A Squib on Syntactic Pivots in Tagalog

Topics: Morphosyntactic alignment, Subject, Transitive verb Pages: 5 (1354 words) Published: November 17, 2012
1st Semester AY 2012-2013: Linguistics 190

Linguistics 190
Inter-clausal and Intra-clausal Syntax:
Clausal linking patterns in Tagalog


1st Semester AY 2012-2013: Linguistics 190

Clausal linking patterns in Tagalog
Eishrine Mei M. Amante

This paper explores the linking pattern of the core arguments across the clauses in Tagalog. It has been observed that even if Tagalog, a morphologically ergative language, also exhibits an accusative discourse behavior. This is also the case in Cebuano. Just like in other ergative languages, the Ss and As are still more topical than the Os. This means that there can be more S and A links than O links.

Languages have varying strategies for representing syntax of clause combining. One of these ways is through syntactic pivots. Many languages tend to put restrictions on the syntactic combining of clauses. This is made possible by the three syntactic functions: S, A, or O. OBL, on the other hand serves as the peripheral argument. According to Dixon (1994), there are two types of syntactic pivot: (1) S->A pivot and; (2) S->O pivot. In (1), the coreferential NP must be derived from S or A in each of the clauses being combined. In (2), the coreferential NP must be derived from S or O in each of the clauses being combined. To contrast S->A pivot and S->O pivot, Dixon gave two languages showing the links respectively. (a) [MotherA saw fatherO] and [ 0S returned] (b) [ngumaO yabu-nguA buran] [0S banagany u] Father+ABS mother-ERG saw returned Mother saw father and he returned


1st Semester AY 2012-2013: Linguistics 190

In (a) and (b), we have what we call a zero anaphora which represents the omitted subject of the intransitive verb. An example of an S->A link can be seen in a language operating in an S->A pivot like English. The link is being demonstrated in (a). Users of English will only delete the S NP in the 2nd clause if and only if it is coreferential with an S/A NP in the 1st clause. The hearer will understand that the deleted NP is the mother which is the subject of returned. However, if the speaker wants to show that the father is the subject of the intransitive verb, he should have made the sentence like this instead: Mother saw father and he returned. He should have inserted a pronoun he. On the other hand, Dyirbal works in an S->O pivot operation. Just reversing the operation in English, in Dyirbal, an S NP can only be omitted if it is coreferential with an S/O in the preceding clause. S/A pivots usually occur with morphologically accusative languages. In ergative languages it is usually S/O pivots. However, Tanangkinsing found out that Cebuano which is a morphologically ergative language, appears to have an accusative discourse behaviour. This is also what has been observed in Tagalog. There was a higher percentage of S/A linking than S/O linking which makes Tagalog a morphologically ergative language which appears to have an accusative discourse behaviour and was also seen in Cebuano. To investigate the pivots in Tagalog, doing reference tracking was found to be necessary. Reference tracking as defined by Van Valin and Foley: Reference tracking is one of the most vital functions of language, and languages employ a limited number of ways in encoding referents. There are three prominent ways of tracking referents: lexicalization, pronominalization and zero anaphora. The forms that arguments or participants take have been found to be motivated by such discourse notions, such as topicality, information status, person hierarchy and animacy. Several papers have shown how referents are tracked and given formal expression. In reference tracking, it is a must that we obtain the syntactic functions of the arguments (S, A, O, or OBL). OBL is included because it introduces new information. In past studies of Nagaya, Amante, et.al, it was observed that OBL has the high probability of introducing new information once...

References: Dixon, R. (1994). Ergativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nagaya, N. (2006). Preferred referential expressions in Tagalog. Tokyo University Linguistic Papers (TULIP) , 83-106. Tanangkinsing, M. (2009). A Functional Reference Grammar of Cebuano. Taiwan: Lambert Academic
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