Voice and Ergativity in Mayan Languages

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In recent years there has been a good deal of interest in ergativity and voice in linguistics because of the implications these have for grammatical theory. This paper is basically a description of the verbal category of voice in the context of ergativity in Mayan languages (see Table 1). Mayan languages are morphologically ergative, and many of them display characteristic features of syntactic ergativity as well. In addition, split-ergative constructions are also found in many of the languages. The category of voice is well developed in the family, and many of the languages have rather complex voice systems which include active, one or more passives, one or more antipassives, and instrumental and referential voices. The main purpose of this paper is to bring together data on voice and ergativity in the family as a whole. Voice and ergativity are discussed in some detail for at least one language from each of the main subgroups of Mayan: Huastecan, Yucatecan, Cholan, Tzeltalan, Kanjobalan, Mamean, Quichean, Pocom, and Kekchí.

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