Constituent order and information structure in Karitiana

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This paper discusses the relationship between constituent order and information structure in main and subordinate clauses in Karitiana, based on data taken from dialogues and a narrative. We show that head-internal relative clauses display an obligatory movement of the head (pivot) to the left edge of the clause paired with a special verb prefix <i>ti</i>- when the extracted argument is the object whereas adverbial subordinates may vary in constituent order without any changes in morphology. A possible source for this object focus morphology is suggested: an object nominalization prefix limited to embedded clauses in Proto-Tupi may have given rise to object relative clauses in Karitiana and spread to clefts and main clause environments, grammaticalizing as an object focus marker. Keywords: Karitiana; constituent order; focus marker; relative clause; cleft


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