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Ergativity in Trumai

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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to explore ergativity in Trumai, a genetically isolated indigenous language of Brazil. The initial sections describe and analyze the alignment patterns observed in morphology and syntax, including a detailed investigation of verbal classes. Morphologically, case is ergative-absolutive, but syntactically the situation is more complex: word order and several syntactic constructions (including raising, relative and reflexive clauses) present ergative-absolutive patterns, but there are also two much less salient nominative-accusative patterns (effects in argument suppression, use of posture auxiliaries). No particular alignment is observed in other domains traditionally used to identify grammatical relations (e.g., anaphoric control of coreference). After examining arguments for O/S or A/S as subject, we reach the conclusion that Trumai lacks evidence for traditional grammatical relations. The paper concludes with a discussion of the historical sources of the patterns found in basic main clauses.

References

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