Won Ho Kim

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Keith W. Slater


Magpie Miao is a Hmong-Mien language spoken in Guizhou Province of southwest China. This thesis presents a description of three particles (jik, nid, and dik) and participant reference, which are both useful for understanding boundaries between and climaxes within thematic groupings. The primary data source for this thesis consists of five oral narratives, one of which is included in the appendix.

The three particles function as both aspectual markers and connectives. They function as the former when they occur at the end of a clause and as the latter when they occur at or near the beginning of a clause. Nid marks imperfective aspect, while dik and jik mark perfective aspect. As a connective, nid indicates a significant degree of continuity between the added proposition and the previous one: either the propositional content is similar or there is a special reason to emphasize subject continuity. Dik is used to indicate a new development or step in the narrative; thus, it implies a degree of discontinuity. Jik is the default connective when neither of the other two apply.

Participant reference of one text is examined in detail. Referents in that text may be encoded as zero, pronouns, or noun phrases. The default encodings of referents in various contexts are presented, and then deviations from those defaults are discussed. In that text, greater-than-default encoding occurs after discontinuities and before climactic material; less-than-default encoding occurs when there is a local VIP. Another text, however, uses a different VIP strategy: pronoun encoding is the default for the VIP, regardless of the context.

Finally, thematic groupings are discussed. Various kinds of discontinuities—time, place, action, and participant—are examined. Boundaries for major and minor thematic groupings are explained, as well as the climaxes within these groupings. Both the connectives and participant reference are helpful in understanding the boundaries as well as the climaxes. Also important to both is the reporting of speech.

Included in

Linguistics Commons