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Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2004 03:36:43 -0800 (PST) From: Kalyanamalini Sahoo Subject: Complex Predicates in Oceanic Languages
EDITORS: Bril, Isabelle; Ozanne-Rivierre, Françoise TITLE: Complex Predicates in Oceanic Languages SUBTITLE: Studies in the Dynamics of Binding and Boundness SERIES: Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 29 PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter YEAR: 2004
Kalyanamalini Sahoo, unaffiliated scholar
This book contains a collection of 14 articles. Along with a short abstract, each article typically starts with an introduction and with proper sections and subsections, ends with a conclusion/summary, a list of orthographic conventions and abbreviations of the linguistic terminologies used in the article, and notes. At the end of the volume, there is a common bibliography for all the articles and an index of languages referred to in the articles.
The volume is a contribution to the topic of complex predicates in Oceanic languages. After a short introduction by the editors regarding the organization and objectives of the book, the volume starts with Isabelle Bril's article, which is an introduction to the volume. It synthesizes the main data and findings of this volume from a theoretical and typological perspective. It is followed by Gunter Senft's broad overview of the research history and data on the topic of serial verbs in various Austronesian and non-Austronesian Papuan languages. Then come several detailed case-studies of complex predicates in various Oceanic languages focusing both on synchronic and diachronic factors.
SUMMARY Isabelle Bril's article provides an excellent introduction to typological study of complex predicates in Oceanic languages. It addresses a broad spectrum of phenomena on complex predicates irrespective of the great variety of structural patterns and language specific-parameters and syntactic constraints. It presents the facts on Complex predicates discussed in the articles of this volume, uses data from numerous different languages to support the claims, and provides cross-linguistic comparisons.
Gunter Senft's article presents different types of Serial Verb Constructions (SVCs) found in Austronesian and Papuan languages and gives a general account of verb serialization in terms of features, types, grammatical functions, syntactic descriptions, semantic roles, order of verbs etc.. It discusses event conceptualization in SVCs and argues for a cognitive approach rather than a purely syntactic approach to the analysis of verb serialization.
Nuclear-layer serialization and core-layer serialization, out of the two types of serialization found in the Oceanic languages, nuclear-layer serialization is well attested in Saliba. However, Anna Margets claims that core-layer serialization is also found in Saliba, although restricted to a few constructions, like constructions expressing manner of motion, followed by path-encoding motion. These constructions differ from a free sequence of verbs by a number of formal criteria including word order and formation of the sequence by a closed class of verbs.
Considering serial and complex verb constructions in Teop, Jessika Reinig claims that the two-verb sequence SVCs typically operate on the nuclear layer. The three types of SVCs found in this language are: (i)[an in/transitive verb that implies a kind of motion + an intransitive direction verb], the sequence specifies the direction of the first verb. (ii) a sequence of two verbs that expresses either two states of affairs that happen simultaneously, or a purposive action. In such sequences, only the last verb can be transitive and the transitivity of the complex is determined by the transitivity of this verb. (iii) a directional proclitic that only appears in combination with another verb and the transitivity in such sequences is determined by the transitivity of the second verb. Such type of sequences seem to be cases of specialization and grammaticalization varying with position.
In Mwotlap language, most VPs consisting of two or more verb roots chained together , function like a single verb. In such sequences, V1 functions as the head of the sequence and V2 as the modifier of the head. The sequence can refer only to a single action, hence, the valencies of both the verbs merge into that of the whole macro-verb. Alexandre François investigates such sequences and comes to the conclusion that calling such sequences 'serial verbs' would mislead linguistic analysis as the V2 in such sequences is really an adjunct. And if this adjunct is a binary predicate, it influences the syntactic behaviour of the macro verb more than that of an unary predicate. It is interesting to note that some verbs, along with other word classes, take part in this mechanism and the adjunct has a major syntactic function in the clause.
Studying Anejom, the Southern Vanuatu subgroup of Oceanic languages, John Lynch claims that verb serialization has disappeared from Anejom because of three factors:
1) the development of an 'echo-subject' construction, in which the Proto Oceanic conjunction /*ma/ 'and' has developed as a preverbal clitic (possibly only with directional verbs) indicating that the subject of the clause to which it is cliticized is the same as the subject of the previous clause.
2) Phonological reduction, which converted two serialized (non- directional) verbs into one compound verb.
3) The development of directional suffixes from /m/-marked directional verbs.
He concludes that once these processes got firmly established in the language, serialization disappeared and both echo-subject marking and compounding were used extensively.
Considering various types of serial and complex verbs in Nêlêmwa, Isabelle Bril shows that complex verbs are mainly of three types involving various types of verb and different hierarchies: (i) time- iconic, co-ranking active verbs; (ii) asymmetric verbs expressing adverbial modification or aspectual and modal specification; (iii) semi- grammaticalized verb strings with argument-expanding or conjunctive functions. Contrary to Foley & Olson's (1985) generalization that "nuclear layer" serialization is mostly found in SOV languages, while SVO languages have predominant core layer serialization, Bril shows that "nuclear layer" serial constructions [(S) V V(O)] are also found in Nêlêmwa. She discusses various syntactic functions of SVCs in Nêlêmwa, assesses the syntactic, semantic and discourse differences between complex verbs and syndetic or asyndetic coordinate or subordinate VPs and clauses.
Studying complex predicates in East Uvean language, Claire Moyse- Faurie comes to the conclusion that the strictly defined SVCs 'denoting one event and including simultaneous actions' are very rare in this language. The two main reasons behind this are: (i) in a sequence of two verbs, the V1 usually tends to be either a modal or aspectual marker, while the V2 tends to be an adjunct of manner. So, such constructions stand somewhere between modifying serialization, or grammaticalization, or lexicalization. (ii) coordinate structures referring to quasi simultaneous events and complementation structures referring to successive actions of a single event are preferred over SVCs.
Considering complex verbal sequences in Pileni, Åshild Næss shows that because of argument ellipsis and lack of subordination markers, in many instances it is difficult to distinguish SVCs from some other type of complex or conjoined clauses. However, in the case of SVCs, serialization occurs both at the level of the nucleus and of the core. Core-layer SVCs must have the same temporal frame but may differ in aspect, while nuclear-layer SVCs must share both tense and aspect. At the core-layer serialization, the difference between "contiguous" and "non-contiguous" serialization is exploited to achieve two different functions with the same V1.
Investigating Tahitian two-lexeme strings 'X Y' referring to a single process, Mirose Paia and Jacques Vernaudon claim that it is a particular case of qualitative modification, following the order 'modified- modifier'. This procedure is used both in predicate and argument phrases.
Ulrike Mosel has shown that complex predicates in Samoan consist of two or more contiguous lexical words. Interestingly, in this language, lexical categories like nouns, adjectives and verbs cannot be distinguished by morphological or distributional criteria of classification; that is, noun phrases and verb complexes cannot be defined as projections of nouns and verbs. Consequently, constructions of juxtaposed content words are not defined by morpho- syntactic characteristics, rather they are established by the lexical features of the content words involved. Beside the predicative behaviour of the juxtapositional constructions, they can function as either nucleus or modifier of noun phrases and verb phrases, as components of superordinate juxtapositional constructions. Such multifunctionality of juxtapositional constructions within noun phrases and verb complexes shows that they form independent syntactic units below phrase level.
Studying modern Oceanic languages, Malcolm Ross has shown that directional verbs in SVCs have been grammaticized in three different ways: as directionals, as pre-verbal clitics, and as relators / prepositions, and these grammaticization paths have to certain extent been constrained by the structure of the SVCs. A pre-verbal clitic arises only from a sequential SVC, but a directional SVC may give rise to either a directional or a relator/preposition (although this latter choice is not conditioned by the SVC). As directional SVCs are frequently used in discourse, they are more grammaticized than the sequential SVCs. Not only transitives, but also intransitive verbs may be grammaticized as prepositions.
Investigating the evolution of the verb 'take' in New Caledonian languages, Françoise Ozanne-Rivierre has shown that both, lexicalization and grammaticalization, are at work in this language. 'take', which usually occurs in the V2 position in a sequence of two verbs [V1 V2], has been fully lexicalized in all the languages of the group, and in some languages, it is gradually assimilated in transitive compound verbs. It has been grammaticalized as the object case marker in serial constructions in several language families including Mandarin. In Nyelâyu, this verb is further delexified and the transitive suffix /-va/ in causatives is derived from the cliticized form of the verb /Pha/ 'take'. Contrary to Lord's (1993:96) analysis of this verb 'take' in Mandarin, where 'take' has been analyzed as a transitive construction marker and has been grammaticalized as a syntactic object marker; in New Caledonia, Ozanne-Rivierre claims that 'take' has evolved into an applicative transitivizing morpheme, and instead of using a reflex of the Proto Oceanic applicative transitivizing suffix, New Caledonian languages use a semantically transparent transitive verb 'take, carry' for associative case-marking.
Considering the [V V] sequences in New Caledonian languages, Françoise Ozanne-Rivierre & Jean-Claude Rivierre show that these serial verbs have evolved into verbal compounds. In the languages of the Mainland of New Caledonia, the "classifying" verbal prefixes derive from compound constructions in which the first verb is reduced to its first syllable (or first mora). Unlike the languages of the north, the proliferation of monomoraic lexical verbal prefixes is characteristic of Southern languages which have open syllables and a strong tendency to monosyllabism. Development of "classifiers" and co- lexicalization of two (or more) verb-stems to create more complex verbal concepts contribute to the lexical renewal in Southern languages. Thus, given the highly variable productivity of verbal prefixes in Kanak verb compounds, the term "lexical prefixes", used by Nojima (1996) for Bunum, seems more appropriate for Kanak languages than that of "classificatory prefixes" which is traditionally used in Oceanic studies.
This is an excellent reference book. Anyone interested in serial verbs, complex predicates, grammaticalization, language typology, Oceanic languages, etc., would benefit from the huge collection of data and cross-linguistic comparisons presented in the book. The data presented in the book come from a broad range of languages constituting various subgroups of Oceanic languages. It presents syntactic, lexical, and to certain extent semantic and phonological information on complex predicates, which has important theoretical implications. There is a clear effort on the part of many authors to discuss previous analyses. The presentation presumes no specialist knowledge of Oceanic languages and is very friendly towards those with no experience in these languages. In short, it is a great accomplishment.
The fourteen papers included in this volume constitute a valuable contribution to research on complex predicates as well as on Oceanic languages. As concerns the complex predicates, a great variety of structural types (i.e.types such as nuclear and core-layer serialization, having two main structural subtypes such as "symmetrical" (co- ranking), and "asymmetrical" (implying head-modifier hierarchy)) have been discussed. A number of issues concerning characteristics of serial verbs (e.g. prosody, shared tense-aspect marker and polarity markers, finiteness vs nonfiniteness), ordering principles (iconic ordering vs parametric settings), different approaches (syntactic vs lexicalist approach) are addressed. The volume explores several evolutionary paths on different levels: degrees of grammaticalization (into operators, case-markers, conjunctions) and morphologization at the morphosyntactic level, and degrees of co-lexicalization and compounding at word level.
However, there are certain shortcomings. Although the editors in the 'introduction' (p-x)to the volume, state that the label 'complex predicate' has been used as a cover-term for both complex predicate and SVCs, Bril distinguishes serial constructions from Complex predicates in terms of monoclausality (p-25), and other authors (François, Reinig, Næss) of the volume distinguish between the two terms as well. So, a different cover-term would have been a better choice. Also, the subtitle of the book in terms of 'binding and boundness' is very little justified, except for Bril's article.
Foley, William A. & Mike Olson (1985) "Clausehood and verb serialization", in: Johanna Nichols & Anthony C.Woodbury (eds), Grammar inside and outside the clause. 17-60. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lord, Carol (1993) Historical Change in Serial Verb Constructions. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Kalyanamalini Sahoo, PhD. in Linguistics, Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim. She has extensively worked on serial verbs and complex predicates, with a number of publications including her Ph.D thesis on complex verb constructions in Oriya (an Indo-Aryan language). Her research interests include syntax, typology, and computational morphology.