LINGUIST List 14.3364

Sat Dec 6 2003

Sum: Tagalog Linking Particle

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. Rose Thomas, Summary: Tagalog linking particle

Message 1: Summary: Tagalog linking particle

Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2003 10:30:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Rose Thomas <>
Subject: Summary: Tagalog linking particle

On November 26th, I posted a request for information about the Tagalog
linking particle -ng,-g, na (Linguist 14.3256). I would like to thank
the following for replying: Prof. Loren Billings (National Chi Nan
University, Taiwan), Fay Wouk (Auckland, NZ), Corazon Dadufalza
(University of Asia and the PAcific, Metro Manila, Philippines),
Robert Truswell (Oxford, UK), Veronica Gerassimova (Stanford, US),
Albert Ortmann (Tuebingen, Germany), Angelo Mercado (UCLA, US), Raph
Mercado(McGill University, Montreal, Canada) and Anja Latrouite.

One thing is immediately clear - the particle is not used to indicate
the predicative function of adjectives. My correspondents all pointed
out that a sentence like ''the land is far'' would be ''malayo ang
bayan'', where ''ang'' is a topic marker. The linking particle would
not play a role here. It was also pointed out that the same particle
is used to mark relative and subordinate clauses, e.g ''the house that
I saw'' is:

nakita ko -ng bahay
saw I-linker house =''the house that I saw''

Again, it is possible for a different word order to occur, and for the
particle to be attached to the noun, while the relative clause occurs
after it. It appears that there are differences in meaning between the
orders. Angelo Mercado, a native speaker, informs me that according to
his intuitions, ''malayo -ng bayan'' means ''distant land'', while
''bayan - g malayo'' means ''land that is distant''. For relative
clauses, the order in which the noun comes first appears to be the
unmarked order, for instance:

tindahan - ng pinutahan ko
store -linker went I = ''the store which I went to''


pinutahan ko - ng tindahan
went I- linker store 

has a meaning something like ''(go to)the place where I went which is
a store'' (examples supplied by Loren Billings).

This evidence seems to indicate that the particle is used to mark
modification, and may even be the morphological realisation of a
type-shift operation that turns whatever it is attached to into a
functor over a one-place predicate, i.e the noun (this was suggested
by Albert Ortmann).

Robert Truswell suggested that the construction may, syntactically be
realised by a projection headed by a particle dominating a small
clause, which allows either one of the two elements of the small
clause to move to its specifier.

The following literature was recommended:

Zamparelli, R (2000) Layers in the determiner phrase.New York, Garland.

Sproat, R & Shih, C.L (1991) The cross-linguistic distribution of
adjective ordering restrictions. In ''interdisciplinary approaches to
language: essays in honour of S.Y Kuroda'', Georgopoulos C & Ishihara
R (eds.) Dordrecht, Kluwer.

Ortmann, Albert (2000) The morphological licensing of modifiers. In
Proceedings of the Western Conference on Linguistics, Vol. 12,
WECOL. Vida Samiian (ed.) California State University, Fresno.

Schachter & Otanes (1972) Tagalog Reference grammar (University of
California Press)

Dell, Francois C. (1981) On certain sentential complements in
Tagalog''. Philippine Journal of Linguistics, 12 (1) 11-28.

Deterding, David H. & Poedjosoedarmo, Gloria R. (2001) The Grammar of
Tagalog. In: The grammar of English; morphology and syntax for
English teachers in Southeast Asia (same authors). Prentice Hall,

Kroeger, Paul (1993) Phrase structure and grammatical relations in
Tagalog. Standord, CSLI publications.

Foley, Bill (1976) Comparative Syntax in Austronesian. Ph.D
dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.

Subject-Language: Tagalog; Code: TGL 
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