, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 263-286,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 28 Nov 2009

Reduplication and repetition of person markers in Guaporé isolates


The person marking system of the language isolate Kwazá, spoken in the Brazilian Amazon, has several unusual properties. Its bound inflectional person suffixes can be reduplicated in order to express temporal and aspectual notions in a rather un-iconic way. The reduplicated segments are not defined by phonotactic boundaries, such as the syllable, but they are based on morphological units, disregarding their phonotactic structure. The origin and nature of this rare type of reduplication are not very clear. Morphologically based reduplication is not attested in the neighbouring languages with which Kwazá forms a linguistic area. However, Kwazá person markers are also involved in an unusual type of recursive construction that is encountered in the neighbouring languages, too. Recursive application of person markers occurs in Kwazá to express quoted speech in a transparent manner and has also given rise to less transparent expressions such as the desiderative. Similar constructions in the Aikanã and Wari’ languages suggest that this quotative construction is an areal feature of at least the Brazilian part of the Guaporé region. The quotative construction may help to understand the poorly understood phenomenon of seemingly redundant person marking in Kanoê, another language isolate of the region. It remains a question whether it also plays a role in the origin of the unique morphologically determined reduplication constructions of Kwazá.