Topics in the Syntax of the Modern Indo-Aryan Languages

24.956, Spring 2003
E39-335, F10-1

Rajesh Bhatt
E39-312, 258-8056
Syllabus and Reading List

The Indo-Aryan languages are a sub-branch of the Indo-European family, spoken mainly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands. The course will primarily focus on the Modern Indo-Aryan languages: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi-Urdu, Kashmiri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Romani, Sindhi, Sinhalese among others and provide an introduction to the major syntactic phenomena of this language family such as case and agreement, ergative and other non-nominative subjects, passivization, causativization, scrambling, and correlatives. There will be an attempt to bring in data from the less studied Indo-Aryan languages such as Marwari, Kumaoni, Magahi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Bundelkhandi.

The following is a non-exhaustive set of topics that could be covered over the course of the semester. The exact subset that is actually covered will be determined by the interests of the course participants.


Agreement: Object Agreement, Long Distance Agreement
Case: Ergativity, Animacy/Specificity marking on direct objects, the interpretation of bare objects, pronominal enclitics in Kashmiri
Non-nominative subjects: experiencer subjects, the marking of possession, possessive modals
Passive: Deletion without Promotion, `inabilitative' passives
Argument Structure: unaccusative, unergatives, and the marking of transitivity, causatives
Complex Predicates: compound verbs as positive polarity items, light verb constructions with `be' and `do', permissives


Word Order Phenomena: scrambling, V2 in Kashmiri, rightward movement, extraposition
Relative Clauses and Correlatives, Other Correlative Constructions: conditionals, comparatives, `when'-clauses, and `until'-clauses.
Questions: wh-in-situ, scope islands for wh-in-situ, long distance question formation, scope marking