Polarity, case marking and aspect in Bumthang, a central Bhutanese language


This talk describes the morphosyntactic effects of negation on case and aspect marking in Bumthang, a language of central Bhutan in the Himalayas. We find that a negated clause contrasts with its positive counterpart in terms of both case marking on transitive subjects and on aspect marking on verbs. It is well-known that negated clauses can differ structurally from positive ones, and that they often show a restricted range of morphological possibilities, typically showing less ‘transitive’ features (after Hopper and Thompson 1980). The negation of clauses in Bumthang cuases deviations to canonical behaviour, with NPs and verbs splitting in different directions with respect to ‘transitivity’. Noun phrases show more highly transitive behaviour in that ergative case marking (Donohue and Donohue 2016) is obligatorily present in more situations than in positive clauses. Verbs, on the other hand, show less transitive behaviour, in that perfective aspect (where the category of personal/impersonal is encoded) is not a permitted option.

46th Annual Meeting of the Australian Linguistics Society, Monash University

This talk was later published as an article.

Naomi Peck
Naomi Peck
PhD Student; Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

PhD linguist who is interested in how units are formed, wherever they are found in language.