[X] Anthropological Linguistics

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Vol. 53, no. 3 (Fall 2011)


Contents

Serial Verb Constructions in Dyirbal R. M. W. Dixon 185

Language Contact and the Genetic Position of Milang (Eastern Himalaya) Mark W. Post and Yankee Modi 215

“We Don’t Know What We Become”: Navajo Ethnopoetics and an Expressive Feature in a Poem by Rex Lee Jim Blackhorse Mitchell and Anthony K. Webster 259

Book Reviews

The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology (Jae Jung Song, editor) Jeffrey Heath 287
Explorations in Navajo Poetry and Poetics (Anthony K. Webster) David Samuels 289
We Are Our Language: An Ethnography of Language Revitalization in a Northern Athabaskan Community (Barbra A. Meek) Patrick Moore 291

Abstracts

Serial Verb Constructions in Dyirbal

R. M. W. Dixon
Cairns Insitute, James Cook University

Abstract. Both symmetrical and asymmetrical types of serial verb constructions can be recognized for the Australian language Dyirbal; all verbs in a serial verb construction agree in surface transitivity and inflection. Criteria for recognizing serial verb constructions are discussed (including difficulties that arise in the context of purposive constructions), as well as the types of verbs taking part in these constructions, techniques for transitivity matching, inflectional possibilities, the occurrence of derivational suffixes and reduplication, and the range of meanings conveyed.

Language Contact and the Genetic Position of Milang (Eastern Himalaya)

Mark W. Post
University of Bern

Yankee Modi
University of Bern

Abstract. This article discusses the relationship between Milang, a little- known language of the Eastern Himalayan region, and the Tani branch of Tibeto-Burman languages with which it has been provisionally aligned. Reviewing this alignment, we find little positive evidence in its favor. Bringing new linguistic and cultural field data to bear on the question, we conclude that Milang contains much linguistic material that cannot possibly be directly inherited from the ancestor of all Tani languages proper (i.e., “Proto-Tani”). We therefore suggest that material shared with Tani languages proper is either reconstructible to an earlier, pre-Proto-Tani stage, or has been subsequently acquired through contact with Eastern Tani languages. Material not shared with Tani languages proper may reflect an unknown substrate. While our resulting re-classification of Tani languages is thus in a sense quite minor, it has some important implications: first, that cultural and linguistic diversity in the Eastern Himalaya was probably much greater than has been assumed, and second, that sociolinguistic and cultural information are critical factors in the evaluation of linguistic subgrouping proposals and the reconstruction of pre-history.

“We Don’t Know What We Become”: Navajo Ethnopoetics and an Expressive Feature in a Poem by Rex Lee Jim

Blackhorse Mitchell
Red Mesa High School

Anthony K. Webster
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Abstract. We offer an ethnopoetic interpretation of an expressive feature—insertion of a velar fricative after the stem-initial consonant—that aids in indicating a “lack of control” in a poem written in Navajo by the poet Rex Lee Jim. We focus on how this expressive device is used to indicate an affective stance; the affinity in sound between the optional consonant cluster -chx- in this poem and the chx- found in the Navajo verb stem -chxǫ’ ‘ugly, disorderly’ is crucial in understanding the expressive work of the velar fricative. That such expressive features have sometimes been neglected in the linguistic representation of Navajo is also of interest.


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