Topic and Discourse Structure in West Greenlandic Agreement Constructions

Topic and Discourse Structure in West Greenlandic Agreement Constructions

by Anna Berge


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West Greenlandic Eskimo, a part of the Eskimo-Aleut language family spoken all across the Arctic, is primarily found among the Native peoples of central west Greenland. In this highly nuanced study of West Greenlandic, linguist Anna Berge examines how the speaker’s role affects syntactic structures within discourse. Also included are transcripts of conversations with fluent Native speakers, providing a practical context in which to examine these grammatical questions.
This study was the winner of the prestigious Mary R. Haas Award, presented annually by the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, the highest award given in the study of Native languages.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803216457
Publisher: UNP - Nebraska
Publication date: 07/01/2011
Series: Studies in the Native Languages of the Americas Series
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Anna Berge is an associate professor of linguistics in the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is the coauthor of Niigugis Mataliin Tunuxtazangis/How the Atkans Talk: A Conversational Grammar.

Table of Contents

List of tables ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

List of abbreviations xv

Orthographic conventions xvi

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Overview of West Greenlandic grammar 2

1.2 The Inuit language in syntactic theory 8

1.3 Approaches to the study of discourse 18

1.4 Theoretical approach to discourse structure in West Greenlandic 28

2 Topic (and Theme) as Discourse Roles 31

2.1 Issues in the definition of topic 34

2.2 Issues in the definition of theme 47

2.3 Introduction and identification of topics and themes 59

2.4 Discourse roles 77

3 Ergativity as a Reflection of Topic Status 89

3.1 Ergativity in West Greenlandic 89

3.2 Treatment of ergativity in modern syntactic theories of West Greenlandic 99

3.3 Subjecthood, agency, and topic 103

3.4 Role of topic in the use and distribution of ergative structures in West Greenlandic 110

3.5 Data analysis 113

3.6 Chapter conclusion 165

4 Switch-Reference or Thematic Coherence and Topic Continuity? 171

4.1 Switch-reference in West Greenlandic 171

4.2 Switch-reference as a system of subject or topic/thematic coherence 184

4.3 Role of topic in the use and distribution of switch-reference marking in West Greenlandic 190

4.4 Data analysis 191

4.4.1 Subordinate pronominal inflection 191

4.4.2 Contemporatives and participials 207 The contemporative 230 The participial 254

4.5 Chapter conclusion 268

5 Conclusion 273

5.1 Findings 273

5.2 Some comments on the role of discourse in linguistic descriptions 276

Appendix 282

A1 Notes on data collection 282

A2 Notes on transcription and intonation 283

Notes 411

References 425

Index 433

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