Linguistic Discovery

Table of Contents

Volume 14, Issue 1 (2016)

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Relative Clauses in Upper Necaxa Totonac: Local, Comparative, and Diachronic Perspectives
     by David Beck    (PDF - 9762k)
     doi: 10.1349/PS1.1537-0852.A.469

Relativization strategies in the Totonacan family are largely undescribed, but detailed examination of one of the languages in the group, Upper Necaxa Totonac, reveals the presence of both externally- and internally-headed relative constructions. Also of note is the presence of relativizers that mark the animacy (human/non-human) of the head of the relative construction. This paper will show that, while phylogenetic evidence clearly demonstrates the relativizers to be descended diachronically from interrogative pronouns, they are best treated syn-chronically as complementizers, an analysis that follows directly from the presence of internally-headed relative constructions.

Exloring Grammatical Complexity Crosslinguistically
     by Francesca Di Garbo    (PDF - 1138k)
     doi: 10.1349/PS1.1537-0852.A.468

This paper proposes a set of principles and methodologies for the crosslinguistic investigation of grammatical complexity and applies them to the in-depth study of one grammatical domain, gender. The complexity of gender is modeled on the basis of crosslinguistically documented properties of gender systems and by taking into consideration interactions between gender and two other grammatical domains: nominal number and evaluative morphology. The study proposes a complexity metric for gender that consists of six features: “Gender values”, “Assignment rules”, “Number of indexation (agreement) domains”, “Cumulative exponence of gender and number”, “Manipulation of gender assignment triggered by number/countability”, and “Manipulation of gender assignment triggered by size”. The metric is tested on a sample of 84 African languages, organized in subsamples of genealogically related languages. The results of the investigation show that: (1) the gender systems of the sampled languages lean towards high complexity scores; (2) languages with purely semantic gender assignment tend to lack pervasive gender indexation; (3) languages with a high number of gender distinctions tend to exhibit pervasive gender indexation; (4) some of the uses of manipulable gender assignment are only attested in languages with a high number of gender distinctions and/or pervasive indexation. With respect to the distribution of the gender complexity scores, the results show that genealogically related languages tend to have the same or similar gender complexity scores. Languages that display exceedingly low or high gender complexity scores when compared with closely related languages exhibit distinctive sociolinguistic profiles (contact, bi- or multilingualism). The implications of these findings for the typology of gender systems and the crosslinguistic study of grammatical complexity and its distribution are discussed.

A Phonology of Ganza (Gwàmi Nánà)
     by Joshua Smolders    (PDF - 11653k)
     doi: 10.1349/PS1.1537-0852.A.470

Ganza is a previously undescribed Omotic language of the Mao subgroup, and is the only Omotic language found primarily outside of Ethiopia. This paper presents the results of nearly a year of phonological fieldwork on Ganza in the form of a descriptive phonology. Included are presentations of the consonant and vowel phonemes, syllable structure and phonotactics, notable morphophonemic processes, and an overview of the tone system. Some interesting features of the phonology highlighted in this paper include the existence of a nasalizing glottal stop phoneme, lack of phonemic vowel length, a lexically determined vocalic alternation between ja~e, and the existence of "construct melodies" in the tone system. Given that both Omotic languages in general and especially the Mao subfamily are understudied, this paper provides much-needed data and analysis for the furtherance of Omotic linguistics.

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