Switch-reference antecedence and subordination in Whitesands (Oceanic)

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Whitesands is an Oceanic language of the southern Vanuatu subgroup. Like the related languages of southern Vanuatu, Whitesands has developed a clause-linkage system which monitors referent continuity on new clauses – typically contrasting with the previous clause. In this chapter I address how the construction interacts with topic continuity in discourse. I outline the morphosyntactic form of this anaphoric co-reference device. From a functionalist perspective, I show how the system is used in natural discourse and discuss its restrictions with respect to relative and complement clauses. I conclude with a discussion on its interactions with theoretical notions of information structure – in particular the nature of presupposed versus asserted clauses, information back- and foregrounding and how these affect the use of the switch-reference system. Keywords: Anaphora; clause-chaining; Oceanic; subordination


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