The origins of the Austronesian voice system and subject-only restriction
Gasper Begus, Maksymilian Dąbkowski, Emily Drummond
July 2023

The Austronesian voice system (AVS) is among the most typologically intriguing and well-studied phenomena in syntax. Previous diachronic accounts have used the comparative method to argue that either the voice function or the nominalization function of the voice affixes should be reconstructed to Proto-Austronesian (PAn). We propose an alternative path of development using internal reconstruction as a primary methodological tool. First, we reconstruct both the voice and nominalization functions to PAn. We then argue that the non-active voice affixes originated in Pre-PAn as prepositions, which were incorporated into the verb complex as postverbs; the nominalizing function, on the other hand, arose through an inter-stage with compounds. This proposal accounts for a number of properties of AVS, including the prominence of arguments promoted to subject position and the subject-only restriction, and is supported by a typological parallel in Dinka. Finally, we discuss methodological issues in reconstructing typologically unusual morphosyntactic phenomena.
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Reference: lingbuzz/007411
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: beguš, dabkowski, diachrony, diachronic, historical syntax, morphosyntax, austronesian, voice, focus, reanalysis, rebracketing, high, low, applicative, dinka, subject-only restriction, avs, sor, internal reconstruction, syntax
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