MULL-Lab will be meeting Tuesday, November 2 at 4:30pm. Willie Myers will give a talk titled High, Low, and No Absolutive Mayan Syntax: Effects of No Object Raising in Heritage Mam. An abstract for the talk is below. If you would like to attend but haven’t registered for MULL-Lab, you can do so here.
Abstract: Coon et al. (2014) propose that absolutive morphemes come from two different sources in Mayan languages: finite Infl in HIGH-ABS languages like Mam, and v in LOW-ABS languages like Cho’l. As a result, the languages also differ in a variety of properties related to syntactic ergativity. This talk brings in new data from a heritage speaker of Mam which does not demonstrate any of the expected HIGH-ABS properties in transitive clauses. I argue that this variation is a consequence of an underlying lack of object raising and that the heritage Mam requires a new option for parametrization – NO-ABS – in which absolutive morphemes are never licensed in transitive clauses. I show that NO-ABS Mam patterns with LOW-ABS languages in the parameter, supporting Coon et al.’s (2021) claim that object raising is the source of HIGH-ABS syntax and providing additional evidence for the role of the transitive object in creating syntactic ergativity in Mayan.