Word in Hmong

White, Nathan M. (2020) Word in Hmong. In: Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y., Dixon, R. M. W., and White, Nathan M., (eds.) Phonological word and grammatical word: a cross-linguistic typology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 213-259. (In Press)

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Abstract

[Extract:] Hmong is a Hmong-Mien (Miao-Yao) language, of the Far Western Hmongic branch. It has several million speakers in China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar (Jarkey 2015: 11) as well as several hundred thousand speakers in diaspora communities in the United States, Canada, France, Argentina, and Australia (Yang 2014: 32). A number of varieties of Hmong can be recognized, with one Laotian variety, White Hmong (Hmoob Dawb)1, as spoken in Queensland, Australia, as the focus of the current work. Typologically, Hmong is generally an analytic language, with most grammatical functions indicated with independent words. In many cases, however, words that serve as grammatical modifiers of nouns and verbs are semi-independent, that is, they generally have a strict ordering relative to their nominal or verbal head, yet they may allow other words to intervene. Open class items are generally free to appear in multiple positions in the clause, thus forming an important distinction between lexicon and grammar in Hmong. Given the discussion below, Hmong contains two primary forms of morphology: affixes, that is, bound morphemes with a grammatical function, and reduplication, which operates on verbs and quantifiers. The constituent order system is fairly strict, where the typical order is subject-intransitive verb or subjecttransitive verb-object, though discourse organization and topicalization can affect this. Given its analytic nature, Hmong is of interest to the greater discussion on wordhood due to the fact that the literature on the language routinely treats it as isolating. At the same time, a comprehensive analysis of wordhood in Hmong is missing from the literature, even if there is limited discussion regarding relevant criteria to serve as a basis, most notably in works such as Mortensen (2003) and Vitrano-Wilson (2015). The current chapter seeks to address this gap by providing an analysis of wordhood in Hmong, leading to a recognition of the categories of phonological and grammatical word, as well as considering in depth the nature of a phonological word in Hmong when it is comprised of more than one syllable. Some background information on Hmong is necessary as a context for the discussion on wordhood: §1.2 provides an overview of the phonological system of Hmong, including certain features that are critical to the analysis of wordhood, while §1.3 briefly discusses some relevant grammatical points, including the structure of the noun phrase and verbal morphology. §1.4 delineates the organization of the remainder of the chapter.

Item ID: 64096
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-19-886568-1
Keywords: word, typological, grammatical, morphological, phonology Hmong, Hmong-Mien, Miao-Yao, analytic language,
Copyright Information: © editorial matter and organization Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, R. M. W. Dixon, and Nathan M. White 2020 © the chapters their several authors 2020 The moral rights of the authors have been asserted. All rights reserved.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery DP170100918
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2020 03:56
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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