Abstract

Abstract:

Individual languages in the Mayan family display either rigid VSO or alternating VOS/VSO word orders (England 1991). In this article we review problems with previous accounts of Mayan word order and argue that verb-initial (V1) order is consistently derived by head movement of the verb to a position above the subject and below Infl0, which accounts for uniformity in verb-stem formation across the family. After an in-depth examination of the factors that have been reported to determine postverbal argument order, we present three distinct paths to VOS: (i) postsyntactic reordering of NP objects (following Clemens 2014, 2017), (ii) right-side subject topicalization (Can Pixabaj 2004, Curiel 2007), and (iii) heavy-NP shift (Larsen 1988). This account makes testable predictions in the domains of word order and prosodic constituency and has implications for the derivation of verb-initial order crosslinguistically.

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