The Interaction of Data, Description, and Theory in Linguistics: Functional perspectives
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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An active system is frequently analyzed as the most semantically transparent case-marking system, where the agent-patient opposition underlies case marking and/or cross-referencing patterns. It has also been claimed that transitivity and its prototypical manifestation of subject-object opposition are irrelevant for this language type. This paper examines these claims in the light of the grammatical system of Guaraní, an active language spoken in Paraguay. Based on lexical and morpho-syntactic data such as reflexivization, passivization, relativization, incorporation and external possession, the results suggest that grammatical relations are indeed semantically driven and that they do not correlate with subjects and objects. The paper clarifies the semantic underpinnings of the active-inactive distinction in this language and shows that the relevant opposition is not that of agent-patient but rather that of source-locative. The study argues for an analysis based on language-specific event typing and construal.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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