Volume 46, Issue 4
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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Person and number of a possessor are expressed in Chichimec in one of two ways. Most nouns use possessive classifiers. A smaller class (typically inalienables) inflects for the possessor synthetically. This paper constitutes the first in-depth exploration of this latter class. These nouns are characterized by unparalleled levels of irregularity, with more than 100 different inflection classes and most nouns exhibiting completely unique exponence patterns. The morphology of these nouns is based on several orthogonal inflectional layers: prefixes, stem alternations, and tone, all of which exhibit only weak predictive relations to other subsystems or cells, and equally unpredictable mappings to the possessor values they instantiate. The system is also extremely challenging with respect to segmentation, as most of the segments within the word can change in inflection seemingly independently of the neighbouring ones. This paper surveys this baroque system in search of its organizational principles.


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