GOLLUSCIO Lucia Angela
congresos y reuniones científicas
Converbs in -(e)l, clause combining, and discourse in Vilela (Lule-Vilela, Chaco)
Workshop; Workshop "Subordination and Information structure: South America and beyond"; 2011
Institución organizadora:
Max Planck Institute
Vilela is a little-known and extremely endangered Chaco language. The location of two elderly speakers in recent years has made it possible to conduct language documentation and description. No Vilela grammars or dictionaries exist. Neither is there known work on the simple clause structure and the combination of clauses, the topic to which this paper intends to contribute. The Vilela language exhibits two types of multiverbal constructions: root serialization (ke-jasi-e [go-sit-3] ‘s/he went and sat’) and the sequence of converb(s) in -(e)l + an inflected verb (1-3). The paper describes the converb in -(e)l, whose development as syntactic and discourse recourse appears to be a contemporary innovation. It identifies the types of converbal constructions, examines structural and semantic relationships between the converb and the matrix clause, and determines uni- or multi-clausality. It places Vilela converbs in the typology of these constructions (Haspelmath 1995, Nedjalkov 1995) and compares them with the serialized verbal roots (Aikhenvald 2006, Zavala 2006). The literature closely relates serial verb constructions and converbs (Bisang 1995, Genetti 2005, Shibatani 2009, among others). In Vilela, these two verb sequences manifest formal and semantic similarities: (a) the same verbs (e.g., motion verbs) can participate in either construction, (b) they share similar constraints (e.g., V1 cannot be inflected), and (c) they differ from complementation clauses (latoj-el k-it-e  [jump-CONV go-CTR-3] ‘S/he went off jumping’ vs latoj-om nam-oho-ki [jump-2SG.IMP 2SG.OBJ-tell-1SG.SUBJ] Lit.: ‘Jump, I tell you’). However, while the serial verbal root constructions are always monoclausal and show advanced grammaticalization and lexicalization processes (kire um+k-it-ki [wood give+go=carry-CTR-1SG] ‘I carried some wood’), the clauses with converbs in -(e)l evidences different degrees of syntactic complexity (1-3). Specifically, the converbs function as the nuclei of event-oriented clauses (either sequential or non-sequential) (1-2) or of participant-oriented clauses with a secondary predicate function (3). Differences between the serialized verbal roots and the combination of clauses with converbs express diverse values on a formal and semantic event integration continuum (Lehmann 1988, Givón 1990, 2009). Moreover, said combination of clauses offers a productive alternative to highlight the events in the clausal chains, modify and qualify them and their participants and, finally, organize the rhetorical structure of the narrative (Matthiesen and Thompson 1988; Thompson et al. 2007). (1)   (mole-mot-te)        wah-el             ahto-l              wakel-el              hapel-e     eat-CONV              finish-CONV           turn.around-CONV    back.up-3  ‘(His mule) ate (the cake), finished (it), turned around and backed up.’ (Lozano 2006: 55; our translation)   (2)     hate    na-l         nie       jope     umo-e            man    come-CONV                  fire          pot:CL    set-3      ‘When the man came, he set the pot on the fire.’ (ML, own data)   (3)        nah      ilah     ahjuh-ki          [ateka-we-l] SEC.PRED     porop-be         maje-be             I              COP        wander-1SG             young-ES-CONV                 canoe-LOC             bank-LOC ‘I am the one that roamed down the river bank in the canoe when young.’ (ML, own data)   Abbreviations: 1, 3 first, third persons; CL=nominal classifier for manufactured objects; CONV=converb; COP=copula; CTR=control marker; DET=determiner; ES=essive; IMP= imperative; LOC=locative; OBJ=object; possessive marker (for some domestic animals); SEC.PRED=secondary predication; SG=singular; SUBJ=subject.