Adam Singerman (University of Chicago)

Relative clauses in Tuparí



Tuparí, a Tupían language of the Brazilian Amazon, instantiates an interesting combination of head-initial and head-final phrase structure. Much of the language resembles Old Hungarian (but not modern Hungarian) by maintaining using post-VP auxiliaries, rigidly verb-final VPs, and the like. However, a set of second position enclitics that mark illocutionary force, tense, and focus (in addition to enclitics pronominal subjects) introduce a layer of head-initiality at the highest level of the Tuparí clause. The result is a system which recalls Germanic V2, a phenomenon attested in certain relatives of Tuparí within the Tupían family.

The issue of mixed headedness in Tuparí becomes theoretically interesting when we examine the syntax of finite embedded clauses, used as complements of factive predicates and as internally headed relatives. Whereas non-finite subordinate structures (consisting chiefly of nominalizations) are always head-final, finite embedded clauses look exactly like main ones: they contain a layer of head-initial phrase structure on top of considerable amounts of head-final material. However, the nominalizing morpheme which turns finite clauses into internally headed relatives / complements of factives comes at the far right edge of the clause, instantiating a (superficial) violation of the Final-over-Final Condition investigated in recent years by Biberauer, Holmberg, Roberts and Sheehan.  

This talk has three major goals. First, I will provide an analysis of the organization of the Tuparí clause and of the syntactic structure of finite embedded clauses. Second, I will evaluate the impact of the Tuparí pattern for both formalist and functionalist theories of syntactic disharmony. Finally, I will propose a diachronic origin for these clauses that will account for their peculiar configuration and will tie their structure to the usage of direct quotation in Tuparí discourse.  

All data were collected by the author during fieldwork in the Brazilian state of Rondônia.