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Title: Aspect and Evidentials in Lahushi: A Cognitive Perspective.
Authors: Thiengburanathum, Prang
Keywords: Sino-Tibetan Languages
Tibeto-Burman Languages
Lahu Shi - Grammar
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: Payap University
Abstract: This thesis examines the nature of aspect and evidentials in Lahu Shi, a member of the Tibeto-Burman subfamily of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. According to traditional grammar, aspect is a grammatical category which deals with how the event is viewed such as whether it is progressive, perfective, completive etc. As for evidentials, they are obligatory elements which have a source of information as its primary meaning. Are these grammatical elements themselves merely grammatical devices or do they also have inherent conceptual content which is significant to their meaning and grammatical behavior? This thesis is analyzed within the framework of Cognitive Grammar (CG), which has the main claim that meaning resides in conceptualization. Meaning is thus equated to conceptual content which can be shaped and construed (Langacker 1987a, 1991a, 1991b, 2000, 2002). In this analysis I propose that it is the conceptual construal of each aspect marker which is responsible for the difference between them. Chehd ‘stay’ and tod ‘walk’, for example, are considered different kinds of progressives due to their different profiles. The profile of chehd is ‘locational restrictedness’ (that is, it causes a process to be construed as restricted or situated within a particular spatial location), and that of tod ‘locational unrestrictedness’ or ‘locational shift’ (that is, it imposes a specific image of a trajector moving from one location to another on the conceptualization of a process/situation). The analysis illustrates that the two aspect markers are derived from their lexical sources. This thesis also shows that evidentials function as grounding elements. That is, they are deictic and epistemic in nature and have additional grammatical properties that are capable of deriving a finite clause as well (Langacker 2002a). This evidence from Lahu Shi supports a CG claim that meaning is equated with conceptualization and is inseparable from grammar. In other words, not only does a lexical item have conceptual import but a grammatical element does as well. The difference is the grammatical element imposes a specific image on the conceptual content of the lexical element. Also, this thesis adds to the descriptive research of Lahu specifically and Southeast Asian languages generally by providing an understanding of the grammatical and semantic structure in these languages, especially how they are understood in a unified account.
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