Edited by William B. McGregor and Søren Wichmann
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 342] 2018
► pp. 201–240
Comparative research shows that many genealogically unrelated languages in the Guaporé-Mamoré region in the Southwestern Amazon share specific lexical and structural traits, which suggests that the region forms a linguistic area. One of these traits concerns classifier systems. Classifier systems in genealogically diverse Northwestern Amazonian languages display similar structural patterns that involve large sets of bound classifiers with wide morphosyntactic distributions, which represents an areal trait. I show that classifier systems in Southwestern Amazonian languages also share structural and formal characteristics among one another. In addition, important structural properties of these systems are similar to those that characterize Northwestern Amazonian systems. It is likely that certain structures and forms have spread through diffusion, although it may not be possible to determine their precise origin. Apparently, borrowed classifiers and calqued classifying structures have undergone further development and extension in the individual languages.