Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 767–826 | Cite as

Deconstructing switch-reference

Article

Abstract

This paper develops a new view on switch-reference, a phenomenon commonly taken to involve a morphological marker on a verb indicating whether the subject of this verb is coreferent with or disjoint from the subject of another verb. I propose a new structural source of switch-reference marking, which centers around coordination at different heights of the clausal structure, coupled with distinct morphological realizations of the syntactic coordination head. Conjunction of two VPs has two independent consequences: First, only a single external argument is projected; second, the coordinator head is realized by some marker A (the ‘same subject’ marker). Conjunction of two vPs, by contrast, leads to projection of two independent external arguments and a different realization of the coordination by a marker B (the ‘different subject’ marker). The hallmark properties of this analysis are that (i) subject identity or disjointness is only indirectly tied to the switch-reference markers, furnishing a straightforward account of cases where this correlation breaks down; (ii) switch-reference does not operate across fully developed clauses, which accounts for the widely observed featural defectiveness of switch-reference clauses; (iii) ‘same subject’ and ‘different subject’ constructions differ in their syntactic structure, thus accommodating cases where the choice of the switch-reference markers has an impact on event structure. The analysis is mainly developed on the basis of evidence from the Mexican language Seri, the Papuan language Amele, and the North-American language Kiowa.

Keywords

Coordination Clause linkage Reference tracking Distributed Morphology Event semantics Verbal projections 

Abbreviations used in glosses

acc

accusative

appl

applicative

art

article

aug

augment

aux

auxiliary

cap

certain apprehensive mood

caus

causative

comp

complementizer

conj

conjunction

contr

contrafactural mood

dat

dative

dcl

declarative

dep.pst

dependent past

dist

distal

dl

dual

ds

different subject

dur

durative aspect

evid

evidential

foc

focus

fut

future

hsy

hearsay

hz

horizontal

imp

imperative

inf

infinitive

intns

intensifier

io

indirect object

ipf

imperfective

ir

irrealis

loc

locative

md

medial

neg

negation

negp

negative past tense

nmlz

nominalizer

nom

nominative

o

object

obl

oblique

part

participial

pass

passive

pf

perfective

pl

plural

pon

proposition/oblique nominalizer

poss

possessive

pot

potential

pred

predicative marker

pro

pronoun

prox

proximal

pst

past

purp

purpose

qm

question marker

r

realis

recp

recent past

refl

reflexive

remp

remote past tense

s

subject

sbjv

subjunctive

sg

singular

sim

simultaneous action

sn

subject nominalizer

ss

same subject

tm

tense mode

tns

tense

todp

today’s past tense

top

topic

us

unspecified subject

usit

usitative

ut

unspecified time

vt

vertical

yestp

yesterday’s past tense

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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