Switch reference

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Until not very long ago, switch reference was regarded as a marginal phenomenon found in a handful of lesser-known languages. An increasing number of studies of the phenomenon made it clear, however, that the geographical extent of switch-reference systems is rather large, spanning large parts of the New World, Siberia, Oceania, Australia, and also including some areas in Africa and East Asia. The growing body of information on the topic raises new theoretical and empirical questions about the development, functions, and nature of switch reference, as well as the internal variation between different switch reference systems. This contribution will give an overview of the relevant issues that are involved in switch reference, focusing on geographical, typological-theoretical, and diachronic aspects, and suggesting a number of lines for further research.


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