Year of publication
- What is typology? - a short note (2001)
- It is often assumed that the goal of typology is to define the notion ‘possible human language’. This view, which I call the Universalist Typology view is shared, for example, by virtually all contributors to Bynon & Shibatani’s 1995 volume Approaches to Language Typology, and by Moravscik in her review of this volume in Linguistic Typology 1 (p.105). In the following I claim that this assumption is fundamentally mistaken. To clarify the theoretical status of what is meant by ‘possible human language’, I argue here for a distinction between typological theory (theoretical typology) and grammatical theory (theoretical syntax and theoretical morphology) as distinct subdisciplines of linguistics.
- Verb agreement and epistemic marking : a typological journey from the Himalayas to the Caucasus (2008)
- Studies of the epistemic categories expressed in Tibetan auxiliaries and copulas have mostly compared the phenomena with mirativity marking, and this is no doubt the correct comparandum in diachronic research. However, synchronic descriptions are also often tempted to compare the relevant categories with agreement systems or similar reference-related structures, at least for expository purposes when explaining how the system works (e. g. Denwood 1999, Tournadre 1996, Goldstein et al. 1991).
- Space, territory, and a stupa in Eastern Nepal: exploring Himalayan themes and traces of Bon (2000)
- Recent research has adduced growing evidence for a distinct stratum of cultural practices that underlies various "tribal" traditions in the Himalayan region and that also seems to be characteristic of various local versions of the Bon tradition. Bon literature is not uncommonly embedded in cultural patterns that are more specifically Himalayan than belonging to the greater South Asian heritage. Two aspects of this that have received attention in Ramble's (1997) study of a Bon guide to the sacred Kong-po mountain (rKong-po bon- ri) are the symbolism of wild boar hunting involved in marriage rituals and poison cults with their corresponding beliefs about poisoning. Another pattern of cultoral organization that may help better understand the Bon tradition against its Himalayan background is spatial conceptualization.
- Rhythm and feet in Belhare morphology (1998)
- In Belhare (Sino-Tibetan, Nepal), consonant prothesis at morpheme boundaries and deletion of stem "augments" is found if either metrical or morphological parsing would violate the bimoraic trochee pattern that underlies the stress system of the language. This finding corroborates Dresher & Lahiri’s (1991) "Principle of Metrical Coherence" and provides new evidence for the cross-linguistic applicability of Crowhurst’s (1994) "Tautomorphemic Foot" constraint. The data also support a view of the Prosodic Hierarchy as weakly layered, allowing consonants to be directly dominated by the foot or word node if they are prothetic and do not therefore need feature licensing within the syllable canon.
- Relatives à antécédent interne, nominalisation et focalisation : entre syntaxe et morphologie en bélharien (1995)
- Par contraste avec le construction prénominales, la relative nominalisée à antécédent interne n'est attestée dans la région himalayenne qu'en tibétain.
- Prosodic tautomorphemicity in Sino-Tibetan (2003)
- Sino-Tibetan is a prime example of how strongly a language family can typologically diversify under the pressure of areal spread features (Matisoff 1991, 1999). One of the manifestation of this is the average length of prosodic words. In Southeast Asia, prosodic words tend to average on one or one-and-a-half syllables. In the Himalayas, by contrast, it is not uncommon to encounter prosodic words containing five to ten syllables. The following pair of examples illustrates this.
- Principles of event framing : genetic stability in grammar and discourse (1999)
- Ever since Wilhelm von Humboldt’s (1836) pioneering study of Nahuatl, linguists have recurrently recognized that languages differ fundamentally in the syntactic weight they attribute to noun-phrases as the arguments of a verb. Currently, the most prominent attempts to turn this intuition into a precise hypothesis revolve around the notion of ‘configurationality’.
- On the scope of the referential hierarchy in the typology of grammatical relations (2008)
- In the late seventies, Bernard Comrie was one of the first linguists to explore the effects of the referential hierarchy (RH) on the distribution of grammatical relations (GRs). The referential hierarchy is also known in the literature as the animacy, empathy or indexibability hierarchy and ranks speech act participants (i.e. first and second person) above third persons, animates above inanimates, or more topical referents above less topical referents. Depending on the language, the hierarchy is sometimes extended by analogy to rankings of possessors above possessees, singulars above plurals, or other notions. In his 1981 textbook, Comrie analyzed RH effects as explaining (a) differential case (or adposition) marking of transitive subject ("A") noun phrases in low RH positions (e.g. inanimate or third person) and of object ("P") noun phrases in high RH positions (e.g. animate or first or second person), and (b) hierarchical verb agreement coupled with a direct vs. inverse distinction, as in Algonquian (Comrie 1981: Chapter 6).
- Nominalization and focus constructions in some Kiranti languages (2006)
- It is well-known that in many if not most Sino-Tibetan languages relative clause and attribute/genitive markers are identical with nominalization devices and that sentences bearing such markers can also function as independent utterances (cf. Matisoff 1972, Kölver 1977, DeLancey 1989, Genetti 1992, Ebert 1994, Bickel 1995, Noonan 1997, etc.). This morphological convergence of syntactic functions, which we may dub the ‘Standard Sino-Tibetan Nominalization’ (SSTN) pattern, is particularly prominent in some languages spoken in the eastern and southeastern part of the Kirant because these languages not only feature prenominal relative clauses, but also allow, albeit as a minor type, internally headed constructions.