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Himalayan Linguistics is a free peer-reviewed web journal and archive devoted to the study of the languages of the Himalayas.

Himalayan Linguistics

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Two Ways of Suspending Object Agreement in Puma: Between Incorporation, Antipassivization, and Optional Agreement

Although Kiranti languages generally show verb agreement with both arguments of a transitive verb, object agreement can also be suspended, resulting in the intransitive inflection of lexically transitive verbs. This paper analyzes suspended object agreement in Puma (Southern Kiranti). Suspended object agreement in this language is accompanied by either (i) the obligatory realization of a caseless object NP, or (ii), limited to human object referents, the prefixation of a morpheme kha-. Semantically, both constructions contrast with transitively inflected forms by entailing that the cardinality of object referents is unknown; they are thus generally used for non-enumerable or generic reference. The construction with an obligatory NP is similar to incorporation but differs from better known instances of incorporation by the fact that the object is an NP rather than a noun stem, that the NP keeps positional freedom, and that it can be relativized on. The construction also bears similarity to optional agreement patterns in other languages but differs from other known cases of optional agreement by the fact that the object looses core NP properties: the properties that are lost in Puma are case marking and optionality in discourse. The construction with kha- is similar to antipassivization but differs from many known instances of antipassivization by the fact that the object cannot be overtly realized, not even as an adjunct.