[Lingtyp] Uncertainty over the use of the term "vocative" in this instance

Thomas Diaz tsdiaz at buffalo.edu
Mon May 10 18:11:03 UTC 2021

Hello all,

I am writing a grammatical description of a language called Heyo, a
Torricelli language spoken in northwestern Papua New Guinea, for my
dissertation. I have come across a clitic =o that I am not sure what to
call. I am currently calling/glossing it as a vocative, as it can serve a
vocative function as in the two following examples.

'hey, boy!'

'hey, Tawaks!'

However, its distribution is wider than a true vocative insofar as it can
occur at the end of an indicative clause, like the following example (I am
simplifying the glosses for the sake of clarity).

naraha'aiun wat=o! habu darai=o!
it.strike.me COMPL=VOC FUT run=VOC
'It has struck me! I will run away!'

The example is made up of two clauses that, if one simply deleted the
"vocative" clitic =o, would be standard indicative clauses. It is clear
that the clitic serves to make the utterance more sonorous, analogous to
the lengthening of stressed syllables when calling out in English. But I am
not certain what would be a term for this form that would not be confusing
to a reader.

Thank you ahead of time for any input. I can try to provide more
information if something needs clarification.


Thomas S. Diaz (He/Him)
PhD Candidate
Department of Linguistics
University at Buffalo (SUNY)
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