A grammar of Munya

Bai, Junwei (2019) A grammar of Munya. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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View at Publisher Website: https://doi.org/10.25903/2shv-x307


This is a reference grammar of Munya, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the western part of Sichuan province in China. The data that this thesis draws from were collected during a one-year immersion fieldwork and are analyzed within the framework of Basic Linguistic Theory. This study covers the core aspects of the language, including phonetics and phonology, morphology, word classes, grammatical categories, clause structures, and discourse and pragmatics.

Munya has a fairly large phoneme inventory, with forty consonants and thirteen vowels. The language has a binary tonal contrast, a high tone and a low tone, and the two tones constitute a range of patterns. Morphological processes in Munya include cliticization, affixation, reduplication and vowel alternation. The language has a wide variety of vowel harmonies. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are open word classes and there are in addition eight closed classes. The major syntactic function of nouns is to function as arguments. They can take numeral classifiers and plural markers. The major syntactic function of verbs is to act as predicates. Most verbs can be morphologically analyzed as consisting of a root and a directional prefix. There are altogether seven directional prefixes in Munya. Verbs show person-number inflection and derivations of causative and pluractionality. The predominant person-number inflectional paradigm is first person singular, second person singular, and first or second person non-singular.

Adjectives can modify nouns and function as predicates, and tend to be inherently reduplicated. There are ten cases in Munya. Core syntactic functions can be marked by the ergative case i, the absolutive case (in zero form), the genitive case ɣɛ, the dative case le and the experiential case ɣɛ. The patterns of alignment are different for different types of verbs.

For control verbs, the pattern is basically ergative-absolutive, and for non-control verbs, the pattern is consistently nominative-accusative. There are three aspects, which are the stative aspect, the perfective aspect and the imperfective aspect. There are also three evidential markers, which are the direct evidential, the indirect evidential and the reported evidential. There are two egophorics in Munya. ŋo can only be used in context of first or second person subject and control predicate. nyi can occur with all persons and all types of predicates. Copula verbs in Munya can denote IDENTITY, LOCATION, EXISTENCE, and POSSESSION. The senses of LOCATION, EXISTENCE and POSSESSION can be expressed with one copula. Munya has multiple copula verbs of existence, the choice of which is determined by the semantics of the Copula Determining Referent (CDR), which can be realized as copula subject or copula complement. Some copulas have extended functions.

When attached to copulas, the directional prefix tʰo - 'away from the speaker' can mark perfectiveness. Polar interrogatives and negations are expressed with prefixes on verbs or auxiliaries. Imperatives can be categorized into second-person imperative clauses and first person imperative clauses, and the former can be further classified into immediate imperative, future imperative and polite imperative. Munya has relative clauses and complement clauses, and the two types of structures are closely related to nominalization.

Munya has indirect, direct, and semi-direct speech reports. In semi-direct speech report, the subject in the matrix clause and the embedded clause are co-referential, and the subject in the embedded clause needs to shift to the reflexive form. Meanwhile, the verb or auxiliary in the embedded clause inflects for the person-number of the subject before it is shifted. The narrative genre of Munya discourse features prevalent bridging constructions, including recapitulative linkage and summary linkage. In the first type of linkage, a dependent clause is used to recapitulate in verbatim or in close paraphrase the preceding clause, and in the second type, a clause containing a demonstrative anaphorically summarizes the content of a discourse unit, typically a paragraph. At the end of the thesis there is an appendix of a long story and a vocabulary of around 2,800 words.

Item ID: 64348
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Munya language, Tibeto-Burman languages, Sichuan Province, China, Tibet, grammar, vocabulary, phonetics, phonology, morphology, morphonology, discourse, language typology
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2019 Junwei Bai.
Additional Information:

For this thesis, Junwei Bai received the Graduate Research School Medal of Excellence.

Audio recordings and transcriptions are stored in the Cloud of Language and Culture Research Centre, Tropical languages and cultures archive, LCRC.

Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2020 00:09
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 100%
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