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Title: Projecting morphology and agreement in Marori, an isolate of southern New Guinea
Authors: Arka, I Wayan
Keywords: Maori Language
Austronesian Languages
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: Marori is a Papuan language (isolate, Trans New Guinea (Ross 2005)). It is spoken by the Marori people in Kampung Wasur, around 15 kilometres east of Merauke, Indonesian Papua. Marori is under-documented. Previous publications mentioning this language (Boelaars 1950, Wurm 1954) mainly originated from the work of the Dutch missionary Father P. Drabbe, who also published his own work on the languages of southern New Guinea (Drabbe 1954, 1955). Mark Donohue collected a word list and also produced a picture dictionary (Gebze & Donohue 1998). A sociolinguistic survey was undertaken by SIL (Sohn, Lebold & Kriens 2009) on languages around Merauke including Marori. Marori language is highly endangered. There are several fluent speakers left, out of a total of 52 families or 119 people. Marori people typically have mixed marriages with Marind and non-Papuan Indonesians such as the Tanimbar people and currently the Javanese.The sociolinguistic survey carried out in 2000 (Sohn, Lebold & Kriens 2009) reports the precarious nature of the language, which I further confirmed when I did my fieldwork in 2008 and 2009. Young Maroris no longer actively speak their langauge. They may, however, still have passive competence of varying degrees. They almost all speak Indonesian or the local variety of Indonesian/Malay, and also Marind.This paper is the first detailed investigation on agreement in this language, highlighting its significance for the unification-based theory of agreement. Marori shows PERS and NUM agreement at the clausal level (between the predicate and its argument) and at the phrasal level (between a noun and its determiner). Of particular interest is the issue of distributed exponence in DUAL expression and agreement. It is proposed that there are two basic NUM features, each with its binary values ([+/-SG], [+/-PL]), and that they are semantically grounded on language-specific structured semantic space of NUM. A morpheme carries a feature bundle which allows the morpheme to refer to different portions of the semantic space. It is demonstrated that DUAL agreement in Marori can be dealt with in a straightforward manner using a unification-based analysis as compositionally [-SG,-PL] (unmarked). The analysis can be naturally extended to cases of DUAL in other languages with more complex NUM systems such as Nen, Hopi and Larike. The paper is organised as follows. Section 2 outlines basic facts on clausal organisation and agreement types in Marori. Section 3 starts with the conception of agreement from a lexicalist point of view, followed by the discussion on the nature of agreement in Marori. This section also outlines the proposal pertaining to feature structures with their corresponding semantic space and the analysis of the distributed exponence of NUM. Section 4 demonstrates how the analysis of DUAL in Marori can be extended to account for more complex NUM categories in other languages. Conclusions are given in section 5
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