Some non-canonical switch reference systems and the fundamental functions of switch reference

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Switch reference [sr] is complex; doing a truly-comprehensive typology of sr is difficult due to the plethora of “non-core” functions that different sr systems have. Inspired by the difference in usage of the sr system by older and younger speakers in the Papuan language of Menggwa Dla (de Sousa 2006a, b, c), I propose a (somewhat wide) definition of “canonical sr”. Canonical sr systems have two primary functions: the grammatico-semantic function of reference tracking, and the grammatico-discourse function of indicating participant continuity versus discontinuity of the sr pivots (the interclausal references monitored by a sr marker). Three types of non-canonical sr systems found in different parts of the world will also be discussed; we will see how they are non-canonical based on the two primary functions of canonical sr.


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