More on Noun Phrase structure

Another thing I think I figured out recently was the constraints on Bardi noun phrase discontinuity. It is possible to have discontinuous noun phrases, but they are quite rare. I need to test this further, but it looks like there is real ‘discontinuity’. There are four constructions where co-referential material appears separated by other phrasal material:

  1. Afterthought constructions. These aren’t real discontinuities, since they have a different intonation contour.
  2. Secondary predication. These aren’t real discontinuities either. Bardi has both depictive and resultative secondary predicates, though I don’t have much data on them.
  3. Quantifier float’: Bardi has something like quantifier float, where quantifiers such as niimana ‘many’, numerals, and a few other things, can end up separated from the noun phrase they belong to by the verb.
  4. Focus fronting: This looks like the only case of real discontinuity. It’s possible to focus parts of noun phrases by placing the focused element at the front of the clause and leaving the rest of the NP where it would have otherwise been. So, you can say things like “two my friend caught yesterday big fish” (for “my friend caught TWO big fish yesterday”) or “how many did you know that my friend fish caught yesterday” – yep, you can front stuff from embedded clauses, which is a *really* good argument that those clauses are embedded, incidentally.

This work was spurred on in part by Eva Schultze-Berndt’s work on Jaminjung discontinuities (or lack thereof) and wondering how similar (or different) Bardi might be. It seems (from my memory of Eva’s work) that Bardi and Jaminjung differ here, both in the range of secondary predication that they allow (though my examples aren’t very numerous) and in the focus fronting.

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2 responses to “More on Noun Phrase structure

  1. I wonder if Slavic languages have that kind of construction where the quantifier is fronted out of the NP of an embedded clause. ASL has a limited number of constructions with quantifier fronting (e.g., [how-]many you have children for how many children do you have or you have many children), but to my knowledge no work has been done on extracting that quantifier from an embedded clause. I also wonder if it can happen in Bardi with embeddings under non-bridge verbs.

  2. I’ll check about the non-bridge verbs. I don’t think I have any textual data about this.

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