Wednesday, May 27, 2009

VOG Update: Mood and Modality

Just completed first draft of the English introduction to the section on mood and modality. More work is necessary-and of course-the Vietnamese data are still missing, but it's a start

Introduction to Mood and Modality

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Revised pages on Noun-Phrase Structure

I have revised and extended the discussion of both prenominal and postnominal modification in NP, reordering the discussion of postnominal constituents to reflect canonical word order. Much more still needs to be added, of course. As ever all comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Update 16/04/09 Ellipsis, Gapping, etc

Before the Easter break, I was working on another pet topic: ellipsis and anaphora. With Trang's help, I've managed to make some progress in understanding these phenomena, or at least in realizing some of the differences. The interim conclusions are now! that Vietnamese doesn't allow VPE, Gapping, or ACD (though there are some interesting exceptions to this), and that the structures corresponding to Sluicing in Vietnamese tend to support an alternative analysis of the English cases also (perhaps along the lines of Culicover & Jackendoff 2005). The discussion is spread across two pages (I'm trying to restrict each section to ca 150 lines of html code):

As always, comments are most welcome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Update 25/03/09

Some curious facts about ellipsis. I've just written up parts of the ellipsis section: with a brief discussion of VP-ellipsis, Gapping, Sluicing, ACDs etc. It seems that Vietnamese permits the first two, an interesting variant on the third, but disallows the fourth. If these facts are true, they tell us something valuable about standard analyses of sluicing (they're wrong!) and my initial assumptions about ellipsis in Vietnamese (Duffield 2007), which is probably incorrect as well...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Demonstratives: interpretation thereof

Until a few hours ago, I had assumed that the only difference in the interpretation of demonstrative systems had to do with whether systems employed two-way, or three-way, systems: two-way, like English here/there, this/that, etc vs. three-way like Japanese kore/sore/are etc (or non-standard varieties of English here/there/yon, this/that/thon). However, it turns out that there are interpretive differences between non-standard English and Japanese: whereas selection of this/that/thon is determined only with respect to the object relative to the speaker in NSE, the presence and position of the addressee is relevant as well. For example, in a situation where an unrecognized object is placed 1 metre from an addressee and 3 metres from the speaker, the Japanese speaker may ask:
Sore wa nan desu ka? "What is that?"
However, if the addressee were absent, the Japanese speaker might then ask herself:
Are wa nan desu ka? "What is that (distal)?"
No such contrast arises in NSE, or I suspect Spanish (este/eso/aquello): the more distal form is only used where the distance increases.
This raises the question: how do things work with này/đó/kia?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Update 17/3/09 Causativization

Today I've started a particularly challenging section on transitivity/GF-changing by dealing with an easy extra: synthetic causatives. Hopefully, the more interesting content will come in the next few days...

To view the new section, click here:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


In order to let you know what's going on and also draw some more attention to this site, I've decided to start posting news of recent changes to the Online Grammar. So here goes...
In the last week I've created and/or substantially revised content relating to:

plus several more or less descriptive sections on:

As ever, if you see anything of interest, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ordering and position of adverbials

I'm currently writing up a section that will compare Vietnamese with Chinese with respect to Huang's Postverbal Structure Constraint, which disallows the order v-NP-ADVP, where the NP is a bare non-referential object and ADVP is one of a set of adverbials expressing Frequency, Duration, Result or Manner. Leaving aside the issue of whether this constitutes a natural class of expressions, the main goal is to discover whether VN shows reflexes of this PSC. To get there, though, and for other reasons, it's useful to establish the normal order of adverbs where they appear pre-verbally, as well as post-verbally

Here's the text I'd like some help with:

First, Huang observes that—with the exception of a specific class of adverbial modifiers—adjunct phrases precede their heads. This is illustrated by the example in (9) (Huang's [5]):

(9) Zhangsan zuotian zai jiali toutou-de da-le yi-ge dianhua.
Zhangsan yesterday at home secretly do-Perf one-CL telephone
'Zhangsan made a telephone call secretly at home yesterday.'

The accompanying text implies that this word order Subject-Time-Place-subject-oriented-Manner-Main Verb} is obligatory, and that normal adverbials—that is to say, other than those elements discussed immediately below)—cannot appear postverbally. If this is the case, then this would seem to diverge from what is found in Vietnamese, where the order of normal adjuncts appears to be considerably freer: see section NN. However, since the order given in (9) is at least possible in Vietnamese,...

Is this so?

...we may temporarily ignore this difference, since the crucial point about adverb placement in Chinese relates to the cases given in (10) below (Huang's [9]) involving so-called FDRM elements (adverbs expressing Frequency, Duration, Result, or Manner). In such cases, the adverbials are obligatorily placed post-verbally:

(10) a. Zhangsan pao-le liang ci.
Zhangsan run-Perf two time
'Zhangsan ran twice.'

b. Zhangsan pao-le liang tian.
Zhangsan run-Perf two day [sic]
'Zhangsan ran two hours.'

c. Zhangsan pao-de hen lei.
Zhangsan run-RM very tired
'Zhangsan ran and got tired.'

d. Zhangsan pao-de hen kuai.
Zhangsan run-RM very fast
'Zhangsan runs fast.'

Q: do the corresponding adverbial types necessarily appear post-verbally in Vietnamese? (My admittedly very weak intuition is that—at least for (b) and (d)—these adverbials may also appear preverbally, as long as there is some type of heavy object. Can any native-speaker confirm or reject this?)