Noun Phrase structure and Focus Marking in Kavalan

Vol. 26 No. 3   12/1996  


Noun Phrase structure and Focus Marking in Kavalan


Aili Hsin









Key words

head-first, head-final, nominal modifier, verbal modifier, agent-focus, patient-focus, pragmatic focus marker


      Noun phrases in Kavalan can be divided into coordinate subordinate structions. Coordinate noun phrases, except compounds which require an obligatory connector tu , are composed of two juxtaposed nouns or noun phrases and no conjunction is needed.Subordinate noun phrases are of two kinds: head first and head final. The former is seen in combining the head noun with nominal modifiers, such as possessive pronouns, possessive nouns, demonstratives , and locative phrases. The latter is used in combining the head noun with attributive or verbal modifiers, such as adjectives, numerals, and verbals.

    Kavalan is a a verb-initial language, so the head-first structure is probably the major and unmarked phrasal construction. If so, the head-final noun phrases must exist for a particular reason. My analysis is that the modifiers in the head-final noun phrases, i.e. adjectives, numbers, present and past participles, all have the feature [+V]. That is, they are originally the predicate of a sentence and then get nominalized by adding a nominal marker?ay. The original VP+NP sentential word order is still kept in the newly-formed noun phrase, and thus generates the head-final structure.

    Focus plays an important role in Kavalan sentences, which are either agent-focused (AF) or patient-focused (PF). The subject is the only position for a focused NP and the case marking of the subject is in agreement with the AF-PF affixations of the main verb in the sentence. Other pieces of evidence proving the subject to be the only focused NP of a sentence are that only the subject NP can occur in the focused postion in emphatic sentences, undergo wh-movements, or be modified by relative clauses.



Author: Aili Hsin
Genre: Article