Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session




From the introduction: "A significant group of Seri verbs display a sensitivity to whether a Goal is singular or plural. (I use the term 'Goal' as a cover term for 'Recipients', 'Addressees', etc.) A verb such as [...] 'give', for example, has the subcategorization frame [1 3/Sg]; that is, it accepts only a subject and an indirect object, and the indirect object must be singular. With such verbs, if the Goal is plural, it must appear as a relational noun phrase (an Oblique).

"The data which appear in this paper of typological interest. I argue that Seri has Indirect Objects, but there is not a one-to-one mapping between the semantic role Goal and either the syntactic relation of Indirect Object or any oblique relation. Unlike in Southern Tiwa, where there is optionality in the mapping according to Rosen's 1990 analysis, the mapping in Seri is mediated by subcategorization frames which are sensitive to number.

"This paper also presents data and arguments which are of theoretical interest. First, I argue that there are verbs which govern both 3-2 Advancement and 2-3 Retreat, establishing more firmly the existence of the latter in human language. One argument for this analysis over a monostratal analysis is based on the fact that, with certain verbs, the presence (or absence) of an initial Indirect Object is registered on the verb. A second argument against a monostratal analysis is based on the fact that one loses the ability to posit a simple subcategorization frame for certain verbs.

"Second, I propose that a degree of simplification of the Seri grammar may be achieved by adopting a Minimality Principle. This principle correctly predicts that certain revaluations should not be expected in Seri. It also permits simplification of the lexical entries of verbs.

"This paper is organized as follows: in section 2 I show a set of facts which are the basis for distinguishing between Obliques, Indirect Objects, and Direct Objects. In section 3, the Minimality Principle is introduced and its predictions explained. In section 4 I discuss verbs which show the need for other key proposals: (a) differential treatment of singular and plural Goals with respect to initial grammatical relations, (b) lexically-governed 3-2 Advancement, (c) lexically-governed 2-3 Retreat, and (d) morphology which is sensitive to initial 3hood. In section 5 I discuss alternative analyses of the verbs in question, including one in which there is simply a more complex skewing in the mapping of semantic roles to grammatical relations."

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