Constituent order

narayan prasad prasad_cwprs at YAHOO.CO.IN
Fri Mar 7 16:25:13 UTC 2008


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        1.               
    इला ने à¤
नु को हार भेजा।
          2.             
    इला ने हार à¤
नु को भेजा।
          3.             
    हार इला ने à¤
नु को भेजा।
   
  These three sentences have different meanings as well.
  1. (a) Ila sent a necklace to Anu.
  1. (b) Ila sent a necklace (and not something else) to Anu. 
  2. It's Anu to whom Ila sent the necklace.
3. It's Ila who sent the necklace to Anu.
   
  Of course, there will be some stress on the specific word in the speech in case of 1(b), 2 & 3.
   
  << That is, is it possible that if Anu had multiple sons, and the speaker and hearer weren’t already talking about any of them, could this sentence mean that one of her sons sent it to her? >>
   
   But the structure of the sentence indicates that Anu has only one son. In case there are many sons, to be unambiguous one should use बड़े/ मँझले/ सँझले/ कँझले/ छोटे/ बेटे ने
   
  OR the context will decide indefinitess or definiteness.
   
  ----Narayan Prasad
   
  Bob Eaton <pete_dembrowski at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
       
  I have a question about the implications of various constituent orders in Hindi. 
   
  The following example (from T. Mohanan 1994) is considered to be the normal “unmarked” (or “canonical”) order for constituents in Hindi (where S=Subject/कर्ता, O=Object/कर्म, IO=Indirect Object, and V=Verb/क्रिया):
   
          1.               
    इला ने à¤
नु को हार भेजा।
      ilaa
    ne
    anu
    ko
    haaɾ
    bhej-0-aa
      Ila
    erg
    Anu
    DAT
    necklace
    send-perf-ms
      {  S  }
    {  IO }
    {   O  }
    {    V    }
      Ila sent Anu a/the necklace
   
  Notice how the object can have either a definite or indefinite interpretation (i.e. “a necklace” or “the necklace”).  She suggests that if you move the object from this “canonical” position, it loses the indefinite interpretation:
   
          2.             
    इला ने हार à¤
नु को भेजा।
      ilaa
    ne
    haaɾ
    anu
    ko
    bhej-0-aa
      Ila
    erg
    necklace
    Anu
    DAT
    send-perf-ms
      {  S  }
    {   O  }
    {  IO  }
    {    V    }
      Ila sent Anu the/*a necklace
      3.             
    हार इला ने à¤
नु को भेजा।
      haaɾ
    ilaa
    ne
    anu
    ko
    bhej-0-aa
      necklace
    Ila
    erg
    Anu
    DAT
    send-perf-ms
      {   O  }
    {  S  }
    {  IO  }
    {    V    }
      Ila sent Anu the/*a necklace
                       
  Notice in these two examples that the interpretation of necklace must be definite (i.e. “the neckless”).
   
  She then goes on to say that this “shift from canonical position” will do the same thing to the subject. For which she gives the following two examples:
   
          4.              
    सुनार ने à¤
नु को हार भेजा।
      sunaaɾ
    ne
    anu
    ko
    haaɾ
    bhej-0-aa
      goldsmith
    erg
    Anu
    DAT
    necklace
    send-perf-ms
      {     S     }
    {  IO  }
    {   O  }
    {    V    }
      The/?a goldsmith sent Anu a/the necklace
      5.              
    à¤
नु को हार सुनार ने भेजा।
     
      anu
    ko
    haaɾ
    sunaaɾ
    ne
    bhej-0-aa
     
      Anu
    DAT
    necklace
    goldsmith
    erg
    send-perf-ms
     
      {  IO  }
    {   O  }
    {     S    }
    {    V    }
     
      The/*a goldsmith sent Anu the/*a necklace
     
                               
  My question is, I think it’s the choice of subject noun that is causing this effect and I think if it were a different noun which more readily lent itself to indefiniteness, this final example could have an indefinite subject interpretation. Maybe since goldsmiths aren’t that common, they don’t easily lend themselves to being indefinite (notice in (5) that she’s not even sure the indefinite interpretation is possible when it’s in the sentence-initial position; by having put the “?” in front of the indefinite “a” interpretation).
   
  So, my question is, if she had used “child” (son or daughter) instead of “goldsmith” would the indefinite interpretation still be possible:
   
          6.                 
    à¤
नु को हार बेटे ने भेजा।
      anu
    ko
    haaɾ
    beTe
    ne
    bhej-0-aa
      Anu
    DAT
    necklace
    son
    erg
    send-perf-ms
      {  IO  }
    {   P  }
    {  A   }
    {    V    }
      The/a son sent Anu the/*a necklace
   
  That is, is it possible that if Anu had multiple sons, and the speaker and hearer weren’t already talking about any of them, could this sentence mean that one of her sons sent it to her?
   
  You could Imagine this conversation between two friends of Anu who are looking at her from across a room, who both know her very well and know that she has 3 sons (AND discussed without a hint of ईर्ष्या :-)
  सहेली 1: Wow, look at the necklace and earrings that Anu has on! They’re beautiful!
  सहेली 2: Yes they are. उसको हार बेटे ने भेजा।
   
  Can this just mean “one of her sons sent it”?
   
  I do agree that if you put हार farther to the left in the sentence (as in 2 and 3), that it does not allow an indefinite interpretation, but I feel like moving something to the position just before the verb does not preclude the indefinite interpretation.
   
  Or even if indefiniteness is not possible, it seems to me that सहेली 2's reply would have to be as given above, because both "her" and "necklace" are known discourse entities, whereas the son has yet to be talked about. It seems to me that the Principle of Natural Information Flow (known information first, followed by unknown information ) would prefer the order with the subject last...
   
  Thanks for any feedback you have,
  Bob
   



       
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