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A study of informational structuring in Thai sentences: by Peansiri Ekniyom

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Title: A study of informational structuring in Thai sentences: by Peansiri Ekniyom
Authors: Ekniyom, Peansiri
Keywords: Thai language -- Grammar, Generative
Thai language -- Syntax
Thai language -- Noun phrase
Thai language -- Topic and comment
Issue Date: 1982
Abstract: This is a study of the interrelationships between syntactic forms in Thai and their informational properties. We are concerned primarily with the forms having noun phrase status. First, we examine simple noun phrases functioning as topics and/or subjects. We find that when they occur in sentence-initial position they are required to represent given information; i.e., they must be either definite or generic. This is hardly surprising for topic noun phrases. However, not all languages have such a requirement for subjects in initial position. We propose a constraint for Thai that sentence-initial noun phrases be [+given], to be referred to as SINPC or Sentence-Initial Noun Phrase Constraint. An examination of sentences with [-given] subject noun phrases shows that these can only occur in existential constructions, which have verb-initial surface forms. If we assume that underlying subjects are all generated in the same position, we must posit rules shifting [-given] noun phrases from sentence-initial position. A slight revision of SINPC is necessitated by our finding that any and all noun phrases occurring in pre-predicate position must be [+given]. We next turn to embedded constructions which appear to function as noun phrases. Two types of clauses can occur in sentence-initial position: the thîi clauses and the subjectless hypothetical clauses. The former do not assert their propositional content but rather take it as given. These appear to correspond to simple definite noun phrases. The subjectless hypothetical clauses, having no specific time reference of their own, correspond to simple generic noun phrases. Clause positioning, then, also conforms to the proposed SINPC. These clauses clearly function as topics and subjects. The embedded clauses in the subject position of presentative and existential sentences are shown to represent [-given] information. These cannot remain in sentence-initial position. They are found instead in the position after the verb, resulting in verb-initial surface forms for these types of sentences. Finally, we examine one problematic construction: a focused construction in which the initial noun phrase constitutes the comment rather than the topic. We find, however, that it is still [+given] information, and therefore does not violate SINPC. What prevents these [+given] noun phrases from being interpreted as topics is an obligatory focus marker which shows that the noun phrase with which it occurs is informationally assertive.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1982.
Bibliography: leaves 156-160.
ix, 160 leaves, bound ill. 29 cm
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Linguistics

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