9599 - Argument marking patterns across Tupí languages: A phylogenetic and typological approach

The Tupí language family shows a high degree of internal variation regarding the ways that participants are realized in the clause. Just in terms of argument marking on the verb, we find a diversity of systems ranging from ergative patterns (Karo) to accusative patterns (Kokama-Kokamilla), as well as a number of typologically interesting subsystems such as referential hierarchies (Awetí) and split intransitivity (Tapiete). When we also consider other areas of grammar concerned with the realization of arguments, such as constituent order, valency changing mechanisms, and oblique marking, the range of different patterns observed across the family is impressive. This paper approaches the topic of argument marking in Tupí languages with two basic questions. First, what are the major patterns that we see across the family in terms of the areas mentioned above? Second, are these different patterns in some way representative of the historical development of the family, or more specifically, is a phylogenetic signal bearing information about the evolution of the family maintained in its argument marking patterns? To answer these questions, we first begin with a geographically and genetically diverse sample of Tupí languages for which there is sufficient structural data available for a careful analysis of the basic typological parameters regarding argument marking in the main declarative clause. After coding such information into a questionnaire, we analyze the data using both distance-based measures and probabilistic inferences applying Bayesian evolutionary models. We then compare these structurally-based phylogenetic representations to classifications based on the traditional comparative method. It is through this study that we hope to better understand the range of different argument marking patterns we see across these languages, as well as see to what degree these patterns are representative of the evolutionary history of the family.

Keywords: Comparative morphosyntax, historical linguistics, phylogenetics

Author: Birchall, Joshua (Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands / Niederlande)


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