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Title: Barai syntax : a comparative study of tagmemic and transformational analyses
Authors: Olson, Michael Leon
Keywords: Trans-New Guinea Languages
Issue Date: 1974
Publisher: Simon Fraser University
Abstract: Although the major goal of transformational theory is to account for the speaker's competence, an accounting of the data is a fundamental concern as well. This is the level of obser- . vational adequacy typically ascribed to structuralist frameworks. And although the synthesis of Pike and Longacre's tagmeme aimed at accounting for all human behavior, accounting of the data . is also fundamental to tagmemic theory. With this common goal, it should be possible to compare the actual formalization of a transformational grammar with a similar formalization of a tagmemic grammar to determine if they account equally well for a set of data. This study compares in a limited way formalizations of these two linguistic frameworks for Barai, a non-Austronesian language of Papua New Guinea. The analyses are limited to syntax and focus primarily on the structure of the phrase and the clause Qr S), although there is some discussion of word structures and more complex sentences as well. The method is basically a hypothetico-deductive one. The grammars are proposed,drawing fromintuitions formed over five years of studyingthelanguage. From these proposed grammars are derived some test implications whichare then checked to see if these derived sentences and structural descriptions do meet the comon minimal goal of accounting for the data. The results, although not entirely conclusive, tend to favor the transformational analysis. The tagmemic model emphasizes the particular; the transformational model emphasizes the general. The tagmemic model is explicit in capturing the function of each constituent element of the clause, but the transformational model reaches the same end implicitly and more formally via the phrase structure rules. The formalization of the transformational model overall is more explicit than the tagmemic analysis. And finally, the transformational analysis with its focus on rules captures certain relations betweenstructures that are lost in the tagmemic analysis.
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