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Direct/Inverse Systems

Abstract : The term ‘inverse’ has been used in the typological literature to designate a considerable variety of phenomena, which have been analyzed in several distinct frameworks. Direct– inverse systems are attested in a number of endangered languages spoken in the Americas(Algonquian, Mapudungun, Sahaptian, etc.) and the Himalayas (Sino-Tibetan).The aim of this article is to provide an overview of direct/inverse systems in a perspective as free as possible from framework-specic assumptions using the most recent data and adopting both a typological and a historical perspective. It is divided into four sections.First, we propose a definition of the canonical direct/inverse system and introduce the concepts of proximate/obviative and referential hierarchies.Second, we present examples of attested direct/inverse systems in the world’s languages by subdividing them into two main categories: near-canonical and highly non-canonical, and additionally discussing systems with hierarchical agreement but without direction (direct/inverse) marking.Third, we evaluate to what extent direct/inverse systems are correlated with other typo-logical features.Fourth, we apply a panchronic perspective on direct/inverse systems, studying their attested origin and their evolution and how the diachronic pathways can help understand the present data.
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Guillaume Jacques, Anton Antonov. Direct/Inverse Systems. Language and Linguistics Compass, Wiley, 2014, 8, pp.301 - 318. ⟨10.1111/lnc3.12079⟩. ⟨hal-01386706⟩

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