We examine the role of referential properties and lexical stipulation in three closely related languages of eastern Indonesia, the Alor-Pantar languages Abui, Kamang, and Teiwa. Our focus is on the continuum along which event properties (e.g. volitionality, affectedness) are highly important at one extreme or play virtually no role at the other. These languages occupy different points along this continuum. In Abui, event semantics play the greatest role, while in Teiwa they play the smallest role (the lexical property animacy being dominant in the formation of verb classes). Kamang occupies an intermediate position. Teiwa has conventionalised the relation between a verb and its class along the lines of animacy so that classes become associated with the animacy value of the objects with which the verbs in a given class typically occur. Paying attention to a lexical property like animacy, in contrast with event properties, has meant greater potential for arbitrary classes to emerge.
- Inflectional classes
- Lexical stipulation