A grammar of the Neverver language of Malakula (Vanuatu)
Barbour, J. R. (2009). A grammar of the Neverver language of Malakula (Vanuatu) (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4400
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4400
A grammar of the Neverver language of Malakula (Vanuatu) is a synchronic account of the endangered Neverver language spoken by the Mindu and Sakhan peoples. The description is one outcome of a larger project to document the Neverver language, and it is based on a large and varied corpus of communicative events collected from Neverver speakers residing in the villages of Limap and Lingarakh. The description includes an account of the phonological system of the language, where complex segments with prenasalisation, including bilabial and alveolar trills, contrast with plain segments. Heterogeneous and geminate sequences of consonants are permitted in the language, provided syllable onsets and codes are simple. Epenthesis can be employed to ensure that the maximal CVC syllable template is adhered to. The nominal system displays classes of common, personal, and local nouns, along with independent pronouns, and a set of pronominal-nouns. Possessive constructions suggest an earlier system based on the semantic notion of alienability; today constructions are formed by a combination of semantic and phonological properties. The nominal modifying particle is employed in one type of possessive construction, as well as in relative clauses with definite heads. Verbs are either inherently transitive or intransitive; valency increase is achieved with suffixation, while valency decrease can be achieved with reduplication. Reduplication is common in the corpus and typically serves as a marker of low transitivity. In keeping with the basic constraint on syllable structure, the reduplicative prefix has a CV(C) template. In terms of verbal morphology, Neverver is a mood-prominent language, with all verbal predicates being marked for either realis or irrealis mood. Further tense/aspect distinctions can be indicated with optional verbal morphology. The basic word order of verbal predicates is SVO, and the language is both head-initial and head-marking. A number of complex constructions have been identified in the language. Complex nuclei, including incorporated objects and nuclear serial verb constructions, contrast structurally with core serial verb constructions. Concordant mood marking characterises core serial constructions, while sentential complements display varying patterns of mood dependency. Adverbial subordination and subordinating tail-head linkage contrast with coordinate structures, including syndetic coordination and juxtaposition. A variety of inter-propositional semantic relations are expressed through these complex structures.
The University of Waikato
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