several hundred productive suffixes bearing different lexical and grammatical meanings and functions may be added, recursively, to a lexical base. Each suffix selects the category of its base, over which it normally has scope, and determines the category of the resultant base. This simple but prolific suffixation-based system, termed ‘morphological orthodoxy’, yields long, polysynthetic words. Three cases are then discussed where suffixal elements govern constructions that in one way or another stretch CAY’s orthodox morphology, motivating them by showing parallel constructions governed by elements with similar grammatical and semantic content in languages with more heterodox morphology and syntax.
The chapter discusses morphological and syntactic change against the backdrop of different theoretical (formal versus functional/usage-based) and methodological approaches (introspection versus corpus data). Specifically, it addresses the question whether grammatical change happens suddenly in a catastrophic resetting of parameters or whether change happens in a more piecemeal, incremental fashion. The case studies that are used to illustrate syntactic demise, innovation, and grammatical revival come from the area of mood (an inflectional category) and modality, notably the grammaticalization of modal verbs. Semi-modals such as (had) better are discussed as examples of constructionalization. Taken together, grammatical changes in mood and modality are ideally suited to exemplify more long-term typological developments in English from a synthetic to a largely analytic language.