M.A. Theses in Linguistics at the University of North Dakota (Abstracts)
Gainer, Karen L. 2008
Constituent Order and Participant Reference in Dolnia Hani Narrative Discourse
Hani is a language in the Loloish family, spoken primarily in Yunnan Province of southwest China. This thesis presents a description of constituent order and participant reference in written Hani narrative discourse. The primary data source for this thesis consists of three narratives, which are included in the appendices.
Constituent order in Hani is largely constrained by the principle of natural information flow. In order to conform to this principle, some constituents may appear in two or more different positions in the clause, depending on the information structure of the assertion being made. Information structure also influences the use and non-use of the ablative case marker.
Referents in Hani may be encoded as zero, with pronominal forms, or as lexical NPs. The default encodings of referents in various contexts are first presented, and then the variations from default encodings are considered. Greater-than-default encoding occurs at discontinuities and in order to highlight the information which follows.
Lexical NPs may be encoded as indefinite, definite, with demonstratives, or be unmarked for definiteness. NPs encoded as definite are salient in the ongoing narrative. The proximal and distal demonstratives are used with reference to the text-internal world in ways which parallel their functions in the text-external world, indicating that referents are near the center of attention of a narrative or away from it, respectively.
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