Constituent Order and Morphology

Constituent Order and Morphology

1    Introduction
The language Kulama, spoken in the Land of Oz, is generally described as a free word order language; that is, subject, verb and object can occur in any order, though there is a tendency to put new information earlier and old information later in the sentence (hence one might call it OVS). For example, the following sentences (1) and (2) can occur with any word order (ben = verb indexes benefactor; obv =obviative):


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pakkwes#ikan-an Angie-an

Rose 3-pst-take.ben.3/3obv bread-obv
‘Rose took the bread to Angie’



Rose Angie-an


bread-obv    Rose  Angie-obv 3-pst-take.ben.3/3obv
‘Rose took the bread to Angie’ etc.





3-pst-feed.ben.3/3obv blueberry-pl.obv woman child-obv
‘the woman fed the child the blueberries’





3-pst-feed.ben.3/3obv woman blueberry-pl.obv child-obv
‘the woman fed the child the blueberries’ etc.

The order of modifiers is much more restricted, however. Numerals (3a), demonstratives (3b), and genitives (3c) precede the noun, adjectives – which are in the form of a subordinate [sub] verb – follow (3d)


pis#iw lynx

‘one lynx’


inini man

‘that man’
c.Ernie    o-ma:ma:y-an
Ernie 3-mother-obv(v)
‘Ernie’s  mother’

d.mas#s#we shawl

mesko-sit red-sub.3

‘red shawl’ [lit. ‘shawl that is red’]

In Kulama there are three basic orders within the verb: the independent order (4a), used in most statements and yes/no questions; the imperative order (4b), used in giving commands; and the conjunct order (4c), used mainly in content questions and in subordinate clauses of various types.

gi-manoomini-ke ‘you (sg.) are making wild rice’
‘(you sg.) make wild rice!’ c.Conjunct
‘when you (sg.) make wild rice’

You will have noticed that Kulama has some prefixes and suffixes. In fact, it has a lot of prefixes and suffixes. Tense/aspect are prefixes (note the past prefix above), while plurality and obviation are suffixes. Indexation of subject, object and possessor is indicated by circumfixes. Verb order is also indicated by prefixes (4a) and suffixes (4b), (4c).
The meaning of the suffix part of the person markers is rather complicated, but you can see from the examples that a prefix indicates person (1st, 2nd, 3rd).

2    Your Task
1.    Although Kulama is currently free in its word order, what fixed word order do you think it had in its recent past Give your reasons. (3 Points)
2.    In the order of modifiers, adjective order is the odd one out.  Does this surprise you  Why or why not
(3 Points)
3.    For each of the modifier orders, describe how it is (or is not) motivated by one or both of the competing motivations for word order patterns: harmony and dominance as defined by Greenberg. (8 Points)
4.    Given the competing motivations model for prefixation vs. suffixation presented by  Greenberg,  say  for  each grammatical category whether its being prefixed/suffixing is motivated or not, giving justification. (Note that you can answer this question for obviation even though you don’t know exactly what the category represents.) (4 Points)

Total:  18 points