University of Bonn
Ventureño, a member of the Chumashan language family, was spoken in Coastal
Southern California and is extinct since the middle of the 20th century.
The language is documented in form of comprehensive notes by the renowned
field linguist John Peabody Harrington (1884-1961). Ventureño exhibits
numerous characteristics typical for the languages of Native Western North
America. Noun incorporation, however, does not play a significant role.
Ventureño has an elaborated consonantal system with a multitude of complex
segments and a velar-uvular distinction. The distribution of laryngeally
marked segments is subject to numerous constraints. In contrast to this,
the vowel system is simple, lacking a quantity distinction and diphthongs.
Vowel sequences are never permitted.
Morphophonologically, the language shows a considerable degree of
complexity. Ventureño’s most noticeable facet is sibilant harmony,
regimenting the distribution of sibilant segments which are all anterior or
non-anterior in a word. Different vowel harmonic processes are operative;
consonantal ablaut is grammatically productive. Ventureño exhibits a
tendency to express several grammatical categories by reduplication. The
reduplicative patterns are variable and noticeable in cross-linguistic
Ventureño is a polysynthetic-agglutinating language and predominantly
prefixing. It is head-marking and shows a nominative-accusative alignment.
The distinction between active and passive voice is morphologically marked.
Ventureño may be described as a «pronominal argument language»: nominals
usually have the status of adjuncts, every verb can function as a sentence
alone. The noun-verb distinction is not particularly robust; an
establishment of lexical categories generally appears challenging.
Pronominal prefixes, distinguishing three persons and numbers, refer to a
possessor in construction with nouns and to the subject argument with
verbs. Suffixed object markers distinguish two numbers only.
Ventureño verbs can exhibit a considerable degree of intricacy. The
language has an elaborated set of over hundred derivational markers,
traditionally labeled «instrumental» prefixes. They predominantly indicate
manner meanings, cross-linguistically expressed by adverbs or adpositions.
Ventureño nouns, which can be marked for tense, typically appear with a
proclitic article and a demonstrative determiner. Nouns are not marked for
case, there is no grammatical gender. With possessed nouns, an alienability
distinction is morphologically marked to a certain extent. Ventureño shows
a VOS basic constituent order; the roles of constituents are hardly
morphosyntactically specified. The language exhibits a strong tendency for
nominalization as well as relativization; furthermore, cleft-sentence
constructions are common.
ISBN 9783895867873. Languages of the World/Materials 473. 120pp. 2008.