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Title: Inversion and other topics in the grammar of Olutec (Mixean)
Authors: Zavala, Roberto
Keywords: American Indigenous Languages (Northern)
Mixe-Zoquean Languages
Olutec - Grammar
Issue Date: 2000
Abstract: This dissertation is a study of four morphosyntactic topics on the grammar of Olutec, a Mixean language spoken in the state of Veracruz, Mexico: 1) ergativity and inversion; 2) nuclear serial verbs; 3) noun-incorporation; and 4) applicatives. This work also offers a grammatical overview of the major typological features of the language (word order and word order type) and its major construction types. Olutec exhibits an ergative system that typological studies on ergativity have not considered. There are three person proclitic sets. One set is ergative in independent clauses and absolutive in dependent clauses. A second set is absolutive in independent clauses, while a third set is ergative in dependent clauses. The language also exhibits an inverse vs. direct alternation for both transitive and intransitive clauses. In Olutec, all the semantic arguments selected by the verb are considered in the coding of a clause as inverse or direct. An inverse alternation triggered by the status of non-syntactic arguments has not been previously reported in the literature on inverse languages. Serial verb constructions of the nuclear type were the source of several of the inflectional morphemes that appear in the Olutec verb and that make the language highly polysynthetic. The etymological source and path of development of these markers is investigated in detail. Olutec exhibits the four major types of noun incorporation investigated by Mithun (1984). I show that in addition to themes and locations, Olutec incorporates agents. This pattern is almost unknown cross-linguistically. The noun incorporation construction with agents and themes also shows that the inverse alternation is triggered by semantic arguments. Olutec has six applicative morphemes that allow the coding of thematically peripheral participants as pragmatically salient arguments. This study shows that under specific circumstances, the applicative increases the verb valency, in others, it rearranges the argument structure of the clause, whereas still in others, it does not affect either the valency or the original argument structure of the base verb, but rather, only registers that the clause contains a pragmatically salient extra-thematic participant that is still non-core.
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