The origin of split third person marking in Arara (Cariban) (Matter 2021)

Cadernos de Etnolingüística
volume 8, número 2, publicação contínua

The origin of split third person marking in Arara (Cariban)

Florian Matter

Arara, a Cariban language spoken in the state of Pará, Brazil, shows several splits in its third person marking. Intransitive verbs with a third person S and transitive verbs with a 3>3 scenario are marked by either i-/Ø/t(ɨ)- or n(i)-/n(ɨ)-, depending on the TAM configuration. The forms with i-/Ø/t(ɨ)- can be demonstrated to descend from earlier subordinate clause forms, while those with n(i)-/n(ɨ)- are original main clause forms. Furthermore, these former subordinate clauses, as well as extant ones, otherwise use main clause person markers in Arara, which is unusual in the Cariban family. I show that Arara has extended main clause marking to (some) subordinate clauses for all persons, except for those with third person subjects. This resulted in a paradigm which contains prefixes from both Proto-Cariban main clauses and Proto-Cariban subordinate clauses, but has the overall organization of Proto-Cariban main clauses. This type of innovative main clause coexists with the clauses showing the original main clause paradigm, leading to the split in third person. I also show that Arara’s sister language, Ikpeng has extended this new paradigm to all clause types. I further show that a similar extension has happened in the third member of the Pekodian branch, Bakairi. This is of importance for the reconstruction of Proto-Cariban third person marking. I also show that Arara preserves n(i)-/n(ɨ)- in similar semantic contexts as other Cariban languages.

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