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Non-zero/non-zero alternations in differential object marking

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Abstract

This article presents an extension of the theory of differential argument encoding developed in Aissen (1999, 2003). It is based on the empirical observation that the <i>yes/no</i> alternations envisaged in Aissen&#8217;s system are only part of a much broader <i>less/more</i> pattern. We maintain Aissen&#8217;s hypothesis that the effects of differential argument encoding can be derived from harmonic alignment of markedness scales, but we argue that differential encoding should best be viewed as a purely morphological phenomenon (rather than as a syntactic phenomenon, as in Aissen&#8217;s approach). More specifically, we suggest that harmonic alignment of scales may bring about impoverishment operations that reduce syntactic inputs for morphological realization (see Halle &amp; Marantz (1993)). The result is a unified account for differential argument encoding that comprises alternations between two or more overt markers, which fall out of Aissen&#8217;s systems. The empirical evidence for our approach comes from Hindi, Mannheim German, Trumai, and Cavine&#241;a.

References

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