Article published in:Argument Structure and Grammatical Relations: A crosslinguistic typology
Edited by Pirkko Suihkonen, Bernard Comrie and Valery Solovyev
[Studies in Language Companion Series 126] 2012
► pp. 151–176
Topic marking and the construction of narrative in Xibe
Xibe is a Tungus-Manchu language spoken in Xinjiang Uygur [Uighur] Autonomous Region in Northwestern China. In this paper we present a corpusbased study of the structural and discourse-functional behavior of the particle da in spoken Xibe. From a structural perspective, we observe that da may occur in four syntactic contexts, but is never obligatory. Turning to discourse function, we show that da functions as a “topic marker”, in the sense of Li and Thompson (1976). This basic discourse function is extended to other usages, including: (1) linking two foregrounded clauses in which the first is structurally dependent on the second, and (2) the elaboration of a canonical “narrative construction” that contributes crucially to a subjective sense of style. Part of what identifies speakers as particularly skilled in storytelling is the frequency and fluency of their use of this narrative construction.
Published online: 18 July 2012