Case on the margins

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This paper examines the argument-marking system in the Polynesian language Vaeakau-Taumako, which has pragmatically related functions similar to those found e.g. in so-called Differential Object Marking systems, but which does not refer to syntactic relations or semantic roles, the functions normally attributed to case-marking systems. It asks exactly which functions should be taken to define a case-marking system as opposed to a system marking pragmatic functions such as topic-focus-structure, and suggests a distinction between two grammatically relevant types of pragmatic salience: referent-determined salience, which is often relevant to case marking, and speaker-determined salience, which is typically encoded in purely pragmatic marking systems. On this account, referent-determined salience emerges as the property that links case-marking and pragmatic marking systems.


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