Object licensing in Fijian and the role of adjacency
Fijian displays a crosslinguistically unusual system of differential object marking (DOM) (Alderete 1998; Aranovich 2013). In typical DOM effects, objects higher in animacy and/or definiteness receive additional morphological marking and appear in higher syntactic positions. In Fijian, however, pronoun and proper name objects, although higher on standard DOM hierarchies, must remain verb-adjacent and surface without an article. This paper argues that this pattern arises because pronoun and proper name objects undergo morphological merger with the verb at PF, which allows a nominal to escape the Case Filter (Levin 2015; Branan 2017). I present evidence that, in contrast, common noun objects in Fijian are structurally reduced, and so do not need Case licensing. As a result, Fijian provides support for an approach to DOM in which objects higher in definiteness/animacy have an additional Case licensing need (e.g. Massam 2001; Danon 2006; Ormazabal and Romero 2013; Kalin 2018), and against theories that rely exclusively on differences in syntactic position or overt marking.
KeywordsDifferential object marking Fijian Adjacency Case Licensing
These Fijian facts provide evidence that differential object marking cannot exclusively reflect object shift or the presence of additional case morphology on objects higher in definiteness/animacy. Instead, Fijian DOM suggests an approach that posits an abstract difference in the structure of such objects, such that they have a licensing need absent on other nominals (e.g. Massam 2001; Danon 2006; Ormazabal and Romero 2013; Kalin 2018). In this kind of perspective, the form this Case licensing takes may in principle vary across languages. In many languages, objects higher in definiteness/animacy surface with an adposition or additional case marking, as in Pitjantjatjara or Corsican. In other languages, like Senaya (Kalin 2018), DOM involves an additional agreement process. And, in Fijian, as I will show, DOM takes the form of an adjacency requirement, because morphological merger with a verb allows an object to escape the Case Filter.
Another contribution of the paper is to provide evidence against the idea that Fijian is a (partial) pronominal argument language (Jelinek 1984; Baker 1988), as in Schütz and Nawadra (1972), Alderete (1998), Aranovich (2013), and Schütz (2014). In this analysis, the Fijian DOM pattern arises because common nouns are not true objects of the verb, but dislocated phrases, co-indexed with a clitic on the verb. This approach posits that Fijian is different from other pronominal argument languages in that pronouns and proper names can be true objects, so that they are able to surface in the complement position of the verb. The novel evidence presented here also shows that partial polysynthesis is not behind the Fijian pattern. The facts in (4a–b) demonstrate that Fijian DOM does not reflect a difference between base-generation and dislocation, since the difference between pronouns/proper names and common nouns is found even in a derived environment. One of the implications of the analysis then is that it may not be necessary to admit the possibility of partial pronominal argument languages into the grammar (see also Siewierska 2001).
The paper is structured as follows. Section 2 describes verb-initial syntax in Fijian, arguing for a VP-fronting analysis that provides us with an understanding of how to diagnose object positions. In Sect. 3, I outline the differential object marking pattern and show that pronouns and proper names appear without their article and are in a position lower than other objects, immediately adjacent to the verb. Section 4 presents novel evidence showing that the DOM pattern is about adjacency, since object marking is possible across a clause boundary, as long as the linear adjacency requirement is met. In Sect. 5, I develop an analysis of Fijian DOM in which pronouns and proper names escape the Case Filter through morphological merger with the verb at PF (Levin 2015; Branan 2017), providing evidence for an approach to DOM based on licensing (e.g. Danon 2006; Ormazabal and Romero 2013; Kalin 2018). I also discuss other DOM patterns that may be based on adjacency, found in related Oceanic languages. Finally, in Sect. 6, I show that the facts presented here argue against an analysis of Fijian as a partial pronominal argument language, as in Schütz and Nawadra (1972), Alderete (1998), Aranovich (2013), and Schütz (2014).
2 Verb-initial word order in Fijian
I will start by arguing for a VP-fronting account of verb-initial word order in Fijian, similar to other VP-fronting accounts of VOS order for Oceanic languages (e.g. Massam 2001; Medeiros 2013; Collins 2017), which will set the stage for a discussion of object marking in Fijian. Identifying a fronted VP constituent will allow us to show that pronoun and proper name objects remain low, because they must be inside this fronted VP (see also Alderete 1998; Aranovich 2013). The argument for VP-fronting comes from the distribution of preverbal and postverbal particles, which “mirror” around the verb (see also Rackowski and Travis 2000 and Massam 2010 for similar observations for other Austronesian languages). We will see that capturing this observation requires recognizing a VP constituent before the subject, within which postverbal particles can right-attach.
2.1 Fijian word order and the distribution of preverbal and postverbal particles
Fijian is an Oceanic language spoken in Fiji by around 400,000 speakers. This paper presents original data from Standard Fijian, an Eastern Fijian dialect, collected in a field methods class at Queen Mary and individual elicitation sessions with two speakers.
2.2 Consequences for the analysis of verb-initial word order
A leftward movement analysis of verb-initial word order:
But an analysis like (14)runs into a clear problem in accounting for the behavior of multiple postverbal particles. In order for the subject to reside in a leftward specifier, it must be assumed that postverbal particles reside higher. However, this view must treat postverbal particles like cake and tiko as left-adjoined elements. But left-attachment predicts the wrong scope, as evident in the tree above. Note that we cannot take postverbal particles to be part of the verbal complex, picked up as suffixes through successive applications of head movement. As we will see in Sect. 3, postverbal particles come after pronoun/proper name objects, which can be shown not to be incorporated, at least not in the narrow syntax.5
The behavior of preverbal and postverbal particles then requires a different view of Fijian word order. Following Aranovich (2013), I suggest that postverbal particles are in fact generated below the subject, and right-adjoin in the verbal domain, which I will refer to as VP for convenience (although we will see reasons to think that it is a larger constituent). This idea also fits well with the observation that postverbal particles, when compared to preverbal particles, tend to contribute meanings that are encoded lower in the clause, such as manner and direction.
A VP-fronting analysis of verb-initial word order:
Although I adopt the syntax in (15), it is worth noting that there are a variety of other ways in which postverbal particles could end up right-attached. One option is to assume successive phrasal movement, or roll-up movement, which picks up postverbal particles (as in Rackowski and Travis 2000). We could also treat verb-initial order as base-generated, with the subject residing in a rightward specifier above all postverbal particles. Both of these options are fully compatible with the syntax I will propose for objects. The key takeaway from this discussion is only that postverbal particles diagnose a VP constituent that is initial in the clause. With this understanding of Fijian verb-initial syntax in place, we can look at how VP-fronting interacts with the placement of objects. In the next section, we will see that pronoun/proper name objects remain inside the fronted VP, and so must be low in the clause.
3 Three types of objects in Fijian
In this section, I introduce the problem of differential object marking in Fijian. We will see that Fijian morphologically distinguishes between three types of objects: pronouns/proper names, common nouns, and incorporated nouns. The distinction between pronouns/proper names and common nouns represents a differential object marking pattern, but it will be useful to compare it to the behavior of incorporated nouns. In an apparent reversal of well-known DOM patterns, objects higher in definiteness/animacy appear without an article and must remain in a lower syntactic position. Specifically, pronoun and proper name objects must be immediately adjacent to the verb, before postverbal particles, and so inside the fronted VP described above.
3.1 Pronoun/proper name objects appear without an article
Let me focus first on the morphological side of differential object marking. DOM in Fijian is associated both with morphological reflexes on the object itself as well as on the verb.
In Sect. 5, I argue that the difference in definiteness between pronouns/proper names and common nouns is reflected structurally in Fijian. Specifically, I will propose that pronouns and proper names are associated with a full DP structure, while Fijian common nouns are structurally reduced and lack a definiteness layer altogether.
What is unusual in Fijian is that the objects higher in definiteness appear without a morpheme, since pronouns and proper names surface without the article ko/o. An apparent crosslinguistic generalization about DOM otherwise is that objects higher in definiteness or animacy appear with an additional morpheme, such as a case marker or a preposition. In the next section, I show that, in addition to this, pronoun and proper name objects must be in a lower position than common nouns, in that they must remain VP-internal.
3.2 Pronoun/proper name objects remain low
The second surprising property of differential object marking in Fijian is that pronoun and proper name objects must remain VP-internal, like incorporated nouns, while common nouns surface VP-externally. This positional difference is again unexpected from the perspective of crosslinguistic patterns of DOM, since objects higher on DOM hierarchies tend to occur in higher positions.
Before proceeding to my proposal it is important to discuss an alternative analysis of this pattern, which says that pronouns and proper names incorporate into the verb. I will show, following Aranovich (2013), that pronouns and proper names do not undergo noun incorporation, but instead reside in an argument position, such that we still need an explanation of the DOM pattern.
3.3 Pronouns and proper names are not incorporated
Noun incorporation in Fijian:
A first superficial difference between incorporated objects and pronoun/proper name objects is that transitive verbs lose their transitive suffix when the noun incorporates (33a–b).11 Morphologically then, incorporated nouns affect the verb in a different way. More importantly, however, we can show that incorporated nouns occupy a different position than pronouns and proper names. In causative and applicative constructions, as pointed out by Aranovich (2013), incorporated nouns end up inside the verbal complex.
Noun incorporation in Fijian causatives: Open image in new window
I conclude that pronoun/proper name objects do not incorporate into the verb, so that the DOM pattern requires an independent explanation, following Alderete (1998) and Aranovich (2013). In what follows, I provide evidence that pronouns/proper names are subject to an adjacency requirement, because they can appear without an article also when adjacent to a higher verb, across a clause boundary. This construction too will distinguish the marking of pronoun/proper name objects from noun incorporation, which is impossible in this context.
4 Adjacency across a clause boundary
In this section, I argue that Fijian pronoun and proper name objects are subject to an adjacency requirement, which I propose in Sect. 5 reflects the application of morphological merger at PF. The main argument for this adjacency requirement comes from the observation that pronouns and proper names can be marked like objects of a higher verb across a clause boundary. In particular, I show that a clefted pronoun/proper name inside an embedded clause can be marked as an object of a higher verb, with article omission and the pronoun/proper name suffix -Ci on the verb. This effect is reminiscent of raising-to-object or long-distance agreement out of a finite CP (e.g. Polinsky and Potsdam 2001; Branigan and MacKenzie 2002; Deal 2016; Zyman 2018), but I will show that it is uniquely sensitive to adjacency. The object marking pattern is only possible if nothing linearly intervenes between the verb and the pronoun/proper name in the embedded clause. No adverb, postverbal particles, or other argument may intervene between the verb and pronoun/proper name.
4.1 CP complements and fronting
The effect we will be concerned with emerges with verbs that embed CP complements, like nanu (‘think/remember’) and kila (‘know’), when fronting occurs inside of such embedded clauses. I will first discuss the properties of CP complements and the properties of fronting in Fijian, which I argue, following Potsdam (2009), is the result of clefting.
On the basis of these facts, I propose that fronting in Fijian involves a biclausal cleft structure. This understanding of fronting will be important when we turn to the interaction of clefting in embedded clauses with object marking: a pronoun/proper name that is clefted can be marked as an object of a higher verb. Note also that the cleft analysis provides an explanation of the fact that fronted phrases always appear with articles, even when it is a pronoun or proper name object that has been fronted.19
4.2 Object marking across a clause boundary
This section demonstrates that pronouns and proper names can be marked as an object of a higher verb across a CP boundary, as long as the verb is surface-adjacent. As in a simplex clause, the article ko/o is omitted and the verb surfaces with -Ci. This effect does not reflect raising-to-object or long-distance agreement, but is sensitive to linear adjacency. Any type of overt element that intervenes between the higher verb and pronoun/proper name, whether associated with the lower or higher clause, disrupts object marking. On this basis, I argue that pronouns and proper names in Fijian are subject to an adjacency requirement.20
That object marking is possible in this environment is surprising, both because the embedded clause is finite, but also because it shows that the DOM pattern persists in a derived environment. I will argue that object marking is possible because pronouns and proper names can be licensed through an operation of morphological merger with a verb at PF. Although a clefted pronoun or proper name resides in a different clause, it can still be linearly adjacent with the embedding verb. As a result, an operation of morphological merger can apply.
At first glance, the construction described above is reminiscent of long-distance agreement into embedded clauses, as in languages like Tsez and Innu-aimûn (Polinsky and Potsdam 2001; Branigan and MacKenzie 2002), or raising-to-object out of finite CPs (e.g. Deal 2016; Zyman 2018). However, unlike long-distance agreement or object raising, article omission in Fijian is only possible with surface adjacency. A pronoun or proper name in the embedded clause can only be treated as an object of the higher verb if no overt material intervenes. No object agreement or object raising is involved. Article omission is licensed strictly through adjacency at PF, which I will argue reflects the application of morphological merger.
The facts presented in this section make clear then that the Fijian DOM pattern is about linear adjacency. On the basis of this, I argue that adjacency can allow a nominal to escape the need to undergo Case licensing (Levin 2015; Branan 2017), through the application of a morphological merger operation at PF. In contrast, subjects uniformly receive nominative case, and so do not show a differential marking pattern. I develop this proposal in detail in the next section.
5 The role of adjacency in Case licensing
DOM patterns crosslinguistically involve additional case morphology on objects higher on an animacy or definiteness hierarchy. I take the presence of an adjacency requirement to show that Fijian is no different: additional Case licensing is necessary for such objects. What is different about Fijian is that this licensing need can be avoided through morphological merger. In this section, I first argue that the adjacency effect reflects the application of morphological merger of the pronoun/proper name with a verb at PF (Levin 2015; Branan 2017; cf. Ackema and Neeleman 2003), specifically through Embick and Noyer’s (2001) Local Dislocation. I suggest that morphological merger is necessary because Fijian lacks accusative case assignment. I then argue that common nouns are structurally reduced, based on the fact that they lack number and definiteness. As a result, common nouns lack the requisite structure for a [uCase] feature and vacuously satisfy the Case Filter.
5.1 Morphological merger of pronouns and proper names
At the same time, I adopt the Case Filter, so that all nominals require Case licensing (Vergnaud 2008/1977). A consequence of the absence of accusative case is that objects will not be able to surface without violating the Case Filter, unless an alternative licensing strategy is able to apply. I propose that, in order to be licensed, pronouns and proper names undergo morphological merger with a verb at PF, through the application of Local Dislocation (Embick and Noyer 2001). The application of Local Dislocation is what results in an apparent adjacency requirement. In contrast, I will argue that common nouns are always structurally reduced, lacking the requisite structure to introduce a Case feature, and so vacuously satisfy the Case Filter.
Structure of Fijian proper names/pronouns:
It is important in this approach that there is a requirement that extended projections must generally be complete, so that K cannot freely be omitted (see also Levin 2015, Sheehan and Van der Wal 2016). In this view, there are two ways in which a pronoun/proper name can be part of a complete extended projection in Fijian. Either the article ko/o is projected, introducing a Case licensing need, or Local Dislocation allows the pronoun/proper name to be part of the extended projection of the verb. See also Baker (1988) and Levin (2015: Sect. 4.3) for similar proposals for how (pseudo-)noun incorporation allows a nominal to escape Case licensing requirements.
In support of the application of Local Dislocation, we find prosodic evidence for the idea that the pronoun/proper name forms a tighter morphophonological unit with the verb than other elements. Scott (1948:748), in his description of Fijian intonation, observes that object pronouns are treated as part of the same prosodic phrase as the verb. In contrast, common noun objects are set off in their own prosodic phrase. The same conclusion is evident in Schütz’s (2014) description of Fijian prosody (402).25
5.2 Common noun objects are caseless
Table 1. Fijian independent pronouns.
This follows if common nouns lack a Num(ber) projection that is present in other DPs.
Structure of common nouns:
In this view, the articles ko/o and na are not alike and represent different functional heads in the extended nominal projection. Despite their superficial similarities, common nouns and proper names/pronouns project nominals of different sizes. The result is that only pronouns and proper names require Case licensing.31 To make sure this structural difference results in an asymmetry between common nouns and proper names/pronouns, it is important that Local Dislocation cannot apply to common nouns vacuously. For the sake of concreteness, I posit that Local Dislocation is a Last Resort operation, so that it is invoked only where necessary (see also fn. 41).
Strong Start (Selkirk 2011):
A prosodic constituent optimally begins with a leftmost daughter constituent which is not lower in the prosodic hierarchy than the constituent that immediately follows.
5.3 Consequences for the theory of DOM
The analysis of Fijian outlined here poses a problem for any approach to DOM that treats it purely as a positional difference or as a difference in overt case marking. One view of DOM, for example, is that it arises because objects higher in definiteness and animacy may undergo an additional operation of object raising (e.g. Diesing 1992; Bhatt and Anagnostopoulou 1996; Baker and Vinokurova 2010). The Fijian DOM pattern seems to provide strong evidence against the claim that differential object marking effects have their source exclusively in object movement.
The Fijian object marking pattern is also a counterexample to the idea that DOM universally involves additional marking on objects higher in definiteness and animacy. It seems to pose a problem for theories like Haspelmath’s (2018), which treats DOM as a pressure to put overt marking on nominals which depart from prototypical associations of reference and thematic role. Similarly, Fijian presents a problem for approaches to DOM that relate it to pressures on the expression of case marking itself. In Aissen’s (2003) account, for example, DOM is driven by conflicting constraints on the expression of case morphology, to avoid case marking where possible but provide overt case marking on marked objects. Since the Fijian DOM system involves no additional morphology on objects higher in definiteness, DOM cannot exclusively be about overt morphological asymmetries of this type.
What the Fijian facts provide evidence for is a broader approach to DOM, in which objects higher in definiteness and animacy must undergo an additional morphosyntactic process, which can manifest itself in different ways. One type of theory that can capture this observation is one that assumes an asymmetry in Case licensing (e.g. Massam 2001; Danon 2006; Ormazabal and Romero 2013; Kalin 2018), such that some objects have an additional licensing need. As I have argued here, a Case licensing view provides a natural understanding of the range of strategies that can be used to create a DOM pattern.
Interestingly, there is some evidence for structural reduction in Pitjantjatjara, since Pitjantjatjara common nouns are not marked for number or definiteness. This similarity with Fijian could be further support for a link between structural reduction and differences between pronouns/proper names and common nouns. However, Legate (2008) argues that some case splits in Pama-Nguyan language are morphological and not syntactic in nature and this possibility would have to be ruled out for Pitjantjatjara. In addition, in Corsican, common nouns display no clear evidence of structural reduction. As in other Romance languages, common nouns surface with number marking and can combine with a definite article. I leave it as an open question then whether differences in structural size are responsible for all patterns that make the same cut between pronouns/proper names and common nouns.
5.4 The role of adjacency in other DOM patterns
If licensing by adjacency can be one of the mechanisms involved in DOM, we expect to find similar patterns in other languages, with familiar variation in which types of objects require additional Case licensing. I discuss some similar patterns in other Oceanic languages in this section. In addition, I discuss the proposal that an operation of morphological merger lies behind instances of pseudo-noun incorporation (Levin 2015).
6 On the partial pronominal argument analysis
Much previous work on Fijian has analyzed it as a partial pronominal argument language (Schütz and Nawadra 1972; Alderete 1998; Aranovich 2013; Schütz 2014), in the sense of Jelinek (1984) and Baker (1988). In this approach, proper names and pronouns are different from common nouns in that they appear as true objects of the verb, as the complement of V. Common noun objects, however, are analyzed as adjoined phrases, co-indexed with an incorporated pronoun. The facts presented here demonstrate that the Fijian DOM pattern is not about a distinction between base-generated and dislocated phrases, since the DOM effect holds even in derived environments. A consequence of my analysis then is that it is not necessary to allow a mechanism of partial polysynthesis. In this section, I briefly discuss the partial polysynthesis analysis, as developed in Alderete (1998) and Aranovich (2013), and show that it cannot account for object marking across a clause boundary.
This approach explains why subjects and common noun objects must appear peripherally, after postverbal particles, on the assumption that such particles mark the right edge of the verbal domain. In addition, this view explains why pronoun objects seem to be subject to an adjacency requirement. In this analysis, the verb-adjacent position is just the ordinary complement position of a true object. Also, the article omission pattern can be viewed as a difference between adjoined phrases and true arguments: only dislocated phrases are introduced by the article ko/na. Finally, as Aranovich points out, this polysynthetic approach provides a straightforward account for the alternation between VSO and VOS word order. Since subjects and objects are adjoined phrases, they should be able to adjoin in any order.
Fijian Transitivity Constraint (Aranovich 2013 :492):
In Fijian, the features of the VP complement must outrank the feature [human] in the person/animacy scale.
Person/animacy scale (Aranovich 2013 :492):
pronominal > proper > human > animate > inanimate
This paper has argued that Fijian has a crosslinguistically unusual pattern of differential object marking, in which objects higher in definiteness or animacy show reduced marking and appear in a lower position. This pattern arises because pronoun/proper name objects are licensed by adjacency with the verb, specifically an operation of morphological merger at PF (Levin 2015; Branan 2017; cf Stowell 1981; Ackema and Neeleman 2003). These facts suggest a perspective on DOM in which objects higher in definiteness and animacy have an additional Case licensing need (e.g. Massam 2001; Danon 2006; Ormazabal and Romero 2013; Kalin 2018). In this approach, Fijian DOM is no different from other DOM patterns in that an additional licensing strategy is used with objects higher in animacy/definiteness. What is different is only that Fijian makes use of an operation of morphological merger rather than an additional case marker or agreement. In this way, the Fijian facts provide support for the idea that nominals are subject to the Case Filter (Vergnaud 2008/1977).
Abbreviations for Fijian: 1/2/3 = 1st/2nd/3rd person, art = article, c = complementizer, caus = causative, dir = directional, du = dual, excl = exclusive, fut = future, hab = habitual, incl = inclusive, n = common noun, pauc = paucal, pl = plural, poss = possessive, pr = pronoun/proper name, prog = progressive, pst = past, rp = recent past, sg = singular, tr = transitive.
Schütz (2014) argues against classifying Fijian as a verb-initial language on the basis of the polysynthetic analysis described in Sect. 6. He suggests that, if the subject/object agreement markers are taken to represent the true subject and object, Fijian is SVO. Since I will present data that argues against this polysynthetic approach, I set this view aside here.
In texts, it is difficult to detect a preferred order. In the corpus gathered by Dixon (1988), intransitive sentences or transitive sentences in which one or both of the subject and object is dropped are far more common. He estimates that “only about 2 or 3 percent of clauses are likely to have A and O NPs” (242). Among those, VSO and VOS seem to be equally distributed. As noted by Dixon (1988), however, VOS word order is more common in elicitation, and so is sometimes interpreted as the default order. VSO sentences seem to be more common if the object is inanimate and there is no potential for ambiguity. This forms an interesting contrast with tendencies in Mayan VSO/VOS languages, as recently discussed by Clemens and Coon (2018).
In (12a–b), vata is in the scope of tale, so that (12a) has the reading where walking together is the repeated action. For (12c–d), I assume that directional particles attach lower than progressive aspect, which takes scope over the whole event description.
It might be possible to maintain a roll-up V-movement analysis if Local Dislocation were allowed to apply in the course of derivation, but crucially after head movement (see the discussion of causatives in Sect. 3.3 in particular). One issue that this approach runs into, though, is how to distinguish between suffixes on the verb, which are always before pronouns and proper name objects, and postverbal particles, which follow these objects.
The consonant used depends on the verb and seems to be idiosyncratically determined (though see Arms 1974 for some apparently systematic correspondences).
Here and throughout I will use the term “article” to refer to these morphemes, as is common practice in Fijian linguistics. As we will see, however, the distribution of na and ko/o is more complex and I will analyze them as different functional heads in the extended nominal projection. Specifically, I will suggest that ko/o is an instance of K, while na is a lower head, n.
As Dixon (1988) notes, the article ko/o is always omitted after prepositions also.
My thanks to an anonymous reviewer for pointing out this argument.
Unlike other arguments, complement clauses must be in VSO order, and cannot precede the subject. Complement clauses then presumably must undergo an independent extraposition operation.
- 11.The intransitive form of most verbs is also bare, so that we could think of this as detransitivization. However, there is a small set of verbs whose intransitive form is marked by a prefix, such as voro (‘break’) (ia). These verbs must still be bare under noun incorporation (ib).
- 12.The head movement analysis presented here must be complicated somewhat, because incorporated nouns can be modified by adjectives (although not by demonstratives or possessors), even when they appear inside the verbal complex, as in examples like (34).Such facts suggest that noun incorporation does not involve head movement, but phrasal movement of a larger constituent. See Barrie and Mathieu (2016) for similar patterns in a range of noun incorporation languages.
For ease of exposition, I have opted for a somewhat simplified structure. The causative construction more likely has a more articulated structure with an additional vP layer associated with the causative morpheme. The presence of two v layers could provide an explanation for why the transitive suffix is not suppressed in this case. In addition, the transitive suffix used in the causative is the long form, -Caki, which commonly signals applicative structure in Fijian and so might be associated with a more complex verbal structure. None of this affects the argumentation around the status of noun incorporation.
Noun incorporation is particularly productive with the verbs gunu (‘drink’) and kana (‘eat’), as Dixon (1988) notes. Most other verbs put restrictions on which common nouns may incorporate. The fact that such restrictions are never found with pronoun and proper name objects is another reason to think they do not undergo incorporation.
In addition, the embedded verb shows the wrong transitive suffix, -Ca.
As Potsdam (2009) notes, evidence for such a movement step comes from the fact that fronting is island-sensitive, displays Strong Crossover, and reconstruction for Principle C.
- 17.The initial predicate of a cleft retains the article and patterns in this respect with other non-predicational copular clauses, like specificational or equative clauses (48a–b).In predicational copular sentences, though, common nouns do lose their article, as in (43a), and appear with verbal morphology, like the subject clitic e.
Note that fronted phrases do not seem to be able to combine with preverbal particles encoding tense and aspect. The same is true of other nominal predicates in Fijian in which the article is retained. Preverbal particles seem to be available only with nominal predicates that lose the article, as in (43a).
That the verb appears with the -Ca suffix regardless of clefted constituent still requires explanation. I posit that -Ca reflects the status of the null operator that moves into the left periphery of the lower clause, which, like cava (‘what’), is treated as part of the class of common nouns.
- 20.This construction is distinct from the constructions discussed by Massam (1985), which she calls ECM, in which an argument from the lower clause appears in object position in the higher clause (50), with the verb vinaka (‘want’).These constructions are different from the ones discussed here in a number of ways. The object is unambiguously in the higher clause and can precede the subject or a complementizer. In addition, the object is doubled by a pronominal form in the lower clause, like the subject clitic in (49). Finally, this construction is impossible with wh-phrases, presumably because these cannot be interpreted in the higher clause. As a result, these may be more plausibly analyzed as proleptic constructions. To control for the availability of this construction, I use examples with wh-phrases for the crucial cases.
Note that this construction does not involve a free relative, because it is available in a multiple wh-question, as in (50b). My thanks to Masha Polinsky (p.c.) for discussion of this point.
These facts also let us rule out a prolepsis analysis.
Fijian coordination seems to involve a comitative structure, so does not provide a good test for the Coordinate Structure Constraint.
In this view, ko/o is the default realization of K with proper names/pronouns, absent only when the nominal undergoes morphological merger with an immediately preceding verb/preposition. It is also in principle consistent with my approach to treat K as the realization of nominative only, so that the proposal about extended projections below would not be necessary. Note that Local Dislocation is still necessary, to capture the adjacency requirement on pronouns/proper names.
- 25.There may be some morphophonological evidence for word formation as well. As Schütz (2014) points out, adjacent vowels can form diphthongs across morpheme boundaries word-internally. The final i of the transitive suffix can optionally form a diphthong with a suitable initial vowel of the following proper name, such as iu (65a). Similarly, when the pronoun/proper name starts with i as well, the two adjacent vowels can be pronounced as a long vowel (65b).
An interesting question is whether the clefted predicate should be accessible for morphophonological operations in the higher clause, in light of contemporary assumptions about cyclicity (e.g. Chomsky 2001). Although a clefted predicate is the initial element in the embedded CP, it is presumably not on the phase edge, and so should perhaps be in an opaque domain for PF operations. There are at least two options for dealing with this issue. One is to simply deny that morphological merger must be sensitive to syntactic cyclicity and allow it to operate purely on the linear string. The second is to posit that Fijian nominal predicates do not project a fully-fledged clause, so that they are not associated with a full syntactic domain. There is some independent evidence that this latter suggestion is on the right track, since nominal predicates that retain the article in general lack preverbal material in Fijian, such as subject clitics and tense/aspect markers.
As evident in (72), relative clauses with numerals in them differ from other relative clauses in that they may be preposed before the article na. Aranovich (2015) argues convincingly that such structures are head-internal relative clauses.
An alternative explanation might be that numerals in Fijian must be the main predicate of a clause.
Another piece of evidence against the idea that na is a definite article is that it surfaces with wh-phrases like cava (‘what’).
Note that demonstratives appear after the noun, with adjectives, and can be treated as adjuncts.
See Kalin (2018) for a theory that extends this type of approach across differential object marking patterns. Note that caselessness does not mean that a common noun argument can be added freely to any construction. Thematic restrictions presumably prevent a common noun object from being added to an intransitive predicate, for example.
Fijian also has a passive construction, in which pronoun and proper name objects appear with ko/o. This follows from the idea that Local Dislocation is a Last Resort at PF and so will only be triggered if there is no Case licensing in the syntax. Note that whether common nouns are “promoted” in any way in passives is difficult to ascertain, since there is no dedicated subject position.
The clitic -i is used with human nouns, while ni is used only with common nouns.
I discuss the alternation between -Ci/-Ca in Sect. 6.
- 35.It is also possible to have a long proper name in a fronted VP, in an example like (i).If last names are analyzed as modifiers, as suggested by Matushansky (2008b), these facts can be viewed in a similar way.
That pronouns and proper names do not appear to have to escape the VP is a challenge for the Diesing view. One way to deal with this is to posit a covert operation of QR. Another possibility is that the inherent definiteness of such nominals allows them to be interpreted as definites in the VP.
In Pitjantjatjara, as in Fijian, the interrogative pronoun ngana (‘who’) is treated as a pronoun/proper name, while nyaa (‘what’) is marked like a common noun (Langlois 2004:54). A similar pattern seems to be found in Corsican. Neuburger and Stark (2014:378) note that universal quantifiers like tutti (‘all’) are DOM-marked if they refer to humans, but not otherwise.
As Pearce discusses, these allomorphy effects appear to have their origins in an -i suffix present with pronoun/proper name objects, triggering vowel raising and palatalization. Synchronically, however, the patterns are no longer phonologically predictable.
Another difference is that absolutive case appears to be available to all objects, which is difficult to square with the caselessness I posited for common noun objects in Fijian. One option is that the absolutive morpheme is a default marker of some sort and not a reflex of Case licensing.
But note that, in Fijian, it is important that structurally reduced nouns cannot undergo Local Dislocation. One option might be to attribute this difference between Fijian and Niuean to the presence of na with common nouns. If na is an instance of n, it could be that it is impossible to omit na for independent reasons, since doing so would leave the root uncategorized.
Another option is to treat the -Ci/-Ca as a case of allomorphy, triggered by the presence of a pronoun/proper name object.
Alderete (1998) only treats objects as optional adjoined phrases, and not subjects. This is derived from a semantic treatment of the DOM effect. I will not discuss this particular version of the partial polysynthesis account, since it runs into the same issues.
Alderete (1998) adopts a semantic analysis. He suggests that, while pronouns and proper names are all of type e, common nouns are all of type <et,t> and so must QR to combine with a transitive verb. He proposes that Fijian lacks the requisite operation of QR, so that only a right-dislocated structure allows for the introduction of a common noun.
My thanks to David Adger, Raúl Aranovich, David Hall, Claire Halpert, Daniel Harbour, Laura Kalin, Theodore Levin, David Pesetsky, Masha Polinsky, and Michelle Yuan for comments and discussion, as well as audiences at NELS 47 and LAGB 2017. I am indebted to Eroni Lomata and Koini Cokanasiga for sharing their language with me. My thanks also to Rochelle Wild and everyone in the Spring 2017 field methods class LIN312.
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