SUKHOTHAI THAI AS A DISCOURSE-ORIENTED LANGUAGE: EVIDENCE FROM ZERO NOUN PHRASES
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.
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