Discourse motivations for pronominal and zero objects across registers in Vera'a

Stefan Schnell, Danielle Barth

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    The choice between pronominal and zero form for objects in the Oceanic language Vera'a is investigated quantitatively in texts from two registers with discourse topics of three different ontological class memberships. Discourse topicality is found to predict best the choice between pronoun and zero, outranking the factors of ontological class membership, antecedent form, and antecedent function. Contrary to current models of referent tracking, antecedent distance does not show any effect at all. It is concluded that (a) discourse structure and activation are not universally the most significant factors in referential choice and (b) ontological class and discourse topicality can be teased apart through appropriate text sampling, and it is the latter that is most significant. This bears important implications for the grammaticalization of object agreement and the typology of differential object marking.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-81
    Number of pages31
    JournalLanguage Variation and Change
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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