Absolutive Promotion and the Condition on Clitic Hosts in Choctaw

  • Matthew Tyler


This article develops of an analysis of the clitic co-occurrence restrictions found on transitive unaccusative verbs in Choctaw, and how they are (or are not) repaired. It turns out that the repair strategy of Absolutive Promotion, by which a typically-absolutive argument becomes ergative, is sensitive to standard syntactic notions of intervention and locality, implying that it involves a syntactic Agree relation. Regarding the clitic co-occurrence restrictions, I show that they can be captured with the Condition on Clitic Hosts—a condition that syntactic heads can host at most one clitic, adapted from the condition of the same name developed by Arregi and Nevins (2012) for Basque. By detailed comparison with Basque, we see that the Condition on Clitic Hosts and Absolutive Promotion are found in both languages. However, they do not have entirely the same effect: Absolutive Promotion in Choctaw can repair a different set of structures from those it can repair in Basque, and clitics are hosted on a different set of heads in Choctaw from where they are hosted in Basque.


Choctaw Basque Clitics PCC Case Agreement Repair 



My greatest thanks goes to Jim Wood for his insight, advice and encouragement at all stages of this project. I am extremely grateful to four anonymous reviewers and NLLT associate editor Daniel Harbour, who made this work immeasurably better. Thanks also to Stephen Anderson, Karlos Arregi, Claire Bowern, Aaron Broadwell, Bob Frank, Andrew Nevins, Michelle Yuan and Raffaella Zanuttini for comments, discussion and logistical help, as well as audiences at LSA 2017, CLS 53 and Yale University. This article would not have been possible without the Mississippi Choctaw speakers who took the time to share their language with me, always with patience, insight and good humor, and they have my deepest gratitude. They are: Elijah Ben, Patty Billie, Chris Chickaway, Shayla Chickaway, Zonie Isaac, Buck Willis and Darlene Willis. I am also grateful to the Language Program at the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians for generously hosting me during my visits to MBCI, and the Tribal Council and the Office of the Chief. This work was partly supported by a Pre-Dissertation Research Grant from the Yale MacMillan Center. All errors are my own.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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