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McNaught, Douglas Iain (2023) The temporal and modal system of Sakizaya: An Indigenous language of Taiwan. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The 'voice' system characteristic of the Formosan languages demonstrates a complex interaction with other linguistic features such as verb classification, lexical aspect, semantic and morphosyntactic transitivity, topicality, and modality. Previous research into Central Amis and the closely-related Sakizaya shows that voice marking plays a role in providing temporal inference for the clause when no other temporal information (adverbs, aspectual markers etc.) is present, though how and to what extent these inferences are generated by the various interactions mentioned above is under-investigated. Wu (2006a) shows that voice markers carry semantic information but also correspond loosely to aktionsart categories, which have been shown to condition morphosyntactic transitivity (van Valin I 990). Although pragmatic analyses have demonstrated that the relationship between voice, topicality and transitivity is derived from characteristic discourse functions, with high transitivity correlating with foregrounding and low transitivity with backgrounding, their impact on temporal inference in discourse has been largely ignored. Drawing upon theories of coherence and dynamic semantics, recent approaches theoretical approaches such as Segmented Discourse Representation Theory (SDRT) (Asher & Lascarides 2003) have provided more insight into the anaphoric properties of tense-aspect by developing a nonmonotonic logic to determine the interactions between discourse structure and temporal structure. SDRT utilises the notion of rhetorical relations to map relations between clauses, which capture implicatures and impose temporal constraints on a narrative. By investigating the intricate relationship between voice marking, lexical aspect, transitivity, and the rhetorical relations that connect a discourse, this thesis takes a holistic approach to the analysis of the temporal system of the under-documented Sakizaya, demonstrating that it is a complex, interconnected system where morphosyntactic forms are conditioned by the semantics and funnelled through the pragmatic notions of relevance (Sperber & Wilson 1995) to be finally reflected and interpreted via discourse structures.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2023 13:34

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