Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Keith W. Slater

Abstract

This thesis describes information structure in Mangghuer, a Mongolic language spokenin northwestern China. My analysis relies on a set of twenty-three narrative texts published in the 2005 volume, Folktales of China's Minhe Mangghuer (Chen et al. 2005), and I also draw from the text "Lu Buping," published in the 2001 Mangghuer Folktale Reader (Stuart & Zhu 2001). I rely on Lambrecht's (1994) approach to information structure as a theoretical framework to analyze these texts. I also apply methods from Levinsohn's (2015) "Self Instruction-Materials on Narrative Discourse Analysis." Default information structure in Mangghuer is the topic-comment sentence. The default form of the topic in these sentences depends on the topic referent's identifiability: zero-anaphora is used for continuing topics; both zero-anaphora and pronouns are used to establish highly identifiable topics; and noun phrases are used to establish unidentifiable or ambiguous topics. Topicalization strategies include a few types of heavy encoding as well as topic-fronting. Argument focus constructions occur to highlight one argument as contrastive or to highlight an argument as carrying narrative weight. Sentence focus constructions include presentational sentences with the copula bang and event-reporting sentences, which tend strongly to be marked with the sentence final particle bai. A full analysis of the use of bai shows that it indicates narrative importance. This thesis is not a comprehensive description of Mangghuer information structure, especially as prosody is not considered. However, this thesis shows some of the ways that Mangghuer storytellers use information structure throughout a narrative.

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