Yaqui and the analysis of primary object languages

Guerrero, L., & Van Valin Jr., R. D. (2004). Yaqui and the analysis of primary object languages. International Journal of American Linguistics, 70(3), 290-319. doi:10.1086/425603.
The central topic of this study is to investigate three- and four-place predicate in Yaqui, which are characterized by having multiple object arguments. As with other Southern Uto-Aztecan languages, it has been said that Yaqui follows the Primary/Secondary Object pattern (Dryer 1986). Actually, Yaqui presents three patterns: verbs like nenka ‘sell’ follow the direct–indirect object pattern, verbs like miika ‘give’ follow the primary object pattern, and verbs like chijakta ‘sprinkle’ follow the locative alternation pattern; the primary object pattern is the exclusive one found with derived verbs. This paper shows that the contrast between direct object and primary object languages is not absolute but rather one of degree, and hence two “object” selection principles are needed to explain this mixed system. The two principles are not limited to Yaqui but are found in other languages as well, including English.
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