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Title: The Kelabit language : Austronesian voice and syntactic typology
Author: Hemmings, Charlotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 0329
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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Western Austronesian languages are typically defined in contrast to Oceanic languages as possessing a system of 'symmetrical' voice alternations (Himmelmann 2005a). These are alternations in the mapping of predicate arguments to grammatical functions but, unlike passives and antipassives, do not involve syntactic detransitivisation. Instead, symmetrical voice systems appear to involve multiple transitive clause-types that are equally morphologically marked and equally syntactically transitive. This has prompted two major debates about Western Austronesian syntax, namely whether or not Western Austronesian languages have a grammatical subject, and the nature of alignment in the languages. Western-Austronesian languages are typically subdivided into Philippine-type languages and Indonesian-type languages on the basis of structural properties. Philippine-type languages are considered more conservative and Indonesian-type languages more innovative. The Apad Uat subgroup of Northern Sarawak, which includes Kelabit, is said to be split between Philippine-type and Indonesian-type languages. Consequently, it presents a unique opportunity to enter into the theoretical debates and also to question whether the existing typology can capture the full extent of variation within Western Austronesian. Using naturalistic and elicited materials gathered over six and a half months of linguistic fieldwork, this thesis presents an analysis of Kelabit grammar alongside three case studies of syntactic phenomena known to differ in Philippine-type and Indonesian-type languages: voice systems; pronominal systems and word order. In each instance, the patterns in Kelabit are neither proto-typically Philippine-type, nor proto-typically Indonesian-type and hence constitute a type of their own. Moreover, they provide support for theories of alignment shift and other syntactic changes that begin with the reanalysis of the actor voice construction. Thus, it becomes apparent that the existing two-way typology is insufficient to model syntactic variation in Western Austronesian and that a more fine-grained approach is needed in order to better understand the synchronic and diachronic landscape.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral