Grammaticalization and the discourse distribution of serial verbs in Assamese

Post, Mark W. (2008) Grammaticalization and the discourse distribution of serial verbs in Assamese. In: SEALS XIV: papers from the 14th annual meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 2004 (2), pp. 23-34. From: 14th annual meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 2004, May 19-21, 2004, Bangkok, Thailand.

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Abstract

[Extract] Assamese, the majority language of Assam state in Northeast India, is not often included among "Southeast Asian" languages. An Indo-Aryan language, its closest genetic relatives are Bengali and Oriya, and its relation to Hindi is not thought to be remote (Pattanayak 1966; Grimes 1996). However, as the easternmost Indo-Aryan language, Assamese is also situated precisely at the western frontiers of Southeast Asia. Mainly spoken in the plains of the Brahmaputra river valley, it has long been in contact with speakers of the many Tibeto-Burman, Austro-Asiatic and Tai languages found throughout the plains and, particularly, throughout the surrounding hills (Kakati 1995). Assamese is spoken as a second or trade language by millions of Northeast Indians, and has been fully or partially creolized repeatedly throughout its history; the most well-documented example of this is "Nagamese", an Asssamese-based creole which many residents of Nagaland and neighbouring areas now speak as a first language (Bhattacharjya 2001).

As might be anticipated given these available influences, Assamese has shed some stereotypically South Asian features and taken on some features more commonly found in Southeast Asian languages. Modern Assamese has a greatly reduced segment inventory, with alveolar rather than the more usual Indic dental and retroflex stops and continuants. It has also lost earlier verbal cross-referencing of gender and number, and has a relatively reduced and pragmatically-sensitive set of case-forms (Goswami and Tamuli 2003; Edwards 2004). At the same time, Assamese has gained young but evidently robust systems of numeral classifiers and relator nouns (Benom MS), and can in general be said to have shifted towards a relatively more isolating morphological profile than its ancestors and Indic neighbors. 2 Another important feature of Assamese, potentially related to contact with Southeast Asian languages and/or shift toward a more isolating typology, is a construction which will be analyzed here as a variety of verb serialization.

Item ID: 17862
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-85883-593-1
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2011 06:51
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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