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Auteur: Fuhui HSIEH

Sentential Complexity and Cognition: The Paiwan Case

Abstract/Résumé: In many languages of the world, several verb sequences are frequently found to combine to form a single predicate, the so-called multi-verb constructions (MVCs) (Aikhenvald 2011:1). Three major types of MVCs are found in Paiwan, a Formosan language spoken in the southern part of Taiwan. They are (i) serial verb constructions (SVCs), (ii) the clause-chaining construction, or called cosubordination, and (iii) Auxiliary constructions. These Paiwan MVCs vary in forms and meanings; nonetheless, they share some critical functions and syntactic features in common; they form a single predicate, denoting what is conceptualized as one single event and share at least one argument, one single TAM, one single polarity value. Nevertheless, each Paiwan MVC has its own structural and functional characteristics. Moreover, unlike coordination and subordination, the three types of Paiwan MVCs code situations in which there is a high degree of event integration, defined by participant sharing and co-temporality. This study has found that the events coded in these MVCs have a tighter connectivity in semantics than those coded in coordination or subordination, and that the syntactic dependencies among the clauses that code these events are stronger than those in other complex clauses. The syntactic coding of the events in these Paiwan MVCs may therefore echo with isomorphism between semantic-pragmatic connectivity and syntactic dependecy (Givon 2001; Radden & Dirven 2007). The main purpose of this study is three-fold: (i) to investigate the morphosyntactic and functional aspects of the Paiwan MVCs, with particular attention addressed to some unsolved issues surrounding Paiwan MVCs; (ii) to situate these MVCs in the grammatical profile of the languages; and (iii) to compare them with other complex clauses along the Interclausal Relations Hierarchy proposed by Van Valin & LaPolla (1997:481). Such a study may help to better understand how each MVC interact with each other within the language, and delineate a possible pathway of the historical development of syntactic complexity (Aikenvald 2011:22). Moreover, as pointed out by Givon (2009a:9), in the study of syntactic complexity, "[t]wo related possible isomorphisms concern us here, one between language and mind, and other between mind and brain." References Aikhenvald, A. Y. 2011. Multi-verb constructions: Setting the scene. In Multi-verb Constructions, ed. by A. Y. Aikhenvald and P.C. Muysken, 1-26. Brill. Givon, T. 2009. Introduction. In Syntactic Complexity, ed. by T. Givon and M. Shibatani, 1-19. John Benjamins. Givon, T. 2001. Syntax. John Benjamins. Radden, G., and R. Dirven. 2007. Cognitive English Grammar. John Benjamins. Van Valin, R., and R. LaPolla. 1997. Syntax. Cambridge U. P.