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Dissertation Information

Title: A Grammar of Awa Pit (Cuaiquer): An indigenous language of south-western Colombia Add Dissertation
Author: Timothy Curnow Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Australian National University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1997
Linguistic Subfield(s): Language Documentation;
Subject Language(s): Awa-Cuaiquer

Abstract: This thesis is a descriptive grammar of Awa Pit, previously known as Cuaiquer, an indigenous language of the Barbacoan family spoken in south-western Colombia and north-western Ecuador. The thesis concentrates on the variety of Awa Pit spoken in the settlements of Pialapi and Pueblo Viejo, in the Municipality of Ricaurte, Narino in Colombia.

Chapter 1 gives a general introduction to the Awa and discusses previous research on Awa Pit, as well as describing the fieldwork for this thesis.

The phonetics and phonology of Awa Pit are described in chapter 2. Particular issues which have been problematic in early analyses of the sound system of Awa Pit are examined closely: the fricatives, tap [r] as an allophone of /t/, the status of voiceless vowels, and the phone [e].

Chapter 3 begins the description of the syntax of Awa Pit, looking at issues which are definitionally important in the remainder of the thesis. After examining constituent order, the contrasts between main and subordinate clauses, finite and non-finite clauses, and complements and adjuncts are established. Following this the syntactic functions and grammatical relations of Awa Pit are discussed, and the various predicate types are illustrated.

After a survey of the word classes in chapter 4, together with a brief discussion of loan words, chapter 5 looks at noun phrases, postpositional phrases and Copula complements.

The following four chapters all deal mainly with verbs. Chapter 6 concentrates on verb stems and derivational processes, examining ambitransitivity, non-productive derivation including compound verbs, and productive verbal derivation, whether valency-increasing or valency-preserving. A survey of verb inflection is one of the major themes of chapter 7; however it also discusses number marking in verbs, which appears to be derivational rather than inflectional. In chapter 9, the various tense, aspect and mood inflections are discussed more fully.

Chapter 8 is an examination of one of the most interesting features of Awa Pit -the person-marking system. There is a binary division of 'person' in Awa Pit verbs into Locutor (first person in statements, second person in questions) and Non-locutor (second and third person in statements, first and third person in questions), with the split being quite similar to the conjunct/disjunct division found in some Tibeto-Burman languages. To complicate matters further, Awa Pit relies partly on grammatical relations, partly on semantic roles, and on a hierarchy (Locutor > Non-locutor) in determining which person marker to use in any situation.

After discussing verbs, complex sentences are examined. Complement clauses, adverbial clauses, relative clauses and clausal nominalizations - the four types of subordinate clause - are discussed in chapter 10, followed by an examination of complex non-subordinate phenomena in chapter 11: main-auxiliary structures, Serial Verbs, Conjoined Clauses, and juxtaposed clauses.

The interrogative and negative structures of Awa Pit, many of which are interrelated, are looked at in depth in chapter 12.

Chapter 13 examines adjuncts and adverbs in Awa Pit: temporal, circumstantial and locational adjuncts; manner adverbials; degree adverbs; and the structures used for comparison.

Finally the discourse particles are discussed in chapter 14. The majority of the chapter is dedicated to the Topic marker, which is very frequently used in Awa Pit, although the other particles are also examined.