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Polynesian Syntax and its Interfaces$
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Lauren Clemens and Diane Massam

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198860839

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198860839.001.0001

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The lingering DP in Niuean

The lingering DP in Niuean

(p.282) 12 The lingering DP in Niuean
Polynesian Syntax and its Interfaces

Diane Massam

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines pre-nominal particles in Niuean, which are cognate with Tongan determiners, although Niuean, in contrast with Proto-Tongic, does not have a systematic determiner system marking specificity or definiteness. It is argued that the Niuean particles are case markers merged in K, not determiners, having replaced Proto-Tongic case markers. It is then argued that although there is no determiner system in Niuean, D and DP remain in the nominal phrase, and that D, usually null, holds features for proper-common with which K agrees. In addition, D is spelled out as a linker when its specifier is filled with a genitive, numeral, or quantifier, all of which contribute meanings associated with (in)definiteness or nominal quantification. Finally, D can also house occasional articles. The chapter shows that small historical changes can create systematic shifts, and that D and DP can be present even in a language without a determiner system.

Keywords:   Niuean, Proto-Tongic, determiners, case markers, DP, proper-common, nominal quantifiers, possession, nominal left periphery

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