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QUANTIFICATION IN THAI

MARK JEFFREY STEIN, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Abstract

The study presents an analysis of an array of grammatical patterning that characterize Thai. The analysis is primarily concerned with the Thai Noun Phrase and with quantificational behavior in such Noun Phrases. Data to be explained are the following: (1) Thai lacks or morphological marking of plurality in NPs, (2) Bare nouns (expressions like khon 'person') function as full NPs have a wide range of interpretations (universal, existential, definite, generic, etc.), (3) Quantified Noun Phrases require the presence of a Classifier, and (4) Reciprocal expression kan, akin to English each other, functions as an adverb, and not as an NP.^ The problems are confronted within the theoretical framework of Montague Grammar. The syntax employed is a categorial syntax, the semantics, a model theoretic interpretation of the language. The semantics is handled indirectly, by first translating Thai expressions into a logic and then interpreting that logic by means of a model.^ The problems concerning syntactic patterning are approached by asking generally how quantificational structure is handled in Thai. It is shown that what corresponds to a count common noun in English (e.g. bird), in Thai is characterized by a Noun + Classifier combination.^ The array of grammatical patterning and semantic interpretations are exhibited by constructing two explicit grammars of the syntax and semantics of Thai.^ In the first grammar, Thai bare NPs are associated with lambda expressions denoting sets of properties of groups. As a group may have one or more members, Thai Noun Phrases remain indeterminate with respect to plurality. Such behavior is compared to that of collective nouns in English (e.g. group). In the second grammar, a Thai bare-NP denotes a set of properties of an individual, such individuals being characterized by axioms appropriate for a calculus of individuals. Given the freer characterization of just what an individual is, we again get the desired array of patterning and interpretation. Comparisons are made to the behavior of mass nouns and bare plurals in English.^ After construction of the two grammars, the fragment of Thai is extended to include the verb phrase modifer, kan, a word acting as a reciprocal marker (cf. English each other), symmetric predicate marker, plurality marker, floating quantifier (cf. English together) and definite marker (cf. English the). In both grammars kan attributes parts to the denotation of the subject NP. Its various functions are then explained in terms of this added complexity attributed to the subject NP. Crucially, it is argued in the second grammar that given basic assumptions concerning the form of the grammar, and the interpretation of kan, Quantified NPs in Thai of the form Noun + Quantifier + Classifier are nondistributive.^ The analyses presented suffer from a common problem caused by a failure to consider a theory of context. Hopefully though, the thesis does approach problems of syntactic typology and Universal Grammar by asking questions such as the following: What is the behaviour of languages in which NPs (bare NPs) denote individuals? What role do Classifiers play in contributing to the quantificational structure of a sentence? How do languages lacking non-derived count common nouns exhibit quantificational behavior? In particular, how may a language employ verbal markers (such as kan) to mimic NP quantificational behavior. In the final chapter areas of additional research are presented that may help in an analysis of quantificational behavior, and grammatical patterning of Thai. ^

Subject Area

Language, Linguistics

Recommended Citation

MARK JEFFREY STEIN, "QUANTIFICATION IN THAI" (January 1, 1981). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI8110380.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI8110380

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