A grammar of relationship. How Mi’kmaw verbs indicate the relationship between participants in a sentence




Friesen, Dianne

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In this thesis we ask, how are arguments introduced and mapped to grammatical positions in Mi’kmaw? We build on insights from Piggott (1989), Wiltschko (2014), and Harley (2017) and use a corpus of over 150 verb stems in 1500+ clauses. We propose that Mi’kmaw verb stems are classified by whether they are unergative or unaccusative. Three functional categories: little v, Animacy agreement, and Voice introduce the other argument and then map the arguments to grammatical positions through two overlapping processes. We illustrate active, passive, antipassive, and possessor raising constructions. These argument-building and mapping systems work without exception throughout the language. This thesis represents a fresh analysis of Mi’kmaw which accounts for transitivity, valence, and grammatical voice in a way that the traditional Bloomfieldian analysis (Inglis 1986, Fidelholtz 1999, McCulloch 2013) has not. We believe that our findings are only possible because of my close collaboration with Mi’kmaw colleagues, our decision to systematically investigate how the functional categories pattern with a large set of verb stems, and our decision to study the syntax of the verbs in complete clauses.



syntax, Algonquian language, Mi'kmaw, grammatical voice, verb class, causative