Markedness and syncretism in Kashmiri differential argument encoding

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The pronominal clitic system in Kashmiri takes the form of set of verbal suffixes conditioned by the case of the coreferent DP. This system interacts in unexpected ways with differential argument encoding (DAE) in Kashmiri, in which the case-marking of objects in non-perfective aspects is dependent on a person hierarchy. I will follow in spirit Aissen’s (2003) approach to DAE as adapted to Kashmiri in Sharma (2001), however I will argue that the particulars of the Kashmiri clitic system force us to adopt an account couched not in the syntax, but in the post-syntactic component of the grammar. Keine and Müller (2008) propose that DAE is a phenomenon of the morphology-syntax interface, employing harmonic alignment of scales within framework of Distributed Morphology (Halle & Marantz 1993, 1994). I argue here that an otherwise mysterious set of clitic syncretisms in Kashmiri, including the overlap in the marking of ergative subjects and accusative objects, find explanation if we consider Kashmiri DAE not as an instance of differential marking in the narrow syntax, but instead as a as a non-zero/non-zero alternation resulting from the interaction of morphological processes and a system of optimization at the morphology-syntax interface.


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