Argument coding and clause linkage in Australian languages

Peter Austin

Australian Aboriginal languages employ a number of strategies for coding
arguments in linked (typically hypotactically dependent) clauses. We
suggest that at least the following four strategies are found:

1. main clause strategy - code arguments in the same way as in main
clauses, eg. Diyari, Gamilaraay;

2. copy strategy - copy dependent clause verb morphology onto the
arguments, eg. Warlpiri (for some 'leaked' arguments);

3. replacement strategy - replace the usual (main clause) argument coding
with another coding, normally formally related (synchronically or
diachronically) to the verb coding, eg. Yidiny;

4. rank shifting strategy - shift argument coding to dative case,
neutralising transitivity distinctions between clause types, eg.
Gascoyne-Ashburton languages, Warlpiri (for some switch-reference clauses).

In this paper I will outline the strategies found in selected languages,
and using data from Gascoyne-Ashburton languages of Western Australia show
how various strategies can coexist in a single language. The distribution
of strategies in these languages reflects the interaction of clause type
and cross-clausal coreference. I will relate these data to research by
Silverstein, Van Valin, and O'Dowd on clause linkage.

Date created: 9 April 1998
Last modified: 9 April 1998
 1998 Peter Austin
Maintained by: David Nash

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