Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Clause Types and Transitivity in Wixárika (Huichol): A Uto-Aztecan Language
by Ramos Bierge, Stefanie, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2017, 403; 10605084
Abstract (Summary)

Wixárika, also known as Huichol, is an endangered Uto-Aztecan language spoken in Mexico. Published works on Wixárika include articles and brief sketches on different aspects of the grammar; however, much about the language remains unknown. This dissertation presents a systematic description of simple clauses in Wixárika, based on eight hours of naturally recorded speech and elicited materials. Using a functional-typological perspective, I explore Wixárika’s morphosyntactic devices to express different types of events. In keeping with the study of clause types, I also explore the language’s morphological devices for modifying the number of arguments. Wixárika has five devices that add a core argument into the clause: causatives -tia, -ta, -ya, applicative -ri(e), vowel alternation, lability, and suppletion. Similarly, the language has five devices that reduce the number of arguments: reflexive/reciprocal pronoun prefixes, passive suffixes (-rie, -ya, -wa, -riwa, -tsie), middle voice prefix (yu-), and noun incorporation.

The overall analysis discusses the implications of the language’s system in existing typological theories. Wixárika shows to be devoid of any clear-cut boundary between clause types, as proposed in typological studies (Hopper & Thompson 1980; Givón 1984; Stassen 1997; Næss 2007; Kittilä 2002). Of particular interest are the prefixes ta-/ti- since they provide more evidence of this scalar nature; the speakers use these prefixes to encode the ‘effectiveness’ of the action (Cf. Grimes 1964; Iturrioz & Gómez 2006). These prefixes are explored in relation to other components of transitivity (e.g., the number of arguments and their encoding, tense/aspect/mood, polarity, the individuation of actor and undergoer, and the prefixes ti-/te- ‘distributive subject’) in expressing different degrees of transitivity. I show that these components lack co-variation (Cf. Hopper & Thompson), particularly with the prefixes ta-/ti-. However, the presence or absence of the prefixes ta-/ti- and/or the (de)transitivization devices express different degrees of transitivity. Particularly interesting is the fact that Wixárika has a tendency to polysynthesis, not common in Southern Uto-Aztecan languages. Therefore, this study not only contributes to a growing understanding of the grammatical system of Wixárika but also will clarify the evolution and intra-genetic relations of the Uto-Aztecan family.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cowell, Andrew
Commitee: Cowell, Andrew, Estrada Fernández, Zarina, Frajzyngier, Zygmunt, Hulden, Mans, Rivas Rodríguez, Javier, Rood, David
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Native American studies
Keywords: Clause types, Huichol, Mexico, Polysynthetic, Transitivity, Uto-Aztecan, Wixarika
Publication Number: 10605084
ISBN: 978-0-355-23148-9
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