Determination and modification in English and Tonga: a contrastive account
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This study examined the syntactic processes of determination and modification as they apply to English and Tonga by carrying out a contrastive analysis of the two processes in the two languages. The exercise was undertaken in order to establish whether or not there were any similarities and differences in the formation of the two processes in the two languages. Specifically, the study examined the underlying phrasal categorial features of the determiner phrase; that is, word order, agreement and headness, the Binarity principle within the phrase, the nature of determiners and modifiers as well as how the concepts of definiteness and indefiniteness are realized in Tonga. The study based its conclusion on the data collected from both primary and secondary sources. Monze and the confines of the University of Zambia were the principle study areas. For primary data, informants, who were bilingual in English and Tonga, were served with a simple phrase list which contained potential phrases in English and Tonga. They were required to provide equivalents in each language. With regard to data analysis, the study adopted a qualitative approach. Each finding was analysed in accordance with the research objectives. In this connection, the major findings of the study are thus: (i) the structure of the determiner phrase in English is different from that of Tonga in terms of word order; (ii) the nature of determiners and modifiers in Tonga is influenced by the noun class system so that a given determiner/modifier agrees with a given noun not only in number and class, but also in the feature inanimate/animate; (iii) possessives in Tonga especially those that denote consanguinity show instances of incorporation; (iv) Tonga shows an instance of an adherence to the parametric choice between head-first and head-last parameters when it comes to demonstratives. Demonstratives can either be post or pre nominal; and (v) Tonga unlike English does not realize definiteness and indefiniteness by article but rather by the speech context. As a result of some provoking issues arising from the findings in this study, which unfortunately supersede the scope of the research objectives, the study recommends: the formulation of a syntactic model which should be used to explain grammatical differences that exist between and among languages. Such a model should not only make generalizations about languages, but should also point out within the universal grammar linguistic features that are uniquely identifiable to a particular language. The study further recommends a re-look at the generalization concerning the binary choices that a language is said to make between the Head-first and Head-last parameters. The findings on Tonga have shown that Tonga oscillates between these parameters when it comes to demonstratives.