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Shiwilu (a.k.a. Jebero) is a nearly extinct Kawapanan language from Peruvian Amazonia. The goal of this article is twofold. First, it investigates the obligatory cross-referencing of arguments in the complex Shiwilu verb. This system is predominantly nominative accusative, with the caveat that main clause object markers coincide with those conveying subject in one type of clause involving nominal predicates, as well as subject and object of dependent clauses. Second, this article provides a first analysis of the enclitic =ler, which may attach to transitive subjects and thus exhibits an ergative-like distribution. Unlike the situation in languages with syntacticized ergative systems, omission of =ler does not yield ungrammatical utterances; however, transitive clauses displaying a =ler-marked subject NP are not unusual either. It is argued that =ler has discriminatory and discourse-pragmatic functions, and is comparable to instances of "optional" or pragmatic marking of the ergative/agentive in other languages.


This article was originally published in International Journal of American Linguistics, volume 77, issue 1, in 2011. DOI: 10.1086/657989

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University of Chicago Press


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