Dependencies in Syntax and Discourse: Obviation in Blackfoot and Beyond
Obviation is a hallmark trait of Algonquian, but how does it fit in a typology of natural language phenomenon? Analyses tend to focus on either its discourse or syntactic properties, and there is disagreement about whether obviation is pragmatic or syntactic in origin. I propose that pragmatic and syntactic approaches are not incompatible, but rather reflect a phenomenon I refer to as recruitment, whereby functional items in the syntax take on discourse uses. Drawing on data from Blackfoot, I demonstrate that obviation encodes syntactic dependencies, and this renders it compatible to signal dependencies in discourse. The analysis is also extended to Algonquian languages more broadly.
All rights are retained by submitting authors. If you are an author of a previously print only paper and wish to have the digital version removed please contact the journal at email@example.com.