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A Grammar of South Efate

Nicholas Thieberger

Publication Year: 2006

This book presents topics in the grammar of South Efate, an Oceanic language of Central Vanuatu as spoken in Erakor village on the outskirts of PortVila. It is one of the first such grammars to take seriously the provision of primary data for the verification of claims made in the analysis. The research is set in the context of increasing attention being paid to the state of the world’s smaller languages and their prospects for being spoken into the future. In addition to providing an outline of the grammar of the language, the author describes the process of developing an archivable textual corpus that is used to make example sentences citable and playable, using software (Audiamus) developed in the course of the research. An included DVD provides a dictionary and finderlist, a set of interlinearized example texts and elicited sentences, and playable media versions of most example sentences and of the example texts.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v-xi

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. xii-xiv

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pp. xv

This volume presents topics in the grammar of South Efate, an Oceanic language of Central Vanuatu as spoken in Erakor village on the outskirts of Port Vila. There has been no previous grammatical description of the language, which has been classified as the southernmost member of the North-Central Vanuatu subgroup of languages. In this description I show that South Efate shares features with...

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pp. xvi-xviii

In Vanuatu: The Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta was both a sponsor of my research on South Efate and a most congenial workplace. I want to thank the Director, Ralph Regenvanu, in particular for having developed a national research policy that clarifies the rights and responsibilities of researchers working in Vanuatu. Bigfala tangkiu i go long olgeta fren blong mi long VKS, mo Nasonal Laebri...


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pp. xix-xx

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pp. xxi

In general the conventions followed in this volume are fairly standard for a grammar of our era. An innovation of this work is that sources for example sentences are given in one of several ways. If the example has linked audio then it has the name of the tape followed by a start and end point in seconds...

Symbols used

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pp. xxii


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pp. xxiii-xxiv


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pp. xxv-xxviii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-11

This work presents an overview of the grammar of South Efate,1 an Oceanic language of central Vanuatu. Recognizing that much more always remains to be done in the description of any language some effort has been put into creating a reusable corpus for the language. One result of creating this corpus is that most example sentences in the present work cite their audio source and are...

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2. South Efate, place, people, and language

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pp. 12-44

This chapter presents a general introduction to the history of Efate,14 with special attention to ethnographic accounts of the people of South Efate. There is no general written history of Efate so this account will provide the necessary background to an understanding of the impact of the coming of Europeans in the nineteenth century. The ethnographic perspective is important because Efate is...

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3. Phonology

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pp. 45-73

In this chapter I provide a brief overview of the phonology of South Efate, showing the phonemic inventory, syllable structure and stress assignment system. This overview is provided to give the reader a basic understanding of the phonological system. I make no theoretical claims and attempt to provide the data in a fairly classical phonological style. In addition to phonetic transcription...

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4. Word classes

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pp. 74-102

The major word classes in South Efate are nominals and verbs. Minor word classes are prepositions, adverbs, and adjectives. The major groups are discussed here briefly and then in more detail in other parts of the current work. The other word classes will be discussed only in this chapter...

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5. Nominals and the noun phrase

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pp. 103-148

The class of nominals in South Efate is made up of pronouns and nouns. All nominals can act as heads of NPs, but the subject proclitic is taken as representing the subject argument, so any other nominals acting in the role of subject are either cross-referencing the proclitic or acting as adjuncts. As the object suffix can alternate with a lexical object, either of the two must be considered the...

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6. Mood and aspect

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pp. 149-170

South Efate has a productive and obligatory system of marking the cross-cutting categories of mood and aspect. The pronominal subject system has complete paradigms for the categories of realis, irrealis, and perfect (Table 6:2.) and as the subject proclitic is an obligatory element in any sentence speakers are always required to make the distinction between these three categories...

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7. Verbs and verb classes

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pp. 171-195

In this chapter I describe the subclasses of verbs in South Efate. Verb stems can be distinguished at the morphological level from other form classes because they are prefixed by subject pronouns directly or else either (1) the subject clitic attaches to the first element of the pre-verbal complex, or (2) the verb is part of a compound...

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8. Valency changing processes

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pp. 196-220

In Chapter 7 we saw that verb-class membership in South Efate is determined by both morphological and morphosyntactic criteria. One of these criteria is the kind of transitivizing strategies that the verb stem can enter into, and that is the subject of this chapter. South Efate transitivizing processes are discussed in...

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9. Verb combinations

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pp. 221-242

Verb combining in Oceanic languages is the subject of an extensive literature, and is usually analyzed as verb serialization within a theoretical framework based on nuclear, core, and clause-layer predication. As we will see in this chapter, South Efate has relics of serial verb constructions with traces of what may once have been serial verbs but are now auxiliary verbs, adverbs, or...

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10. The verb complex

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pp. 243-266

The verb in South Efate occurs within a discontinuous verb complex constituent. The usual TMA marking associated with a verb phrase in Oceanic languages is readily separated from the verb in South Efate by a benefactive phrase occurring immediately before the verb. Subject pronominals are obligatorily proclitic to the verbal complex (except in clause...

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11. Simple sentences

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pp. 267-289

Having described key constituents in the grammar of South Efate we now move on to observe how they combine into larger units. This chapter provides a definition and examples of core arguments and adjuncts before describing simple sentences, including topicalization, question formation, and negation...

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12. Complex sentences

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pp. 290-330

In this chapter I will discuss clause linkage types in South Efate. In this discussion the elements considered to be sentences usually have some syntactic unity reflected in clauses that are linked to each other by morphemes such as conjoiners or subordinators. Where no such morphemes are present there are other features such as prosodic cues showing the unity of the sentence or...

Appendix—Texts in South Efate

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pp. 331-366

Attachment DVD (notes)

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pp. 367


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pp. 368-380


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pp. 381-384

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861254
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824830618

Publication Year: 2006