This chapter surveys the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Abaza and Abkhaz, two closely related languages of the Northwest Caucasian family. These languages are strongly head-marking, expressing agreement with all core arguments and many non-core arguments, and utilizing an ergative-absolutive pattern of agreement. Typologically unusual are ‘wh-agreement’ forms corresponding to a questioned or relativized position. Verbal morphology is complex beyond this rich agreement, with directionals, applicatives, and a sizable subclass of separable verbs (i.e., those having non-contiguous roots). There is greater variation in morpheme order than often seen. The tense-mood system makes a fundamental distinction between dynamic verbs and stative predicates (nouns, postpositions, and certain lexically specified verbs), with more tense options in the dynamic system. Another distinction which cuts across predicates of both types is that between indicative and non-indicative tenses (traditionally ‘finite’ and ‘non-finite,’ though not satisfying the usual diagnostics for finiteness). Negation is expressed by verbal affixes, but in various configurations depending on factors such as tense and mood. Syntactically, these languages are basically head-final (SOV), though with variation allowed based on pragmatic functions. Typologically significant is the pervasive use of relativized forms (pseudo-clefting) and converbs. Abaza and Abkhaz are known for their large consonant inventories, enriched by ejectives, palatalization, and labialization, as well as uvular and pharyngeal places of articulation, and contrasting with a minimal two-vowel system.
In this chapter, the Academy of Persian Language and Literature is introduced in the context of an eighty-year-old history of the establishment of the Academy in Iran. The chapter intends to describe the atmosphere which motivated the need for the emergence of this institution in Iran. It seems to be fair to claim that word selection, and more technically terminology, has been the central concern of the three Iranian academies of the Persian language. It also seems to be just to evaluate the contributions and activities of the first and the third academies in Iran more fruitful both quantitatively and qualitatively than the endeavours of the second Iranian academy. The experiences which Iran has gained in the last eight decades could be relied on to move forward from a stage of language reform activities towards a more comprehensive phase of developing a language policy for the country in future.
Bill Forshaw, Lucinda Davidson, Barbara Kelly, Rachel Nordlinger, Gillian Wigglesworth, and Joe Blythe
This chapter reports on initial findings of an ongoing large-scale research project into the acquisition of Murrinhpatha, a polysynthetic language of the Daly River region of the Northern Territory of Australia with complex morphology. The complex verbal structures in Murrinhpatha, which can contain a large number of morphemes and bipartite stem morphology discontinuously distributed throughout the verbal template, raise a multitude of questions for acquisition. In this chapter we focus particularly on the acquisition of the complex predicate system in the verb, and the acquisition of subject-marking categories and tense/aspect/mood. Our findings are based on the language development of five Murrinhpatha acquiring children aged from 2;7–4;11 years.
The so-called “Adamawa” languages are spoken in the sub-Saharan savannah belt, along the Upper Benue and its tributaries and in isolated pockets in southern Chad. Insufficient documentation and the marked linguistic diversity of the numerous language groups and isolates subsumed under “Adamawa” largely contributed to its contested status. So far, no convincing evidence was presented that “Adamawa” is indeed a distinct genetic unit, as proposed in earlier classifications. Within “Adamawa” only a minority of languages have preserved the heritage of a noun class system. Yet the remarkable morphological resemblances—supported by lexical correlates and typological analogies—found in class languages in two distinct “Adamawa” groups, as well as in various class languages of Central Gur, provide the strongest evidence contesting the validity of “Adamawa”. A larger Adamawa-Gur continuum which apparently occupied a contiguous area in the savannah belt before it became broken up appears to be more feasible.
Although Chinese adverbs share enough grammatical and semantic features to form a category, they nonetheless display some contradictory variations. Unity and heterogeneity thus both characterize Chinese adverbs as one category. This chapter first offers an overview of morphosyntactic and semantic issues concerning Chinese adverbs: the kinds of head that adverbs modify, the word order of adverbs in relation to their semantics, the relationship between adjectives and adverbs, and the morphology of adverbs. There are several types of Chinese adverbs, that is, temporal, degree, negation, scope, and stance adverbs. Each type is introduced with examples showing its characteristic properties. Finally, some frequently used adverbs in speech and writing are highlighted for their versatile functions when combined with other words or constructions.
Yakov Testelets and Yury A. Lander
Adyghe, a polysynthetic language of the West Caucasian family, shows the typological characteristics of ergativity, left-branching word order, and the flexibility of the lexical categories. Its word has a high degree of morphological complexity and consists of five ordered morphological zones, within which the order of affixes can vary, and recursion is possible. The information encoded in the predicate includes the argument structure, causation, and various aspectual and modal characteristics. Many meanings can be expressed, either with a combination of morphemes, or a combination of words, or with both simultaneously. There are structural asymmetries at the clause level and the principle C violations in cross-clausal syntax—the phenomenon that has been recorded also in many polysynthetic languages of America.
African American English in the Mississippi Delta: A Case Study of Copula Absence and r-Lessness in the Speech of African American Women in Coahoma County
The chapter presents a quantitative analysis of copula absence and /r/-lessness of African American English (AAE) by African American women in Coahoma County located in the Mississippi Delta. The results of the current quantitative study show that (1) there is a connection between Coahoma County AAE and older, diasporic AAE varieties and English-based Caribbean creoles through the analysis of copula absence; (2) there are statistical differences in the production of the two features based on the women’s township; and (3) the educational level of the women and of their parent(s) plays a role in the production of both features.
Renée A. Blake, Cara Shousterman, and Luiza Newlin-Lukowicz
The ever-increasing numbers of second generation West Indian Americans affects the ethnic landscape and raises the question of what is African American Language in New York City today? In this chapter, we examine the English spoken by children of Black West Indian immigrants to New York City and their African American counterparts. The results of this research point to a similar linguistic repertoire for both groups of Black New Yorkers, with subtleties evident at the quantitative level. While both groups are quite /r/-ful, Caribbean American-identified Blacks have higher rates of /r/-fulness than African American-identified Blacks. Moreover, while both groups show the tensing and raising of /ɔ/ typically associated with New York City, there are differences in the length of the off-glide. Finally, while the realization of /oʊ/ is closer to a New York realization than the Caribbean Creole English varieties, off-glide differences exist between the two groups.
Jennifer Bloomquist and Shelome Gooden
This chapter examines variation in the North Midlands African American Language (AAL) varieties in Pittsburgh and the Lower Susquehanna Valley (LSV). The focus is on phonological/phonetic, lexical, and to a lesser extent syntactic variation. We review historical information on settler groups and African American presence in earlier periods in both areas and discuss implications for influence on the contemporary AAL. The results of a new data analysis of vowel variation in the LSV are compared with existing reports for Pittsburgh AAL. Whereas LSV AAL shows some similarities to Pittsburgh AAL (e.g., the pool/pull merger), it lacks other features (e.g., the cot/caught merger, which is pervasive in Pittsburgh AAL). We also find differences between LSV AAL speakers who seem to want to identify as both “authentically Black” and local and Pittsburgh AAL speakers who are concerned with differentiating themselves from Whites and where sounding “local” tends to be equated with “Whiteness”.
William Labov and Sabriya Fisher
An analysis of the vowel systems of 36 African American speakers in the Philadelphia Neighborhood Corpus compares their development over the 20th century with that of the larger community. For vowels involved in changes in the White community, African Americans show very different patterns, often moving in opposite directions. The traditional split of short-a words into tense and lax categories is a more fine-grained measure of dialect relations. The degree of participation by African Americans is described by measures of bimodality, which is applied as well to the innovative nasal short-a system. The prototypical African American speakers show no bimodality in either measure, recombining the traditional tense and lax categories into a single short-a in lower mid non-peripheral position. The lack of relation between the two short-a systems is related to the high level of residential segregation.
African American Vernacular English in California: Over Four Decades of Vibrant Variationist Research
John R. Rickford
Research in California has played a significant role in our understanding of variability in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and its features since the late 1960s, beginning with the earliest studies of African American child language, and including, most recently, studies of age-grading vs. generational change, the use of AAVE features by other ethnic groups as identity markers, and experimental, perception studies. California research was important in confirming internal and other constraints on variability in distinctive AAVE features revealed in earlier studies from New York City and Detroit, but also in uncovering new features, and providing new analyses of existing features. California AAVE research is also striking for its use of ethnographic methods, focus on style-shifting, interest in attitudes and identity, and theoretical and methodological contributions to larger issues like defining the envelope of variation, social class variability, the divergence controversy, and panel studies of change in real time.
William A. Kretzschmar Jr.
Survey research in Atlanta suggests that the usual national generalizations about race and language need to be examined in the light of local evidence. Recordings of interviews with a number of African Americans from the 1970s set a historical baseline for the community. A contemporary random-sample study of African Americans in Atlanta showed that our speakers were highly variable in their vowel production. They not only did not match national generalizations, but appeared to have more of Labov’s “Southern Shift” than the local non-African American speakers who were supposed to be characterized by it. Only a minority of speakers show “mean” behavior for the whole set of vowels. History and contemporary evidence combine to show that African American voices in Atlanta belong to a complex system in which speakers can be themselves in their neighborhoods, while at the same time they participate in historical and national trends.
The goal of this chapter is to describe major salient features in the structures of African languages and their approximate distribution. A typological classification is not aimed at. The chapter begins with a sketch and discussion of typological subject areas generally, followed by a review of previous studies in African comparative typology that highlights the broad spectrum of objectives and methodological operations, as well as the basic principles of typological classification. The presentation of salient typological features of African languages is divided into phonological and morphosyntactic characteristics. Special emphasis is laid on noun class systems, which are widely found in Africa, case marking, verbal extensions, and serial verb constructions.
Kristin Vold Lexander
Africa is experiencing immense growth in the use of information technology (IT). Studies of this “Digital Revolution” have tended to focus on social and economic development issues, while lately also studies on the use of African languages on the Internet and in mobile telephony have emerged. Of particular interest is the use of African languages in written electronic communication: does IT increase the marginalization of African languages or does it create a space for their blossoming? This question will be examined in the chapter, considering the extension and the nature of the use of African languages in communication mediated by IT, like websites and electronic discussion forums, emails, instant messaging, social networking sites, and text messages. The technological dimensions related to writing systems, different efforts aiming at the standardization of keyboards, and the translation of software will also be discussed.
The African continent has been characterized by migration for ages. This concerns not only inner-African migration but also migration from Africa to other places of the world. To be sure, this has resulted in a spread of African languages beyond the borders of the continent, while this spread has yielded various processes of transformation and language contact phenomena. This chapter seeks to examine the major linguistic processes and developments that are connected to African languages in the Diaspora. Moreover, some light will be shed on the role that African languages or the African linguistic heritage play in African Diaspora communities, especially with regard to their function as strong markers of cultural identity.
The chapter presents a short sketch of the history of the Afro-Asiatic language family (often labeled a macro-family or language phylum), beginning with the history of the names Semitic and Hamitic. Changes in the composition of Afro-Asiatic are examined with a special focus on the correlation between Semitic and Hamitic. The place of Hamitic theory in Hamito-Semitic studies and its theoretical premises are discussed, as well as the reasons to reject the concept of original binary composition of the family and the very notion of Hamitic. All this led to changing the name of the family from Hamito-Semitic to Afro-Asiatic, which comprises five or six independent branches: Semitic, Ancient Egyptian, Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, and Omotic (as an independent branch or part of Cushitic). The present state of the art in comparative Afro-Asiatic and possible external links of Afro-Asiatic are also discussed.
This chapter discusses compounding in Hebrew. Section 27.2 reviews constructs and compounds. Section 27.3 shows that there are at least two distinct types of N + N constructs: one, labelled an R-construct, whose nonhead is referential; and another, an M-construct, whose non-head is a modifier. It is shown that M-constructs, but not R-constructs, share important properties with compounds. Finally, Section 27.4 presents a sketchy outline of an analysis of constructs and compounds in Hebrew.
This article examines nonsubject relative clauses (RCs) in Turkic languages. It shows that all three types of nonsubject RCs in Turkish are amenable to a Kayneian derivation, in which the target of the RC moves to Spec/CP, and where the clause remnant moves leftward to Spec/DP or Spec/DemP. The article proposes the use of a Principles-and-Parameters version of government and binding theory in the analysis of RCs.
The three language families indigenous to the Caucasus exhibit a range of diverse, unusual, and highly complex agreement phenomena. Nakh-Daghestanian languages are dominated by ergative-aligned gender agreement in which the absolutive argument controls agreement on the verb, and potentially other clausal elements like adverbs or even pronouns. Special agreement patterns like long-distance and biabsolutive agreement emerge in certain syntactic configurations. Northwest Caucasian is polysynthetic; its verbs register features from each of their arguments in a distinct templatic slot. These languages also have special agreement for arguments that undergo A̅-extraction. Kartvelian agreement is not straightforwardly linked to syntactic roles, and morphemes exhibit many complex blocking relationships. Dative-subject constructions “invert” the normal morpheme–role mappings, adding another dimension of complexity to the languages’ agreement systems. This chapter describes typologically and theoretically notable agreement phenomena found in these three language families, highlighting micro- and macro-variation, drawing parallels to other language families, and citing relevant theoretical and experimental studies. For reference, the chapter concludes with an appendix of agreement paradigms.
The small Kartvelian family is one of the three endemic language families of the Caucasus. The Kartvelian languages are double marking, with nominal case and two sets of person markers in the verb. Since the 17th century, linguists have attempted to accommodate the complexities of Georgian morphosyntax within the descriptive categories of their time, successively describing the language as nominative, (split) ergative, and active/inactive. In the present chapter, I will argue that its alignment can be most accurately described as split-intransitive, once the considerable number of monovalent dative-subject verbs are brought into consideration. Proto-Kartvelian would have had split-intransitive verb agreement, absolutively aligned verbal plurality marking, and incipient ergative-absolutive case assignment. Also discussed is the morphosyntactic orientation of the Kartvelian languages and dialects, that is, the distribution of morphological and syntactic privileges among the clausal arguments.