A passive to inverse reanalysis in Cree

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McLean, Lisa Michelle
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One of the most interesting constructions in Cree is the inverse. The inverse comprises only half of the paradigm of the active transitive forms in the language and is interesting because it is typologically unusual. Inverse systems have only been reported in a few of the world's languages, and moreover, in the languages in which they occur they have been problematic for analysis, sometimes being analyzed as this unique voice opposition, and sometimes as a passive. The inverse in Cree has been problematic in this way, especially as it is morphologically like a passive, but syntactically like an inverse. In this thesis, I argue that the inverse originated as a passive construction. Specifically, I claim that a passive construction that existed at a much earlier stage in the history of the language was reanalyzed as an active transitive clause - the inverse. I use evidence from Cree and Proto-Algonquian, as well as evidence from Wiyot and Yurok, sister languages of Proto-Algonquian, to support this analysis. In addition, I provide typological evidence in support of this analysis. The reanalysis account is shown to explain why the inverse is morphologically like a passive, but syntactically like a inverse, in this way incorporating the insights of other theorists who have previously addressed the analysis of this construction. In addition, the reanalysis account for the inverse in Cree is shown to have implications for the study of language more generally.