Projection variability in Paraguayan Guaraní

  • Judith TonhauserEmail author


Projective content is heterogeneous, with classes of projective content differing in several properties (e.g., Potts 2005; Tonhauser et al. 2013). Recently, Tonhauser et al. (2018) found that projective content in English varies in its projectivity both between and within classes, and also that there is by-participant and by-lexical content projection variability. This paper shows that projection variability is not unique to English but also attested in Paraguayan Guaraní, a Tupí-Guaraní language that is genetically unrelated to and typologically different from English. This finding suggests that projection variability may be a cross-linguistically universal property of projective content. The comparison of English and Paraguayan Guaraní also reveals parallels in how projective the content associated with a translation pair is. This finding strengthens the empirical support for the position that some projective content is nondetachable (e.g., Levinson and Annamalai 1992; Simons 2001; Abrusán 2011, 2016; Tonhauser et al. 2013). The paper discusses implications for analyses of projective content, which differ in whether they lead us to expect projection variability and cross-linguistic similarities in projection variability. The paper also addresses methodological considerations in exploring projection variability in fieldwork-based research.


Projective content Paraguayan Guaraní Projection variability Cross-linguistic variation 



I am grateful to the native speakers of Paraguayan Guaraní who worked with me on this project, including Ansia Sabina Maciel de Cantero, Evelin Leonor Jara Cespedes, Jeremias Ezequiel Sanabria O., Marité Maldonado, Perla Valdéz de Ferreira, Ricardo Aranda Locio, Robert Ariel Barreto Villalba and Vicky Barreto. For helpful comments on the work reported on here, I thank Judith Degen, Amy Rose Deal, the anonymous reviewers for Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, as well as audiences at the University of California in Los Angeles and in San Diego, and at the 2019 Experimental Pragmatics conference in Edinburgh. Finally, I gratefully acknowledge research support from the National Science Foundation grants BCS-0952571 and BCS-1452674.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Stuttgart UniversityStuttgartGermany

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