AN AUSTRONESIAN EXAMPLE
- philippine languages: verb-initial
- "pre-verbal NP" = "subject-like nominal"
- agutaynen: ungrammatical, to front a NOn-topic NP
- (1) and (2) grammatical topics occur post-verbally
- (3) and (4) : pre-verbal NPs are clause-internal. Clause-level Topics - if the initial NP that precedes a nominal predicate is deleted, clause fragment is left and is uninterpretable continuity studies
- flexible word order languages: highly discontinous topics tend to come in pre-verbal position - Givon > austronesian languages: SVO
- high continuity yield low morphosyntactic complexity, and that low continuity yields high morphosyntactic complexity discourse units:
- Tomlin (attention-driven episodic/paragraph model) "Individuals will use full nouns on first mention after an episode boundary...and...pronouns to sustain reference during an episode" information packaging
- strong order condition on types of information
- Mithun (1987) general tendency to put the most "newsworthy" item first in the clause. newsworthy: (1) represents significant new information (2) introduces a new topic (3) points out a significant contrast discourse threads
- "the foregorund/background distinction is a universal of some kind, one that may be realized formally in a number of different ways, depending on the language concerned" - verb-initial pattern. foreground materian
- Givon and Fox: pre-verbal in agutaynen correspond to highly discontinuous discourse topics - Tomlin: mark the beginning of larger units of discourse
- Mithun: "newsworthy" information
- Hopper: pre-verbal NPs signal background or supportive information
- VS order correlates with temporal sequencing in many verb-initial languages - pre-verbal NPs under several circumstances:
(1) discourse initially, where we must identify or establish what the discourse is about (2) in instances of constrastive focus, where an entity is being identified in contrast to other possible entities (3) in non-temporally sequenced clauses in narratives, where background information is given which more fully describes or explains referents and their actions
"If Agutaynen does indeed have a basic word order of V-first, how should we account for this preponderance of pre-verbal NPs?" 1. decide how basic constituent order is to be determined
Hawkins 3 criteria:
textual frequency, frequency within the grammatical pattern, and grammatical markedness textual frequency - was often a sufficiently sensitive criterion on its own narrative texts:
- Agutaynen is a verb-initial language, and that pre-verbal NPs frequently indicate contrastive focus or non-temporally sequenced clauses expository texts:
- mirror image: pre-verbal NPs are in the majority, and it is no longer revealing to consider them all "marked" cases - pre-verbal in NPs in Agutaynen, whatever the discourse type, are crucially associated with information which identifies or describes an entity
Is basic word order Universal?
-assumptions: All languages have some basic, syntactically defined constituent order -Basic order: primary characteristic from which other features of the language can be predicted -However, mithun question the universality of the basic word order
- fundamental assumption: basic order is considered a primary characteristics from which other features of the language can be predicted.
- questionable if this is true
- in fact, may not be universal
- pragmatic factors: according to discourse. lead to difficulty in "analyzing" (Prague School) Mathesius- theme: that which is known or at least obvious in the given situation, and from which he speaker proceeds (1939)- rheme: "highest" comment
- Prague School: basic constituent > theme-rheme: topic-comment - Lyons (1977:507-8) : occupying the initial positio utterance and being thematic, rather than rhematic - Thompson (1978) : languages can vary in the...