Wednesday, June 12, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Clarissa Forbes (Ph.D. 2018, now at the University of Arizona): "The synchrony and diachrony of person-sensitive patterns in Tsimshianic."
The Tsimshianic languages of northern British Columbia share a number of syntactic properties, including verb-initial order and a complex ergative agreement pattern. In this paper, I illustrate that the languages of this small family exhibit alternations based on the person features of clausal arguments in two distinct ways: VSO/VOS word order alternations, and alternations in verbal agreement. I demonstrate that across the family these alternations occur independently, and argue that this motivates an account in which they are derived in different ways: either syntactically or post-syntactically. I present an analysis of restrictions on local persons in each branch, assuming a common clause structure, and demonstrate how distinct synchronic models generate the patterns of each branch. Finally I compare the two branches in a diachronic light, considering their Proto-Tsimshianic origin and possible paths of grammaticalization to the two subtly different patterns attested today.