Primary object languages & pronouns

Dan Everett dan.everett at MAN.AC.UK
Thu May 1 18:43:55 UTC 2003


While the data that Noel and others have adduced is interesting in their
own right, they do not answer my, clumsily worded no doubt, question. So
let me restate the question, hopefully more clearly this time.

First the syntactic context: Wari' is a primary object language. This
means (for me, I am not claiming that it represents what others have
said about these languages, for now at least) that the GOAL/RECIPIENT
argument governs object agreement on the verb and the
THEME/PATIENT/UNDERGOER argument appears as the object of a preposition,
in di-transitive constructions. This pattern is not all that unusual. I
was not asking if other languages have this pattern. I know there are.

But in that context, the restriction is this: a Wari' pronoun may encode
POSSESSOR, ACTOR, or UNDERGOER (whether the UNDERGOER is the object of a
verb or a preposition), but a Wari' pronoun may never encode the
RECIPIENT argument. *This* is what struck me as unusual. Martin
Haspelmath tells me he has never seen such a case. And Matthew Dryer
also says that he is not aware of such a restriction.

Now, the research I am finishing up is actually not even about that
directly. The research in which this arises tries to show that a class
of periphrastic expressions in Wari' are pronouns (in fact, the
pronominal paradigm in Wari' is 100% periphrastic) and *one* of the
dozen or so arguments I give is that these pronouns are prohibited from
bearing the RECIPIENT role, whereas parts of the expression in isolation
are not so constrained. I relate this to similar (but non-identical)
restrictions in other languages. I would have been pleased, to find
exactly the Wari' restriction in another language, because that would
have strengthened my argument. But even without it, restrictions on
grammatical relations are not uncommon for pronouns.

That was the point of my question. The research in which it arises
concerns the general case of categories that are neither words nor
phrases but have properties of both, what some researchers have called
'mixed categories', but which I prefer to call 'Liminal Categories'. If
anyone wants to see the paper, it will be on my website next week.



Dan Everett
Professor of Phonetics and Phonology
Department of Linguistics
Arts Building
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PL
Manchester, UK
dan.everett at
Phone: 44-161-275-3158
Dept. Fax and Phone: 44-161-275-3187

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