Verb-initial word orders (primarily in Austronesian and Mayan languages)

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Verb-initial word orders (primarily in Austronesian and Mayan languages)

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Title: Verb-initial word orders (primarily in Austronesian and Mayan languages)
Author: Clemens, Lauren Eby; Polinsky, Maria

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Citation: Clemens LE, Polinsky M. 2017. Verb-initial word orders (primarily in Austronesian and Mayan languages). The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, 2nd edition.
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Abstract: This chapter presents several approaches to the syntax of verb-initial (V1) languages with a special emphasis on Mayan and Austronesian languages. Some V1 languages are strictly VSO, others are VOS, and a significant number combine both orders. This chapter focuses on data from VSO/VOS languages and the factors that underlie these alternations. A number of V1 languages can be more adequately characterized as predicate-initial, with V1 being just a subset of clause-initial predicates. The chapter presents a number of structural properties that are or may be associated with V1 and discusses possible implicational relations between such properties and V1. While there are certain common characteristics observed across V1 languages, it is also clear that there are several distinct subtypes of V1. These subtypes call for different syntactic analyses; main approaches include the derivation of V1 via phrasal movement (VP-raising) and its derivation via head-movement (verb-raising). Other syntactic approaches to the derivation of V1 include the parametrization of specifier direction within a single language, non-configurational syntax, and subject lowering. In addition to these purely syntactic analyses, several recent approaches place the derivation of V1 outside syntax or at the syntax-PF interface. Careful, in-depth analyses of individual languages are required to test the different approaches to V1; in quite a few cases such analyses are still lacking.
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