Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Stephen A. Marlett


Sayula Popoluca is a Mixe-Zoquean language spoken in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The data in this thesis was collected by Lawrence Clark and published in Clark (1961). Using Role and Reference Grammar as described in Van Valin (2005), I show that Sayula Popoluca marks the Privileged Syntactic Argument (PSA) in a clause based upon whether it is the single argument of an intransitive verb (S), the actor of a transitive verb, or the undergoer of a transitive verb. It does this through an increasing markedness in the combination of pronominal prefixes and aspect/mood suffixes, with S being the least marked, followed by the actor of a transitive verb, and the undergoer of a transitive verb is most marked. Sayula Popoluca has two patterns of inflections based upon a feature called dependency. The increased markedness applies to both dependencies. I also discuss how valency-changing affixes in Sayula Popoluca can change the PSA. This change in PSA is shown in the combination of pronominal prefix and aspect/mood suffix that a verb takes. Finally, I show how Sayula Popoluca applies PSA selection to certain complex clauses.

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