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Genders and ClassifiersA Cross-Linguistic Typology$
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Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and Elena I. Mihas

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198842019

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198842019.001.0001

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The elusive verbal classifiers in ‘Witoto’

The elusive verbal classifiers in ‘Witoto’

(p.176) 6 The elusive verbal classifiers in ‘Witoto’
Genders and Classifiers

Katarzyna I. Wojtylak

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on forms and functions of verbal classifiers in Murui and Mɨka, two closely related language varieties of the ‘Witoto’ dialect continuum from the Witotoan language family spoken in Northwest Amazonia. Murui and Mɨka verbal classifiers are used to refer to a previously mentioned referent or to re-introduce the referent into the discourse. They form a closed set of morphemes that signal the presence of S/O/peripheral arguments. ‘Witoto’ verbal classifiers interact with semantic types of verbs (they co-occur with verbs of ‘handling’ and ‘affect’), and categorize noun referents in terms of their physical properties (shape, size, structure, etc.). Further comparison of Murui and Mɨka verbal classifiers suggests that the productivity of this system has been gradually eroding in Murui as spoken today; this is unlike verbal classifiers found in older Mɨka narratives.

Keywords:   verbal classifier, Witotoan language, argument, semantic type of verb, productivity

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