[Colloquium] Voice alternations in Mocho' (Mayan)

This study investigates correlations between syntactic structure and pragmatic function in voice alternations in Mocho’ (Mayan). Previous studies have agreed on the existence of active vs passive voice. However, there is a suffix -(V)Vn that has received different treatment: as an antipassive (Kaufman 19767) and as middle voice (Palosaari 2011). Unlike previous studies, this study explores the discourse-pragmatic function of the various voice constructions (clause types) that code semantically transitive events in Mocho’, and I argue that this suffix indicates antipassive, inverse, and additionally agent contrastive focus. Since this suffix -(V)Vn has been reconstructed from Proto-Maya for agent focus (Smith-Stark 1978, Dayley 1973), I will also argue for a different possible origin for antipassive (Klaiman 1991, Givón 1994, Zúñiga 2006)) and inverse (Sansò 2017, 2018; Heaton 2020).