Logo

4653 - The acquisition of clitic pronouns in Huastec Maya

In this study I focus on the acquisition of the clitic cross-reference markers in the Mayan language Huastec. Huastec has two sets of clitic pronouns. The ergative clitics (Set A) indicate agents of transitive verbs with third person objects. The absolutive clitics (Set B) indicate (1) the subjects of intransitive verbs and (2) third person objects of transitive verbs. The clitic pronouns always precede the verb.

Ergative (Set A) Absolutive (Set B)
Singular Plural Singular Plural
u i in u
a a…(chik) / i it it…(chik) / ix
in in…(chik) 0/u/i 0/u/i…(chik)

The Set A pronouns are used only when the object of a transitive verb is the third person zero form.There is a high degree of homonymy in these two sets: the first person singular absolutive marker is identical in form with the third person ergative marker, and the first person singular ergative marker is identical with both the first person plural absolutive marker and the non-zeroform of the third person absolutive marker.

It may be glossed B2 or B5 depending on whether its referent is singular or plural; 0 or u may be glossed B3 or B6.

Ergative i and absolutive ix are archaic forms that are not used any more in everyday discourse.The context or the use of independent pronouns serve to disambiguate first person plural from second person plural i.

The homonymy in this clitic set may be difficult to master for children acquiring Huastec. For example, the first person singular ergative marker is identical with both the first person plural absolutive marker and the non-zero form of the third person absolutive marker, while the first person singular absolutive marker is identical in form with the third person ergative marker. I present longitudinal data of spontaneous speech of three Huastec children, from age 2,0 to 3;0. I compare the children’s acquisition of the Huastec forms with acquisition data for Yucatec Maya to assess the impact of the ambiguous forms in Huastec.

Palabras claves: Acquisition of Huastec, clitic pronouns, ergativity

Autores: Barbara, Pfeiler (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México - Centro Peninsular en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales, Mexico / Mexiko)

atrás

University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575