zero-marked verbs

Daniel Everett dan.everett at MAN.AC.UK
Wed Jan 22 09:23:54 UTC 2003

Joan's response on zeros and inference was indeed extremely
interesting. It could also perhaps give some content to a notion that
has been around in Chomskyan theory for quite some time, 'Avoid
Pronoun', a label for the fact that in many languages zeros are
preferred to pronouns (Topic Continuity and all that is also obvious
relevant). In some languages I have worked on, however, speakers do not
avoid pronouns by zeros, but tend to repeat proper names every line of
the discourse, e.g. 'John came in the room. John sat down. Then John
began to work', etc. Nambiquara and Piraha are two such languages,
especially Piraha (since I have more data on that language). This seems
to support the kind of, what I would call, 'Ethnosyntactic' kind of
inferencing that Joan suggests.

-- Dan
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