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postgraduate thesis: Grammaticalization and Greenberg's word order correlations

TitleGrammaticalization and Greenberg's word order correlations
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Collins, J. C.. (2012). Grammaticalization and Greenberg's word order correlations. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5053413
AbstractWord order universals constitute a well-known problem in language typology, first outlined in Greenberg (1963). It has been firmly established in databases of over 1500 languages that languages with verb-object ordering are very likely to have prepositions and noun-genitive ordering, while languages with object-verb ordering are very likely to have postpositions and genitive-noun ordering (Dryer and Haspelmath 2011). This thesis attempts to give a historical explanation for these facts in terms of the origin of syntactic categories: adpositions have historically developed from nouns and verbs (Givon 1984, Aristar 1991); and verbs often develop from nominalizations used with a genitive object. These types of grammaticalization can explain why adpositions retain the ordering of their source nouns or verbs, and why verb/object ordering often parallels noun/genitive ordering. This historical explanation is elaborated on, with data from different language families. Examples of verbs grammaticalizing from nominalizations used with genitive objects are given, drawing on historical work such as Salanova (2007) on Brazilian Jê languages and Starosta, Pawley and Reid (1982) on Austronesian. Different languages show varying degrees of 'nominalism', the morphosyntactic resemblance between verb forms and noun phrases/nominalizations. Other languages show a less developed distinction between adpositions and verbs/nouns. These examples of gradience in syntactic categories are argued to be behind resemblances in word orderings. Language contact is responsible for preserving word order types, when languages undergo change in more than one word order (e.g. Greenberg 1969); and the difference in rates of word order change across constructions is argued to be behind hierarchies such as Hawkins (1983)'s Prepositional Noun Modifier Hierarchy. This explanation of word order universals contrasts with more mainstream accounts such as Hawkins (1994) in terms of processing efficiency, and Kirby and Christiansen (2003) in terms of learnability. While these explanations are perhaps compatible with the historical explanation, they are argued to be redundant; grammaticalization arguably is not driven or constrained by learnability and processing efficiency, with memetics, 'typological poise' (Enfield 2003) and language contact given as alternatives. Instead of reflecting functional biases, word order patterns are argued to reflect language history, both the history of language contact, and the history of syntactic categories developing through grammaticalization.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectGrammar, Comparative and general - Grammaticalization.
Grammar, Comparative and general - Word order.
Dept/ProgramLinguistics
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/188294

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorDing, PS-
dc.contributor.advisorMatthews, SJ-
dc.contributor.authorCollins, Jeremy Charles.-
dc.date.accessioned2013-08-27T08:03:21Z-
dc.date.available2013-08-27T08:03:21Z-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationCollins, J. C.. (2012). Grammaticalization and Greenberg's word order correlations. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5053413-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/188294-
dc.description.abstractWord order universals constitute a well-known problem in language typology, first outlined in Greenberg (1963). It has been firmly established in databases of over 1500 languages that languages with verb-object ordering are very likely to have prepositions and noun-genitive ordering, while languages with object-verb ordering are very likely to have postpositions and genitive-noun ordering (Dryer and Haspelmath 2011). This thesis attempts to give a historical explanation for these facts in terms of the origin of syntactic categories: adpositions have historically developed from nouns and verbs (Givon 1984, Aristar 1991); and verbs often develop from nominalizations used with a genitive object. These types of grammaticalization can explain why adpositions retain the ordering of their source nouns or verbs, and why verb/object ordering often parallels noun/genitive ordering. This historical explanation is elaborated on, with data from different language families. Examples of verbs grammaticalizing from nominalizations used with genitive objects are given, drawing on historical work such as Salanova (2007) on Brazilian Jê languages and Starosta, Pawley and Reid (1982) on Austronesian. Different languages show varying degrees of 'nominalism', the morphosyntactic resemblance between verb forms and noun phrases/nominalizations. Other languages show a less developed distinction between adpositions and verbs/nouns. These examples of gradience in syntactic categories are argued to be behind resemblances in word orderings. Language contact is responsible for preserving word order types, when languages undergo change in more than one word order (e.g. Greenberg 1969); and the difference in rates of word order change across constructions is argued to be behind hierarchies such as Hawkins (1983)'s Prepositional Noun Modifier Hierarchy. This explanation of word order universals contrasts with more mainstream accounts such as Hawkins (1994) in terms of processing efficiency, and Kirby and Christiansen (2003) in terms of learnability. While these explanations are perhaps compatible with the historical explanation, they are argued to be redundant; grammaticalization arguably is not driven or constrained by learnability and processing efficiency, with memetics, 'typological poise' (Enfield 2003) and language contact given as alternatives. Instead of reflecting functional biases, word order patterns are argued to reflect language history, both the history of language contact, and the history of syntactic categories developing through grammaticalization.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B50534130-
dc.subject.lcshGrammar, Comparative and general - Grammaticalization.-
dc.subject.lcshGrammar, Comparative and general - Word order.-
dc.titleGrammaticalization and Greenberg's word order correlations-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5053413-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineLinguistics-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5053413-
dc.date.hkucongregation2013-

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