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Title: The article system of Umonhon (Omaha)
Authors: Eschenberg, Ardis
Keywords: American Indigenous Languages (Northern)
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: State University of New York at Buffalo
Abstract: The definite article system of Omaha consists of eleven post-clitics (enclitics) which are each mono- or di-syllabic. This article system has been shown to encode shape, position, movement, and animacy (Dorsey m.s., Anonymous n.d., Koontz 1984). Animate definite articles in Omaha also encode another dimension. This feature has been posited to be agency (Dorsey m.s., Anonymous n.d., Koontz 1984) or obviation (Koontz 1989, Eschenberg 1999). These two alternatives are explored in this dissertation, using Deictic Centering Theory (Duchan et al. 1995) as a tool for explaining the discourse and cognitive based semantico-pragmatics of the system. RRG is used as the syntactic theory to describe and categorize the morpho-syntactic behavior of the articles and morphemes posited to be related to the articles. The articles are homophonous with a set of verbal auxiliaries, copulas, evidentials, and clause linkage markers, all of which are post-clitics. Indeed, only context and syntax help to determine the function of these post-clitics in a given instance. These other post-clitics are posited to be related to the articles, and a grammaticalization pathway is given, explaining how such seemingly diverse functions could have developed through paradigmatic reanalyses. Through the exploration of the grammaticalization pathway, the functioning of the articles can be motivated, and this system within a system can be understood.
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