The Evolution of Focus in Austronesian

Date
1982
Authors
Starosta, Stanley
Pawley, Andrew
Reid, Lawrence A.
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Abstract
In this paper, we will attempt to reconstruct the features of Proto-Austronesian morphology and syntax which gave rise to the focus systems exhibited by modern Philippine languages. In order to approach this problem, it will be necessary to consider the following questions: 1) What is the grammatical structure of sentences showing ‘verbal focus’ in Philippine languages? And in particular, what is their synchronic and diachronic relation to nominalizations which show affixes cognate with the verbal focus affixes? We need to have a reasonably clear idea of the endpoint of an evolutionary sequence before we can reconstruct the stages that led up to it. 2) Do the focus systems of Philippine languages represent a retention from Proto-Austronesian or an innovation? What kind of case marking system can we reconstruct for the proto-language which will allow us to provide plausible accounts of how a single original system could evolve into the Oceanic object focus system in one area and the Philippine subject-focus system in another?
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Philippine-type languages, Syntactic change, Voice marking
Citation
Reid, Lawrence, Stanley Starosta, and Andrew Pawley. "The Evolution of Focus in Austronesian." In Papers from the Third International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, Vol. 2: Tracking the Travellers, edited by Amran Halim, Lois Carrington, and Stephen Wurm, 145-170. Pacific Linguistic Series C, No. 75. Canberra: Australian National University, 1982.
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26 pages
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