Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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While the structure consisting of a topic and a clausal comment, often referred to as the double-topic, double-subject, or double-nominative sentence, has been discussed in the literature, the internal constituent order within the comment has rarely been a target of study of linguistic typology. The purpose of the paper is to compare two constituent order possibilities found in Thai and other Southeast Asian languages to argue specific constructional meanings associated with them. In Thai, the topic with a clausal comment is used when a body-part is involved, and it may take the form of either [ N1 [ N2 V ]] or [ N1 [ V N2 ]]. In this structure, the topic (N1) is a possessor of N2 (= body-part), and the comment is a clause consisting of an intransitive verb (V) and a body-part noun (N2). These two constituent orders are distributed between the external-state and proprioceptive (internal) state. Thus physical sensations (e.g. “I have a headache”) and emotions (e.g. “I am sad”) are expressed with the [VN] structure in the comment, while the description of external-states such as physical appearances (e.g. “My head is big”) is expressed with [NV]. Since proprioceptive states can only be experienced directly by the experiencer himself and contrast with external states which can be observed by anyone, the constituent order reflects fundamentally different cognitive realities experienced by the speaker. I claim that the [VN] order has a structural meaning of “proprioceptively registered experience” in the Thai grammar. This explains further why some other internal events such as “recovering from cold” or “exhausting one’s physical strength” which do not directly involve body parts also take the [VN] order in the comment. I will also argue that the initial noun (N1) in the proprioceptive-state expression is a topic noun added to the more fundamental topicless structure, [VN], whereas the initial noun in the external-state description is an integral part of the basic argument structure. Finally, I will situate the distributional pattern of [VN] and [NV] found in Thai among other East and Southeast Asian languages.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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