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Grammaticalization of Demonstratives as Subordinate Complementizers in Ngumpin-Yapa*

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Demonstratives have grammaticalized as subordinate, including relative, complementizers in a number of language groupings around the world, including Germanic. This paper provides evidence for this type of grammaticalization in the ‘adjoined relative clause' in Australian Aboriginal languages, in particular in one Pama-Nyungan subgroup, Ngumpin-Yapa, where there has been a series of parallel grammaticalizations of various demonstratives in different languages. There are two main types of outcomes involved: (1) paradigm type: choice among a set of demonstratives in initial position, followed in some cases by a separate or adjoined complementizer; and (2) specialized type: a single complementizer descended from one demonstrative in initial or second position. The common explanations for demonstrative?>?complementizer grammaticalization in other language groups have been a transition between parataxis and hypotaxis, and the interpretation of the demonstrative as cataphoric. It is argued that these explanations require modification for the Ngumpin-Yapa case, and a different analysis is proposed in which the demonstrative is located in Spec-CP at some stage in the process, and in some cases (especially of the specialized type) ends up in C as a result of Spec-Head reduction.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

Publication date: 2006-04-01

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