The diachrony of pronominal agreement

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This paper examines Ute clitic pronouns and contrasts them with other reference-coding devices, such as demonstratives, independent pronouns, zero anaphora, and flexible word-order. It concludes that most independent pronouns are used in contexts of referential discontinuity and most zero and clitic pronouns show extreme referential continuity–a one-clause anaphoric gap. This shows evidence of a typical cycle having taken place: as pronouns weaken into clitics and affixes, they lose referential independence which then needs to be expressed by demonstratives. In addition, the fronting of pronouns and nominal groups is strongly associated with referential or thematic discontinuity whereas the post-posing of pronouns and nominals goes with referential continuity. The chapter also contributes to structural questions: why do pronouns cliticize to verbs and why do they do so in certain positions.


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