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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

It is generally agreed that the essence of polysynthesis goes beyond sheer numbers of morphemes per word, but which other properties might be criterial is unclear. Most frequently cited is the marking of core arguments within the verb, such that the key elements of the clause, predicate, and arguments, are contained within that one word. Also often cited are noun incorporation, applicatives, rich inventories of adverbial affixes, and pragmatically motivated word order. But argument marking on the verb is not categorical: pronominal affix paradigms show a range of differential marking patterns dependent on various semantic and grammatical features, none reliably predictive of other characteristics typically associated with polysynthesis. Yet these characteristics tend to cluster, indicating that they are not reflections of a single, underlying governing principle, but rather constitute structural complexes that emerge from constellations of cognitive and social factors favoring the development and maintenance of complex morphologies.

Keywords: argument marking, noun incorporation, applicatives, word order, affix

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