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Cholticha Bamgroongraks

Ph.D. Dissertation, 1987


It is more and more widely accepted that a sentence grammar cannot work well without the realization that it is part of a discourse grammar. Recent linguistic investigations into actual and functional use have shown that there are numerous ways in which syntactic configurations of sentences in natural languages are affected by discourse contexts. It is the aim of this study to survey, by means of Sukhothai inscriptions, the occurrence of zero noun phrases in Sukhothai Thai (STT), which was used as a language of administration by Thai people ca. seven hundred years ago, to determine how zero noun phrases are distributed in this ancient language. The task will first try to synthesize the notion of 'topic' and broadly define it as 'what the utterance(s) is (are) about', and two types of topics are distinguished, i.e., sentence topics and discourse topics. The relationship between topic and discourse, and that between discourse and pragmatic factors, are also illustrated. Then zero noun phrases in STT are divided into two groups, i.e., topic zero noun phrases and non-topic zero noun phrases. In spite of the basic requirement that every zero noun phrase must be identified, its referential recoverability may entail either the domain of the single sentence or a large unit of discourse in which pragmatic factors are of concern. In addition, in an important departure from recent habits of syntactic analysis, the study attempts to show that, in the interpretation of zero noun phrases in STT, there is a direct relationship between the topic chain and subsequent coreferential zero noun phrases. Finally, on identifying zero noun phrases in this language of the Tai family, a set of principles is proposed, in which the notion of 'precedence' is a prerequisite in the construal of zero anaphors. The examination of zero noun phrases in this study proves that the occurrence of these phenomena in this language relies heavily on discourse factors which require both linguistic and non-linguistic accounts to make their identification possible. Therefore, STT is best described as a discourse-oriented language.

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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