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Māori subject extraction

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      Abstract

      This paper focuses on subject extraction in Māori, the indigenous Polynesian language of New Zealand. Māori has a range of verbal and non-verbal predicate constructions. I argue that, whilst subject topicalisation is generally permitted in all constructions, subject questioning is restricted (see Bauer 1993; 1997). More specifically, I claim that subject questioning is permitted in verbal and prepositional predicate constructions, but prohibited in nominal predicate constructions, all else being equal (see also de Lacy 1999). I adopt and defend a cleft analysis of questions according to which the questioned constituent is the matrix predicate phrase and the matrix subject is a headless relative clause (Bauer 1991; 1993; 1997). I propose that the restriction on subject questioning results from intervention in this headless relative clause. I argue that the C head probes for a nominal feature rather than a traditional Aʹ-feature. Consequently, nominal predicate phrases intervene with Aʹ-movement of the subject, whilst verbal and prepositional predicate phrases do not. My analysis suggests that Aʹ-movement is generally triggered using nominal features in Māori. I discuss this proposal from an emergentist perspective, i.e. one where formal features are not innately pre-specified but rather emerge during language acquisition guided by the Third Factor cognitive bias to “Maximise Minimal Means” (Biberauer 2017; Biberauer & Roberts 2015; 2017).

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      Most cited references 32

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1]University of Cambridge, GB
            Contributors
            Journal
            2397-1835
            Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
            Ubiquity Press
            2397-1835
            17 October 2018
            2018
            : 3
            : 1
            10.5334/gjgl.566
            Copyright: © 2018 The Author(s)

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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