Linguistics in Amsterdam 4-2 (september 2011)Magaly Grández Ávila: Language transparency in Functional Discourse Grammar: The case of Quechua1
3 Accounting for degrees of transparency between levels

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3.1 At the Interpersonal-Representational levels

The following properties between the Interpersonal-Representational levels are expected for Quechua to be considered a transparent language:

3.1.1 No cross-reference

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According to Hengeveld and Mackenzie (2008:350), cross-reference occurs when person marking on the verb is capable of referring by itself. Cross-referencing pronominal argument affixes can therefore be treated as the bound expression of Referential Subacts (Interpersonal Level). The lack of transparency, i.e. the absence of an ideally one-to-one mapping from level to level, arises due to the possibility for cross-referential markers to be expanded further by a lexically realized argument, leading to the occurrence of two Referential Subacts at the Interpersonal Level referring to a single argument at the Representational Level. Quechua obligatorily cross-references the arguments that are assigned the semantic function of Actor or the syntactic function of Subject. It may also cross-reference the Undergoer argument. As in (4), arguments may be further expanded by means of proper names, which are introduced at the Interpersonal Level:

(Weber, 1989: 10)

As pointed out by Hengeveld and Mackenzie (2008:350), the overt expression of arguments by means of lexical/pragmatic units apart from cross-referential markers on the verb should be considered as cases of apposition. Within the context of FDG, apposition is a phenomenon that violates the transparent one-to-one relation between pragmatic and semantic units. Thus, Quechua can be said to lack of transparency in this respect.

3.1.2 No apposition

Apart from the type of apposition mentioned above in relation to cross-reference, Quechua does bear a more structural type of apposition in which case the constituents involved correspond to Referential Subacts. When two or more Referential Subacts correlate with a single entity at the Representational Level, they are said to be in apposition to each other. As the following examples from Quechua show, the noun and modifier marked with an agreement suffix, -ta, correspond to two Referential Subacts in apposition which will be analysed at the Morphosyntactic Level accordingly, that is as two Noun Phrases. The linking between them is done at the Representational Level, where they are represented as one semantic unit bearing a particular semantic function (Undergoer).

(Weber, 1989: 250)

Appositions need not to be yuxtaposed to one another, even if it overrides the semantic integrity of the unit denoting the entity at the Representational Level (see non-discontinuity in 3.2 below for further discussion), as the following examples show (Weber 1989:231):


The lack of a one-to-one correspondence between pragmatic and semantic units explains why appositions are not expected in transparent languages. Quechua is then not transparent in this respect.

3.1.3 No limitations on which semantic units can be chosen as predicates

In languages like English, there are certain restrictions concerning the semantic units that can be chosen as main predicates in a predication, which in this case must necessarily correspond to a verbal lexeme. As explained by Hengeveld and Mackenzie (2008: 392), in the absence of a verbal element at the Interpersonal Level or Representational Level in the realization of an Ascriptive Subact, English requires the insertion of a support-verb, such as the verbal copula ‘be’, at the Morphosyntactic Level, which will serve as the carrier of TMA distinctions strictly assigned to verbs in this language. The insertion of a support-verb at the Mophosyntactic Level to mitigate the mismatches at the higher levels of representation goes against the notion of transparency, understood in terms of a one-to-one mapping between units at all levels.

Following Weber (1989), Quechua characterizes for having two major open lexical classes, namely verbs and nouns, and a large open class of noun-adjectives[2]. As in English, verbal lexemes are generally used as main predicates within a predication frame. When other classes of lexemes rather than verbs are used predicatively then the insertion of a verbal copula at the Morphosyntactic Level is necessary, as the following examples show (Weber 1989: 24):


However, the insertion of the copula does not occur in cases in which an adjective/noun is used as a predicate in the present tense and third person singular, and further TMA specifications are unnecessary[3]. In these cases then, nouns and adjectives can directly be used as main predicates without the insertion of further operations at the Morphosyntactic Level, as shown in (11) and (12) below:

(Weber, 1989: 14)

Except for these cases, Quechua cannot be said to be fully transparent with respect to the type of semantic units that can be chosen as predicates, as these are generally restricted to verbal lexemes.