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Ergativity in Chitimacha

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Abstract

This talk presents the first analysis of grammatical relations in noun phrases in Chitimacha. Previous grammatical descriptions of the language treat Chitimacha noun phrases as uninflected for case (Swanton 1920; Swadesh 1946:319), yet describe various “postpositions” which sound suspiciously like markers of grammatical relations. For example, Swadesh (1939a:120) states that the main function of the postposition hiš is “indicating the subject of an active verb”, and that this form also serves as an instrumental. Given Swadesh’s description, and the fact that instrumental > ergative is a well-known grammaticalization pathway (Garrett 1990; Heine & Kuteva 2004:1280), hiš is likely an ergative marker. Another form, (n)k, he describes as optional when it marks subjects (Swadesh 1939a:134), perhaps suggestive of an absolutive. He later notes that “hiš is a device for indicating the subject unambiguously,” but that “ (n)k is also used” (Swadesh 1939a:120). Taken together, these and other miscellaneous comments are suggestive of a system of case marking that follows an ergative-absolutive pattern.
Ergativity in Chitimacha
Daniel W. Hieber
University of California, Santa Barbara
Slides available at
danielhieber.com/cv
This research was funded in part by aNSF Graduate Research Fellowship Grant #1144085.
Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA), Jan. 3–6, 2019, NYC
2
Documentary Materials
1802:Jeerson List (Duralde 1802)
18811882:lexicon, a few texts (Gatschet 1881)
19071921:dozen texts, sketch grammar (Swanton 1920)
19301934:120 texts, 3,500-word lexicon, 200-page
grammar (Swadesh 1939a)
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Revitalization
discourse optional = seemingly random
no adequate descriptions in grammatical sketches
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Revitalization
-k, -tk (after /n/) indicates mild contrast or emphasis (on the
other hand). The meaning is often so attenuated that one can
hardly be certain of the basis for use.(Swadesh 1939b: 134)
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Revitalization
The under discussion has little or no positive meaning. Its
only function appears to be to mark the end of the phrase.
(Swadesh 1939b: 133)
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Nominal Marking in Chitimacha
Nouns are uninected except for certain ones, including kinship
terms and several others, which distinguish singular and plural.
(Swadesh 1939b: 101)
Swadesh and Swanton both describe various postpositions
that sound suspiciously like case markers
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Swadesh (1939b: 120) on hiš
1. indicating subject of an active verb
2. by means of [instrument]
3. made out of, consisting of [material]
4. occasionally used in place of kin with[postposition]
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Swadesh (1939b: 120) on hiš
In connection with the rst meaning, it is to be noted that the
subject of active verbs need not be marked by any formal sign:
hiš is a device for indicating the subject unambiguously.
(Swadesh 1939b: 120)
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Hypotheses
ergative ?
instrumental > ergative grammaticalization pathway ?
(Heine & Kuteva 2004: 180)
discourse optional ?
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Aside: -(n)k
many functions (polygrammaticalization)
locative postposition
locative nominalizer
nominative
etc.
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Data & Methods
29,000 words (tokens)
FLEx database > DLx database (digitallinguistics.io)
424 occurrences of hiš
Tagged dierent functions of hiš
Tagged properties of clauses that hiš occurs in
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Functions of hiš
instrumental (n=64)
ergative (n=357)
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=hišINSTR
(6) koːš=hiškʼet-ki-ː
stick =INSTR kill-1SG.P-SS
they would have struck me with a switch
(7) kuːhečʼin =hišhi popšmi-naʔa
water holy =INSTR AND splash-NF.PL
they splashed it with holy water
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=hišINSTR
(8) ʔuč ke ʔiš=up šaːhken čipniškʼan =hiš
someone 1SG=to basket nished NEG =INSTR
ʔap neh-ki-naʔa
VEN strike-1SG.P-NF.PL
someone struck me with an unnished basket
(9) we kaːcpa=nkʼ=hišʔam kʼust-k
DET stick=only =INSTR thing eat-SS
with only that stick, I shall (be able to) eat something
15
=hišINSTR
(10)siːc =hišwaːkʼipi ʔuči-ːk=š
moss =INSTR pillow do-SS=TOP
he made a pillow with moss
(11)hus kanin =hišwey hi ʔam-i
3SG eye =INSTR DEM DIST see-NF.SG
he had seen that with his (own) eyes
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hišERG
357 tokens
Only occur with 2- or 3-argument verbs
No intransitives not an agent marker
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hišERG: Subject of Transitive
(12)ʔoːš=hišwe kipi kap ušmi-naʔa
buzzard =ERG DET meat up eat-NF.PL
the buzzards ate the meat’
(13)we haksikʼam =hišhus kaniʔapšhuktmi-ʔi
DET young.man =ERG 3SG eye=TOP together close-NF.sg
the young man closed her eyes’
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hišERG: Subject of Ditransitive
(14) we puːp =hišnaːpʼu hečma-ʔ-i
DET rabbit =ERG children care.for-BEN-NF.SG
the rabbit took care of the children for them
(15) we puːp =hišhus poː čʼiwin
DET rabbit =ERG 3SG hay
neki šiš kʼamin nuku=nki kap pehčt-iʔi
elephant back=LOC up put-NF.SG
the rabbit put his hay on the elephants back
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hišwith proper names
(18)we Karankawe =hiškap ʔoːknemi-ː
DET Karankawa =ERG STAT steal-SS
the Karankawa [people] would steal them [the children]
(19)Francis =hišnatma-ː-ki […]
Francis =ERG tell-BEN-1SG.P [COMP]
Francis told me […]’
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hišwith independent pronouns
(20)ʔiš=hišwayt-iki
1SG =ERG surpass-1SG.A
I had beaten him
(21)him =hišʔapškim-pa-ki […]
2SG =ERG REFL believe-CAUS-1SG.P [COMP]
you remind me […]’
Does not occur with third person independent pronouns
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hišwith dierent NP types
Supernatural
(22) kutnehin =hišʔapšnahw-i
God =ERG back send-NF.SG
God sent him back
Human
(23) panšʔašinčʼatʼi ʔapščuːmam =hiš
person old.man about traveler =ERG
we kaːcpaʔap ʔaː-ki-ʔi
DET stick=TOP VEN give-1SG.P-NF.SG
an old man gave me a stick
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hišwith dierent NP types
Animal
(24)ʔukš=hišha kičantʼakʼaht-iʔi
snake =ERG DEM old.woman=TOP bite-NF.SG
a snake has bitten this old woman
Indenite
(25) neškun =hišwaːč-čuy-i-nkʼ
someone =ERG marry-IRR-NF.SG-DEB
someone must marry her
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hišwith dierent NP types
Inanimates
(26)ʔiš mahči=š kuː=k =hiškap niː-ki
1SG tail=TOP water=?? =ERG STAT soak-1SG.P
the water soaked my tail
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hišwith modiers
Negation / Indenites
(28)ʔuč=hiškʼan kaːkw-iʔi ʔašt […]
who =ERG NEG know-NF.SG how [COMP]
nobody knows how […]’
Numerals
(29)haksikʼank =hišʔupa we imniš-k
young.men =ERG two DET young.girl-LOC.NZR
ʔap tut-k ʔam-ʔiš-na
VEN go-SS see-IPFV.NF.PL
the two young men came to see the girl’
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hišwith verbs of speaking
In a sample of 200 instances of hiš (including instrumental
uses), 111 (55%) occur with verbs of speaking (say, tell,
answer, ask, etc.).
Characters are taking turns speaking, frequently switching the
active topic.
26
hišwith verbs of speaking
(27)
wetkš ni tiːkm=iš =hišni wopm-iʔi, […].
then Governor=TOP =ERG DEF ask [COMP]
The Governor asked, […]’
27
hišwith verbs of speaking
wetkšheki ʔatkank =hišteːt-iʔi, […]
then minister =ERG say-NF.SG [COMP]
The minister said, […]
tutk we ni tiːkm=iš =hiš,kʼayi,teːt-iʔi, […]
then DET Governor=TOP =ERG no say-NF.SG [COMP]
The Governor said, No, […]”’
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hišin discourse
Not many contexts for it to occur in
Continuing topics are omitted from the clause
When NPs are overt, hiš tends to appear
Especially when both arguments are animate
Of the 89 cases of hiš with non-speech verbs, 77 (86.5%)
involve a change in the activated topic
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Areal Connections
Evidence of contact-induced change in verbal alignment
(Hieber 2018)
Natchez also has an ergative (Mithun 1999: 468)
Discourse-optionality suggests multilingualism as a mechanism
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Conclusions
Analysis: hiš is a discourse-optional ergative enclitic,
conditioned by switch in activated topic
Areal: Discourse optionality suggests inuence from other
Southeastern languages
Future Research: -(n)k nominative marker
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Huyaǃ
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References
Duralde, Martin. 1802. Vocabulaire de la langue des Chetimachas et Croyance des
Chetimachas (Historical & Literary Committee, American Indian Vocabulary
Collection Mss.497.V85). American Philosophical Society Library.
Gatschet, Albert S. 1881. Shetimasha Words and Sentences collected December 1881
and January 1882 (to accompany texts of the same language) (MS 349-a-b).
National Anthropological Archives.
Heine, Bernd & Tania Kuteva. 2004. World lexicon of grammaticalization. CUP.
Hieber, Daniel W. 2018. Chitimacha diachrony in areal perspective. SSILA 2018.
Salt Lake City.
Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The languages of Native North America. CUP.
Swadesh, Morris. 1939a. Chitimacha grammar, texts and vocabulary (American
Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages
Mss.497.3.B63c). American Philosophical Society Library.
Swadesh, Morris. 1939b. Chitimacha grammar. In Swadesh 1939a.
Swanton, John R. 1920. A sketch of the Chitimacha language. (Numbered
manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 4122). National Anthropological
Archives. 33
hišERG with activated participants
(16)panš=hiškʼet-k
people =ERG kill-SS
some people had killed him
(17) wey=š =hišmiš ʔap ʔam-pa-m-kuy-iʔi
DEM=TOP =ERG way VEN see-CAUS-PLACT-1PL.P-NF.SG
he showed us the way
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Vocabulaire de la langue des Chetimachas et Croyance des Chetimachas (Historical & Literary Committee, American Indian Vocabulary Collection Mss.497.V85)
  • Duralde
  • Martin
• Duralde, Martin. 1802. Vocabulaire de la langue des Chetimachas et Croyance des Chetimachas (Historical & Literary Committee, American Indian Vocabulary Collection Mss.497.V85). American Philosophical Society Library.
The languages of Native North America. CUP. • Swadesh, Morris. 1939a. Chitimacha grammar, texts and vocabulary (American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages Mss.497.3.B63c)
  • Marianne Mithun
• Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The languages of Native North America. CUP. • Swadesh, Morris. 1939a. Chitimacha grammar, texts and vocabulary (American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages Mss.497.3.B63c). American Philosophical Society Library.