The Philippine Challenge to Universal Grammar
Nikolaus P. Himmelmann
- Grammatical relations – in particular the relation 'subject of' – and voice are of central concern to any theory of universal grammar. With respect to these phenomena the analysis of Tagalog (and the Philippine languages in general) has turned out to be particularly difficult and continues to be a matter of debate. What traditionally has been called passive voice in these languages […] appears to be so different from voice phenomena in the more familiar Indo-European languages that the term 'focus' was introduced in the late 1950s to underscore its 'exceptional' nature [...]. Furthermore, […] an inflationary use has been made of the term 'ergative' in the last decade; it can thus no longer be assumed that it has an unequivocal and specific meaning in typologizing languages, apart from the technical definition it might be given within a particular framework. But if the Philippine 'focus' constructions are neither passive nor ergative, how else can they be analysed? [...] In this paper a ease will be made for the claim that 'focus' marking should be analysed in terms of orientation, a concept used […] for capturing the difference between English (and, more generally, Indo-European) orientated nominalisations such as 'employ-er' or 'employ-ee', and unorientated nominalisations such as 'employ-ing'. This approach implies that 'focus' marking is derivational rather than inflectional as often presumed in the literature. This is to say that what is typologically conspicuous in Tagalog is not the 'focus' phenomenon per se, since this is very similar to orientated nominalisations in many other languages, but rather the very prominent use of orientated formations (i.e., derivational morphology) in basic clause structure.
The Systematization of Tagalog Morphosyntax
- In the last two decades Philippine languages, and of these especially Tagalog, have acquired a prominent place in linguistic theory. A centra1 role in this discussion was played by two papers written by Schachter (1976 and 1977), who was inspired by Keenan's artcle on the subject from 1976. The most recent contributions on this topic have been from de Wolff (1988) and Shibatani (1988), both of which were published in a collection of essays, edited by Shibatani, with the title Passive and Voice. These works, and several works in-between, deal with the focus system specific to Philippine languages. The main discussion centers around the fact that Philippine languages contain a basic set of 5 to 7 affix focus forms. Their exact number varies not only in the secondary literature, but in the primary sources, i.e. Tagalog grammars, as well, where considerable differences in the number of affix focus forms can be found. All of these works, however, do agree on one point: the Philippine focus system basica1ly consists of agent, patient (=goal or object), benefactive, locative, and instrumental affix forms. Schachter/Otanes (1972) list a number of further forms, and in Drossard (1983 and 1984) we tried to show (in an attempt similar to those of Sapir 1917 and Klimov 1977) that the main criterion for a systematization of the Philippine focus system consists in the difference between the active and stative domains, an attempt wruch in our opinion was largely misunderstood (cf. the brief remarks in Shibatani (1988) and de Wolff (1988). The present paper is thus, on the one hand, an attempt to repeat and clarify our earlier position, and on the other, a further step towards such a systematization. A first step in this direction was an article on resultativity in Tagalog from 1991. In the present paper this approach will be extended to reciprocity. In the process we will show that it is valid to make a distinction between an active (=controlled action) vs. a stative (=limited controlled action) domain. First, however, we will take a brief look at what makes up the active and stative voice systems.
Local prepositions and serial verb constructions in Thai
- The present paper is an attempt to describe a particular semantic domain in Thai, that of local relations, in terms of a gradual interconnection of what traditional descriptions usually regard as distinct and isolated categories. It is based on the well-known observation that isolating languages like Thai typically display a high degree of 'multifunctionality', or else of syntactic 'versatility' of very many lexical items. […] The semantic area studied in the following pages yields a clear systematic interconnection of three different categories, viz. that of nouns – as the focal instance of maximum syntactic independence –, that of verbs – as, conversely, the focal instance of maximally relational concepts –, and, as an intermediary category between these two, that of prepositions which the system lexically feeds from both these opposite ends. The examples given in the course of this paper have been obtained from published grammatical literature, from Thai texts, and from informants.
Ergativity in Samoan
- Most typological and language specific studies on so- called ergative languages are concerned with case marking patterns, particularly split ergativity, with the organization of syntactic relations as defined by syntactic operations such as coreferential deletion across coordinate conjunctions, Equi-NP-deletion and relativization , and with the notion of subject, but usually neglect the notion of valency, though the inherent relational properties of the verb , i. e. valency, play a fundamental role in the syntactic organization of sentences in ergative as well as in other languages . The following investigation of ergativity in Samoan aims to integrate the notion of valency into the description of semantic and syntactic relations and to outline the characteristic features of Samoan verbal clauses as far as they seem to be relevant to recent and still ongoing discussions on linguistic typology and syntactic theory. The main points of the definition of valency […] are: Valency is the property of the verb which determines the obligatory and optional number of its participants, their morphosyntactic form, their semantic class membership (e.g. ± animate, ± human) , and their semantic role (e.g. agent , patient , recipient). All semantic properties and morphosyntactic properties of participants not inherently given by the verb and therefore not predictable from the verb, are not a matter of valency. Valency is not a homogenous property of the verb, but consists of several exponents which show varying degress of relevance in different languages or different verb classes within a single language.
Morphosyntactic predication : a functional-operational approach
- As a traditional notion of fundamental importance in linguistics and philosophy (logic), "predication" is fraught with controversial issues. It is thus difficult to delimit the scope of this paper without becoming involved in some major issue. The following distinctions seem to me to be plausible on an intuitive basis. Evidence for why they are useful and legitimate will be found in the body of the paper. The discussion will focus on morphosyntactic predication […].
Verb derivation in modern Greek inside alternation classes
- In this paper I present five alternations of the verb system of Modern Greek, which are recurrently mapped on the syntactic frame NPi__NP. The actual claim is that only the participation in alternations and/or the allocation to an alternation variant can reliably determine the relation between a verb derivative and its base. In the second part, the conceptual structures and semantic/situational fields of a large number of “-ízo” derivatives appearing inside alternation classes are presented. The restricted character of the conceptual and situational preferences inside alternations classes suggests the dominant character of the alternations component.
Relating propositions : subordination and coordination strategies in a polysynthetic language
- This paper discusses the relationship between the morphological structure of language and its syntactic structure. Although it is primarily a single language which is analysed in detail, namely, Inuktitut, an Eskimo language of the Canadian Eastern Arctic, the findings seem to be of general relevance.
Genitive quantifiers in Japanese as reverse partitives
- Quantificational determiners in Japanese can be marked with genitive case. Current analyses (for example by Watanabe, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, to appear) treat the genetive case marker in these cases as semantically vacuous, but we show that it has semantic effects. We propose a new analysis as reverse partitives. Following Jackendoff (MIT-Press, 1977), we assume that partitives always contain two NPs one of which is phonologically deleted. We claim that, while in normal partitives the higher noun is deleted, in reverse partitives the lower noun is deleted.
Instrumental -er nominals revisited
Issues on Topics
- The present volume contains papers that bear mainly on issues concerning the topic concept. This concept is of course very broad and diverse. Also, different views are expressed in this volume. Some authors concentrate on the status of topics and non-topics in so-called topic prominent languages (i.e. Chinese), others focus on the syntactic behavior of topical constituents in specific European languages (German, Greek, Romance languages). The last contribution tries to bring together the concept of discourse topic (a non-syntactic notion) and the concept of sentence topic, i.e. that type of topic that all the preceding papers are concerned with.