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Reviewed by:
  • A Grammar of Crow
  • Willem J. de Reuse
A Grammar of Crow. Randolph Graczyk. Studies in the Native Languages of the Americas. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. Pp. xxiv + 448. $75.00 (cloth)

This volume is an exemplary grammar of Crow, a language spoken on the Crow Reservation in Montana, and belonging to the Crow-Hidatsa (or Missouri Valley) subgroup of the Siouan language family. Father Randolph Graczyk is a Catholic priest ministering to the Crow Reservation, a fluent speaker of the language, and the foremost authority on Crow linguistics. The work under review is an expanded and revised version of Graczyk’s Ph.D. dissertation, completed at the University of Chicago, which received the Mary Haas Book Award in 1991.

Among the strengths of this book are the copious example sentences from a wide variety of texts, as well as from Graczyk’s participant observation work. Whereas the dissertation was couched in Jerrold Sadock’s Autolexical (now called Automodular) framework (Sadock 1991), this work is written in a more conservative framework of what R. M. W. Dixon has called “basic linguistic theory” (1997).

The book contains an introductory chapter on background matters, previous research, sources of data, typology, the analytic framework, and the organization of the grammar. Following are chapters on phonology, nominal morphology, deixis, verb derivation, verb inflection, adverbs, quantifiers, basic clause structure, noun phrase structure, relative clauses, nominal incorporation, verb incorporation, adverbial subordinate clauses, postpositional phrases, independent and cosubordinate clauses, and interrogatives.

The chapter on phonology is somewhat more difficult to follow than the succeeding chapters. Graczyk’s intention was to sketch “the phonology of Crow in sufficient detail to enable the reader to follow the presentation of the grammar” (p. 9), but he is not entirely successful in this goal. Part of the problem is that Graczyk attempts to describe the phonetics, phonology, and morphophonemics of Crow while using the accepted Crow orthography, which is not quite phonemic and somewhat idiosyncratic. Phonetic transcriptions in square brackets are not consistently in the International Phonetic Alphabet. Some phonetic diphthongs are mentioned or described at different points in the text (pp. 14 and 33). Similarly, Graczyk states early on that the only word-final cluster is <sht> (p. 18), but later mentions a word final cluster <ht> (pp. 46–47 and 352) and provides forms ending in the cluster <hk> (pp. 71–75). More space should have been devoted to a detailed description of the pitch accent system, since such systems are difficult to grasp or to mark accurately in a spelling system. A comment about the relationship between stem ablaut, stem forms, and citation forms would have been helpful. On the other hand, the final section on comparative Crow-Hidatsa phonology is illuminating, since Hidatsa is the only close relative of Crow.

The other chapters are quite successful in terms of clarity and in-depth coverage. The chapters on deixis, verb inflection, relative clauses, nominal incorporation, verb incorporation, and adverbial subordinate clauses are particularly thorough. Here and there, a few matters deserve comment or clarification. One wonders why there are no hyphens preceding suffixes and hyphens following prefixes. In table 3.3 (p. 53), the column under “Stem Initial iC” should be “ba, d, ∅,” rather than “b, d, ∅.” One wonders what the status of emphatic stems that are prefixed (p. 61) to personal prefixes is. Do they become prefixes, or is this some sort of compounding? Verb compounding with koolá, [End Page 347] mentioned in the chapter on deixis (p. 85), should also be discussed in the chapter on verb incorporation. In the chapter on verb derivation (pp. 89–98), it would have been useful to compare glosses of the same stem with and without locative and instrumental prefixes, so that one could see more precisely what the semantic import of these prefixes is. No general statement of prefix or suffix order is given anywhere, and statements about affix order are spread through the grammar (e.g., pp. 123, 199, and especially pp. 203–13).

On the whole, the morphology and morphophonemics of Crow seem to be more complex than those of better-known Siouan languages such as Lakota, as shown, for example...


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