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Title: Topic in Malay: The other subject
Authors: Alsagoff, Lubna Shariffa
Keywords: Austronesian Languages
Malayo-Polynesian Languages
Issue Date: 1992
Publisher: Stanford University
Abstract: In the Malayo-Polynesian family of languages of which Malay is a member, the notion of subject has always been a point of controversy. In several of the Philipino languages such as llocano and Tagalog, for example, there have been references in the typological literature that instead of subject, these languages are organized around the notion of topic (Schachter (1976), Schwartz (1976), Kroeger (1991),Li and Thompson (1976), Keenan (1976) and Gerdts (1988)).These claims have been made because of the observed split in the subjects-properties: properties which traditionally cluster around a single argument of the clause, the subject, as observed of Indo-European languages, do not do so in the Malayo-Polynesian languages; instead these properties seem to be shared between two arguments. In recent Government and Binding literature (Koopman and Sportiche (1988), Fukui and Speas (1986), Kitagawa (1986)), a VP-internal specifier position has been postulated,in addition to the traditional specifier of IP (=S). In their study of four Malayo-Polynesian languages, including Malay, Guilfoyle, et al (1989) attribute the split of the subject properties commonly observed in this group of languages, to be a clustering of such properties around these two configurationally defined position in the phrase stucture, [SPEC. IP]: the topic position and [SPEC. VP]: the subject position.
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