Tokelauan syntax studies in the sentence structure of a Polynesian language

by Sharples, Peter R.

Abstract (Summary)
A fairly comprehensive treatment of the main features of Tokelauan sentence structure is the central aim. The syntactic analysis is presented within a framework which is an adaptation of Chomsky's 'Standard Theory' but special consideration is given to the problem of squaring a grammar based on formal evidence with a functionally-based analysis of sentences. The principal modification to the Standard Theory is the readoption of kernel sentences and generalized transformations, i.e. a partial reversion to the transformational model proposed in Chomsky's Syntactic Structures. Thus, the output of the base rules is a set of simple sentence structures, with no embeddings. The treatment of other aspects of Tokelauan included in this analysis are described below in a brief synopsis of each chapter. Chapter 1 is introductory, serving to locate the language, place and the people of Tokelau. Previous discussions of the position of Tokelauan within the Polynesian group are reviewed, and a basic vocabulary list is provided together with Cognate percentages shared by Tokelauan of Samoan, Nanumean Ellice and Sikaiana. The aims and scope of this analysis are then discussed in the context of a brief survey of earlier syntactic studies of Polynesian languages, and of the various grammatical models applied to Polynesian or developed in recent theoretical work on syntax and semantics. Chapters 2 and 3 are essentially referential, presenting lists of all the grammatical elements and rules to be discussed in later chapters. Chapter 2 has two parts. In Part 1 the segmental phonemes of Tokelauan are described, along with the practical problems associated with the choice of orthographic symbols. In Part 2 the functor (grammatical) morphemes of Tokelauan are listed and their uses exemplified. Chapter 3 lists the categorial rules of the base component and some transformational rules. Chapters 4-6 discuss evidence for and against the formal analysis outlined in 3. Chapter 4 treats the major categorial (phrase structure) rules, stating the procedures used to determine immediate constituents, and defending potentially controversial parts of the analysis against alternatives. Formal and functional analyses are made independently, then compared. In Chapter 5, certain transformational rules of Tokelauan are examined with illustrative examples. The final chapter is in two distinct but related parts. First the grounds on which Hohepa based his ergative-accusative classification of Polynesian languages are summarised, and reviewed in relation to the evidence of Tokelauan. One result is a rejection of the concepts of direct object (and so, of transitivity) and of an active-passive transformation a s significant grammatical relations in Tokelauan. The later sections examine certain functional relations associated with the constituent analysis of sentences particularly the functions of case markers. This exercise provides a framework for verb classification in Tokelauan.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Andrew Pawley

School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:fields of research 370000 studies in human society 370300 anthropology


Date of Publication:01/01/1976

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