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Transitivity and polysynthesis in Fijian

From: Language
Volume 89, Number 3, September 2013
pp. 465-500 | 10.1353/lan.2013.0038



This article argues for a three-way structural characterization of Fijian objects: common nouns can be incorporated or dislocated, but pronouns and proper nouns occur inside the VP as complements. These facts support an analysis of Fijian as a polysynthetic language, since it is a pronominal argument language with incorporated objects. Having complement nominals inside the VP, however, puts Fijian outside the scope of Baker’s (1996) polysynthesis parameter. The distribution of complements in Fijian follows from Hopper and Thompson’s (1980) transitivity hypothesis , since only those nominals with the highest degree of individuation can occur inside the VP.

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