Structure de l’information dans les langues OV : le cas du rama

AMERINDIA 43: 27-53, 2021

Marie BENZERRAK
Structure et Dynamique des Langues

Abstract: In this paper I present the strategies that Rama (Chibcha, Nicaragua) uses to encode information structure. Rama does not use morphological markers to mark topics and foci, the language uses word order as a preferred strategy to express information structure. Rama allows three of the six possible orders: AOV, OAV and AVO. The orders OVA, VAO and VOA are not observed. By analyzing the frequencies of appearance of the different orders and their syntactic properties (Dryer 2007), we can see that the OV order is used by a large majority, and we can envision a preference for the AOV order. This basic order is unconstrained, although very frequent, and not marked in terms of information structure. The object can move to the first position obtaining an AOV order when the referent of the object is in focus, or certain topics. In rare cases the object moves after the verb to encode particular topics. This is a rare situation in OV languages, making Rama important for the typological study of information structure phenomena.