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From left-branching to right-branching: Syntactic changes in the Hindukush under pressure from languages of wider communication
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, General Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3907-0930
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, General Linguistics.
2014 (English)In: 47th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea: Book of abstracts, Poznań, 2014, 251-252 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In Hindukush languages spoken in the north-western regions of the Indian Subcontinent (particularly Indo-Aryan, sometimes referred to as “Dardic”), a variety of means are available within a complex construction to mark one clause as dependent on another. A subordinate clause may precede the main clause, whereby a complementizer is placed at the end of the subordinate clause: tu kíi baáanu thaní, khooǰóolu. ‘Where are you going? (he) asked‘ (Indo-Aryan Palula), or tu xató hatoɣoót doós reé, buhtuií astám,‘I was afraid that you might give him the letter’ (Indo-Aryan Khowar). A preposed subordinate clause can also be formed with a verbal noun, with or without case marker/postposition: nu ba asaám mhaar-anií the ukháatu de. ‘He had come up to kill us’ (Palula). Pre-nominal participials is another strategy, semantically corresponding to relative clauses in languages such as English: phaí, teeṇíi háa-tam čooṇṭéeli, rumiaál díti híni. ‘The girl gave him a handkerchief which she herself had embroidered’ (Palula). Alternatively, the subordinate clause can be placed after the main clause, in this case often making use of a complementizer ki (or something similar) preceding the subordinate clause: mhéeli i khooǰóolu, ki míi báabu koó. ‘(He) asked: Who is my father?’ (Palula), or, awá buhtaí astám, ki hatoɣóot doós reé. ‘I was afraid that you might give him the letter‘ (Khowar). In a survey covering an area from southern India through parts of southern Pakistan, Hook (1987) observed a significant pattern, whereby the order subordinate – main clause was gradually replaced by the order main clause—subordinate as one moves from the Dravidian South to the Iranian Northwest. While the survey did not include the Hindukush, Bashir (2003: 823), points out that left-branching (i.e. the order subordinate—main clause), like in Dravidian and in the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in their vicinity, is also characteristic of the extreme North of the Subcontinent. Bashir (1996: 177) proposes that left-branching in this northern region has come about as the result of ancient areal influences related to Central Asia, whereas right-branching (i.e. main clause—subordinate) and the use of ki is a feature more recently imported from influential languages spoken in South and West Asia. She further notes that the two constructions are used parallel in Khowar, and that the more recent construction may include the imported marker ki as well as the indigenous (a grammaticalization of ‘say’).In the present study, we investigated interlinear texts in a few Hindukush Indo-Aryan languages (Palula, Kalasha, Pashai, Gilgiti Shina, Kalam Kohistani), empirically testing Bashir‘s suggestion, and found that these, like Khowar, to a varying degree allow both constructions, with the left-branching alternative representing what seems like an older stratum of the languages, whereas the right-branching alternative most likely stems from massive Persian and, more recently, Urdu pressure as influential languages of literacy and wider communication. The distribution across different types of subordination within each language (Noonan 2007; Andrews 2007; Thompson et al. 2007), as well as quantitative differences between the languages in this regard, is presented and discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Poznań, 2014. 251-252 p.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108892OAI: diva2:761416
Societas Linguistica Europaea 2013
Available from: 2014-11-06 Created: 2014-11-06 Last updated: 2014-11-06

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