LSA 236: Wakashan linguistic structures

Emmon Bach and Patricia A. Shaw | session 2 | MW 3:30 – 5:15, 155 Donner Lab

The Wakashan family stretches along the Pacific Northwest, from Washington's Olympic Peninsula up through the coastal islands and inlets of British Columbia. Starting with the extensive documentation of Boas and Hunt (Northern Wakashan) and Sapir (Southern Wakashan), the complexities of these languages in every grammatical domain continue to inform and challenge our linguistic theories. Areal features include large consonantal inventories with typologically rare classes (pharyngeals, glottalized resonants), multiple reduplicative and deictic systems, considerable categorical flexibility, mismatches in the prosodic-morphosyntactic interface involving clitics, rich derivational and inflectional morphology, verb-initial syntactic patterns, complex interplay between word-external and word-internal grammar and semantics. Supplementing the extant literature with data from our own fieldwork, we will explore such issues in the context of their historical evolution, their comparative and synchronic properties, and their current theoretical relevance. Further, as each of these languages is critically endangered, the challenges of documentation and community revitalization initiatives will also be discussed.

Reading: Selected materials available online.

Areas of linguistics: Areal and historical linguistics; Phonetics, phonology, and morphology; Syntax, semantics, and morphology; Languages of the Americas

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