• Hixkaryana: The Syntax of Object Verb Subject Word Order

      Kalin, Laura; University of California, Los Angeles (University of Arizona Linguistics Circle (Tucson, Arizona), 2012)
      In this paper I propose and motivate a syntactic analysis of Hixkaryana (a Carib language spoken in the Amazon in Brazil), drawing on the extensive, linguistically-informed fieldwork of Desmond C. Derbyshire (1979, 1985, inter alia). Hixkaryana displays basic/unmarked Object Verb Subject (OVS) word order, which is found in very few languages of the world (Dryer 2008). There are three main components to the proposal presented here. I argue that the syntax of Hixkaryana involves (i) a marked hierarchy of agreement projections, AgrO over AgrS; (ii) movement of the subject to a high topic position; and (iii) fronting of the rest of the clause over the subject. This analysis accounts for a constellation of properties in Hixkaryana, including the surface order of constituents (OVSX, where X is an adjunct PP or AP), surface constituency (the object and verb form a constituent exclusive of the subject), verbal morphology (agreement is a prefix while all other inflectional affixes are suffixes), structural relations (the subject c-commands the object and obliques/adjuncts), the position of particles (which are either in second position or invariantly post-verbal), and exceptional OSV word order (triggered by the first person exclusive pronoun amna). OVS languages, like Hixkaryana, are important for syntactic theory because they likely have special insights to contribute, given how rare they are; however, OVS languages receive very little attention in the literature. This paper aims to call attention to OVS word order as a real linguistic phenomenon that must be accounted for in mainstream linguistic theory.