Diagnosing unaccusativity in Kawahíva
Keywords:syntax, morphology, unaccusativity, unergatives, Kawahíva
AbstractUnaccusativity, 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).
Published by the LSA with permission of the author(s) under a CC BY 4.0 license.