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Volume 5, Issue 1 (2011) Pp. 1–38.

Insubordination in Tlingit: An Areal Feature?
by Seth Cable

This paper documents a hitherto unnoticed grammatical phenomenon of Tlingit, a Na-Dene language of Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon. This phenomenon, which has lately been given the name ‘insubordination’ (Evans 2007), is one in which a free-standing, matrix utterance bears morphosyntactic markers that are otherwise indicative of subordinated clauses. I distinguish three syntactic types of such ‘insubordinate clauses’, as well as four distinct semantic types, and discuss the possible relations between the form and meaning of Tlingit insubordinate clauses. I also discuss the possible origins of insubordination in Tlingit, noting that the phenomenon is not universal amongst the Na-Dene languages. Rather, its appearance in related languages appears to be driven by areal pressures, and I posit that insubordination in the neighboring Haida and Tsimshianic languages may have exerted such pressures on Tlingit as well. Finally, this paper is accompanied by an annotated corpus of Tlingit insubordinate clauses, which provides the empirical basis of the key generalizations proposed here.

Keywords: Tlingit, insubordination, Na-Dene, Athabaskan, Pacific Northwest sprachbund

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Acknowledgements Copyright © 2009 Northwest Journal of Linguistics ISSN 1718-8563