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Clause linkage in Australian languages: A typological study

Book - Dissertation

This thesis is a typological study of clause linkage in Australian languages. The study is based on a sample of 75 languages (40 Pama-Nyungan, 34 non-Pama-Nyungan, and Kriol), and also builds on typological work beyond Australia. Accompanying the thesis, the Database of Clause Linkage Structures in Australian Languages (or 'CLAusLink' /ˈklɔzlɪŋk/) compiles the analytical decisions made for this project, which interested readers may consult in tandem with the findings presented here. The thesis presents three case studies spread across four chapters, preceded by an introduction and a discussion of methodological issues. In the introduction, I define the research questions and scope of the thesis, and situate it within the broader typological and Australianist literature. In the methodological chapter, I explain the composition of the sample and the analytical categories which underpin the case studies, and I demonstrate the structure of the CLAusLink database. The first two case studies investigate structures that are specialised in encoding clause linkage. In the first case study (Chapter 3), I conduct a survey of conjunctions, defined as specialised clause linkage elements which play no essential morphosyntactic role in the clauses they link. In doing so, I show that conjunctions are not a marginal clause linkage resource, at least from the perspective of functional load. I showcase the different types of conjunctions, different inventory profiles, and show areal patterns in their distribution. The second case study (Chapters 4 and 5) deals with non-finite clause linkage, involving specialised constructions that cannot be used as canonical independent clauses. In Chapter 4, I explore the different criteria which can be used to distinguish non-finite from finite structures, and in Chapter 5, I use these criteria to explore different types of non-finite constructions and their functions. I also distinguish between non-finite verb inflections and verb forms that are inherently non-finite (often called 'coverbs' or 'preverbs'). Across the sample, I find that converbs, which are specialised for adverbial clauses, predominate, while other specialised categories like participles and infinitives are rare. The third case study (Chapter 6) examines clause linkage across one semantic domain, viz. condition, which allows us to see how different encoders interact, and also how linkage interpretations can derive from processes of inference. I analyse conditional marking in terms of three factors: facilitative linkage, non-factual marking, and subtype marking. I also explore how different subtypes of condition are distinguished, with an emphasis on the 'open' vs. 'closed' division, which is prevalent across the sample. The concluding chapter briefly summarises the findings of this typology, and discusses some questions that could not be directly dealt with in this thesis, as well as directions for future research.
Publication year:2023