Diagnosing unaccusativity in Kawahíva


  • Wesley dos Santos University of California, Berkeley




syntax, morphology, unaccusativity, unergatives, Kawahíva


Unaccusativity, the division of intransitive verbs into two distinct classes, is usually argued for based on a class of cross-linguistic diagnostics, e.g., passivization. However, I diagnose unaccusative verbs in Kawahíva, an endangered Amazonian language, despite the traditional diagnostics being missing. The argument draws on a pattern of i-marking found in several constructions involving object displacement and drop, as well as in a class of intransitive verbs which includes, among others, the verbs i-katu ‘be pretty, well’, i-rovia ‘be happy’. I suggest that, since i- is a result of object dislocation and drop, then the sole argument of i-marked intransitive verbs must be an object that undergoes dislocation. As a result of arguing that i-marked intransitive verbs select an object, as opposed to a subject, they fit into the definition for unaccusative verbs (Perlmutter 1978).




How to Cite

dos Santos, Wesley. 2022. “Diagnosing Unaccusativity in Kawahíva”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 7 (1): 5262. https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v7i1.5262.