Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor

Paul Kroeger


This dissertation is a description of the grammar of West Coast (WC) Bajau, a western Austronesian language spoken in Sabah, Malaysia by some 60,000 people. Drawing extensively from elicited data as well as a corpus of compiled texts, I describe the language at its various levels: phonology, morphology, phrase structure, clause structure, clause-combining operations, and discourse. In its verbal morphology, WC Bajau shows a (marked) actor-orientation vs. (unmarked) undergoer orientation with both transitive and intransitive verb roots. I show evidence for a verb phrase in WC Bajau, in one (and possibly two) voices. Investigation of the pragmatic structure of the clause shows that WC Bajau has both a topic and a focal position preverbally. Though primarily descriptive in nature, the grammar devotes some space to theoretical issues concerned with the voice system, which has long been the subject of debate among linguists and typologists studying western Austronesian languages. I argue on primarily syntactic grounds that WC Bajau shows little evidence for an ergative-antipassive voice system, as has been proposed for a number of other Sama-Bajaw languages. Instead, WC Bajau patterns as a symmetrical voice language with two transitive voices, as well as a 'true passive' voice. In this and other respects, WC Bajau resembles Malay/ Indonesian and Balinese ('Indonesian-type' languages) as opposed to the indigenous languages of Sabah and some Sama-Bajaw languages, which show greater resemblance to the 'Philippine-type' languages.


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Linguistics Commons