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8318 - The effect of animacy on inverse constructions in Sahaptin

Transitive clauses in Sahaptin (Plateau Penutian) demonstrate sensitivity to a range of hierarchies, including animacy, person and number. In many ways, the language’s hierarchically-motivated inverse marking, split ergativity, and hierarchical alignment mirrors more typical systems, but Sahaptin exhibits some breaks from the expected patterns. For example, the animacy hierarchy does not have the same force throughout the system; rather, its effects vary and interact with other hierarchies. The contributions of this paper are (i) to describe the morphosyntactic effects of animacy; (ii) to discuss counter-hierarchical examples and (iii) to argue that the animacy of the object of a transitive verb plays a larger role than the animacy of the agent.

The effect of an animacy hierarchy (human>non-human animate>inanimate) is seen in standard differential object marking. In addition, the agents of inverse clauses are predominately human, with inverse marking triggered if the object is human and highly topical. However, this is not a requirement, as inanimate arguments can be either the agent (A) or object (O) of an inverse clause with a third person A and third person O. Similarly, a third person A acting on an SAP O triggers the inverse whether A is animate or not. These examples demonstrate a contrast with more typical systems in which the relative animacy of A to O is a key factor in the resulting morphology. The description of the effects of animacy in an increasing number of lesser-studied languages such as Sahaptin will expand our knowledge of counter-hierarchical phenomena such as these.

Keywords: Sahaptin, animacy hierarchy, inverse, differential argument marking

Author: Jansen, Joana (University of Oregon, Other / Andere)

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