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Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

Valency and Grammatical Functions in Cherokee 1. Introduction

Cherokee, an Iroquoian language, is a non-configurational, polysynthetic language with an active

case marking system (Dixon 1994: 70-83, Mithun 1991b). Such a language is a challenge to the

theory of argument structure, since it has no clear manifestations of valency or grammatical

functions: NPs are not obligatory within the clause, there is no case marking on NPs, and there are

no syntactic processes which relate to the argument structure of verbs. Thus, it is sometimes claimed

that this kind of languages lack the level of grammatical functions. The aim of this paper is to

address this question, examining the facts from Cherokee.

I will first discuss whether the notion of valency is relevant in Cherokee (section 2). Establishing

that the notion valency is valid in Cherokee, I will further argue that the notion of grammatical

functions is also necessary in Cherokee (section 3).

In order to avoid confusion, I will define the terms I will use in this paper here. I will use the

terms Agent/Patient just to refer to the morphological marking on the verbs: if the argument is

marked by the Agentive series of the pronominal prefixes, or marked as the first argument of the

Transitive series, it is called the Agent. If the argument is marked by the Patientive series of the

pronominal prefixes, or marked as the second argument of the Transitive series of the pronominal

prefixes, it is called the Patient. These categories are traditionally called A/B in the literatures on

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

Cherokee (cf. Scancarelli (1987), Montgomery-Anderson (2008), etc.), but I will use the terms

employed for Northern Iroquoian languages for convenience and to avoid confusion.

The terms Agentive (verb)/Patientive (verb) are used for the type of verbs in Cherokee: a verb is called Agentive if it takes the Agentive marking except for the Perfective aspect1 (in which it takes

the Patientive marking), and a verb is called Patientive if the verb takes the Patientive marking in all

the aspects. These labels correspond to A verb/ B verb in Scancarelli (1987)).

Finally, the terms Actor/Undergoer are used to designate the semantic roles of the arguments of

the verbs. The assignment of these semantic roles is based on Van Valin & LaPolla (1992: 152).

2. Valency2
In this section, I examine whether the notion of valency is relevant in Cherokee. First I will show

that many of the grammatical processes which are helpful for knowing the valency of verbs in other

languages are simply absent or irrelevant in Cherokee. Then, in 2.1 and 2.2, I will try to search for

any grammatical reflexes of valency of verbs in Cherokee. Previous studies on Cherokee assume that there is a clear distinction between monadic 3

Historically this aspect corresponds to the Stative aspect in Northern Iroquoian


I use the term valency to indicate the number of arguments of verbs. I do not use the

term valence in order to avoid confusion with the same term used in HPSG (cf. 3.6.1). 2

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

(intransitive) and dyadic (transitive) verbs in Cherokee. For example, all the verbs in Feeling &

Pulte's (1975) dictionary are enlisted with the information whether the verb is intransitive or

transitive (see also Montgomery-Anderson (2008: 222)).

However, it is actually difficult when one tries to find an unambiguous way of knowing the

valency of a verb in Cherokee. Many of the grammatical categories or processes which help us to

know the valency of verbs in other languages are simply absent or irrelevant in Cherokee. First,

overt NPs are optional, so we cannot tell the number of arguments of the verb just by counting the

number of the overt NPs as in English. Secondly, case-marking on NPs, which may also be helpful

in determining the argument structure, is absent, since Cherokee is a head-marking language. Thirdly,

in languages such as English, only transitive, and not intransitive verbs, can undergo passivization,

and thus it will be a help for knowing the argument structures; but passivization is also absent in

Cherokee. Finally, in some languages, argument increasing processes such as causativization or

applicative alternation tell us the number of arguments of the original verb: for instance, in Japanese,

the causee bears the accusative case when the original verb is intransitive and the dative case when

the original verb is transitive (although there are some exceptions). This process is not helpful in

Cherokee, either, since causee of the causativized verb is always coded as the 'second' argument of

I use the term monadic and dyadic to refer to the verbs with single argument and two

arguments, respectively. The reason to use these terms, in stead of intransitive and

transitive, is to focus purely on the number of the arguments of verbs.


Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

the verb, regardless of the valence of the original verb (probably due to the fact that Cherokee is a

'primary-secondary' object language (cf. Dryer 1987)).

The absence or irrelevance of the grammatical phenomena discussed above do not mean that the

notion of valency is irrelevant in Cherokee; it is just that the criteria used for knowing the valency of

verbs in other languages are absent. In order to know the valency of the verbs in Cherokee, it is

necessary to search for a language-internal reflex of valency, if at all. In the following, I will present

two language-internal criteria which may be helpful for us to know the valency of the verbs in


2.1. Pronominal Prefixes Traditionally, Iroquoianists have posited three series for the pronominal prefixes: Agentive series,

Patientive series, and the Transitive series. The most evident distinction between monadic and

dyadic verbs in Cherokee is that only the dyadic verbs can take transitive series of the pronominal

prefixes: (1) gvv-gowhth-a4> "I(Agt) am seeing you(P)."

Verbs take distinct transitive series only in the following cases in Cherokee: (i) when the first

All the data are from Feeling & Pulte (1975). 4

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

argument is 1st or 2nd person and the second argument is animate, irrespective of the person (1/2 > animate (1/2 &; (ii) when the first argument is and the second argument is 1st/2nd person

( > 1/2); and (iii) when the verb takes the object focus prefixes (Montgomery-Anderson 2008:

249). Otherwise, the pronominal prefixes do not make the distinction between the monadic and dyadic verbs5. In this sense, if the verb cannot take animate subjects or objects for some reason or

another, there is no way of knowing the valency of verbs from the pronominal prefixes.

2.2. Object defocusing construction with the reflexive affix -adaa(d)Another grammatical phenomena which differentiates the monadic from dyadic verbs is the object

defocusing construction with the reflexive affix adaad(d)-. This affix can only be attached to dyadic

verb bases, and defocuses the 'object' (Montgomery-Anderson 2008: 365; see also Mithun 2006:

203-204 for Mohawk). (2a) is the original dyadic verb and (2b) is the object defocusing

constructions with -adaa(d)-:

(2) Agentive, Dyadic (2a) a-gowhth-a>




Cherokee pronominal prefixes do not have the distinction of transitive and intransitive when the

subject is 3rd person, irrespective of whether the object is animate or inanimate. This situation is

different from that of Northern Iroquoian languages (cf. Michelson and Koenig 2009). 5

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

"He(Agt) sees him(P)."

"He(Agt) sees (something unspecified)."

This reflexive affix relates to the or semantic or syntactic (if at all) valency, rather than the

morphological valency. For example, the verb in (2) is taking the> pronominal prefix,

a-, which is morphologically homophonous with the monadic prefix, and undergoes

pronominal prefix alternation; thus it could be considered to be morphologically intransitive (Koenig

& Michelson 2009: 9ff.). Nevertheless, this verb can take the reflexive affix, unlike semantically

monadic verbs.

This reflexive affix also defocuses the 'second' argument of the dyadic Patientive verbs:

(3) Patientive, Dyadic (3a) u-geeyh-a> "He(P) loves her." (3b) u-[a]daa-geeyh-a "He(P) loves (someone unspecified)"

This may show that semantically dyadic Patientive verbs cannot be considered syntactically the

same as semantically monadic Patientive verbs, as have been considered in the previous studies.

Object defocusing construction seems to be a promising test for knowing the argument structure

of verbs in Cherokee. However, productivity of this construction is still not well-known, and further

study is needed to support this claim.

2.3. Summary of section 2

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

In this section, we have seen that the notion of valency should be relevant in Cherokee, however

subtle its manifestation may be; it is not that Cherokee does not have the valency distinction, or that

Cherokee has less clear distinction, but just that there are fewer grammatical reflections of this

category in this language. I will briefly mention the treatment of the 3rd argument of the verbs in Cherokee (or in Iroquoian in general). In line with Koenig & Michelson (2009: 17-18), I assume that the 3rd argument of triadic

verbs are not morphologically encoded on the verbs (as opposed to Baker 1996, who claims that

incorporated nouns can morphologically mark morphosyntactic arguments); this is more evident in

Cherokee than in Northern Iroquoian languages since Cherokee is lacking in the productive noun

incorporation process.

3. Grammatical Functions
In section 2, I argued that the notion of valency is relevant in Cherokee, however unclear the

grammatical reflection is. The next question is, whether there is an asymmetry among the arguments

of the verbs in Cherokee, so that the notion of grammatical functions (subject and object) is also

relevant in this language.

It has often been claimed that there is no level of grammatical functions (subject, object, etc.) in

Iroquoian (Mithun 1991a, 2006, Chafe 1994: 150), or in languages with active/ inactive system in

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

general (Van Valin & LaPolla 1997: 250ff). However, these claims are often made based on a fragile

ground: they are applying the syntactic tests invented based on the observations on other languages

(such as those in Keenan 1976), which are actually inapplicable or irrelevant to Iroquoian languages.

For example, Mithun (1991a) takes up five criteria frequently employed for determining the

subject and object of a language, and examines the case of Cayuga, a Northern Iroquoian language:

(i) deletion of subject NP in commands; (ii) the omission of coreferent nominals in coordination; (iii)

whether the subject becomes possessor in nominalized clauses; (iv) equivalent NP deletion and

raising in complex constructions; and (v) relativization. Mithun concludes that the notion of subject

does not exist in this language because these criteria do not apply. Similar discussion is found in

Chafe (1994: 150) or Beghelli (1996: 106).

Scancarelli (1987: 118-123), on the other hand, argues that in Cherokee, "subjects and objects

can be said to have syntactic status inasmuch as they are relevant to agreement morphology and

inasmuch as they are not direct representations of semantic roles (ibid.: 118)" (cf. 3.1). However, she

also remarks that there are no "syntactic means of discriminating between transitive subjects and

objects, independent of verb agreement (ibid.: 119)", since subject identification criteria used

crosslinguistically, i.e. (i) word order, (iii) universal quantifier, (iii) position of the adverbs, and (iv)

coreference, do not apply to Cherokee.

These previous studies are just showing that the crosslinguistic subject identification criteria do

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

not apply to these languages, rather than that there is no notion of grammatical functions (or that of

subject) in these languages. To see whether there actually exists the notion of grammatical functions,

it is necessary to come up with language-internal criteria.

If we define grammatical functions (subject/ object) as those which are identified through the

Keenan-style subjectivity tests, it is true that these languages lack them, but this is obviously not

what we are looking for. Thus, I tentatively define 'subject' and 'object' as follows: if we can find

grammatical phenomena which target the 'first' arguments of dyadic verbs together with the sole

argument of monadic verbs (the left circles in Figures 1 and 2), or those which target only the

'second' arguments of dyadic verbs (the right circles in Figure 1 and 2), irrespective of the

morphological marking (Figure 1) or the semantic roles of these arguments (Figure 2), we tentatively

call them 'subject' and 'object', respectively:

1st Dyadic Agt P Monadic Agt P

2nd P () Dyadic Monadic

1st A A U

2nd U

Figure 1: Level of Morphological Marking (Agt=Agent, P=Patient)

Figure 2: Level of Semantic Roles (A=ACTOR, U=UNDERGOER)

It is true that we cannot immediately equate these notions with 'subject' and 'object' in other

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

languages. But at the same time, it is also true that intuitively we are tempted to call these arguments

'subject' and 'object'. We will consider what level exactly it is later in this section.

3.1. Pronominal Prefixes As we have already seen, Cherokee (transitive) pronominal prefixes encode the Agent and Patient

arguments in a fusional manner. As Scancarelli (1987) points out, "the identification of subject and

object fully determines verb agreement morphology for transitive verbs with first or second person

object (regardless of subject), and for transitive verbs with third person animate objects with first or

second person (or unspecified) subjects (ibid.: 118)". In (4), (a) is an Agentive verb and (b) is a Patientive verb, but the same pronominal prefix is employed to indicate the 1st person singular 'subject' and the 2nd person singular 'object': patient = 1st/2nd person gvv-gowhth-a> "I(Agt) am seeing you(P)." (4b) gvv-geeyh-a> "I(Agt) love you(P)."

(4) (4a)

The fact that (b) is a Patientive verb is evident from the cases where both of the arguments are 3rd

person: patient 1st/2nd person a-gowhth-a> 10 (4'b) u-geeyh-a>

(4') (4'a)

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

"He(Agt) sees her(P)."

"He(P) loves her."

Since this is applicable only to dyadic verbs, this observation can be explained in terms of the

semantic roles as well: we could state that when the conditions stated above are met, the pronominal

prefixes mark Actor and Undergoer, rather than 'subject' and 'object'. Therefore, this might not be the

best argumentation for showing the existence of grammatical functions in Cherokee, but this fact

does not contradict the existence of grammatical functions, either.

3.2. Nominalization of Imperfective stems. As Scancarelli (1987: 123) notes, agentive nouns based on the Imperfective stems of verbs with

the nominalizer suffix -i always refer to the 'subject' entity, irrespective of the morphological

marking (Agent/ Patient) or the semantic roles (Actor/ Undergoer) of the arguments of the verb.

(5) and (6) are examples of Agentive verbs. (5) is a monadic verb, and (6) is a dyadic verb. Forms

in (a) represent the Imperfective forms of the verbs, and those in (b) are the agentive nouns based on

the verbs in (a):

(5) Agentive, Monadic (5a) ga-wniisg-vvi "He(Agt) was speaking" (5b) ga-woniisg-i "speaker"

(6) Agentive, Dyadic (6a) ga-noosgsg-vvi (6b) 11 ga-noosgiisg-i

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara> "He(Agt) was stealing it(P)."> "stealer"

In the examples above, the agentive nouns in (b) refer to the entity who 'speaks' and 'steals'. From

these cases alone, we are not sure whether the agentive nouns above refer to the Agent argument or

the 'subject' argument of the verbs. If we look at Patientive verbs, however, the picture becomes

clearer ((7) is a monadic and (8) is a dyadic verb):

(7) Patientive, Monadic (7a) u-hdlvvg-vvi "He(P) was sick." (8) Patientive, Dyadic6 (8a) u-[a]dg-vvi> "He(P) was throwing it." (8b) uu-[a]deeg-i> "pitcher" (7b) uu-hdlvvg-i "patient"

In these cases, the agentive nouns refer to the Patient arguments, i.e. the one who is 'sick', and the

one who 'throws'. Table 1 summarize the situation observed above: Table 1 marking (5) (6) (7)

valency Monadic Dyadic Monadic

Argument referred to by the agentive noun

Agentive Agentive Patientive

Agent/Actor/'subject' Agent/Actor/'subject' Patient/Undergoer/'subject'

It would be better to have an example of a prototypical Patientive verb, where the first

argument of the verb is less agentive. I was not able to find such an example in my data, but if I can elicit such a data, I would expect it to behave in the same way. 12

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara





In order to make a generalization as to which argument of the verb the agentive nouns refer to, the

level of morphology (Agent/ Patient) or the level of semantic roles (Actor/ Undergoer) are not

sufficient. If we take the level of morphology, for instance, the generalization would be something

like "agentive nouns based on Agentive verbs refer to the Agent arguments, while those based on

Patientive verbs refer to the Patient arguments". If we introduce the level of grammatical functions,

we can simply state that the agentive nouns refer to the 'subject' of the verbs.

One might suggest that the crucial point is animacy here: it is the animate argument which the

resulting agentive noun refers to. This may explain many of the cases, but it does not explain the

cases when both of the arguments of a dyadic verbs are animate (e.g. -h- 'kill'): the agentive noun

still refers to the 'subject' argument (i.e. killer), and not to the one who was killed.

3.3. Reflexive affix adaa(d)As we have seen in 2.2, reflexive affix adaad(d)- is added to the verb bases to defocus the 'object'

of dyadic verbs (Montgomery-Anderson 2008: 365). This reflexive affix always defocuses the

'object' of the verbs, irrespective of whether the verb is morphologically Agentive or Patientive. In

the case of an Agentive verb (9), what is defocused in (9b) is the one who is 'seen', which is

morphologically Patient:


Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

(9) Agentive, Dyadic (9a) a-gowhth-a> "He(Agt) sees him(P)." (9b) a-[a]daa-gowhth-a
"He(Agt) sees (something unspecified)."

In the case of a Patientive verb (10), what is defocused in the form with the reflexive affix (10b) is

the one who is 'loved', which is morphologically not marked:

(10) Patientive, Dyadic (10a) u-geeyh-a> "He(P) loves her." (10b) u-[a]daa-geeyh-a "He(P) loves (someone unspecified)"

Table 2 summarizes the observation above: Table 2 marking (9) (10) Agentive Patientive Defocused argument Patient/Undergoer/'object' (no marking)/Undergoer/'object'

In order to make a generalization as to which argument of the verb is defocused, neither the level

of morphology nor the level of semantic roles work (we cannot generalize that the reflexive affix

defocuses the Undergoer arguments, since Undergoer arguments of monadic verbs are not defocused

by this affix). By introducing the level of grammatical functions, we can generalize that the reflexive

affix defocuses the 'object' arguments.

3.4. Causativization


Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

In Cherokee, the causative suffix attaches to the verb base to form causative verbs. When verbs

are causativized, the 'subject' arguments of the original verbs become the 'causee', irrespective of the

valency or the morphological marking. The 'object' arguments of the original dyadic verbs will not be marked on the pronominal prefix of the causative verb7 (this is because the pronominal prefixes

in Iroquoian languages can mark up to only two arguments at most).

(11) and (12) are examples of Agentive verbs. (11) is a monadic verb and (12) is a dyadic verb. (a)

forms show the original forms and (b) forms show the causative forms of the verbs:

(11) Agentive, Monadic (11a) a-[a]leehwisdh-a



"He(Agt) is stopping."

"He(Agt) is stopping him(P)."

(12) Agentive, Dyadic (12a) ji-gowhtih-a>



"I(Agt) am seeing it(P)."

"I(Agt) am showing to him(P)."

In both cases, the original 'subject' arguments become the 'causee'. In the case of the dyadic verb

(12), the original object is no longer marked in the causativized form in (12b). This is clear from the

fact that the morphological marking in (12b) for the 'object' has changed from inanimate (inan.) in

This situation is quite different from the typological tendency to preserve the case

marking of original O (Comrie 1981: 167-177). This may be because Cherokee is a primary/ secondary object language (Dryer 1987). 15

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

(12a) to animate (an.).

Next, let us see the situation for a Patientive verb (13):

(13) Patientive, Monadic (13a) u-hnalvvg-a



"He(P) is becoming angry."

"He(Agt) is making him(P) angry."

Here, we see that the original 'subject' in (13a), which is morphologically the Patient, becomes the

'causee' in the causativized verb (13b).

Table 3 summarizes the observation above, and again shows that the level of morphological

marking (Agent/ Patient) or that of semantic roles (Actor/ Undergoer) are not sufficient to state

which argument of the verb becomes the causee of the causativized verb. Table 3 marking (11) (12) (13) Agentive Agentive Patientive valency monadic dyadic monadic Causee Agent/Actor/'subject' Agent/Actor/'subject' Patient/Undergoer/'subject'

As in the case of Agentive Nouns (3.1), one might suggest what is crucial here is the animacy of

the argument: it is the animate argument in the original verb which becomes the causee with

causativization. I do not have any example of a dyadic verb with two animate arguments which

undergo causativization, so I cannot give a counterexample to this position, but my prediction is that

what is at issue here is not the animacy.

Argumentation based on causativization might be problematic, since causativization in Cherokee 16

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

(and Iroquoian in general) is rather lexical with some idiosyncrasies, rather than a syntactic

productive process. Moreover, the same affix is employed for introducing an instrumental argument

to the verb, which may behave differently in terms of argument realization.

3.5. Benefactive Cherokee verbs can add a beneficiary argument by attaching the Dative suffix to the verb. In the

case of monadic verbs (cf. 14), the valency increases by one argument. In the case of dyadic verbs,

one of the original arguments of the verb is deprived of the argument status and the beneficiary

argument becomes the new argument of the benefactive verb (15, 16). Here, we will focus on the

argument which is not affected by this benefactivization.

(14) is a case of an Agentive monadic verb. Here, the Dative suffix introduces the Patient

argument (a person for whom the act of speaking is conducted), and the original Agent argument

(speaker) remains the Agent argument in (b):

(14) Agentive, Monadic (14a) ga-wnih-a



"He(Agt) is speaking."

"He(Agt) is speaking for him(P)."

Next, (15) is a case of an Agentive dyadic verb:

(15) Agentive, Dyadic


Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara (15a) g-agwiyh-a>



"I(Agt) am paying it(P)."

"I(Agt) am paying him(P)."

Here, the verb replaces the theme argument (the thing which is paid, i.e. "money") with the

beneficiary argument (the one to whom the payment is made) by attaching the Dative suffix. This is

evident from the fact that in (15a) the pronominal prefix shows that the Patient argument is

inanimate (g-), while in (15b) it shows that the Patient argument is animate (jiiy-). The Agent

argument is not affected by benefactivization and remains as the 'payer'.

So far, it is not clear whether the argument which is not affected by the benefactivization is the

Agent argument or the 'subject'. If we look at the Patientive verbs, the situation becomes clearer:

(16) Patientive, Dyadic (16a) u-hwasg-a> "He(P) is buying it." (16b) a-hwahs-eh-a> "He(Agt) is buying from him(P)."

Here, the benefactive verb replaces the original theme argument (the thing which is bought) with

the source argument (the one who he is buying from), while the original Patient argument ('buyer') is

not affected by the benefactivization and remains the 'buyer'. The observation above can be

summarized as below: Table 4 marking



unaffected argument

affected argument

The pronominal prefix changes from Agent to Patient series with benefactivization. 18

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

Patient/Undergoer/'object' ()/Undergoer/'object'

(14) (15) (16)

Agentive Agentive Patientive

Monadic Dyadic Dyadic

Agent/Actor/'subject' Agent/Actor/'subject' Patient/Actor/'subject'

In order to specify the argument which is not affected by benefactivization, we should refer to the

level of 'subject', not to the morphological level of Agent/ Patient argument. Since I cannot find an

example of Patient monadic verb in my data, we cannot convincingly conclude that it cannot be

stated in terms of the level of semantic role (Actor/Undergoer), either, but I expect them to behave in

the same way as other verbs.

3.6. Summary for section 3 I have presented five grammatical phenomena which require the level independent either from

that of semantic roles or morphological marking, and intuitively, we are tempted to call the

arguments in that level 'subject' and 'object'. However, as we have noted in the introduction to this

section, we are not still sure whether we can equate this level with the level of grammatical functions

which are identified through subjectivity tests frequently used in other languages (cf. Keenan 1976).

It is obvious that defining grammatical functions through those syntactic subjectivity tests is not

what we want (Dixon 1994: 127-130, Langacker 2008: 364-365). It is thus necessary to define the

notion of grammatical functions independent from Keenan-style subjectivity tests. To attempt to

achieve this purpose, I will look at the possible treatments of these notions in two current linguistic


Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

frameworks, HPSG (3.6.1) and Cognitive Grammar (3.6.2).

3.6.1. HPSG One possibility is that the 'subject' and 'object' in Cherokee that we have been discussing so far in

this section might correspond to the 'first' and 'second' arguments in the level of

ARGUMENT-STRUCTURE in the HPSG framework (Sag et al. 2003: 205, Koenig & Michelson 2009: 4ff.), not to the 'subject' and 'complement' in the level of VALENCE (Sag et al. 2003: 62)9.

If this is the case, my observations above are in line with Koenig & Michelson's (2009: 8, 24)

claim, namely that what is invariant across languages like Oneida, a Northern Iroquoian language,

and those like English, is the level of ARGUMENT-STRUCTURE, not the level of VALENCE (their

Argument Structure Hypothesis (ibid.: 8)): Iroquoian and English share the asymmetry in the level of

ARGUMENT-STRUCTURE, but not in the level of VALENCE, since the former simply lacks the

level of VALENCE.

Moreover, if we assume that the grammatical functions identified through Keenan-style

subjectivity tests refer to the level of VALENCE, we can explain the inapplicability of these tests to

Iroquoian languages: these tests are not applicable since these languages simply lack this level.

This suggestion was first made by Dr. Karin Michelson. 20

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

3.6.2. Cognitive Grammar Another way to deal with this issue may be a semantic-based approach, such as Dixon (1994:

Ch.5) or Langacker (2008: 363ff.). Here, I will consider the possibility that 'subject' and 'object' in

Cherokee discussed so far might correspond to 'trajector' and 'landmark' in Langacker's (2008:

363ff.) Cognitive Grammar.

Langacker is also unsatisfied with the trend to identify the subject/ object as those which are

determined through Keenan-style subjectivity tests. To quote his remarks: "the grammatical behavior

used to identify subject and object do not serve to characterize these notions but are merely

symptomatic of their conceptual import (Langacker 2008: 364)", or "it is simply presupposed that

subjects are identified by the sorts of grammatical behaviour typical of subjects in familiar European

languages (ibid.: 365)".

Langacker, instead, claims that the subject and object relations "are grammatical manifestations

of trajector/landmark alignment" (ibid.: 365), the subject being "a nominal that codes the trajector of

a profiled relationship", and the object being "one that codes the landmark" (Langacker defines the

'trajector' and 'landmark' as the primary and secondary focal prominence in a profiled relationship

(ibid.: 70ff, 365)).

Langacker's definition of 'subject' and 'object' is independent of the Keenan-style subjectivity

tests, and may be the closest to the notions we have seen in this paper. However, it is hard to know


Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

whether it is exactly the same as what Langacker has in mind, partly because of the somewhat

subjective (?) nature of Cognitive Grammar. Moreover, based on his analysis on Seneca, another

Iroquoian language, he seems to be thinking that the morphological Agent is his 'subject' in Iroquoian (ibid.: 381-382)10, which is a quite different view from ours.

4. Conclusion
As we have seen so far, equivalents of valency or grammatical functions actually do seem to be

found in Cherokee, however subtle their grammatical manifestations are. This is to the contrary to

the claims made by previous studies.

The Cherokee data examined above warns us two following points. First, we have seen that

inapplicability or irrelevance of some syntactic tests have often been mistaken as non-existence of

those categories in the language by some linguists: if one defines some grammatical categories in

terms of whether the language passes crosslinguistic syntactic tests, - and obviously that is not what

we want-, one cannot discuss the relevance of that category in a language where those syntactic tests

are not applicable for an independent reason. To discuss the existence of a grammatical category, we

should not totally rely on those crosslinguistic syntactic tests, but should look for language-internal


He considers the absolutive arguments as the 'subjects' in ergative languages

(Langacker 2008: 374-375). 22

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara

evidence which is independent from those syntactic tests.

Secondly, what we learn from the facts about Cherokee is that subtle grammatical manifestations

do not necessarily mean non-existence of that category in that language: although Cherokee shows

slightest grammatical reflexes of valency or grammatical relations, these categories do exist, and

without these categories, description of Cherokee grammar is impossible.

A further problem concerns whether the 'valency' or 'grammatical functions' we have seen above

are actually exactly the same category as in other languages where those crosslinguistic syntactic

tests are applicable. I have tentatively suggested that 'valency' and 'grammatical functions' discussed

above belong to the level of ARGUMENT-STRUCTURE, and not VALENCE, in the HPSG

framework. Further descriptive and theoretical study is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

[REFERENCES] Baker, Mark. 1991. On some subject/ object non-asymmetries in Mohawk. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 9: 537-76. Baker, M.C. 1996.The polysynthesis parameter. New York: Oxford University Press. Beghelli, Filippo. 1996. Cherokee Clause Structure. In Pamela Munro ed., Cherokee Papers from UCLA. Los Angeles: University of California. 105-114. Chafe, Wallace. 1994. Discourse, consciousness, and time: the flow and displacement of conscious experience in speaking and writing. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Comrie, Bernard. 1981. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. U. of Chicago Press. Dixon, R.M.W. 1994. Ergativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dryer, Matthew. 1987. On primary objects, secondary objects and antidatives. Language 62: 808-845. Feeling, Durbin. 1975. Cherokee-English dictionary. William Pulte ed. Tahlequah, OK: Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. 23

Argument Structure Final Paper Hiroto Uchihara Keenan, Edward. 1976. Towards a universal definition of subject. In Charles Li ed. Subject & Topic. New York: Academic Press. Koenig, J.P. & Karin Michelson. 2009ms. Invariance in Argument Realization: the case of Iroquoian. Langacker, Ronald. 2008. Cognitive Grammar: A Basic Introduction. Oxford University Press. Levin, Beth and Malka Rappaport Hovav. 2005. Argument Realization. CUP. Mithun, Marianne. 1991a. The Role of Motivation in the Emergence of Grammatical Categories: the Grammaticization of Subjects. In Heine & Traugott eds. Approaches to grammaticalization. Amsterdam: Benjamins 2: 159-84. Mithun, Marianne. 1991b. Active/ Agentive case marking and its motivations. Language 60(3): 510-546. Mithun, Marianne.2006. Voice without Subjects, Objects, or Obliques: Manipulating argument structure in agent/ patient systems (Mohawk). In Tsunoda Tasaku & Kageyama Taro eds., Voice and Grammatical Relations: In honor of Masayoshi Shibatani. Amsterdam: John Benjiamins. 195-218. Montgomery-Anderson, Brad. 2008. A reference grammar of Oklahoma Cherokee. Ph.D. diss., U. of Kansas. Pulte, William & Durbin Feeling. 1975. Outline of Cherokee Grammar. in Durbin Feeling. 1975. Cherokee-English dictionary. William Pulte ed. Tahlequah, OK: Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. 235-355. Sag, Ivan, Thomas Wasow, and Emily Bender. 2003. Syntactic Theory: A Formal Introduction, 2nd Edition. Center for the Study of Language and Information - Lecture Notes Scancarelli, Janine. 1987. Grammatical relations and verb agreement in Cherokee. Ph.D. diss., U. of California. Los Angeles. Van Valin, Robert & Randy LaPolla. 1997. Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.