Chapter published in:Typological Hierarchies in Synchrony and Diachrony
Edited by Sonia Cristofaro and Fernando Zúñiga
[Typological Studies in Language 121] 2018
► pp. 129–190
The development of referential hierarchy effects in Sahaptian
Sahaptin and Nez Perce, the two languages of the Sahaptian family, have both been cited as case studies in the typological literature on hierarchical patterns in main clause grammar. Nez Perce has ergative case marking on only third person singular transitive subjects, plus a minor pattern of indexation of SAP participants via (rarely occurring) second position enclitics. Sahaptin has one of the more complex hierarchical systems ever described, with SAP indexation via enclitics, third person indexation on verbs, differential object marking, an inverse verbal direction prefix, and two distinct ergative suffixes, each restricted to a subset of third person singular transitive subjects (one when objects are SAP, the other when objects are third person). This paper begins by reviewing, evaluating, and occasionally expanding on existing knowledge: we summarize the hierarchical patterns in Sahaptian and characterize each distinct construction. Then we compare relevant Sahaptin morphemes with cognates in Nez Perce, and review their reconstruction to Proto-Sahaptian. The primary contribution of this paper is organizing the morphemes (and their accompanying hierarchical patterns) in both languages into cognate constructions, then reconstructing each to its Proto-Sahaptian origins. We conclude by reviewing and evaluating proposals for Pre-Proto-Sahaptian developments claimed to explain the origins of hierarchical patterns that reconstruct to Proto-Sahaptian. The mechanisms we identify as having created the Sahaptian hierarchical effects are diverse, some motivated and others not, some arising from internal sources, others arguably from contact.
Published online: 26 July 2018
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