We compare speech production and find morphosyntactic change among children and adolescents speaking two closely related varieties of Quechua in Cuzco, Peru, and Chuquisaca, Bolivia. Quechua languages traditionally employ Object-Verb (OV) word order in main clauses, but robust case marking permits other orders, especially to focalize new information through constituent fronting. In Chuquisaca, but not Cuzco, we find that schoolchildren often omit the accusative suffix -ta
from direct objects while retaining a prosodic trace of -ta
. In other varieties, loss of accusative marking is associated with a shift towards Verb-Object (VO) word order, as in Spanish. However, we find that Chuquisaqueños use more canonical OV and possessor-possessed order in declarative sentences than do Cuzqueños, who employ a wide range of word orders at the sentence level and deviate from the possessor-possessed norm for Quechua noun phrases. Our finding of more rigid word order in Chuquisaca highlights the complex factors contributing to typological shift in word order and morphology: Omission of case morphology places a greater burden on word order to identify grammatical roles. Further, we find that Chuquisaqueño schoolchildren alone have begun to use huk
, “one,” to mark indefiniteness, perhaps to replace determiner-like functions ascribed to -ta
and to obsolescent markers such as evidentials.
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