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9 - Syntax

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Bhadriraju Krishnamurti
Affiliation:
University of Hyderabad, India
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Summary

Introduction

The unmarked order of constituents in a sentence is Subject–Object–Verb (SOV) in the Dravidian languages. A number of other features seem to flow from this dominant pattern: adjectives (including possessive nominals) precede noun heads, adverbs precede the verbs that they modify, complements precede the matrix clauses, auxiliaries follow the main verb, and postpositions rather than prepositions follow nominals. Dravidian languages have the nominative–accusative pattern with subject–predicate agreement, and not the absolutive–ergative. A sentence in Dravidian may be simple, complex or compound.

Simple sentences

A simple sentence is represented by two grammatical constituents, Subject + Predicate. The subject is either a Noun Phrase (NP) with the head noun in the nominative case, or a Postpositional Phrase (PP) with the head noun in the dative case (see discussion in section 9.2.5). The latter type is called the dative subject. The Predicate is represented either by a Verb Phrase (VP) or a NP. Both these may have PPs as complements or adjuncts. Sentences that have NP predicates are generally equative. The four types are illustrated below, taking (to the extent possible) one language from each subgroup:

(1) NP + VP

  1. a. Ta. avaṉ va-nt-āṉ

  2. [he come-past-3m-sg]

  3. ‘he (informal) came’

  4. b. Te. wāḍu wacc-ǣ-ḍu

  5. [he come-past-3m-sg]

  6. ‘he (informal) came’

  7. c. Pa. tolen-kul verrar

  8. [brother-pl come-past-3m-pl]

  9. ‘the brothers came’

  10. d. Kuṛ. tam-bas ke-cc-as

  11. [he-gen-father die-past-3m-sg]

  12. ‘his father died’

(2) NP + NP

  1. a. Ta. avar eṉ āciriyar

  2. [he-hon I-poss teacher-hon]

  3. ‘he (polite) is my teacher’

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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  • Syntax
  • Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, University of Hyderabad, India
  • Book: The Dravidian Languages
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486876.011
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  • Syntax
  • Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, University of Hyderabad, India
  • Book: The Dravidian Languages
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486876.011
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Syntax
  • Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, University of Hyderabad, India
  • Book: The Dravidian Languages
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486876.011
Available formats
×