Languages, Vol. 8, Pages 134: The Expression of Time in Amahuaca Switch-Reference Clauses
Languages doi: 10.3390/languages8020134
Many languages of lowland South America mark remoteness distinctions in their TAM systems. In Amahuaca (Panoan; Peru) multiple remoteness distinctions are made in the past and the future. I argue that the temporal remoteness morphemes (TRMs) of Amahuaca can be understood as indications of the remoteness of the event time relative to the utterance time in matrix environments. In dependent clauses, however, the picture is more complicated. By exploring adjunct switch-reference clauses, I show that TRMs in dependent clauses display a previously unreported ambiguity reminiscent of ambiguities found with adjunct tense. Specifically, they can relate the time of the adjunct clause event to the time of the matrix event or to the utterance time. I suggest that this ambiguity may arise from the availability of multiple interpretation sites for adjunct TRMs, with the possible interpretations being constrained by the temporal semantics of switch-reference markers themselves. This work thus contributes to the empirical understanding of how TRMs are interpreted in dependent clauses, suggesting interesting potential parallels to the interpretation of adjunct tense.
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