7448 - Animacy, inversion, and redundancy in Amerindian languages: A crosslinguistic survey

Amerindian languages that show reflexes of their predicate and clause structure to animacy show an interesting range of structural diversity with respect to inflection and derivation. The present paper maps such diversity, paying special attention to redundancy, understood here as the double or single overt marking of particular values of grammatical categories that can otherwise be retrieved from a given utterance.

Blackfoot (Algonquian; North America) and Mapudungun (isolate; South America) serve as vantage points as to redundancy. The literature on the Algonquian languages of North America leaves no doubt as to the central role that gender (i.e. animacy) plays in their grammar; Blackfoot is typically Algonquian in that not only its (pro)noun and verb morphology but also its phrasal and clausal agreement cannot be adequately described without taking the animate/inanimate and 1st or 2nd vs. 3rd person distinctions into account. Mapudungun morphology is both similar and different from Algonquian; obviation, inversion, and clause structure are sensitive to animacy in both languages; it is different because neither gender nor obviation in marked overtly (nor are they, therefore, relevant for agreement patterns).

Whereas Algonquian morphology might be said to work with a substantial degree of redundancy, Mapudungun does the job with virtually no redundancy. Structural and discourse-related correlates of such features are explored and systematized for a number of languages, focusing on Algonquian, Athabascan, and Salishan from North America, and Reyesano, Mapudungun, and Movima from South America (with some references to Sahaptian, Mixe-Zoquean, Tupian, Cariban, and Arauan as well).

Author: Zúñiga, Fernando (University of Zurich, Switzerland / Schweiz)


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