Canonical types and noun phrase configuration in Fijian

John Alderete


This paper examines a set of observations governing the distribution of nominal expressions in Fijian clause structure. Special attention is given to the semantic types of the nouns involved, especially in establishing their patterning in the positions for the grammatical functions object and subject. The object position is shown to be more restricted in Fijian, essentially limited to proper names and certain pronominals. This asymmetry is interpreted in a type-theoretic framework as a consequence of the well-motivated syntactic asymmetry, namely that subjects take scope over objects. In sum, the two main claims put forth in this paper are:

(i) The restrictions on possible objects and subjects in Fijian may be stated in terms of restrictions of possible semantic types;

(ii) The observed non-uniformity in the distribution of nominals may be explained as an asymmetry inherited from Fijian clause structure.

Keywords: Fijian, Austronesian, pronominal argument hypothesis, categorial grammar

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Full citation: Alderete, John. 1999. Canonical types and noun phrase configuration in Fijian. In Matt Pearson (ed.), UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics 21, Proceedings of the third and fourth meetings of the Austronesian Formal Linguistic Association (AFLA III-IV), pp. 19-44. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Department of Linguistics.