Agreeing with subjects in number: The rare split of Amuzgo verbal inflection

Enrique L. Palancar 1  and Timothy Feist 2
  • 1 Structure et Dynamique des Langues (SeDyL – UMR8202), CNRS, 7 rue Guy Môquet, 94800 Villejuif, France
  • 2 Surrey Morphology Group, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK
Enrique L. Palancar and Timothy Feist


Verbs in San Pedro Amuzgo, an Oto-Manguean language of Mexico, often have two different stems in the paradigm, one used with singular subjects and the other with plural subjects. This split motivated by number is typologically interesting due to its rarity, since number splits are commonly along the S/O vs. A distinction, not the S/A vs. O distinction. Apart from at stem level, the split is also manifested in the incompletive of an inflectional class of verbs. At stem level the plural stem is derived in a variety of unproductive ways, making the relation between singular and plural stems, synchronically, one of suppletion. In this article, we study the distribution and the morphological properties of this split in depth, using a sample of almost 600 fully inflected verbs from a large database compiled by native linguist Fermín Tapia and now publicly accessible on the Surrey Morphology Group’s website. We also place it in a typological context, relating it to other systems we have observed.

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Linguistic Typology publishes research on linguistic diversity and unity. It welcomes articles that report empirical findings about crosslinguistic variation, advance our understanding of the patterns of diversity, or refine typological methodology.