Determiners, Nouns, or What? Problems in the Analysis of Some Commonly Occuring Forms in Philippine Languages

Reid, Lawrence A.
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This paper deals with the problems inherent in determining the syntactic word class of the initial word in many common noun phrases in Philippine languages such as Tagalog ang, Ilokano ti, and Bontok nan. These forms have been variously called case-marking particles, construction markers, common noun markers, articles, determiners, specifiers, or simply proclitics. However, a good syntactic typology of the languages requires that a decision be made as to their word class, based not simply on functional characteristics, semantic features, or translation equivalents, but on their syntactic distribution. Under certain assumptions, these words would be determiners, with the immediately following word being the head noun of its phrase. However, the words that follow appear to be verbal, having the same form as in the predicate of a sentence, and this paper thus considers an alternative solution in which the words in question are specifying-nouns meaning 'the one' and are the heads of their phrases. Under this analysis, the immediately following words are verbal constructions that constitute relative clauses dependent on the specifying nouns. Corroborating evidence is found in the Talubin dialect of Bontok, in which the words in question require genitive clitics to be attached to them, rather than to an immediately following content word. Historical evidence showing that the forms in question were originally demonstrative nouns (and still function as such) supports their synchronic analysis as nouns.
Bontok language
Reid, Lawrence. "Determiners, Nouns, or What? Problems in the Analysis of Some Commonly Occuring Forms in Philippine Languages." Oceanic Linguistics 41, no. 2 (2002): 295-309.
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