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Title: The Chibchan Languages
Written By: J. Diego Quesada

Relatively little is known about the languages spoken at the heart of the
American continent, at least in the English-speaking (and hence most
widespread) linguistic literature. As a result, confusion about the
typological, areal and even genetic relationships existing among those
languages and language families is rampant. The languages of Central
America are more often than not regarded as residual languages of either
Mesoamerica or Amazonia, the surrounding linguistic areas of Central and
northern South America, respectively; and within this tradition, the name
Chibchan has played the role of a "ragbag"; the terms Macro-Chibchan,
Chibchan-Paezan among others represent a case in point. Thus, in the past,
languages as disparate as Paez (Ecuador), Tarasco (Mexico), isolate Warao
(Venezuela), as well as members of other language families (e.g. Carib or
Aztec), and even languages from as far as Chile (e.g. Atacama) or Argentina
(e.g. Allentiac) have been given the label of "Chibchan". Such an
easy-going attitude shows not only the lack of a strong Chibchan
linguistics tradition, but, especially, the need for an up to date,
coherent, and modern linguistics-oriented description of this language family.

Prefaced by W. Adelaar (University of Leiden), the book offers a thorough
presentation of the Chibchan family of languages, with data from all living
members of the family, plus extinct Muisca. Chapter 1, The Chibchan
languages in areal perspective, introduces this language family in its
wider areal dimension, a necessary step given the widespread ignorance in
the mainstream literature about both the family per se and its areal
affiliation. Chapters 2 and 3, The languages of Central America and The
languages of Colombia (and Venezuela), respectively, offer a thorough
description of the main structural features of these languages. Each of
these chapters opens with a brief description of the main phonological
aspects, followed by a comparative description of morphological (e.g. word
classes, nominal and verbal categories) and syntactic (word order,
grammatical relations, syntactic operations) patterns. The division of the
family into Central America and Colombia has to do with important
differences that recent archaeological, anthropological and linguistic
research has established between these two geographic zones of the Chibchan
world. Chapter 4, Relevant topics in Chibchan linguistics, treats in
considerable detail three of the most relevant themes of Chibchan:
ergativity, participant-highlighting (how prominence is expressed in
Chibchan), and intermittent marking of grammatical categories. Chapter 5
wraps up the conclusions of the book in terms of the likely relation
between the lack of prominence of grammatical relations and the wealth of
participant-encoding and highlighting strategies.

Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: Editorial Tecnologica de Costa Rica
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Typology
Genetic Classification
Subject Language(s): Boruca
Kuna, San Blas
Maléku Jaíka
Tunebo, Central
Language Family(ies): Chibchan
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9977661863
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 262
Prices: U.S. $ 30.00