[X] Anthropological Linguistics

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Vol. 40, no. 2 (Summer 1998)


Symposium on Irrealis

Irrealis in Pilagá and Toba? Syntactic versus Pragmatic Coding Alejandra Vidal and Harriet E. Manelis Klein175
Irrealis Constructions in Mocho (Mayan) Laura Martin198
Irrealis and Perfect in Itzaj Maya Charles Andrew Hofling214
Lake Miwok Irrealis Catherine A. Callaghan228
Is Irrealis a Grammatical Category in Upper Chehalis? M. Dale Kinkade234
Irrealis as Category, Meaning, or Reference Edward H. Bendix245
"Irrealis" as a Grammatical Category Joan L. Bybee257
Automatic Componential Analysis of Kinship Semantics with a Proposed Structural Solution to the Problem of Multiple Models Vladimir Pericliev and Raúl E. Valdés-Pérez272

Review Essay

Semitic and Indo-European: The Prinicipal Etymologies, with Observations on Afro-Asiatic (Saul Levin)Carleton T. Hodge 318

Discussion and Debate

RejoinderJ. Marshall Unger333

Book Reviews

The Tongue is Fire: South African Storytellers and Apartheid (Harold Scheub)Robert K. Herbert335
Korle Meets the Sea: A Sociolinguistic History of Accra (M. E. Kropp Dakubu)Adams Bodomo337
A Language of Our Own: The Genesis of Michif, the Mixed Cree-French Language of the Canadian Métis (Peter Bakker)Patrick Douaud340
Contactos y transferencias lingüísticas en Hispanoamérica (Signo y Seña: Revista del Instituto de Lingüística 6)Yolanda Lastra343
Language Contact in Japan: A Socio-Linguistic History (Leo J. Loveday) J. Marshall Unger346
Aryans and British India (Thomas R. Trautmann)Garland Cannon348
Negotiating Identity: Rhetoric, Metaphor, and Social Drama in Northern Ireland (Anthony D. Buckley and Mary Catherine Kenney) Steve Coleman351
Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language (Adele E. Goldberg)William A. Foley353
Speech Acts and Conversational Interaction: Toward a Theory of Conversational Competence (Michael L. Geis)Jef Verschueren356
Historical Syntax in Cross-Linguistic Perspective (Alice C. Harris and Lyle Campbell)H. Paul Manning357


Irrealis in Pilagá and Toba? Syntactic versus Pragmatic Coding

Alejandra Vidal
University of Oregon

Harriet E. Manelis Klein
Montclair State University

Abstract. Despite the agglutinative tendency encountered in the grammars of Toba and Pilagá (both Guaykuruan languages), verbs do not exhibit tense and mood categories. We argue that "irrealis" is signaled by the 'distal' markers ga' in Pilagá and ka in Toba. We show that signaling is at the pragmatic level of coding, and not yet at the syntactic level. 'Distal' deictics occur attached to demonstratives and proforms, nouns, and interrogative words in declarative and nondeclarative speech acts. They apply to any nominal participant perceived as 'absent' or 'unknown'. From the stance of both the speaker and the hearer, ga' and ka may pragmatically code that the event in question has not been realized, is hypothetical, or is a future projection. In addition, we hypothesize a diachronic path for development of negative existential constructions in these languages and a possible relationship between the 'distal' markers, "negation," and "irrealis."

Irrealis Constructions in Mocho (Mayan)

Laura Martin
Cleveland State University

Abstract. Mocho, a Q'anjob'alan Mayan language, employs several strategies for the expression of realis-irrealis meanings. Three principal mechanisms are -oq, a suffix used on numerals, nominals, and certain verbal complements; patz, a preverbal particle; and kee, a sentential particle. The distribution, multiple functions, and special uses of these constructions are illustrated in a range of text sources, including conversation. Together, these devices demonstrate that the irrealis category in Mocho is not amenable to a single analysis and is best understood as involving a spectrum of meanings and speaker stances that are neither grammatically nor discursively unified. Irrealis is, however, a significant feature of Mocho discourse and may be a particularly productive locus of linguistic change.

Irrealis and Perfect in Itzaj Maya

Charles Andrew Hofling
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Abstract. This article examines a range of constructions in Itzaj (Itza) Maya that evidence distinctive verbal morphology encoding irrealis semantics. It is shown that irrealis marking crosscuts the categories of tense-aspect, mood, and status. Irrealis marking is found in the optative and imperative moods, the dependent and imperative statuses, and in certain adverbial-focus constructions that may have perfect aspectual meanings. After examining the relevant data and sketching their discourse functions, it is shown that irrealis semantics is prototypical of these constructions, and the connections between the categories irrealis and perfect are outlined. The linkage of irrealis and perfect is also briefly considered as a reflection of Mayan world view.

Lake Miwok Irrealis

Catherine A. Callaghan
Ohio State University

Abstract. This article investigates the extent to which categories normally labeled "irrealis" are marked in a similar fashion in Lake Miwok, a central California Indian language. Sentences involving negation, the future, wishes, hopes, contrary-to-fact conditions, and result clauses are considered from synchronic and historical perspectives.

Is Irrealis a Grammatical Category in Upper Chehalis?

M. Dale Kinkade
University of British Columbia

Abstract. The category "irrealis" has been identified for a wide range of languages, yet remains inconsistently defined. Most consider it a category within mode, and it has usually been associated with various clause structures, such as conditional, subjunctive, negative, interrogative, etc., and with indications of future. This article shows how these and related concepts are expressed in Upper Chehalis (Salish). Some of the concepts are expressed by particles and proclitics, others by subordinating constructions. Illustration of these various concepts suggests that Upper Chehalis has abundant ways of expressing a concept of unreality, but that irrealis is confined to modal clitics.

Irrealis as Category, Meaning, or Reference

Edward H. Bendix
City University of New York

Abstract. Problems encountered in defining or applying a label like "irrealis" arise when a discussion fails to distinguish among three kinds of uses to which different scholars happen to put the label. It may be language specific, i.e., a linguist may use it as a label for a grammatical category in the description of a particular language. Here, we may not be told on what basis the speakers' uses and translations were judged, and therefore analyzed, as referring to events that are not realis or, at least, not real. And, further, we may not be able to judge from the description whether a category called irrealis in the language is best analyzed as simply the unmarked member in opposition to one marked "realis." The resulting inconsistencies prompt some scholars to counsel avoidance of the term. Irrealis may also be a label in our linguistic metalanguage. Here, it represents a vague concept for universal description of languages whose precise definition we are still seeking. Or, irrealis may be attributed to the meaning of a category in a language because the category can be understood to refer to "unreal" events, in a confusion of the unreality of the referents with the category's meaning. The latter, however, may allow such reference on other grounds. Reconciliation of these uses will be attempted using marking theory and pragmatic inference and illustrated with a tense-mood-aspect marker in Newari (Tibeto-Burman) that is a candidate for the label "irrealis," even though it can also refer to actions we would want to judge "real."

"Irrealis" as a Grammatical Category

Joan L. Bybee
University of New Mexico

Abstract. It is argued here that the term "irrealis" reflects a Jakobsonian view of grammatical categories as members of binary oppositions based on a single feature of meaning that is equally present in all contexts of use. This notion of irrealis does not therefore fit well with more current views of categories as tokens of use organized around a prototype with which they share some but not necessarily all features, nor with the view that grammatical markers develop diachronically from meaningful lexical items as used in specific constructions.

Automatic Componential Analysis of Kinship Semantics with a Proposed Structural Solution to the Problem of Multiple Models

Vladimir Pericliev
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Raúl E. Valdés-Pérez
Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract. The article describes a computer program, called KINSHIP, that performs componential analysis of kinship terminologies. KINSHIP can produce the guaranteed-simplest analyses, employing a minimum number of features (dimensions) and components in kin term definitions. We give special attention to the problem of multiplicity of componential models, arising from alternative simplest kin term definitions, conforming to one feature set. Two intuitive structural constraints are proposed, reducing the immense number of solutions usually obtained, employing only the previous two simplicity restrictions, to one or a few analyses. Illustrative examples are given in which KINSHIP is applied to kinship systems of the Eskimo (Bulgarian, American English) and Sudanese (Turkish) structural types. For the American (Yankee) system, as described by Goodenough, KINSHIP has discovered the most parsimonious analysis known to us. KINSHIP, with its capabilities to produce all alternative componential analyses--not only the simplest ones--can also be a practical aid to analysts having concerns other than the parsimony of models.

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