A sense of agency
Accounting for a change-in-progress in Australian Kriol pronoun distribution
Roper Kriol exhibits variation in the shape of the first-person singular pronoun in subject position. This paper provides an account of the numerous syntactic, semantic and pragmatic factors that appear to influence the selection of either ai or mi based predominantly on a study of a corpus of the written language. It is claimed that the synchronic distribution of ai and mi is an innovation primarily motivated by speaker reanalysis of the semantic entailments frequently associated with English subject and object arguments – effectively evidence of the partial grammaticalisation of agentivity in these varieties. This work has implications for our understanding of ‘agentivity’ as a cross-linguistic, cognitive category and for the dynamic relationship between semantic roles and the morphosyntactic encoding of grammatical relations.
Keywords: grammaticalisation, Kriol, Australian Kriol, Pidgins & Creoles, semantics, semantic change, corpus linguistics, contact linguistics, transitivity, agentivity, pronouns, pragmatics’ grammatical relations
Published online: 06 June 2018
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