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An Inspection of Preferred Argument Structure in Mapudungun Narratives1

The surface form of arguments in natural discourse, theoretically freely chosen, is by no means arbitrary. Clear tendencies emerge when analyzing stretches of discourse. One such pattern concerns the different proportions of lexically realized arguments in A, as opposed to S and P, and has been explained by Du Bois through a set of underlying principles. The pattern has more recently been suggested to be an epiphenomenal effect of animacy. In this paper, I analyze a corpus of Mapudungun narratives and investigate the form and information status of 4,218 references. The results show S between A and P in its lexicality, and a discord with constraints constituting PAS. There is also an unexpectedly high proportion of lexical human S arguments, independent of information status. Not only do these findings contribute to the growing body of evidence suggesting that PAS is flawed and that animacy should not be neglected, they also suggest that animacy alone does not explain all patterns. In addition, they promote an independent treatment of information status and formal expression in this kind of corpus study.