Ling Fridays: Singerman on recursion in Tuparí

This event has passed.

@ 3:00 pm

Quotation and syntactic recursion in Tuparí

Adam Singerman, Syracuse University

For over two decades there has been heated debate about whether recursion is a universal property of human language. Indigenous languages of the Amazon Basin have played a surprisingly large role in this debate, although the various claims put forward about Amazonian languages — both claims in support of and claims opposed to the recursion-is-universal position — have sometimes relied on sparse datasets and insufficient formal analysis. In this talk I examine recursive clausal embedding in Tuparí, an endangered Tupían language of Brazil that I have been researching since summer 2013. I show that recursion does exist in Tuparí syntax, with its most impressive instantiation occurring in quotative constructions (speech reports & thought reports). Drawing upon a corpus of conversational data and narratives, I argue that recursive quotations are an integral part of Tuparí syntax. The methodological contribution of the talk concerns how fieldworkers can identify recursive structure (or the lack thereof) in quotative contexts.

Register here