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Non-Subject Participants in Tolaki

Owen Edwards


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I present data from Tolaki, an Austronesian language of Central Indonesia, which challenges the notion that grammatical functions form discrete categories. I argue that current models of grammatical functions within Lexical Functional Grammar cannot account for the data we find. If we were to posit discrete categories for grammatical functions on the basis of different behaviour under different morpho-syntactic tests, we would be forced to posit a minimum of nine categories in order to account for the results; nearly double the number of categories currently provided for by LFG. A better way of analysing the data we find in Tolaki is to posit a continuum of grammatical functions between the most and least privileged grammatical functions, subject and adjunct. Participants are located along this continuum and are either more subject-like or more adjunct-like.

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