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Contact vs. independent grammaticalization in the development of areal features: Converbs of generic verbs of speech in north-eastern Siberia


Matic,  Dejan
Syntax, Typology, and Information Structure, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Matic, D., & Pakendorf, Brigitte (2009). Contact vs. independent grammaticalization in the development of areal features: Converbs of generic verbs of speech in north-eastern Siberia. Talk presented at the SLE 42nd Annual Meeting, Global Languages Local Languages. Lisboa, Portugal. 2009-09-09 - 2009-09-12.

The use of a converb of a generic verb of speech as a quotative marker with further development to complementizers is highly frequent in some of the languages of northern Eurasia. It is well-known from the Turkic language family (Johanson1998), as well as from the Mongolic language Buryat (Skribnik 2003), and is found in the Tungusic languages as well as in Yukaghir (Brodskaja 1988, Nikolaeva & Tolskaja 2001, Nikolaeva 2005). Since the grammaticalization path from speech act verb via quotative to clause-linking marker is very frequent cross-linguistically (Saxena 1995, Güldemann 2008), independent internal developments in these languages may appear to be the most plausible explanation. However, these constructions are amenable to contact influence, as demonstrated by the fact that dialects of the Tungusic language öven spoken in the vicinity of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan language Koryak, which lacks such constructions, have lost the quotative and other derived functions of converbs of speech act verbs. It is therefore possible that contact may have played a role in the spread of converbs of speech act verbs as quotative markers and complementizers in the languages of Siberia, in addition to independent grammaticalization. Our paper aims at investigating the various functions of converbs of verbs of speech in those languages from northeastern Siberia for which we have narrative corpora, either from our own fieldwork, or from published materials. These are the Turkic language Sakha (Yakut), several dialects of the Tungusic languages öven and Evenki, as well as the Yukaghir languages Kolyma and Tundra Yukaghir. In Sakha, öven, Evenki, and Yukaghir, the converb of the generic verb of speech is widely used as a quotative marker, both in conjunction with finite verbs of speech and as the sole marker of the direct speech act. In addition, it has expanded its quotative use to the marking of metalinguistic uses of linguistic expressions. As in many other areas of the world (cf. Güldemann 2008, Chappell 2008), further functions of these converbs are as complementizers