Clitics, affixes, and wordhood in Garifuna (Arawak): A multidimensional continuum of morphosyntactic boundness

Haurholm-Larsen, Steffen (2015). Clitics, affixes, and wordhood in Garifuna (Arawak): A multidimensional continuum of morphosyntactic boundness. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia, 47(2), pp. 81-100. Routledge 10.1080/03740463.2015.1097089

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Recent research on wordhood and morphosyntactic boundness suggests that the domains word and clitic do not lend themselves to cross-linguistic categorization but must be defined language specifically. In most languages, it is necessary to define word on two separate levels, the phonological word (p-word) and the grammatical word (g-word), and to describe mismatches between the two. This paper defines those domains for Garifuna, an Arawak language spoken in Honduras, Central America. Garifuna has auxiliary and classifier constructions which make up two p-words, and only one g-word. P-words made up of more than one g-word involve second position enclitics, word scope clitics, and proclitic connectives and prepositions. Garifuna clitics are typically unstressed, able to attach to hosts of any word class and able to string together into clusters. Enclitics are used to express tense-aspect, modality, and adverbial meanings, among others. In other languages, clitic clusters tend to display a fixed order; Garifuna clitic order seems quite free, although certain orders are preferred. Also, contrary to cross-linguistic tendencies, proclitic connectives can act as hosts for enclitic clusters, contradicting the commonly used definition of clitics as phonologically weak elements that need to attach to a host to form a p-word; such clitic-only p-words are problematic for traditional definitions of clitics.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Haurholm, Steffen


400 Language > 410 Linguistics






[4] Swiss National Science Foundation


[149] Islands in an ocean of (poly)synthesis and concatenative morphology. What linguistic theory and typology can learn from selected Amerindian languages Official URL




Steffen Haurholm-Larsen

Date Deposited:

08 Dec 2015 16:02

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2016 02:08

Publisher DOI:





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