The obviative category in Algonquian languages serves to disambiguate subject and object nominals in transitive relations where both have third person animate referents. It has been claimed (Dunnigan, O'Malley & Schwartz 1978) that in Ojibwe the marker -ni- is used specifically when an argument has been established as obviative earlier in the discourse. By tracing -ni- in the morphology of Fox and Kickapoo and in Bloomfield's comparative Algonquian work (Bloomfield 1946), the present paper establishes the internal syntactic function of this element and the non-relevance of a discourse based description of it.
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