Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Linda Humnick


Many works have been published about the grammar and phonology of Mixtecan languages, but relatively little has been written about the discourse features of these languages. One of these areas of discourse where relatively little research has been done is that of participant reference.

This thesis explores the features of participant reference in one Mixtec language, Xochapa Mixtec, by examining the use of nouns, pronouns, and deictic phrases in eight Xochapa Mixtec texts. The texts used in this research were transcribed from audio recordings and then analyzed with respect to the participant reference forms they employed. The thesis begins with a description of several relevant aspects of Xochapa Mixtec grammar before describing in detail the different categories of participant reference and how they are used. The analysis of participant reference forms employs ideas and terminology from several different discourse methodologies, especially Givón (1983), Levinsohn (1994), and Gundel, Hedberg, & Zacharski (1993).

This research reveals that Xochapa Mixtec uses noun phrases for activation and reactivation of discourse participants, for disambiguation, and for highlighting. Determiners and deictic phrases are used in continuing reference to activated participants, though use of both the indefinite article and the definite particle is optional. Pronouns are also used in further reference to activated participants, and some pronouns can be used outside their usual noun class category in certain discourse contexts. There is sometimes alternation between the use of animal and human pronouns for the same participant in a text. Finally, Xochapa Mixtec has a special pronoun that is used for third person direct objects that play the role of local VIP.

Included in

Linguistics Commons