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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Hidden Structure of Thai Noun Phrases Add Dissertation
Author: Peter Jenks Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Harvard University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2011
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics; Syntax;
Director(s): Maria Polinsky
Gennaro Chierchia
C.T. James Huang

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the structure and interpretation of noun
phrases in Thai and other classifier languages, focusing particular
attention on whether Thai contains the same articulated functional
architecture as languages with articles. I argue that while bare nouns in
Thai do not project DP, DPs are projected in other constructions involving
classifiers, and that this DP functions as a phase for cyclic spell-out. It
is argued that Thai DPs involve the obligatory movement of the NP,
accounting for their noun-initial word order.

A uniform analysis of clausal modification within the noun phrase is
provided, driven by an analysis of the particle 'thii' as a
complementizer that derives properties from clauses, with the use of
'thii' in relative clauses being one instance of this use. The analysis
of Thai bare nouns as NPs and 'thii' as a relative complementizer are
reconciled with a head-movement analysis of Thai relative clauses,
motivated by empirical considerations. Under this analysis, noun-complement
clauses are analyzed as modifiers, on par with relative clauses. The
property-operator analysis of 'thii' is suggested to extend to its
occurrence in clefts and infinitival clauses as well.

A further construction is investigated in which modifiers do not combine
directly with nouns, but instead follow classifiers, resulting in a
definite interpretation. This construction provides evidence for a null
determiner in Thai, which is argued to take modifiers as complements,
either as CPs or as small clauses. The general prohibition against bare
classifiers in Thai, alleviated by the presence of modifiers following
classifiers, is argued to follow from a structural economy constraint which
prefers definite bare nouns to definite bare classifiers. It is argued that
this constraint can also provide a principled account for which classifier
languages do and do not allow bare classifiers to occur with nouns.

The ability of quantifiers and their accompanying classifiers to appear
discontinuously from their associated noun, or quantifier float, is the
final major topic of this dissertation. Scope facts lend themselves to an
analysis of quantifier float as a byproduct of Quantifier Raising, the
normal movement of quantificational noun phrases to their scope position.
Thus, quantifier float is analyzed as movement of the entire DP, with the
quantifier and noun occurring in different positions due to the conflicting
semantic transparency requirements. A generalization about the
availability of quantifier float in classifier languages is presented: only
languages in which quantifiers follow nouns allow rightward quantifier
float. In light of the proposed analysis, this generalization provides
evidence that DP is a phase even in languages that lack articles.