MIT Working Papers on Endangered and Less Familiar Languages #8

Studies in Kaqchikel Grammar

Michael Kenstowicz, 2013

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This volume is a collection of works on the grammar of Kaqchikel, edited by Michael Kenstowicz. It contains the following papers:

Kaqchikel SVO: V2 in a V1 Language - Lauren Eby Clemens 1

For matrix declarative clauses in Patzún Kaqchikel, subjects can always be clause-initial, but in order for them to surface to the right of the predicate, some other A'-element (adverb, locative, focused phrase, etc.) must surface clause-initially. The word order in embedded clauses is not subject to the same restrictions that we see in matrix clauses. In embedded clauses, verbs may be the first element. In other words, embedded clauses illustrate the verb- or predicate-initial tendencies of Mayan, while in matrix clauses some other requirement renders this characteristic opaque. Borrowing a common solution from the literature of V2 languages, I propose that the relevant clausal requirement is that the specifier of matrix declarative CPs is obligatorily filled. I argue that SVO in Patzún Kaqchikel is an artifact of this requirement.

Disassociating the Syntax and Morphological Realization of Kaqchikel Agent Focus - Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine 25

A common property of many Mayan languages is a change in transitive verb morphology when the subject has been extracted, known as Agent Focus (AF) (Aissen, 1999, Stiebels, 2006, Norcliffe, 2009, Coon et al., 2011:a.o.). AF is traditionally described as obligatory whenever the subject of a transitive clause is A'-extracted. In this paper I will discuss the morphological realization of AF in Kaqchikel. I argue that the realization of AF must be governed by a morphological process which is independent of the syntax of AF. Specifically, I argue that AF morphology is the realization of an abstract [AF] feature which spreads downward within a certain domain, following Bjorkman's (to appeara, to appearb) feature-spreading approach to Affix Hopping-type verbal morphology.

Deriving Nominals in Kaqchikel - Yusuke Imanishi and Pedro Mateo Pedro 51

This paper discusses non-finite complement clauses involving nominalized predicates in the Kaqchikel dialect of Patzún, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. In non-finite clauses, the verb lacks a tense/aspect marker and takes suffixes like -Vn and -ïk, depending on the transivity of the verb. Based on Rodríguez Guaján (1988) and Rodríguez Guaján and García Matzar (1997)’s work on complement clauses in Kaqchikel, we will show in this paper that verbs are nominalized in non-finite complement clauses. To be more precise, we will argue that intransitive verbs are free to be nominalized, while transitive verbs undergo intransitivization before nominalization. Our analysis will show that there are cases in which Kaqchikel nominalization overtly signals the cycle of intransitivization.

Realize Morpheme in Kaqchikel - Michael Kenstowicz 67

Prosodic minimality is a well-established phenomenon. Processes of elision may be blocked if their application would take a word below some minimal size, typically a bimoraic foot. Minimality may also trigger augmentation processes to bring a prosodically deficient structure up to the required minimum. Both of these blocking and triggering actions are found in Lardil (Prince and Smolensky 2004, based on Hale 1973). In this squib we document a case of morphemic minimality in the Mayan language Kaqchikel. A couple of elision processes are blocked just in case they would result in zero exponence for a morpheme. The phenomenon thus falls under the OT constraint Realize Morpheme (RM). Most discussions of RM in the OT literature (Akinlabi 1996, Kurisu 2001) have been concerned with forcing the autosegmental attachment of floating features or otherwise unmotivated departures from faithfulness in order to model processual morphology such as German umlaut. They thus concern the “triggering” function of the RM constraint. We are not aware of any discussion of the “blocking” effect of RM. Hence, Kaqchikel provides novel evidence for this other facet of the constraint.

Syllable Structure and the Head Parameter in Kaqchikel - Kuniya Nasukawa, Yoshiho Yasugi and Masatoshi Koizumi 81

It is widely agreed that the basic syllable structure used in phonological descriptions is universally fixed as CV. In this paper, however, it is argued that VC, rather than CV, is the basic syllable type for Kaqchikel, a K’iche’an language of the Mayan family. Supporting evidence comes from phenomena such as the distribution of prosodic boundary markers (domain-final aspiration), primary-stress assignment (domain-final V) and segmental weakening (typically domain-initial). By referring to the interaction between head-dependency-based phonological structures and linear ordering processes it is possible to view VC as the phonetic manifestation of a given structure that carries a marked setting of the head directionality parameter at the syllable level: in Kaqchikel, unlike most other languages, V (nucleus, the head of syllable) phonetically precedes C (onset rather than coda, its dependent).

Plural Agreement as a Phonological Phase - Liudmila Nikolaeva 97

Exploring First Conjunct Agreement in Kaqchikel - Junya Nomura and Daeyoung Sohn 135

The Parameter of Argument Ellipsis: The View from Kaqchikel - Koichi Otaki, Koji Sugisaki, Noriaki Yusa and Masatoshi Koizumi 153

In this study, we evaluate two major approaches to the parameter of argument ellipsis by bringing in new data from Kaqchikel. We argue that evidence from this under-represented language lends support to the approach that connects the availability of argument ellipsis to the absence of obligatory agreement, which in turn poses a potential problem for the approach that relates the availability of argument ellipsis to the property of free word order.