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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: van der Auwera, Johan

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Instrument inversion in Toqabaqita

* Correspondence address: Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 44, Issue 4, Pages 749–780, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LING.2006.024, August 2006

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Toqabaqita (an Oceanic language) has two types of valency-rearrangement whereby the grammatical relations of two object noun phrases are interchanged. One type is lexically severely restricted: it applies only to a small number of verbs, but there are no syntactic conditions on it. The other applies to any transitive verb that has an instrument noun phrase in addition to a direct object, but only under certain syntactic conditions. The focus of the present study is on the latter type, referred to as “instrument inversion”. In instrument inversion the instrument oblique object of the basic structure becomes the direct object in the inverted structure, and the patient/theme direct object becomes an oblique object. While the grammatical relations of the two noun phrases change, their thematic roles do not. Nevertheless, the same preposition is used with both types of oblique object. Although the grammatical evidence for instrument inversion is relatively limited, it is unequivocal. It is argued that instrument inversion is motivated by pragmatic factors, specifically by the relatively high information prominence of the instrument noun phrase. There are some parallels between instrument inversion in Toqabaqita and locative inversion in Chicheŵa (Bresnan and Kanerva 1989).

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