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Impersonal verbs in Central Alaskan Yupik (Eskimoan)

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Abstract

This paper is a description of impersonal verbs in Central Alaskan Yupik, an Eskimoan language. After providing minimum information on verb stem classification and valency modifications (including one by zero derivation), primary impersonals of natural force and derived impersonals of necessity (with valency-increasing suffix) are discussed. For both types, although the impersonal A (A<sub>IMP</sub>) argument does not occur externally, it is coded in verb inflection (&#8216;ending&#8217;) as transitive subject in the singular. Therefore the construction qualifies as a transitive impersonal (&#8216;transimpersonal&#8217;), and allows for detransitivizing derivation (impersonal passives derived by impersonal A deletion). It will be argued that the polysemy of the impersonal marker may be regarded as a result of a (historically) secondary change of the impersonal suffix into a modality marker with no valency increase, coupled with deletion of either A or A<sub>IMP</sub>. Keywords: Central Alaskan Yupik; impersonals of natural force; impersonals of necessity; transimpersonal; modality marker

References

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