A grammar of Nungon: a Papuan language of the Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea

Sarvasy, Hannah Sacha (2014) A grammar of Nungon: a Papuan language of the Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

This thesis is a reference grammar of Nungon, a Papuan (non-Austronesian) language spoken by about 1,000 people in the southern Uruwa River valley, Kabwum District, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. Nungon forms the southern, higher-elevation, end of an elliptical dialect continuum with the Uruwa River at its center. This grammar focuses on the dialect of Towet village.

Nungon is an agglutinating language with some fusion. Nouns, adjectives, and verbs are open classes. There are relatively few inflecting verbs, however; loans are incorporated with auxiliary verbs. Clauses are verb-final, and morphology is predominantly suffixing. Grammatical relations are marked with enclitics. Nungon is a clause-chaining language. Medial clauses have verbal predicates that are unmarked for tense or mood, while final clauses have verbal predicates that are fully-inflected for tense or mood. Medial clauses are marked for switch-reference.

Two different number systems operate in different areas of Nungon grammar. The maximal number system is a tripartite one, with singular, dual and plural number values distinguished. This system features in subject argument indexation on final and medial verbs, number marking on nouns with prototypically-human referents, and the emphatic (reflexive/contrastive) personal pronouns. The second number system is a bipartite one, with singular and non-singular (more than one) number values distinguished. This system features in object argument indexation on verbs and basic personal pronouns. Nungon has no grammatical gender. Animacy and humanness play roles in the grammar: only nouns with prototypically human referents may be marked for number, while some verbal categories, such as the Perfect aspect, only occur when the verb's subject argument has animate reference.

Nungon has 14 consonant phonemes in regular use, two additional rare consonants, and six vowels. It has more phonemic distinctions among back vowels than among front vowels. Phonological word boundaries may be distinguished on several grounds, including restrictions on phonological word-final consonant phonemes, spirantization of stops intervocalically within phonological words, and prohibition on prenasalization of phonological word-initial voiced obstruents.

Verbal morphology is complex. A closed subset of transitive verbs obligatorily bear prefixes indexing the verb's object argument. Five tenses are distinguished through verbal inflection; two of the distinctions among tenses are neutralized under negation. The Near Future tense also functions in conditionals and statements of general truths. Additional inflectional categories of final verbs are: Immediate and Delayed Imperatives, Probable, Irrealis, Counterfactual, and Inferred Imperfective aspect. Habitual, Continuous, and Continuous Habitual apects are marked through auxiliary constructions. The Inferred Imperfective aspect combines non-direct evidentiality and imperfective aspect. Non-final verb forms mark additional aspectual distinctions.

The grammar contains 13 chapters. Chapter 1 gives the linguistic, cultural, and geographical context for the Nungon language. Chapter 2 presents phonology, including intonation. Chapter 3 describes word classes. Chapter 4 explains nominal morphology and characteristics of the Noun Phrase. Chapter 5 outlines final verbal morphology. Chapter 6 discusses non-final verbal morphology, including the Nungon switch-reference system, aspect marking, and Causative constructions. Chapter 7 introduces Nungon personal pronouns and demonstratives. Chapter 8 examines the five grammatical relation-marking enclitics and one related suffix. Chapter 9 reports on representation of possession in Nungon, with explanation of kin terminology as it pertains to possessive marking. Chapter 10 is an exposition of Nungon clause types, including both verbless clauses and clauses with verbal predicates. Chapter 11 analyzes two major types of complex predicates: light verb constructions, and tight multiverb constructions. Chapter 12 is an account of clause combining in Nungon, including coordination of final clauses, relative constructions, complementation strategies, subordinate clauses, and speech reports. Finally, Chapter 13 includes descriptions of grammatical morphemes that function at the clause level, as well as documentation of Nungon narrative information structure, discourse organizationi, and the pragmatics of communication.

The appendix includes four texts: two dialogues and two monologual narratives.

Item ID: 40832
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: discourse; grammar; languages; lexicography; linguistic structures; linguistics; Morobe Province; Nungon; Papua New Guinea; Papuan languages; phonology
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2015 06:13
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200407 Lexicography @ 50%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950202 Languages and Literacy @ 50%
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