Marianne Mithun – University of California, Santa Barbara
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2336 Mason Hall
This course will explore the Institute theme of universality and the complexities of linguistic variability by examining major morphological and syntactic features in languages indigenous to North America. The languages show considerable diversity among themselves, comprising well over 50 distinct families. At the same time, we find a number of areal traits that were apparently spread through contact. Many of the languages exhibit highly developed structures that are relatively rare or less developed elsewhere. A number show elaborate morphological structure, which has implications for syntactic structure. After an overview of traditional and current issues in morphological and syntactic typology, we will move to more specific topics. Among them will be functional differences between roots and affixes; compounding, noun incorporation, and bipartite stem structures; certain elaborately developed sets of distinctions in the domains such as space, means and manner, evidentiality, and reality status; relations between morphologically-defined and syntactically-defined lexical categories; head versus dependent marking and differences that arise from the locus of marking; pronouns and agreement; polysynthesis and ‘configurationality’; cross-linguistic differences in the core/oblique distinction; alternative alignment patterns and their combinations; the variable strength of syntactic relations between predicates and lexical arguments; affix order and constituent order; and issues in clause combining, including ‘switch-reference’, logophoricity, and continua of finiteness.