Noun phrase complexity and contiguity in a Papuan language

Bruno Olsson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This article considers NP complexity and discontinuity in the Papuan language Coastal Marind. First, I give an overview of NP structure in the language, which is characterized by extremely limited possibility of elaboration and modification. I connect this to the observation that Papuan languages are characterized by exceptionally simple NP structures. The lack of research makes it difficult to evaluate the significance of such observations, but I suggest that Coastal Marind is an example of a Papuan language that imposes very strict upper boundaries on NP complexity. Second, while an argument could be made that Coastal Marind NPs allow considerable discontinuity, more thorough consideration of the facts reveals a fundamental, tight-knit, left-branching NP structure, which contrasts with relatively rarely employed looser nominal configurations, including discontinuous nominal expressions. The discontinuous construals are restricted primarily by information structure. Although considered grammatical by speakers, they are extremely rare in corpus data. I propose that aboutness is an important factor constraining the choice of nominal construal types in Coastal Marind discourse.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)829 - 863
    JournalLinguistics: an interdisciplinary journal of the language sciences
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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