[Colloquium] Nominalization-into-verb as insubordination: The case of Kanakanavu

Formosan and Philippine languages commonly show a typologically unusual voice system (often called Philippine-type systems) where the verbal clause exhibits multiple transitive voice constructions (cf. Himmelmann 2005, Foley 2008). One dominant hypothesis about the rise of such a system—the nominalization-into-verb hypothesis—states that affixes involved in marking voice in such languages originated from nominalizers (cf. Starosta et al. 1981/1982, Kaufman 2007, Ross 2009). However, evidence for that hypothesis came from either languages where the change has completely restructured the verbal clause morphosyntax (e.g. Paiwan, Atayal and many other languages), or those where the relevant affixes still only function as nominalizers to this day (e.g. Rukai and Puyuma). In this talk, I argue that the Formosan language Kanakanavu is a “transitional” language in which nominalization-into-verb is still an ongoing process. By showing that Kanakanavu voice affixes with different origins are currently in competition with each other, this talk sheds light on how nominalization-into-verb may have unfolded in other Philippine-type languages. It also suggests that one way for reanalyzed nominalizers to enter verbal-clause morphosyntax is through extension of syntactic dependency into the larger discourse domain (Mithun 2008), one of the mechanisms found to drive insubordination (Evans & Watanabe 2016, Cristofaro 2016).