Exploring crosslinguistic variation in the expression of grammatical categories: an Amazonian case study

Adam Singerman

University of Chicago

Friday, February 22, 2019
12:30 p.m.–2 p.m.

Humanities Center Conference Room D, Rush Rhees Library


This talk presents results from an ongoing research project to document and analyze the grammar of Tuparí, an understudied Amazonian language spoken in Brazil by approximately 350 people. I focus in this talk on the language's system of negation and its relationship to other clausal phenomena, including TAME and non-finite embedding.

Negation in Tuparí is an exclusively nominal category: verbs must enter into a nominalized form to accept the negator -'om and must undergo a subsequent process of reverbalization so as to combine with tense and evidential morphology. These morphological processes leave -'om in a low position in the clause, buried underneath multiple levels of category-changing affixation. In keeping with the low structural position of -'om, the same negative strategy known from finite matrix clauses appears in non-finite embedded constructions as well.

Tuparí demonstrates that negative phrases exhibit more crosslinguistic variation than standardly assumed: they may appear in either the nominal or verbal Extended Projections. This finding provides support for the idea that nominal and verbal syntactic domains can parallel one another in complexity and articulation.