Referential Hierarchies in Morphosyntax description, typology, diachrony
A EuroBABEL Project


IP Zurich

Mapudungun is a language isolate currently spoken by a relatively large number of people (approx. 150,000) in Chile and Argentina, on which the PI has conducted fieldwork over the last decade. Even though the handful of dialects of Mapudungun are rather similar, there appears to have been an evolution in the verbal agreement system since the language was first described in 1606 that bears intimate relation to the role played by referential hierarchies; the inverse morphology of finite verbs has been restructured in the course of the last four centuries, as has the make-up of some nonfinite verb forms. The objective of the project with respect to Mapudungun is threefold: (i) to identify discourse factors that play a significant role in the direct-inverse clause opposition that may have hitherto gone unnoticed; (ii) to investigate the extent to which the claim made in the literature (Arnold 1997, Zúñiga 2006) as to the syntactic correlates of morphological inversion are empirically robust, and (iii) to obtain a clear picture of how inversion interacts with the rest of the morphosyntax in threeparticipant clauses.