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Impersonals in Innu

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Abstract

This paper analyzes impersonal constructions in Innu, an Algonquian language, closely related to Cree and spoken in North Eastern Quebec. Impersonalization is determined by the ranking of the suppressed entity on the animacy hierarchy. Suppressing an Animate ‘subject’ requires additional verbal derivation. By contrast, Inanimate subject verbs may have both a personal and an impersonal reading without further derivation. The language also exhibits a large number of lexical impersonal verbs since natural forces and elements of the landscape are lexicalized as verbs, or verb parts. Impersonal verbs belong to the class of Inanimate Intransitives and their suppressed ‘actor’ argument may never find syntactic realization as a lexical NP. Attention is drawn to the complex interaction between lexicalization patterns, constraints on the expression of subjecthood and information structure. Keywords: Algonquian; Innu; Cree; Impersonals; Animacy Hierarchy; Natural forces

References

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