Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124
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Piaroa, a member of the Sáliban language family, is spoken on both sides of the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Based on unpublished fieldwork data for Mako and Piaroa and published Piaroa and Sáliba data, this article focuses on the Piaroa subject marking system and its origins. I show that the subject prefixes and inner suffixes used in future tense were inherited from Proto-Sáliban and must therefore have preceded the rise of the right-margin subject markers ‑ and ‑. Based on comparative Mako data, I propose that these markers are old copular suffixes that entered the verbal domain through a nominal predication construction whose use expanded to encode habitual aspect. This research not only constitutes an important contribution to the description of Piaroa but also expands, within a Diachronic Construction Grammar approach, our understanding of complex systems of person marking, the origins of multiple exponence, and the role of multiple source constructions in paradigm creation.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Diachronic Construction Grammar; Mako; Piaroa; subject marking; Sáliba; Sáliban
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