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


IP Cologne

Movima is an isolate of Amazonian Bolivia, spoken in and around the town Santa Ana del Yacuma by still several hundred speakers. Despite current revitalization efforts, Movima is seriously endangered: almost all speakers are older than 50, bilingual in Spanish, and the language is not transmitted to children anymore. The Movima direct-inverse system seems to contradict all common assumptions regarding the syntactic treatment of referentially higherranking participants.

In Movima transitive clauses, constituent order is determined by the place the nominal referents occupy on a referential hierarchy that involves person, animacy, and topicality. The semantic roles of the nominal constituents are assigned through direct or inverse morphology on the predicate. One of the arguments of a transitive clause has the same formal properties as the single argument of an intransitive clause, the other one shares its formal properties with a nominal possessor. Since inverse-marking reverses the semantic-role assignment of the arguments, the Movima system can be described as "remapping inverse".