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A Reexamination of the Philippine-Type Voice System and its Implications for Austronesian Primary-Level Subgrouping.

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Title:A Reexamination of the Philippine-Type Voice System and its Implications for Austronesian Primary-Level Subgrouping.
Authors:Chen, Yen-hsin
Contributors:Linguistics (department)
Keywords:Philippine-type voice system
Austronesian-type voice system
comparative syntax
Austronesian primary-level subgrouping
Formosan languages
Date Issued:Dec 2017
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:This dissertation investigates the nature of the Philippine-type voice system and two associated
diachronic questions: (i) what is the nature of noun-verb (nominalizer-voice affix) homophony, a
common trait of Philippine-type languages?, and (ii) does the synchronic variation of this voice
system among higher-order Austronesian languages constitute valid evidence for Austronesian
primary-level subgrouping? Using novel comparative data from Puyuma, Amis, Seediq, and Tagalog
as the empirical starting point, I explore the shared syntax of Philippine-type languages and its
implications for these two questions.
In the first half of the study, I argue that Philippine-type languages are best analyzed as exhibiting a
nominative-accusative case system with prominent topic-marking that overrides morphological case.
I then provide a novel account for the nature of the four-way division of the Philippine-type voice
morphology: the four affixes are best analyzed as the spell-out of four different bundles of Agree
relations that agree with the topic of a clause. Under this analysis, Philippine-type “voice” is
fundamentally different from Indo-European “voice”. The latter is valency-rearranging morphology,
while the former is topic-indicating morphology. Building on this analysis, I argue that Philippinetype
languages are best characterized as discourse configurational languages (Li & Thompson 1976;
Kiss 1995; Miyagawa 2010, 2017), whose topic-prominent nature is manifested both in prominent
topic-marking and in articulated verbal morphology that indicates the Agree relations of the topic in a
clause. I conclude that Philippine-type languages are best analyzed as hosting a topic-feature on C
and the φ-feature on T, with topic-agreement spelled-out as verbal morphology.
In the second half of the study, I demonstrate how this synchronic syntactic analysis enables a simpler
solution to two central issues in Austronesian diachronic linguistics (i)-(ii). Building on the
conclusions outlined above, I argue that the presence of either (a) nominalizer-voice affix homophony,
or (b) Philippine-type voice distinctions in root-clause environments does not constitute valid
evidence for Austronesian primary-level subgrouping, as the absence of both features reflects
independent morphological erosions in innovative languages. I conclude that phonological
innovations are better evidence for Austronesian primary-level subgrouping than the morphosyntactic
variation among higher-order Philippine-type languages, as the latter is best viewed as a product of
independent drifts, rather than shared innovations.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2017.
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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