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The Structure of Nominalization in Burmese. How Underlying Nominals Provide Order to the Grammar. Ontological Nominals function as a kind of Architectural Support to Language. Burma. 11-16th Century Written Burmese – Modern – Formal Burmese.

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the structure of nominalization in burmese

The Structure of Nominalization in Burmese

How Underlying Nominals Provide Order to the Grammar


11-16th Century Written Burmese – Modern – Formal Burmese

17-20th Century Spoken Burmese – Modern – Colloquial Burmese

burmese nominals
Burmese Nominals
  • Observation: Pervasive use of nominalization on multiple levels – word to sentence.
  • T-B Linguists have observed different kinds of nominalizations with odd functions across many languages (relativization/genitivization).
  • Nominals functioning as more than local nouns.
  • High frequency of affixually derived nominalizations functioning as other parts of speech — adverbs and adjectives.
what is nominalization
What is nominalization?
  • A noun or noun-like construction
    • “The barbarians’ destruction of the city”
    • “John’s criticism of the book”
  • "A nominalization is a noun phrase that has a systematic correspondence with a clausal predication which includes a head noun morphologically related to a corresponding verb."
    • “The barbarians destroyedthe city.”
    • “John criticized the book.”
how is nominalization manifest in burmese
How is nominalization manifest in Burmese?
  • Compound Nouns:
    • ‘Television’ image-look sound-hear|kyf\rifoHjum:
      • [N+V]Noun + [N+V]Noun = Noun
    • ‘Tong’ bamboo hand pinch 0g:vufckyf
      • [[N+N]Noun + V]Noun
  • Nominalized Clauses:
    • ‘eating is good’ [eat + onf sany] good [V+P]Noun
    • ‘[his having cooked first without going to church] onf sany - caused us to have to return home twice”
levels of language processing

Levels of Language Processing





what is ontology
What is Ontology?
  • In Philosophy: “Ontologyis the theory of objects and their ties. The unfolding of ontology provides criteria for distinguishing various types of objects (concrete and abstract, existent and non-existent, real and ideal, independent and dependent) and their ties (relations, dependences and predication)”.(Raul Corazzon 2003)
  • In General: “1. A science or study of being: specifically, a branch of metaphysics relating to the nature and relations of being; a particular system according to which problems of the nature of being are investigated; first philosophy”.
  • “2. a theory concerning the kinds of entities and specifically the kinds of abstract entities that are to be admitted to a language system."(Webster’s 3rd International Dictionary )
ontology artificial intelligence
Ontology – Artificial Intelligence
  • An ontology is a specification of a conceptualization.
  • In AI: “That is, an ontology is a description (like a formal specification of a program) of the concepts and relationships that can exist for an agent or a community of agents. This definition is consistent with the usage of ontology as set-of-concept-definitions, but more general.” (Gruber 1993)
form classes three types
Form Classes – Three types

Ontological Objects

Conceptual Objects

  • Nouns
  • Verbs
  • Particles

 Things


juxtaposition a normal formative process doubles and balanced pairs
Juxtaposition — a normal formative processDoubles and Balanced Pairs
  • P + P chaining
  • N + N compounding
  • V + V compound and chaining
rules of nominal formation
N + N  Nominal

N + V  Nominal

N + P  Nominal

Positional Phrase

Rules of Nominal Formation

Grammatical Construction

Ontological Construction

  • Compound Noun
  • Clause
types of nominals
Types of Nominals
  • Conceptual Nominal
  • Thing
  • Ontological Nominal
  • Form
  • Grammatical Nominal
  • Function Class
  • Semantic Nominal
  • Lexical Class
ontological nominal is not the same as grammatical nominal
Ontological Nominal is not the same as Grammatical Nominal

Ontological nominals (objects, concepts, or other entities) are:

  • abstract units that exist as linguistic entities via boundary features
  • perceptual and posited by the language itself
  • manifest by cognitive operations such as blending and conceptual integration as well as word formation processes
key to understanding nominalization is onf sany
Key to Understanding Nominalization is onf sany
  • Nominalizes Sentences
      • (Sentence final particle)
  • Nominalizes Clauses
      • (Relative and Attribute Clauses)
  • Nominal Topicalizer




Grammatical Nominalization

burmese head final grammar
Burmese: Head-Final Grammar
  • SOV
    • Verb final
    • postposition particle final
  • Final is the Head
modifier head configuration
Modifier + Head Configuration
  • Asymmetrical Relations of Figure and Ground

Ground + Figure Absolutive vs.

Figure + Ground Transitive

  • Modifier + Head
    • N + N
    • N + V
    • N/V + P
    • V + V
application of the rules of ontological formation
Application of the Rules of Ontological Formation
  • N+N  N
  • N+V  N
  • N/V +P  N


ontological constructions



Simple and Complex Words, Phrases, Nominalized Clauses

Clause or Particle Phrase

Sentence, Section, Text

Ontological Constructions

Three Types

ontological sentence text structure
Ontological SENTENCE (Text) Structure
  • Structural Overview of one Expository Text
  • Topical Sections of Text - onf sany marked
expository text ground figure relations
Expository Text – Ground- Figure Relations

[ Ground Figure ][ Ground Figure ]

[ Ground ][ Figure ]

[ Ground ][Figure]

ontological sentence text
Ontological SENTENCE (Text)

Particle u ka. Agent/Source marks Sections of Text

  • Structure of a Narrative Text
narrative headedness figure ground relations
Narrative Headedness Figure-Ground Relations

Reverse of Expository Text Ground - Figure Relations

ontological nominalization the structure of abstract objects that form
Ontological NominalizationThe Structure of Abstract Objects that form:
  • Word
  • Expressions
  • Sentences

(N+N) (V+V)

(N+V) (N + P)

(Word with Observer)

advantages to ontological analysis versus only grammatical or semantic
Advantages to Ontological Analysis versus only Grammatical or Semantic
  • Consistent and simple method of analysis that describes the organization of Word to Text, with same conceptual processes and rules of formation.
  • Separates Ontological from Semantic and Grammatical and leaves those differences for different constraints.
  • Explains predominance of nominals and why they are used as major constituents.
further advantages
Further Advantages
  • Recognizes Burmese pattern preference for Doublets, Juxtapositioning, Balanced sets.
  • Recognizes Headedness and the way this is manifest in information structure via Ground – Figure gestalt.
further advantages1
Further Advantages
  • Recognizes the role of the Observer in
    • The Sentence and Text
    • The nature of nominals themselves
    • Provides the base forms for word constituency relations in complex units.
  • Analysis recognizes cultural values
    • balance and harmony
    • distance of the observer from the phenomena; Buddhist detachment
burmese proverb
Burmese Proverb

t|Sif \rifh. u^efwifh

a-hrang mrang. kwyan tang.

master high slave comely

As the master’s position is exalted,

the servant’s conduct becomes decorous.

the beginning

Of Natural Sound

literacy with word level units
Literacy with WORD Level Units
  • Simple Words of One Syllable
    • Inherent Vowel and Tone, Teaching only Consonant e.g. u ka. ‘dance’
    • One symbol = Burmese Syllable / Word
    • Juxtaposition of Balanced Set = Ontological Nominals
    • Simple Ontological Nominals of [N+N],
      • [N+ V] or [V+V]
first grade primer
First Grade Primer
  • Pedagogical wisdom begins with simple and build to complex sentences.
  • Complex yet balanced units structure natural Burmese text. The length and complexity of the sentence is not significantly difficult because ontological nominals create ease.
  • One text of two sentences.
  • First sentence is 2 ontological units long.
  • Second sentence consists of 31 ontological units.

End of Orthographic Sentence

Second sentence consists of 31 ontological units.

natural text
Natural text

No Word Space Normally in Burmese

But ‘Phrase’ space is not really optional

the same natural text marked indicating particles
The Same Natural Text Marked Indicating Particles

‘Phrase’ space following Particles

ontological nominals
Ontological Nominals
  • Naturally used in Literacy
  • Structure complex sentences – even for newly literates, making meaningful units that can ‘stand alone’.
  • Naturally marked in text with phrase space to aid in chunking the sub-sentential units.