Agreement with Animate Direct Objects in Dani
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I'm working on my dissertation on Differential Object Marking and
Differential Object Agreement, and I found a quite peculiar case of DOA
in a Trans New Guinea language, Dani.
Dani has a DOA system based on animacy: animate direct objects (as
well as indirect objects and beneficiaries) are signalled on the verb via
an affix. The intriguing fact about Dani is that, as many other Trans
New Guinea languages, it does allow the object prefixes to be directly
attached to the main verb only with a restricted subset of verbs, namely
(w)at- “hit, kill”, hei- “put”, and ha- “perceive”. With other verb roots,
direct object affixes must be attached to post-cliticised 'auxiliaries',
such as hei- “put”, -ha- “see”, -et- “give” or -ap- “do for” (the last two
are used to introduce recipients and beneficiaries) that are usually
compounded with the main verb stem, forming thus a sort of serial verb
construction (cf. Bromley 1981: 157 ff. in his Dani Grammar).
To my knowledge, this feature seems to be unique to Papuan
languages: while it seems to be likely that verb serialisation is the
source of these constructions (see Foley 1986), I don't know of any
other language in which the animate direct object is indexed on an
'auxiliary', nor do I know of any studies dealing with this rare pattern
from either a synchronic or a diachronic point of view. For instance, I
find it quite interesting that only the verbs “kill, perceive, put”, which
are quite heterogeneous from a semantic point of view, can freely host
the object affix.
I would be very grateful for any relevant suggestions or bibliographical
hints on this matter.
Thank you very much in advance,
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