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Descriptive Typology and Linguistic Theory  cover

Descriptive Typology and Linguistic Theory

A Study in the Morphosyntax of Relative Clauses

Farrell Ackerman and Irina Nikolaeva

Descriptive grammarians and typologists often encounter unusual constructions or unfamiliar variants of otherwise familiar construction types. Many of these phenomena are puzzling from the perspective of linguistic theories: they neither predict nor, arguably, provide the tools to insightfully describe them. This book analyzes an unusual type of relative clause found in numerous related and unrelated languages of Eurasia. While providing a detailed case study of Tundra Nenets, it broadens this inquiry into a detailed typological exploration of this relative clause type. The authors argue that an understanding of this construction requires exploring the (type of) grammar system in which it occurs in order to identify the (set of) independent constructions that motivate its existence. The resulting insights into grammar organization illustrate the usefulness of a construction-theoretic syntax and morphology informed by a developmental systems perspective for the understanding of complex grammatical phenomena.

Farrell Ackerman is Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Human Development Program at the University of California, San Diego.

Irina Nikolaeva is Professor of Linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and Head of the Department of Linguistics and Language and Cultures of Africa.

Dedication

Burkhardt (2005: 69) describes the crucial role of naturalists in the development of early animal behavior research as follows:

Rejecting the dissectors bench, the morgue like character of natural history museums, and academic zoology in general, these fieldworkers thrived outdoors. Furthermore, unlike most field naturalists before them, they went out into nature not as specimen collectors, but rather as animal watchers.

The consequential difference between specimen collectors and systematic observers permits the recognition that this new type of field naturalist transformed the study of animal behavior into the science of comparative psychology.

This book is dedicated to Charles J. Fillmore whose nuanced insights about the nature of grammar systems has helped to transform the theoretical study of language: they have led many researchers over many years to explore construction-theoretic approaches to linguistic analysis. He is a singular naturalist of language and a keen grammar watcher. Through a long career he has reliably shaped surprising observations into the patterns of systemic relatedness that motivate language particular encodings. We can only hope that some of the directions developed in this book accord with his own intuitions and may even make him smile occasionally with some unexpected satisfaction.

Contents

  • I The Basic Phenomena
  • 1 Introduction (pdf preview available)
    • 1 Overview
    • 2 Our proposal
    • 3 The organization of the book

  • 2 The organization of grammar
    • 1 Introduction
    • 2 Competing analytic perspectives
      • 2.1 Mainstream Generative Grammar assumptions
      • 2.2 Construction-theoretic assumptions
    • 3 The core-periphery distinction
    • 4 The role of morphology
    • 5 The approach adopted in this book
      • 5.1 Feature structures
      • 5.2 Morphological constructions
      • 5.3 Syntactic constructions
    • 6 Conclusions

  • 3 Relative clauses and person/number marking
    • 1 Introduction
    • 2 Possessive Relatives in typological perspective
      • 2.1 The typology of relative clauses and subject marking
      • 2.2 Possessive Relatives as a subtype of prenominal relatives
      • 2.3 pnms in Possessive Relatives
    • 3 Person/number marking in linguistic typology and theory
      • 3.1 Locality
      • 3.2 Agreement and pronominal incorporation
    • 4 Conclusions

  • II Tundra Nenets
  • 4 Descriptive challenges
    • 1 Introduction
    • 2 Overview of Tundra Nenets grammar
      • 2.1 Basics of Tundra Nenets phonology
      • 2.2 Typological profile
      • 2.3 Nominal inflectional categories
      • 2.4 Verbal inflectional categories
    • 3 Relative clauses in Tundra Nenets
      • 3.1 Participial strategy: relativization of subj, obj and poss-or
      • 3.2 Non-participal strategy: relativization of obliques
    • 4 Non-finite clauses
      • 4.1 Two types of non-finite structures
      • 4.2 Clausality
      • 4.3 subj in non-finite clauses
      • 4.4 Possessive Relatives as clauses
      • 4.5 Desideratum 1
    • 5 The possessive construction
      • 5.1 Person/number marking
      • 5.2 Case marking of the possessor/subject
      • 5.3 Discourse-marked lexical possessor/subject
      • 5.4 The exponence of person/number and case marking
      • 5.5 Desiderata 2 and 3
    • 6 Modification
      • 6.1 Nominal and adjectival modifiers
      • 6.2 Concord
      • 6.3 Possessive Relatives as adjectival modifiers
      • 6.4 Desideratum 4
    • 7 Conclusions

  • 5 A construction-theoretic proposal
    • 1 Introduction
    • 2 Possessed Noun construction
      • 2.1 On the semantics of possessives
      • 2.2 Associative possessives in Tundra Nenets
      • 2.3 Possessed Noun as a morphological construction
      • 2.4 Possessed Nouns in syntactic Possessive constructions
    • 3 Inflectable Non-Finite construction
      • 3.1 Non-finites as morphological constructions
      • 3.2 Inflectable non-finites in mc-inflected relatives
      • 3.3 Inflectable non-finites in Possessive Relatives
    • 4 Non-Finite Clause phrasal construction
      • 4.1 Phrasal representation of non-finite clauses
      • 4.2 Relative clauses as syntactic phrases
      • 4.3 The status of pnms
    • 5 Modifier-Head
      • 5.1 Adjectival modifiers
      • 5.2 The role of non-finite modifiers in Possessive Relatives
      • 5.3 The syntactic Possessive Relative construction
    • 6 Embedding within relative clauses
    • 7 Conclusions

  • III Diversity of Possessive Relatives
  • 6 Modifying the cooperating constructions
    • 1 Introduction
    • 2 Conflicting demands on function
    • 3 Deverbal nominals as modifiers
    • 4 Postpositions as modifiers
    • 5 Intra-language variations and the role of analogy
    • 6 Conclusions

  • 7 Possessive Relatives in a typological perspective
    • 1 Introduction
    • 2 Prenominal Possessive Relatives
      • 2.1 Mongolic
        • 2.1.1 Possessive constructions
        • 2.1.2 Relative clauses
      • 2.2 Turkic
        • 2.2.1 Possessive constructions
        • 2.2.2 Relative clauses
      • 2.3 Tungusic
        • 2.3.1 Possessive constructions
        • 2.3.2 Relative clauses
      • 2.4 Uralic
        • 2.4.1 Possessive constructions
        • 2.4.2 Relative clauses
      • 2.5 Armenian
        • 2.5.1 Possessive constructions
        • 2.5.2 Relative clauses
      • 2.6 Yukaghir
        • 2.6.1 Possessive constructions
        • 2.6.2 Relative clauses
    • 3 Postnominal Possessive Relatives
    • 4 Possessive Relatives vs. mc-inflected relatives
    • 5 Possible historical scenarios
      • 5.1 mc-inflected relatives
      • 5.2 Possessive Relatives
    • 6 Conclusions

  • 8 Analyses of other languages
    • 1 Introduction
    • 2 The raising analysis
      • 2.1 The proposal
      • 2.2 The position of determiners
      • 2.3 Constituency
    • 3 The Kaynean analysis
      • 3.1 The proposal
      • 3.2 The morphological status of pnms
      • 3.3 Morphotactics
    • 4 The ‘reduced CP’ analysis
      • 4.1 The proposal
      • 4.2 Typological variations
      • 4.3 Possessors and subjects
    • 5 Approaching cross-linguistic variation
    • 6 Conclusions

  • 9 Summary of our results
  • References
  • Index

February 2014

ISBN (Paperback): 9781575864563
ISBN (Cloth): 9781575864556
ISBN (electronic): 9781575867434

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