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LINGUIST List 21.2624

Thu Jun 17 2010

Diss: Lang Doc/Morphology/Syntax: Lanz: 'A Grammar of Iñupiaq ...'

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        1.    Linda Lanz, A Grammar of Iñupiaq Morphosyntax

Message 1: A Grammar of Iñupiaq Morphosyntax
Date: 12-Jun-2010
From: Linda Lanz <lindalanzgmail.com>
Subject: A Grammar of Iñupiaq Morphosyntax
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Institution: Rice University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Linda Lanz

Dissertation Title: A Grammar of Iñupiaq Morphosyntax

Linguistic Field(s): Language Documentation

Subject Language(s): Inupiatun, Northwest Alaska (esk)

Dissertation Director:
Claire Bowern

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation presents a reference grammar of the Malimiut Coastal
dialect of Iñupiaq (Eskimo-Aleut > Eskimo > Inuit), an Eskimo-Aleut
language spoken in northwestern Alaska (ISO codes ESK, IPK). Also known as
Iñupiatun, it is the language of the Iñupiat people. The dissertation
complements existing documentation of Iñupiaq, filling gaps in our current
understanding of Iñupiaq. The data presented in the dissertation is the
result of five years of research, fieldwork and analysis. The aim is to
contribute to comprehensive documentation of the Iñupiaq language, with
particular focus on morphosyntax.

With approximately 2000 remaining speakers, mainly above 50 years of age,
Iñupiaq is endangered. Within the Iñupiat community there is a strong
commitment to language documentation and revitalization, driven by groups
such as the Alaska Native Language Center and local school districts. The
current work aims to provide a comprehensive description of the
morphosyntax of the language to the Iñupiat and academic communities. It
uses the standard Iñupiaq writing system (a modified Latin script) to make
it accessible to the Iñupiat community, as well as to allow for easier
comparison with existing texts. Examples are also glossed in IPA for ease
of use by linguists and other interested parties.

After providing an introduction to the language and reviewing previous
work, the dissertation describes Malimiut Iñupiaq phonetics and phonology,
nominal and verbal morphology, syntactic categories, wordhood,
constituency, and syntax. A final chapter is devoted to discussing major
findings. These include a previously undocumented phonological change in
progress, the apparent shift of /ʐ/ (Iñupiaq 'r') to the American English
/ɹ/ in younger speakers and heritage learners. I argue that this has
several interrelated causes, including age, Iñupiaq literacy, declining
Iñupiaq usage, and the influence of English. The dissertation also
documents case stacking in Iñupiaq demonstrative adverbs and demonstrative
pronouns, a phenomenon by which these words are marked with grammatical
case twice. Though the process works differently for demonstrative adverbs
and for demonstrative pronouns, both exhibit this double case marking,
which is previously undocumented in Eskimo-Aleut. The existence of case
stacking on adverbs is a particularly exciting discovery, because it
challenges currently accepted theories of case stacking that motivate case
stacking via argument structure. As adverbs are not a part of argument
structure, it suggests another mechanism for multiple case stacking must be

Although eastern members of the Inuit dialect chain have been much more
extensively documented, many areas of Iñupiaq grammar remain undocumented.
This dissertation is the first to discuss a number of morphosyntactic
topics specifically for Iñupiaq, including argument status, clause-level
and sentence-level constituency, types of predication, wordhood
(phonological vs. morphological vs. syntactic), and clause combining. What
arises out of exploring many of these topics is that there is a real need
to separate morphology and syntax in Malimiut Iñupiaq. It has often been
assumed that because Inuit languages have so very much morphology - over
400 derivational suffixes alone - that morphology and syntax are one and
the same in these languages. However, clause combining and
constituency - among other phenomena - demonstrate that purely syntactic
phenomena exist in the language.

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