Friday, April 21, 2017  |  2:30p  |  Moore Hall 575 (LING Conference Room)

manoasealMorphology and syntax of gerunds in Truku Seediq: A third function of Austronesian “voice” morphology

Mayumi Oiwa-Bungard, Linguistics

Chairs: Robert Blust, Yuko Otsuka

This dissertation is the first account of gerund constructions in Truku Seediq, an Austronesian language spoken in Taiwan with a Philippine-type voice system. Gerunds are an in-between syntactic category exhibiting both prototypically nominal characteristics and prototypically sentential characteristics. They are event- or state-denoting and derived by a productive nominalization process applied to verbal stems.

The aims of this dissertation are to provide a detailed morphosyntactic analysis of Truku gerunds and to seek the historical origins of their morphology. Careful investigation unveils an array of both prototypically nominal and prototypically sentential features associated with the construction, confirming previous cross-linguistic characterization of gerunds. They also manifest typologically unique patterns, such as an interaction with external possession and limitations on voice alternation.

Gerunds in Truku are derived via highly polysemous morphemes. Markers for indicative gerunds also function as voice markers and thematic nominalizers. An identical pattern of reduplication not only creates subjunctive gerunds but also marks futurity and derives means/manner nominalizations. Despite surface similarities, I demonstrate these functions to be distinct from one another on semantic, distributional, and syntactic grounds.

I propose probable scenarios for the development of Truku gerund markers based on their reconstructed functions in the proto language and cross-linguistic comparisons at the diachronic level. Upon scrutiny, it becomes apparent that Seediq added new functions to two sets of preexisting morphemes: voice markers/ thematic nominalizers (indicative gerund formation) and a pattern of reduplication (subjunctive gerund formation). Both can be traced back to Proto-Austronesian and are widely reflected in its daughter languages. Nevertheless, these innovations are unique to Seediq. They are most likely independent innovations.

In spite of distinct origins, indicative and subjunctive gerund markers underwent comparable lines of change that conspired to expand the verbal paradigm of the language. This change involved loss of thematic orientation and a semantic shift towards denotation of events rather than entities. Simultaneously, the original functions of the morphemes were left intact, yielding an unusual level of morphological polysemy.