Academic journal article Linguistic Discovery

Locative-Related Roles and the Argument-Adjunct Distinction in Balinese

Academic journal article Linguistic Discovery

Locative-Related Roles and the Argument-Adjunct Distinction in Balinese

Article excerpt

1. Introduction (1)

This paper discusses the distinction between arguments and adjuncts in Balinese (Austronesian, 3 million speakers, spoken mainly in Bali, Indonesia), focussing on the realisations of locative-related roles. While Balinese is in general well-studied (Artawa 1994; Clynes 1995; Arka 2003), issues associated with argument-adjunct distinction have not been investigated in any considerable depth in previous studies of this language. The findings reported in this paper reveal some progress in our understanding of the argument-adjunct distinction in Balinese, as well as confirmation of the nature and known complexity of variables involved in determining grammatical relations, in particular animacy, specificity and individuation (Silverstein 1976; Comrie 1989; Kittila 2008, among others).

Locative-related roles in Balinese are of special interest because they can be realised in a variety of syntactic functions; as arguments (subject, object, and oblique), as well as adjuncts. Balinese has voice and applicative alternations, which provide an opportunity to observe which properties are involved when locative alternations are either permitted or prohibited in specific instances. In addition, Balinese allows multiple locatives in a single clause. This gives an interesting insight into the competition between NPs with identical semantic roles in syntactic argument mapping, an area not well explored in the previous research into the argument-adjunct distinction. These questions are discussed in detail in this paper.

The claim verified in this paper is that locative-related expressions in different functions provide evidence for the gradient nature of argumenthood (Langacker 1987; Aarts 2007). On the basis of argument index calculation--a simple, novel means to assess argument status that is further discussed in section 3--it is shown that there is no clear-cut argument-adjunct distinction. As an argument type close to adjuncts, obliques show mixed characteristics in Balinese. Obliques appear argument-like on the basis of their general properties of argument-structure, whereas on the basis of language-specific behavioural properties, obliques appear adjunct-like. Role thematicity (thematic vs. non-thematic) crosscuts the argument-adjunct distinction, giving rise to different types of arguments and adjuncts. It is shown that thematic adjuncts are more recruitable as arguments than non-thematic adjuncts. The semantic and spatial properties of animacy, relative specificity, individuation and deixis are also important: locatives expressing general space or spatial (deictic) relators or spatial frames, e.g. samping 'side of' and beten 'down', are real adjuncts and as such not recruitable as arguments, while animate locatives are recruitable as arguments. The implication of this study for linguistic theory is that, while it is useful to distinguish arguments (subject, object, obliques) from adjuncts, the two categories are not to be taken as discrete, and that for language-specific purposes, one might have more fine-grained categories, capturing intermediate positions such as semi-core and semi-obliques/semi-adjuncts. In addition, given that properties such as specificity and animacy may come from syntactic dependents (i.e. they are not always entailed by head predicates), the argument-adjunct status of an XP dependent cannot always be determined by the lexical properties of the head. The distinction is ultimately determined by the interaction of these properties with the properties of the XP dependent. Thus, a purely lexically based projectionist approach to syntactic argument structures cannot be maintained.

The paper is organised as follows. After an overview of Balinese morphosyntax in section 2, the method of assessing argument status is outlined in section 3. This is followed by the presentation of the main data in section 4, showing the patterns of different realisations of locatives in Balinese and highlighting an array of the underlying semantic-grammatical variables at work. …

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