AffiliationUniversity of Arizona
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DescriptionPublished as Coyote Papers: Working Papers in Linguistics from A-Z, Unification Based Approaches to Natural Languages
AbstractIn this paper I provide an analysis of the postverbal subject in Thai. Thai is described as a SVO language by Hawkins (1983) and by Thai grammarians such as Surintramont (1979), Sriphen (1972), Waroamasikkhadit (1972), Kullavanija (1968), Chaiyaratana (1966) and in Thai traditional grammar books. However these analyses seem to be problematic due to the peculiar characteristics of such verbs as mii 'exist', kEEt 'occur', duumlan 'seem' as well as verb-like adjectives, which do not require any element or unit at all in the position right before them in a declarative sentence. To my knowledge these particular verbs have been analyzed simply as taking a non -overt subject or a deleted subject. This phenomenon raises the following questions: Do these verbs and verb-like adjectives require subjects? If so, where are they located? If not, what types of verbs are they? Are some sentences spoken in isolation in Thai are subjectless? In this analysis, I focus on the occurrence of the existential verb mii in a sentence spoken in isolation. I first present the forms of subject and object of intransitive and transitive verbs, including an element or a unit in the post-position of verb mii 'exist'. I argue that the misconstruction is a sentence, not a verb phrase. Then I argue that the element following the verb mii 'exist' is a subject, not a direct object, of this verb. Hence there are two subject types in Thai: preverbal and postverbal, with the subject verb (SV) structure for the former and the verb -subject (VS) for the latter. The paper ends with an application of HPSG theory (Pollard and Sag 1987) to the SV and VS structures in this language. I give the mii 'exist' and kEEt 'occur' constructions as examples for the VS structures. I divide the paper into five sections. Section 1: The Notion 'Subject'; Section 2: Background of the Thai Language: the points relevant to this particular analysis; Section 3: The Analysis; Section 4: Application of HPSG Theory to the SV and VS Structures in Thai; and Section 5: Conclusion.