The zero-marked switch-reference system of the Papuan language Iatmul

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Although in Iatmul switch-reference is not marked by dedicated morphemes, the absence of subject cross-reference markers indicates subject continuity, whereas their presence signals disjoint reference. Switch-reference clauses can show various degrees of syntactic integration into a matrix clause, and specific constellations have undergone grammaticalization or lexicalisation. Tail-head linkage carries the switch reference mechanism over to the next sentence, but is also attested as a coordination device. What distinguishes the Iatmul system from converbs in languages such as Turkish and Korean is the role of reference tracking, since Turkish and Korean converbs primarily express semantic relations between clauses, whereas the primary function of the Iatmul system is participant tracking.


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