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Read more about A grammar of Komnzo

A grammar of Komnzo

(1 review)

Christian Döhler

Copyright Year: 2018

ISBN 13: 9783961101252

Publisher: Language Science Press

Language: English

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Reviewed by Joyce Cottonham, Associate Professor of English, Southern University Shreveport on 12/31/19

The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject related to the Yam culture as well as subcultural groups noting that there are various languages within the Yam family. There is evidence at the end of the book that provides an explicit view of... read more

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Preliminaries
  • Chapter 2: Phonology
  • Chapter 3: Word classes
  • Chapter 4: Nominal morphology
  • Chapter 5: Verb morphology
  • Chapter 6: Tense, aspect and mood
  • Chapter 7: Syntax of the noun phrase
  • Chapter 8: Clausal syntax
  • Chapter 9: Complex syntax
  • Chapter 10: Information structure
  • Chapter 11: Aspects of the lexicon

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About the Book

Komnzo is a Papuan language of Southern New Guinea spoken by around 250 people in the village of Rouku. Komnzo belongs to the Tonda subgroup of the Yam language family, which is also known as the Morehead Upper-Maro group. This grammar provides the first comprehensive description of a Yam language. It is based on 16 months of fieldwork. The primary source of data is a text corpus of around 12 hours recorded and transcribed between 2010 and 2015. Komnzo provides many fields of future research, but the most interesting aspect of its structure lies in the verb morphology, to which the two largest chapters of the grammar are dedicated. Komnzo verbs may index up to two arguments showing agreement in person, number and gender. Verbs encode 18 TAM categories, valency, directionality and deictic status. Morphological complexity lies not only in the amount of categories that verbs may express, but also in the way these are encoded. Komnzo verbs exhibit what may be called ‘distributed exponence’, i.e. single morphemes are underspecified for a particular grammatical category. Therefore, morphological material from different sites has to be integrated first, and only after this integration can one arrive at a particular grammatical category. The descriptive approach in this grammar is theory-informed rather than theory-driven. Comparison to other Yam languages and diachronic developments are taken into account whenever it seems helpful.

About the Contributors


Christian Döhler completed his M.A. in Political Science at the Chemnitz University of Technology and obtained an Honours Degree in Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. Between 2010 and 2016 he has worked on the DOBES project „Nen and Komnzo - Two languages of Southern New Guinea" funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. He completed his Ph.D. degree in 2016 at the Australian National University, Canberra. Currently he works as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cologne on the ELDP project "A comprehensive documentation of Bine - a language of Southern New Guinea".

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