"Adjunct extraction: a view from Mayan" (Gesoel Mendes and Rodrigo Ranero)

The analysis of A’-extraction restrictions on the subject of transitive clauses (syntactic ergativity; Coon 2015, Polinsky 2016, Aissen to appear) has long been the subject of debate among Mayanists, yet several Mayan languages also exhibit a restriction on A’-extraction of adjuncts, a phenomenon that has received comparatively little attention in the literature. An exception is Henderson (2008), who shows that low adjuncts in Kaqchikel must co-occur with a postverbal particle /wi/ (henceforth FP “fronting particle”) whenever they appear in a non-canonical fronted position; similar facts hold for Tz’utujiil (Dayley 1985, García Ixmatá 1987) and K’iche’ (Can Pixabaj 2015). In this paper, we investigate the distribution of the fronting particle in Tecpán Kaqchikel (TK), Patzún Kaqchikel (PK), and Santiago Tz’utujiil (ST)—all previously undiscussed for this phenomenon. We entertain four hypotheses regarding the nature of the fronting particle: it is (i) a resumptive pronoun (Ross 1967, Boeckx 2003), (ii) the spell-out of a movement trigger (Henderson 2008, (iii) the spell-out of a movement footprint (Chomsky 2001, Legate 2003, a.o), or (iv) an applicative head (Pylkkänen 2002). Each hypothesis makes different predictions regarding long distance extraction and island sensitivity, which we test in Patzún Kaqchikel. Enriching our own data with long-distance extraction evidence from K’iche’, we conclude that (iii) above is correct—the FP is the overt realization of a movement footprint.

"Deriving (partial) syntactic ergativity in Mayan" (Rodrigo Ranero, with James Douglas and Michelle Sheehan)

Some ergative languages prohibit straightforward extraction of transitive ergative subjects, a phenomenon now known as syntactic ergativity (SE, Coon 2014, Polinsky 2016, Deal 2016). In this talk, we propose that SE can be derived in two ways in the Mayan family, both stemming from the avoidance of defective intervention. Our analysis predicts that only VSO languages in the family will exhibit partial SE—that is, SE in some, but not all A’-extraction contexts (i.e., focus fronting, but not wh-movement)—whereas VOS languages will exhibit full SE. Furthermore, we predict that in VSO languages, the extraction restriction is solely on the ERG argument, whereas in VOS languages, only the ABS argument extracts freely—both the ERG argument and vP internal adjuncts cannot extract. We present evidence that our predictions are borne out, laying out a complete typology of SE across Mayan in the process.