Re-configuring 'NPs' in Australian languages: Towards an alternative typology
Languages are traditionally classified as either having classic noun phrases (NPs), or not having phrasal construal at all. However, there are strong indications that many languages lie in between these two extremes, and that they have more than one type of construal available (e.g. 'classic' NP, discontinuous expressions, expressions with alternating positions for case markers, etc.). Findings from my previous research suggest that Australian languages form a particularly interesting data set in this respect. This project thus aims to develop an empirically accurate model of the nominal domain in these languages, by investigating what the full range of construals available is, how these construals are distributed across languages and how exactly they carve up the nominal domain within individual languages. For the first two questions, I will analyse a broad sample of 100 Australian languages, while for the third question, I will do a detailed study of text materials from 10 languages. Finally, I will investigate whether these results can be linked to features beyond the nominal domain (like word order on sentence level), as has been suggested in some of the theoretical literature, or to non-structural features (like genetic/areal patterns). In this sense, the model developed in this project will also be a tool for researchers working on other languages with 'deviant' NPs, and may have an impact on general theorising in the nominal domain.