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Differential Object Marking in Christian Urmi

Principal Investigator: Dr. Maria Ovsjannikova in cooperation with Dr. Alena Witzlack-Makarevich (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Funded by the German-Israeli Project Cooperation.

To be started in 2025.

The project aims at an in-depth corpus-based investigation of differential object marking (DOM) in the Northeastern Neo-Aramaic dialect of Christian Urmi (Semitic). The system of DOM in Christian Urmi includes both differential object flagging (DOF) and differential
object indexing (DOI). This project will contribute to the understanding of the division of labor between these two phenomena, when coexisting in the same language. We will look at DOM in Christian Urmi at two levels of granularity. First, we will analyze DOM as an integral part of the reference-tracking system and examine its contribution as a discourse-structuring mechanism. The study will focus on the ways participants are introduced and mentioned further in discourse, with special attention to the grammatical means of object expression (e.g., lexical noun phrase indexed on the verb vs. indexing only, etc.). Second, at the clause level, we will adopt a bottom-up approach, assessing the role of low level semantic and grammatical distinctions in the choice of object marking strategies, in particular the semantic classes of the object and the verb and the tense and aspect of the clause. Apart from analyzing the linguistic predictors of DOM in Christian Urmi, we will compare the DOM system as represented in modern spoken corpora to that observed in the older written texts of this dialect and in related dialects. Over the entire course of the project, we will analyse the DOM system in Christian Urmi against a broader intragenetic and typological background and assess its place in the typology of DOM systems.