Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session


Indonesian is known for having a relatively simple morphological and syntactic structure. This is especially true of local varieties of the language, where contrast between categories found in Standard Indonesian is neutralized. In the Indonesian variety spoken in Riau Province, there is almost no morphological marking of grammatical categories and there is relatively free word order. Gil (1994, 2003, 2005b) develops a theory of Riau Indonesian grammar that has only one open grammatical category, which he calls S (Sentence). This means that there are no distinctions between categories like noun, verb, and adjective and no basic word order. In this paper I show that Gil's analysis does not adequately account for generalizations in Riau Indonesian syntax. I argue that Riau Indonesian has the basic lexical categories of noun, verb and adjective. Based on these lexical categories, I show that the language has basic SVO word order. I argue that Riau Indonesian can be better analyzed in terms of Role and Reference Grammar (RRG; cf. Van Valin & La Polla 1997, Van Valin 2005) since RRG accounts for generalizations in Riau Indonesian more adequately. I also use Discourse Representation Theory (Kamp & Reyle 1993, Asher 1999) to show how discourse structure can function to aid semantic interpretation of Riau Indonesian syntax in an RRG framework.

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