Urarina is an endangered isolate spoken by less than 3,000 people in the
rainforests of North-western Peru. This book aims at providing a
comprehensive description of Urarina grammar covering all areas of the
From a linguistic point of view, Urarina is particularly interesting
because of a range of unusual grammatical characteristics that are rarely
or not at all found in other languages. One remarkable property is the
constituent order OVA/VS, which was classified as "non-existing" by
Greenberg (1966). However, this atypical syntactic structure is a
surprisingly consistent feature of Urarina, which discerns it from the
majority of languages which are assumed to follow this syntactic pattern.
Another feature probably unique to Urarina is the existence of a three-way
distinction for person marking on all verbs. The choice of the respective
paradigm depends on a complex set of syntactic and pragmatic conditions,
which are investigated in detail. Scholars whose main interest is in
morphology will also be intrigued by the polysynthetic verbal morphology of
Urarina, which fits well into the Amazonian context.
A Grammar of Urarina is based on the framework of basic linguistic theory,
which will be accessible to scholars from a wide range of backgrounds. The
straightforward presentation of linguistic structures is accompanied by
in-depth discussion of the most interesting and unusual features,
illustrated by examples for all grammatical phenomena and often summarised
by tables or diagrams. This book fills a gap not only for studies in
Amazonian languages but also from a typological perspective.