2255 - Semantic alignment and animacy in Wichi

Wichi is an indigenous language spoken in northeastern Argentina. It is a head-marking language in which the verb bears pronominal indexes that convey information about person, number and grammatical role. The subject category is expressed through prefixes and the object category through suffixes. There are different paradigms to express the former but only one for the marking of the latter.

Most of the person paradigms are sensitive to transitivity as there are different markings for A's, S's and P's (a tripartite system). However, there is a small group of verbs that does not follow this pattern and presents a semantic split sensitive to person: only the 3rd person exhibits different markings that vary according to the animacy of the subject (prefix ya-), its semantic role (hi-) or its degree of affectation (Ø-). It is worth noting that there are behavioural properties which are reflections of those semantic characteristics.

In this paper I will discuss the role of person, animacy and agency in the coding and behaviour of 3rd person participants in the Wichi language.

Keywords: alignment, animacy, agency, person hierarchy

Author: Terraza, Jimena (University of Toronto, Canada / Kanada)


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