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Title: Grammatical relations in Tamang, a Tibeto-Burman language of Nepal
Author: Owen-Smith, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 5445
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis investigates grammatical relations in Tamang, a (Tibeto-Burman) Sino-Tibetan language with roughly one million mother-tongue speakers, who live predominantly in the central hills of Nepal. Sino-Tibetan languages are known for their diversity of morphosyntactic profiles for expressing predicate-participant relations, which range from fully syntactic grammatical functions (eg. in Kham, Kiranti languages) to non-syntactic systems which encode semantic and pragmatic information about elements of the clause (eg. in Meithei, Chinese). Tamang represents an intermediate type, displaying a mixture of non-syntactic and syntactic patterns. This mixed profile is evident in intra-clausal relations in main and dependent clauses, where assignment of case morphemes encoding a mixture of semantic, pragmatic and syntactic information interacts with other strategies such as manipulation of word order and omission of clause participants. Inter-clausal relations are also unevenly syntacticized, some being based on syntactic pivots which privilege particular arguments, and some not. The research presented here is based on a corpus of field data from the Tamang dialect spoken in the villages of Lekharka and Bhote Namlang in the valley of the Indrawati River (Sindhupalchok District). Following a discussion on theoretical approaches to the analysis of clause participants and a grammatical overview of this dialect (which includes a detailed description of the verbal system), the thesis presents the morphosyntactic means by which grammatical relations are expressed, and the relations which hold between predicates and their participants in all types of main clause. Lastly, it examines grammatical relations in dependent clauses and structures of clause linkage, and explores links between grammatical relations and other domains of the language such as information structure, pragmatics and the lexicon. Phenomena observed in Tamang are considered in the context of typological literature on grammatical relations and alignment and, where possible, comparisons are drawn with patterns noted in other Sino-Tibetan and Tibeto-Burman languages.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral