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ven. 01/02/2019 Séminaire DTT - Atelier Morphosyntaxe

Denis Bertet (DDL)
"One inflectional paradigm, two functional dimensions: agreement for gender vs agreement for social deixis in Tikuna (isolate, Western Amazon)"

Tikuna (isolate, Western Amazon) displays a system of five nominal agreement classes. Agreement for class, an obligatory and pervasive feature, is classically realized through the inflection of several adnominal and pronominal elements, both within the NP and on the predicative head. But what is it that determines which agreement class a given noun is assigned to in discourse? A few nouns, because they always trigger agreement for the same class, give the misleading impression of an Indo-European-like lexical gender system. Most nouns, however, disprove this hypothesis by showing the ability to trigger agreement for several of the five classes in discourse. A systematic examination of the array of agreement alternatives exhibited by a sample of nouns will show that the five agreement classes, although homogeneously realized from a morphosyntactic perspective, are functionally heterogeneous. While three of them do correspond to genuine lexical genders, the other two specify the referent for social deixis, a pragmatic dimension (familiarity vs unfamiliarity) orthogonal to gender. In discourse, a noun may alternatively trigger agreement according to its lexical gender (pragmatically unmarked option) or according to the desired social deixis effect (in which case gender is neutralized).

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