LINGUIST List 13.2991

Mon Nov 18 2002

Diss: Lang Description: Telles "Phonology..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. stellatelles, Lang Description: Telles "Phonology and Grammar of Latund�/Lakond�"

Message 1: Lang Description: Telles "Phonology and Grammar of Latund�/Lakond�"

Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 04:46:46 +0000
From: stellatelles <>
Subject: Lang Description: Telles "Phonology and Grammar of Latund�/Lakond�"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Vrije Universiteit
Program: Faculteir der Letteren
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Stella Telles 

Dissertation Title: 
The Phonology and Grammar of Latund�/Lakond�

Linguistic Field: Language Description

Dissertation Director 1: Leo Wetzels
Dissertation Director 2: Willem Adelaar

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation contains a description of the phonology and the
grammar of Lakond� and Latund�, which belong to the family of
Nambikwara languages, spoken in the region that is located in the
southern part of the Amazon basin, in Brazil. The languages are spoken
in an area that is known for its great linguistic diversity, which
extends beyond the border of Brazil into the Bolivian Amazon.

At this moment, the Latund� number 19 individuals. Of the former
Lakond� community only seven persons are known to be alive, but there
has not been an autonomous group since at least 50 years. This study,
which was started in 1998, originally only intended to describe the
language of the Latund�. However, in the course of the research
project, in 2001 to be precise, we discovered the person who very well
be the last competent speaker of Lakond�. Together with Latund�,
Mamaind� and Negarot�, Lakond� forms the Northern branch of the
Nambikwara family, and was believed to be extinct. The language data
we have collected for Lakond� show its very close relationship with
Latund�. This observation, together with the consideration that,
especially with regard to Lakond�, linguistic documentation was a
matter of 'now or never', was crucial in our decision to describe both
languages in parallel. 

The dissertation is divided into three different parts and contains
seven chapters. The first part deals with the phonology and is based
on Latund�, while the (sporadic) differences with Lakond� are discussed
in the footnotes. The second and third part concern the morphology and
syntax, respectively. These parts are mainly based on Lakond�, whereas
here the particularities of Latund� are addressed in the footnotes.
Part I contains a single chapter, and describes the vowels, diphthongs
and consonants, syllable structure, word-stress and its interaction
with tone. Also, the most important phonological processes are
discussed, such as assimilation (nasal assimilation, palatalisation,
glottalisation and tone spreading), dissimilation, syncope and
syllable reduction. Part II contains five chapters. The first chapter
provides an introduction to the main characteristics of word formation
in Latund�/Lakond�, as well as a sketch of the relevant word classes
that are presented and elaborated in the following four chapters:
nouns, verbs, adverbs, and interrogative pronouns. Part III presents
the syntax. It contains a typology of word order, simple and complex
clauses. In all parts of the study parallels are discussed between the
grammars of Latund� and Lakond�, when there were differences in form or
usage between the two languages. Whenever no explicit mention is made
of the other language, this means that in both languages the same form
or structure is used for a given linguistic category.

 \From a typological point of view, Latund� and Lakond� show the
morphological structure of polysynthetic languages: there are a large
number of morphemes per word, structured in a linear fashion, and both
languages show the phenomenon of noun incorporation. However,
different from what is usually found in polysynthetic languages,
Latund� and Lakond� possess the process of verb serialisation, which in
the literature is commonly related to more isolating morphologies or
Creole languages. Latund� and Lakond� are languages of the
active-stative type, which use a different marking of the pronominal
affixes in two verbal subclasses that encode the notion of 'activity'
- 'inactivity' of the participants in the clause.
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