LINGUIST List 13.1017

Sat Apr 13 2002

Books: Typology:Verb Classification & Australian Langs

Editor for this issue: Dina Kapetangianni <>

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  1. Julia Ulrich, Verb Classification in Australian Languages by W. B. McGregor (ed.)

Message 1: Verb Classification in Australian Languages by W. B. McGregor (ed.)

Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2002 14:58:37 +0200
From: Julia Ulrich <>
Subject: Verb Classification in Australian Languages by W. B. McGregor (ed.)

William B. McGregor (Editor)
Verb Classification in Australian Languages
2002. 23 x 15,5 cm. XIV, 495 pages.
Cloth. EUR 108,- /sFr 173,- /approx. US$ 108.00
ISBN 3-11-017141-4
(Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 25)

Noun classification has always been popular among linguists, and there
is an immense body of literature on the topic; yet the corresponding
phenomenon of verbal classification remains largely unknown and little
explored. This book deals with systems of verb classification in
Australian Aboriginal languages, with a particular focus on languages
of the north-west of the continent. Most of these languages
distinguish two types of verbal construction: a simple verb
construction consisting of an inflecting verb (often belonging to a
closed word class), and a compound verb construction consisting of an
almost invariant verbal element (uninflecting verb) together with an
inflecting verb. In the latter construction, it is argued, the
inflecting verb serves as a verbal classifier, categorising the
uninflecting verb and its conceptual referent.

The book has three main objectives: the first is to provide a
description of the main formal and semantic characteristics of verb
classification systems in Australia, identifying the main parameters
of consistency and variation. The second is to make some proposals
concerning their historical origins and subsequent development,
culminating in their degrammaticalisation in some languages. It is
suggested that the verbal conjugation class systems characteristic of
Pama-Nyungan languages of the southern and eastern parts of the
continent have historical origins in classifying compound verb
constructions, thus challenging the received account according to
which they developed via reanalysis of root-final consonants as
conjugation markers: the latter derive, rather, from classifying
inflecting verbs. The third aim is to put forward some suggestions
regarding the grammatical relationships involved in verb
classification, in an attempt to situate it within the wider context
of related grammatical phenomena such as complex predicate
constructions, serial verb constructions, noun incorporation, etc.,
and to identify what is essential to the grammatical phenomenon of


1. Introduction
2. The Gooniyandi verb classifier system
3. CVC-based verb category systems
4. Comparison of verb category systems
5. Verb class systems: conjugations
6. The grammar of verb superclassifying constructions
7. Related grammatical phenomena
8. Evolution of verb classification in Australia
9. Verb classification in discourse: a preliminary investigation
10. Conclusions

For more information please contact the publisher:
Mouton de Gruyter
Genthiner Str. 13
10785 Berlin, Germany
Fax: +49 30 26005 222

Please visit our website for other publications by Mouton de Gruyter
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Thursday, January 17, 2002