Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Clause Types and Transitivity in Wixárika (Huichol): a Uto-Aztecan Language Public Deposited

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  • Wixárika, also known as Huichol, is an endangered Uto-Aztecan language spoken in Mexico. Published works on Wixárika include articles and brief sketches on different aspects of the grammar; however, much about the language remains unknown. This dissertation presents a systematic description of simple clauses in Wixárika, based on eight hours of naturally recorded speech and elicited materials. Using a functional-typological perspective, I explore Wixárika’s morphosyntactic devices to express different types of events. In keeping with the study of clause types, I also explore the language’s morphological devices for modifying the number of arguments. Wixárika has five devices that add a core argument into the clause: causatives -tɨa, -ta, -ya, applicative -ri(e), vowel alternation, lability, and suppletion. Similarly, the language has five devices that reduce the number of arguments: reflexive/reciprocal pronoun prefixes, passive suffixes (-rie, -ya, -wa, -rɨwa, -tsie), middle voice prefix (yu-), and noun incorporation. The overall analysis discusses the implications of the language’s system in existing typological theories. Wixárika shows to be devoid of any clear-cut boundary between clause types, as proposed in typological studies (Hopper & Thompson 1980; Givón 1984; Stassen 1997; Næss 2007; Kittilä 2002). Of particular interest are the prefixes ta-/ti- since they provide more evidence of this scalar nature; the speakers use these prefixes to encode the ‘effectiveness’ of the action (Cf. Grimes 1964; Iturrioz & Gómez 2006). These prefixes are explored in relation to other components of transitivity (e.g., the number of arguments and their encoding, tense/aspect/mood, polarity, the individuation of actor and undergoer, and the prefixes ti-/te- ‘distributive subject’) in expressing different degrees of transitivity. I show that these components lack co-variation (Cf. Hopper & Thompson), particularly with the prefixes ta-/ti-. However, the presence or absence of the prefixes ta-/ti- and/or the (de)transitivization devices express different degrees of transitivity. Particularly interesting is the fact that Wixárika has a tendency to polysynthesis, not common in Southern Uto-Aztecan languages. Therefore, this study not only contributes to a growing understanding of the grammatical system of Wixárika but also will clarify the evolution and intra-genetic relations of the Uto-Aztecan family.
Date Issued
  • 2017
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  • 2019-11-15
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