Problems of Polysynthesis by Nicholas Evans, Hans-Jürgen Sasse

By Nicholas Evans, Hans-Jürgen Sasse

The papers take care of quite a number questions raised for linguistic conception and outline through polysynthetic languages. Prototypical polysynthetic lamguages, chanced on between unrelated language households in such diversified components of the area as North the US, Meso-America, Siberia, northern Australia, and Papua New Guinea, show remarkably related suites of grammatical features. yet, approximately centuries after Humboldt and Kleinschmidt started to make the lifestyles and curiosity of polysythetic languages well known between linguistics, languages of this sort proceed to pose a challange to each significant linguistic thought.

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Problems of Polysynthesis

The papers take care of a variety of questions raised for linguistic idea and outline via polysynthetic languages. Prototypical polysynthetic lamguages, stumbled on between unrelated language households in such diversified elements of the realm as North the USA, Meso-America, Siberia, northern Australia, and Papua New Guinea, demonstrate remarkably related suites of grammatical features.

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B. ' Kabin-karrme daluk danjbik. ' (39) a. I Ka-karrme daluk. ' b. danjbik. three It appears, therefore, that for verbs which lexically require non-referentiality in their objects, such as 'have', the bi- construction is never used (alternatively, one could attribute this to their low discourse transitivity); and for the psychological-object verb 'look for' some speakers choose between 0- and ό/-forms according to whether the object is referential. As mentioned in §3, the 0-forms are in fact identical with the intransitive prefix forms, so that in such cases one could argue that the intransitive prefix set is being used.

However, in comparison with the definitions I employ in this paper, she only counts, as 'grammatical agreement', cases where the affix 'must necessarily be accompanied by overt nominal or pronominal agreements'; if there is no constraint on whether overt nominal or pronominal agreement can occur or not she considers this a case of 'ambiguous agreement'. To my mind this is a methodological mistake, since it conflates two logically independent (though of course correlated) parameters - (a) loss of referentiality on the part of the affix, and (b) obligatory presence of the nominal argument with which it agrees.

38) a. I Kabi-karrme daluk. b. ' Kabin-karrme daluk danjbik. ' (39) a. I Ka-karrme daluk. ' b. danjbik. three It appears, therefore, that for verbs which lexically require non-referentiality in their objects, such as 'have', the bi- construction is never used (alternatively, one could attribute this to their low discourse transitivity); and for the psychological-object verb 'look for' some speakers choose between 0- and ό/-forms according to whether the object is referential. As mentioned in §3, the 0-forms are in fact identical with the intransitive prefix forms, so that in such cases one could argue that the intransitive prefix set is being used.

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