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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This is a sketch of polysynthesis in Central Alaskan Yupik (CAY) based on the Cup’ik dialect of Chevak, Alaska. CAY has well-defined words whose content is often holophrastic and whose parts are often word-like. Holophrasis is achieved by a combination of rich inflectional suffixation and by a derivational morphology in which several hundred productive suffixes bearing different lexical and grammatical meanings and functions may be added, recursively, to a lexical base. Each suffix selects the category of its base, over which it normally has scope, and determines the category of the resultant base. This simple but prolific suffixation-based system, termed ‘morphological orthodoxy’, yields long, polysynthetic words. Three cases are then discussed where suffixal elements govern constructions that in one way or another stretch CAY’s orthodox morphology, motivating them by showing parallel constructions governed by elements with similar grammatical and semantic content in languages with more heterodox morphology and syntax.

Keywords: polysynthesis, word, productivity, suffixation, Eskimo-Aleut, Central Alaskan Yupik, Cup’ik

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