"A Grammar of Mina" is a reference grammar of a hitherto undescribed and
endangered Central Chadic language. The book contains a description of the
phonology, morphology, syntax, and all the functional domains encoded by
this language. For each hypothesis regarding a form of linguistic
expression and its function, ample evidence is given. The description of
formal means and of the functions coded by these means is couched in terms
accessible to all linguists regardless of their theoretical orientations.
The outstanding characteristics of Mina include: vowel harmony; use of
phonological means, including vowel deletion and vowel retention, to code
phrasal boundaries; two tense and aspectual systems, each system carrying a
different pragmatic function; a lexical category 'locative predicator'
hitherto not observed in other languages; some tense, aspect, and mood
markers that occur before the verb, and others that occur after the verb;
the markers of interrogative and negative modality that occur in
clause-final position; the conjunction used for a conjoined noun phrase in
the subject function that differs from the conjunction used for a conjoined
noun phrase in all other functions.In addition to the coding of argument
structure, adjuncts, tense, aspect, and mood categories, Mina also codes
the category point-of-view. The language has a clausal category 'comment
clause' used in both simple and complex sentences, which overtly marks the
speaker’s comment on the proposition. The discourse structure has the
principle of unity of place. If one of the participants in a described
event changes scene, that is coded by a special syntactic construction in
addition to any verb of movement that may be used. Because of these unusual
linguistic characteristics, the "Grammar of Mina" will be of interest to a
wide range of linguists.
Zygmunt Frajzyngier is Professor at the Department of Linguistics,
University of Colorado at Boulder, USA.
Eric Johnston is affiliated with the Department of Linguistics, University
of Colorado at Boulder, USA.
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