Discourse factors of switch-reference in Whitesands (Oceanic)

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Whitesands (ISO: TNP) is an Oceanic language of the southern Vanuatu sub-group. Like the related languages of southern Vanuatu, Whitesands has developed a clause-linkage system that is a kind of switch-reference system. This device monitors referent continuity on new clauses – typically contrasting with the previous clause. In this paper I investigate the use of this system in natural discourse, focusing on regularity and form of the system. I conclude that discourse or genre type does not correlate with specific switch reference features in a narrow sense, yet at the same time suggest that studies investigating switch reference should be aware of the discourse context when making generalisation about prominence and usage patterns.


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