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Pragmatic factors in the development of a switch-adjective language

A case study of the Miyako-Hirara dialect of Ryukyuan

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The Miyako-Hirara dialect of Ryukyuan is a switch-adjective language, i.e. it employs both nominal and verbal strategies for its adjectival roots. The choice of the encoding option in the predicative position depends on the information structure of the sentence. If a predicative adjective is in the focus domain, the nominal strategies (adjectival root + munu, reduplicated forms) are used. If a predicative adjective belongs to the presupposition, the verbal strategy (-kal forms) is employed. We argue that Miyako-Hirara employs a switch-adjective encoding in order to retain the functional distinction between the predicates in focus and those in the domain of presupposition, in the absence of other means of morphological marking for the informational status of constituents.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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