A parametric grammar of Seediq

University dissertation from Lund University Press, Box 141, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Seediq is an Austronesian language spoken in Taiwan. It has several characteristics which are typologically unusual but typical for Austronesian languages. VOS word order, subject-focus (i.e. a multipolar voice distinction which does not imply valency reduction) and cliticisation of subject pronouns. This dissertation comprises a surface description of the grammar of the language presented in the same form as traditional grammars, which is included to allow the reader to get acquainted with the surface facts of the language. This is followed by a GB analysis of the syntax. Due to the valency-neutral properties of subject-focus, it is proposed that focus does not imply a change in Case-marking within VP, but rather that it functions as agreement reflecting movement which has taken place for discourse reasons. The consequence of this is that movement in Seediq evidently can and does take place from one Case-position to another. It is furthermore proposed that this is exactly what also takes place in Western passives which imply a valency reduction, the difference being that Austronesian languages have a Case-marked SpecVP whereas Western languages do not. Each parametric value given for Seediq is then compared with languages sharing this value and languages having the opposite value. This concerns both pure word order parameters and parameters which in some way affect movement. The purpose of this is to show how cross-linguistic variation of a given set of parameters can cause important syntactic differences between both related and unrelated languages. This is followed by an analysis of the verbal morphology of Seediq, where a markedness-based model is illustrated which can account for the non-cooccurrence of certain morphemes (such as the active -m- and the imperative -i) and the portmanteau status of other morphemes. The dissertation concludes with a template-based analysis of the morphophonology of Seediq, where the inflection morphemes treated in the preceding section are projected onto a word structure template of the shape CVCVC. This accounts for the rather complex morphophonemic variations in Seediq.

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