On the word order of locative prepositional phrases in Cantonese : [thesis]

Wing-man Kwan
Cantonese is unusual as a VO language in having [PP V] as the dominant order instead of [V PP]. Dryer (1992) found that VO order correlates strongly with [V PP] order. Hawkins (1994) offered an explanation in arguing that VO language and [V [ PP P NP]] order can be processed with optimal processing efficiency. This paper investigates the reasons why Cantonese still employs the [PP V] order despite its lower processing efficiency. While [[ PP P NP] V] order in Cantonese conforms to iconicity,
more » ... inefficiency of the [[ PP P NP] V] order is circumvented due to the availability of the topic PP construction, which is shown to have higher processing efficiency when compared to [[ PP P NP] V] by Hawkins" (1994) metric of Early Immediate Constituents (EIC). Corpus findings show that the heavier the PP, the larger the percentage appearing in topic position. As I will argue, the topic PP construction which exhibits both iconicity and processing efficiency shows that the two seemingly competing functional motivations, iconicity and processing are compatible with each other.  This paper is based on my MPhil thesis (Kwan, 2005) . Parts of this paper have been
doi:10.5353/th_b3145014 fatcat:i4wugrz4zngadbohva6mei3poa