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The synchrony and diachrony of differential object marking in Paraguayan Guaraní

  • Cory Shain (a1) and Judith Tonhauser (a1)

This paper explores the synchrony and diachrony of differential object marking in Paraguayan Guaraní on the basis of a quantitative study of a corpus of naturally occurring data of the modern language and an investigation of object marking in a 17th-century catechism. We show that both animacy and topicality, but not definiteness, affect whether a direct object is marked in modern Guaraní, a finding that has implications for cross-linguistic theories of differential object marking, not all of which recognize topicality as a factor. We also find no categorical constraints on differential object marking in Guaraní, contrary to Bossong (1985b). Our study of the 17th-century catechism provides further support for Bossong's (1985b, 2009) claim that Guaraní did not have differential object marking when it came into contact with Spanish. The paper concludes with a discussion of the hypothesis that differential object marking in Guaraní resulted from contact with Spanish.

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Language Variation and Change
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