Based on these observations, this project addresses the following closely related questions:
- Are there systematic restrictions on the location of portmanteaus in paradigms?
- To which extent are portmanteaus analyzable?
- What is the formal representation of portmanteaus?
- What is the extent and distribution of portmanteau microvariation within groups of closely related languages?
- How do portmanteaus develop historically (and how do they disappear)?
To answer these questions, we combine methods from typology, formal morphology, and historical reconstruction. Apart from constructing a cross-linguistic typological database for person portmanteaus to extract general properties, we focus on the behavior of portmanteaus in three small-scale language families (Nilotic, Iroquoian, and Uralic). For these languages we will provide in-depth formal analyses of the relevant person portmanteaus, investigate the range of microvariation in the families, and attempt to reconstruct the diachronic development of person portmanteaus on the background of the overall pronominal cross-referencing systems (based on the available descriptive literature).