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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 13, 2014

Identifiability, givenness and zero-marked referential objects in Komi

Gerson Klumpp EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistics

Abstract

This papers offers an explanation for a seemingly inconsistent Differential Object Marking phenomenon in Komi, a Uralic language. In Komi identifiable denotations may be referred to by expressions which (i) are not specified for identifiability and (ii) in case these expression come as direct objects they may be zero marked, i.e., they take the same form as objects with non-identifiable denotations do. In practice within a specific discourse a referential object may be object marked in one instance and zero marked in the next. This kind of zero-marked objects is not predicted by prominence-based accounts on Differential Object Marking in which according to the sub-parameter of definiteness referential objects are rather expected to be accusative marked than zero marked. It is argued that in Komi object marking is triggered by identifiability marking which itself may be suppressed in contexts of givenness. Consequently, zero-marking in contrast to accusative marking can be interpreted as a givenness feature (Krifka 2007).

The paper discusses this phenomenon based on observations from Komi dialectal narratives. It corroborates the distinction between identifiability as a pragmatic category and definiteness as a formal category. In showing that the dif ferent forms of Komi objects are due to their status as given (topical) vs. non-given (focal) it supports the view of information structure as a dominating parameter of Differential Object Marking.

Published Online: 2014-3-13
Published in Print: 2014-3-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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