27.5004, Diss: Reciprocal constructions in Meitei and Nyishi

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LINGUIST List: Vol-27-5004. Wed Dec 07 2016. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 27.5004, Diss: Reciprocal constructions in Meitei and Nyishi

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Date: Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:58:26
From: Atanu Saha [atanu.jnu at gmail.com]
Subject: Reciprocal constructions in Meitei and Nyishi

 Institution: Jawaharlal Nehru University 
Program: Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2015 

Author: Atanu Saha

Dissertation Title: Reciprocal constructions in Meitei and Nyishi 

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Language Family(ies): Sino-Tibetan

Dissertation Director(s):
Ayesha Kidwai

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis explores three interesting questions arising from the intriguing
cross- linguistic perspective of Meiteilon and Nyishi. The first question is
related to develop a model for the syntax and semantics of these verbal
reciprocal languages. Secondly, the thesis attempts to provide an account for
the surface variations among the languages by the model. The thesis also tries
to build an account for the co-occurrences of the nominal and verbal
reciprocals in languages like Meiteilon and Nyishi.  
I have concluded that the syntax and the semantics of reciprocals have to be
derived compositionally. I have supported the claims made by Faller (2007) and
Yamada (2010) that reciprocity is a complex construction built up on more
primitive operations in a language in spite of the surface variations. At the
level of semantics, reciprocity comprises of three functions namely:
reflexivization, irreflexivization and an n* pluralization depending upon the

I have also argued that the discontinuous reciprocals require separate
treatments from their canonical reciprocal counter parts by treating the
discontinuous constructions as transitives following Dimitriadis (2004). In
case of co-occurrences of the nominal reciprocals with verbal reciprocals, I
have argued that the nominal reciprocal markers pair-Merge for a
collective-distributive distinction. I have shown that the nominal markers are
barred with symmetric and discontinuous reciprocalization. 

With regards to the binding facts, I have shown that canonical reciprocals in
Meiteilon and Nyishi only allows for local binding. Meiteilon shows long
distance binding with the verbal reciprocal, if a reflexive pronoun occurs in
embedded clause. Nyishi does not allow reflexives to occupy such positions and
hence it does not allow a non-local reading. Both the languages show long
distance binding of reciprocals under two conditions: a) if the embedded
clause is non-finite or b) an overt nominal reciprocal marker is present in
the embedded clause. 

Finally, the dissertation has tried to establish [u-group] as a universal
feature F, by considering Meiteilon and Nyishi reciprocals on the basis of the
morphological evidences presented in this work.


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