Hindi and Gujarati discontinuous NPs

Bob Eaton pete_dembrowski at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 26 15:28:27 UTC 2008

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> I'm preparing a paper on discontinuous NPs (DNP) in some Indian languages. > I got two sets of data that I would be interested in judgements from > native speakers. It concerns discontinuous NPs in Hindi and Gujarati, I > got conflicting judgements from different people, but unfortunately some > of them were not-quite-native speakers. Still, even between native > speakers there seems to be some variation. I just would like to know how > widespread this variation is...> > Here's the set of Hindi sentences I need more judgements for. Keep in mind > that the construction might be quite marked and that it probably needs a > proper context for being acceptable. If so, just imagine any context you > like... (Maybe the left peripheral noun should be read as a contrastive > topic, but it's really up to you.)> > kitaabeN us-ne xariidiiN bahut acchii> books-FEM he-ERG buy.PST many.FEM> "He bought many books."> > baccoN-ne kal kai yah gaanaa gaayaa thaa> children-ERG yesterday many this song sing.PERF be.PST> "Many children sang this song yesterday."> > bacce kal kai yah gaanaa gaayeN ge> children tomorrow many this song sing fut> "Many children will sing this song tomorrow."
I asked my language consultant (a retired principle of a mission school in Palampur, HP) about these sentences and she had some doubts about coming up with a scenario where they would work.
I assume you got them from instances of actual speech or written materials?
Anyway, she suggested that the following would not be too unusual:
baccoN-ne kai kal yah gaanaa gaayaa thaa
children-ERG many yesterday this song sing.PERF be.PST
This might occur if the speaker perceived that the listener misjudged the reference to 'children'. In that case, the speaker might add 'kai' at the end of the subject noun phrase as a "clarification" (cf. the way we might say, "The children, several of them, had sung this song yesterday"). But even then, she felt that it really couldn't go on the other side of 'yesterday'; at least, not without a lot of intonational accompaniment to disambiguate... e.g. longish 'comma-like' pauses to indicate that this word doesn't go with the current noun phrase (i.e. *'many this song').
Now she may not be the best person to judge this not having had formal training in linguistics or whatever, but she is used to me poking around "pragmatically marked" orders, so I'd guess she's better than the average person to judge this.
Back to work after baby–how do you know when you’re ready?
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