The role of disambiguation in pragmatic agentivity
Evidence from Khatso
Pragmatic agentivity is widespread in the Tibeto-Burman family. Some analyses suggest that its main purpose is to mark the agent in structurally ambiguous clauses, such as those in which agents and patients share the same degree of animacy or where the patient is absent due to zero anaphora. Others question the role of disambiguation, pointing out that it is often superfluous or inconsistent in resolving the agent role and thus likely not the primary purpose. Instead, disambiguation is seen as an outcome of highlighting agency, volition or choice. Exploring the multiple discourse functions of the agent marker in Khatso (Burmese-Ngwi; Yunnan, China), this paper shows that disambiguation is the primary motivation for marking agents, a feature that becomes more important in newer functions. This analysis builds on previous studies and broadens our understanding of the phenomenon in the Tibeto-Burman family.
- 3.Ablative and instrumental markers
- 4.Agent marker
- 5.Other functions
- 5.2Contrastive focus