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From polyfusional to post-fusional: Obsolescence and innovation in Basque predicate morphosyntax and its typological implications

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dc.contributor.author Jendraschek, Gerd
dc.date.accessioned 2012-05-21T16:05:38Z
dc.date.available 2012-05-21T16:05:38Z
dc.date.issued 2012-05-21
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1911/64169
dc.description.abstract Basque possesses a complex verbal morphology, where the inflected verb, i.e. the predicate core, shows agreement with (or represents) up to three arguments, namely ergative, absolutive, and dative marked noun phrases. This entails that the syntactic relations between the core arguments and the verb complex are perfectly reflected in verbal and nominal morphology, by both head- and dependent marking. Moreover, Basque predicates indicate tense (present, past, hypothetical), mood (indicative vs. subjunctive) and realis vs. irrealis. This leads to a large number of possible forms, with a high degree of morpholological irregularity. While the replacement of finite lexical verbs by complex predicates involving auxiliaries is well documented, the gradual obsolescence of many auxiliary forms is an ongoing and less noted phenomenon. The Basque agreement pattern illustrates the syntactic hierarchy between the core arguments in different argument constellations. The argument at the top of the syntactic hierarchy, i.e. the subject, allows of most variation. Head-marking cross-referencing arguments further down on the hierarchy is increasingly restricted, so that in some cases only third person dependents can be cross-referenced. Basque thus exhibits both the Monotransitive and the Ditransitive Person-Role Constraint, albeit to different degrees. Auxiliaries corresponding to uncommon argument constellations fall gradually out of use. Frequency is therefore not only responsible for grammaticalization, but also for the subsequent disintegration of paradigms according to the Rarity Condition on Obsolescence. As a consequence of the obsolescence of verbal morphology, new strategies for the expression of syntactic relations (and semantic content) emerge. The evolution illustrated in this paper is a symptom of the typological shift from agglutinative to fusional morphology and beyond, and suggests that a very high degree of synthesis is incompatible with a high degree of fusion. In addition to language-internal factors, the influence of Romance contributes to the obsolescence as well as the preservation of morphologically complex forms.
dc.language.iso en
dc.subject Basque, Historical Linguistics, Obsolescence, Morphological Typology, Auxiliaries
dc.title From polyfusional to post-fusional: Obsolescence and innovation in Basque predicate morphosyntax and its typological implications
dc.type Article
dc.identifier.citation Jendraschek, Gerd. (2012). "From polyfusional to post-fusional: Obsolescence and innovation in Basque predicate morphosyntax and its typological implications."

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