How ergative is Cavineña?

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This paper is an investigation of morphological and syntactic ergativity in Cavineña (Tacanan, Bolivia). Cavineña has a straightforward and consistent ergative/absolutive case-marking system, but unlike other Tacanan languages, Cavineña also has a system of pronominal enclitics in second position in the clause. This system displays a number of intricacies which led previous studies to analyze Cavineña as a person-based split-ergative language. However, it is shown here that the so-called “ergative split” has a morphophonological basis rather than a morphosyntactic one. The second part of the paper searches for ergativity at the level of complex sentences by looking at coreference restrictions between a main clause and a number of dependent clause types. However, none of the coreference constraints investigated work ergatively, but rather according to an S/A pivot or without being sensitive to the grammatical function of the arguments.


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