This week during Fieldwork Lab, Jaime Pérez González, a PhD candidate in the Department of Linguistics at University of Texas at Austin, will present Grammatical Aspect in Mocho’ (Mayan). We meet at 4pm on Thursday. Contact Carol-Rose Little if you would like to join.


This talk addresses in detail the aspectual system in Mocho’, a highly endangered Mayan language. Its complexity has led to a different analysis by Kaufman (1967) and Palosaari (2011). The outcome of this research is an alternative analysis to those proposed in previous studies. I show that this language has a split aspectual system based on transitivity and partially on person. Mocho’ exhibits two sub-paradigms of aspect based on the type of verb that heads the clause. On the one hand, when the head of the predicate corresponds to an active transitive verb, or when the head of the predicate is an intransitive underived verb that indicates its subject with the pronominal markers from Set A, the language will display three aspectual distinctions that contrast with one another in their temporal interpretations. On the other hand, inverse verbs and any intransitivized verbs with a suffix -(v)vn that take Set C to indicate their subject will have a binary opposition. On top of this, the morphological ergative split alignment in Mocho’ leads to an aspectual marker distinction between Speech Act Participants (SAPs) and third person. Based on corpus and elicitation sessions, this complex aspectual system is untangled here. Previous proposals have not been tested with corpus data, which can serve as a test-bed for the linguistic analysis proposed as well as for the intuitions on which the proposal is based. Thus, I will show that grammatical aspect (viewpoint aspect) in Mocho’ cannot solely be understood by eliciting data, but rather, a look from a corpus can tell us more about the nature of the language.