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Krishna Pradhan

Ph.D. Dissertation, 1982


(1) Nepali is a SOV language; it was postpositions; modifiers including genitives precede modified; relational markers follow property markers; word order in statements and questions is invariant; and the order of multiple duplicate questions is strictly SOV. The concepts of new/unknown vs. old information explain variant orders like OSV. The former concept is termed focus. Focus is normally placed next to the verb. Q-words have focus, which explains why a q-word and the corresponding response have the same position. (2) The morphological processes of causativization and passivization augment and decrease, respectively, the valency of both transitive and intransitive verbs. Causatives are either affixal, periphrastic simple, or periphrastic double. Two semantic parameters (manipulative-directive and direct-mediated causation) distinguish them; affixal causatives imply manipulative and direct causation; periphrastic simple causatives imply directive and direct causation; whereas periphrastic double causatives imply directive and mediated causation. The passive formation in Nepali has a very general distribution, and has no effect on the word order. However, some situations must be described by the passive only, and others by active. There are also restrictions on the specification of the agent. (3) Grammatical relations--subject, DO and IO--and semantic relations--agent, patient, theme, force, and recipient--are necessary to specify the arguments in a clause. The former is governed by verb-agreement, word order, and case marking; the latter is defined by the paired features source-goal, cause-effect, and controller-controlled. (4) The markers that often realize these relations are /-le/ and /-lai/. /-le/ marks the entity with the feature [+ cause]. Thus, force, instrument, and agent all have /-le/. However, /-le/- marking with agents is influenced by factors like transitivity, (+OR-) human, aspect, and modality. In one-object sentences, animate objects are marked with /-lai/. But processes like animatization and deanimatization produce converse situations. In two-object sentences only the IO is marked with /-lai/. Experiencers also have /-lai/. This reveals a dichotomy of action-prominence vs. event-prominence and the concept of directionality in Nepali at the discourse level. This phenomenon neatly ties in with the peculiarities of the passive and happen- vs. do clauses.

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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