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Valence-changing derivations in Wichi
VIDAL, ALEJANDRA; NERCESIAN, VERÓNICA
Encuentro; 79th Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America/SSILA; 2005
Linguistic Society of America/SSILA
This paper considers transitivity alternations in Wichí (Mataco-Mataguayan). It constitutes the first account of verb classes in this language. Our purpose is to provide an analysis of valence alternations discussing the array of derivational suffixes that intervene to change the relationship between a verb and its arguments. First, we briefly present the typological characteristics of the language (nominative-accusative; headmarking, few adpositions) and verb structure. Second, we describe valence-increasing and decreasing operations. A final goal pursued here is to characterize Wichí as pertaining to the transitivizing type, according to Nichols et alt. (2004). Transitivizing languages are those that make use of augmentation and has many simplex intransitives. However, we will show that in Wichí basic transitive verbs conform a quite large class .Transitives and derived (di)transitives constrain the presence of pronominal object suffixes on the verb. According to the degree of transitivity, verbs fall into any of the following groups: (i) basic transitives; (ii) derived ditransitives; (iii) derived transitives; (iv)intransitives; (v) derived intransitives. Wichí has four mechanisms that give place to groups ii) and iii); these are transitive, causative and applicative derivations. Two different causatives are employed to derive transitive constructions; their occurrence depends on the semantics of the verb (whether it is an activity or a state). It also has two valence-decreasing affixes: reflexive/reciprocal and passive. In this paper we will only discuss the reflexive/reciprocal derivation, though for the sake of giving a more or less complete account, the passive construction will be presented as well. The passive has the effect of downgrading the importance of the grammatical subject; it rarely occurs in texts and it correlates with the pragmatic saliency of the participant.