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“Us” as “one”: First person plurals as impersonals in Mayan

Carol Rose Little, University of Oklahoma

September 14, 2022 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 1-S-5 Green Hall

Program in Linguistics

Abstract: I investigate the phenomenon whereby first person plurals in Mayan languages are employed in impersonal and generic contexts. This is the opposite pattern documented for some (Indo-)European languages where impersonal pronouns are used to refer to first person plurals.  Empirically, this work provides new data from Mayan languages to the understudied phenomenon of first person plurals as impersonals. Theoretically, I develop an analysis of clusivity and extensions to impersonals that makes use of bivalent features rather than privative features.

Carol Rose Little is an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Oklahoma. She obtained her PhD in linguistics with graduate minors in American Indian and Indigenous Studies and Cognitive Science from Cornell University. Her work centers on syntax and its interfaces with morphology and semantics, drawing on empirical data from her fieldwork with languages such as Ch’ol, a Mayan language in Mexico. Recent topics she has worked on include verb-initial word order, definiteness, and classifiers.

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