SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Thompson, Hanne-Ruth (2004) Toward a definitve grammar of Bengali: A practical study and critique of research on selected grammatical structures. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (14MB)


This thesis is a contribution to a deeper understanding of selected Bengali grammatical structures as far as their syntactic and semantic properties are concerned. It questions traditional interpretations and takes a practical approach in the detailed investigation of actual language use. My methodology is based on the belief that clarity and inquisitiveness should take precedence over alliance to particular grammar theories and that there is still much to discover about the way the Bengali language works. Chapter 1 This chapter on non-finite verb forms discusses the occurrences and functions of Bengali non-finite verb forms and concentrates particularly on the overlap of infinitives and verbal nouns, the distinguishing features between infinitives and present participles, the semantic properties of verbal adjectives and the syntactic restrictions of perfective participles. Chapter 2 In the attempt to define Bengali compound verbs I question the appropriateness of purely semantic criteria, which have prevailed in previous analyses. If syntactic criteria are taken into account we arrive at a more diverse and more accurate picture of the relationship between the two combined verb forms. Chapter 3 The majority of Bengali so-called postpositions are locative noun forms (spatial postpositions) or non-finite verb forms, which can function as postpositions. I have tried to develop some syntactic and semantic criteria in order to define the 'wordclass' of postpositions. Chapter 4 Bengali tenses are remarkably flexible in their uses. In order to gain a clearer picture of their parameters I have examined the co-occurrence of tenses and of tense restrictions in sentences with particular time adverbials. Chapter 5 Verbs of being and having are analysed according to their syntactic uses, restrictions, semantic features and overlap with one another, taking into account negative and non-present tense sentences. The chapter also establishes the importance of the zero verb as the main copula in Bengali. Chapter 6 This chapter looks at word order and selected sentence structures. The discussion focusses on the features and parameters of Bengali passive and impersonal structures. Findings from previous chapters have been taken into account. All chapters suggest areas of further research.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item