By Liberty A. Lidz
This dissertation is a descriptive grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo), a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in southwestern China. The theoretical techniques taken are practical syntax and the discourse-based method of language description and
documentation. the purpose of this dissertation is to explain the ways in which the language’s
features and subsystems intersect to make Na a distinct entity: analycity; 0 anaphora;
OV observe order; topic/comment info constitution; a five-part evidential method; a
conjunct/disjunct-like method that intersects with evidentiality and verbal semantics;
prolific grammaticalization; overlap among nominalization and relativization and
associated constructions; illustration of time via element, Aktionsart, adverbials, and
context; and the Daba shamanic register.
Topics lined within the grammar contain an outline of the sociolinguistic
environment; the phonemic stock; phonological strategies; compounding; word
classes; the constitution of noun words; the classifier process; sorts of ownership; methods
for quantification; grammatical family members and non-systemic ‘ergative’ and ‘anti-ergative’
marking; the constitution of verb words; the a number of existential verbs; the aspectual
system; evidentiality; grammaticalization; clause-combining; narrative texts; and lexicon.
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Additional info for A Descriptive Grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo)
23 One of the most striking things about the Na sound system is that there is a huge amount of sound change in progress. 5. 3. 1. Some varieties of Southwestern Chinese have a sound change from /f/ to /h/, so the appearance of /f/ as a phoneme in Na may be an effect of language contact. 4. Michaud and Latami (to appear) suggest that uvular sounds are not being acquired by younger speakers, probably due to substratum interference from Chinese. This analysis is corroborated independently, as my consultant had mentioned previously that Na is very difficult for the elderly deaf, as there are a lot of sounds coming from the throat which are difficult to lip-read, but that now many younger speakers do not acquire these uvular sounds.
1 Map of Yunnan). 3 Na itself is categorized as an eastern variety of Naxi, which linguists variously characterize as an unsubgrouped Tibeto-Burman language (Thurgood 2003:19–20); on the periphery of Loloish (Matisoff 1986:47); close to, but not part of, Lolo-Burmese (Bradley 1975:93); and both classified as Yiish (Lolo-Burmese) by Beijing linguists and typologically extremely similar to Loloish languages, yet perhaps not actually Loloish (Ramsey 1987:265–266). 2 Varieties of Na(xi). This diagram shows that Naxi (western) has three sub-varieties: Dayanzhen (大研镇), Lijiang (丽江), and Baoshanzhou (宝山州), and that Na (eastern) has three sub-varieties: Yongning (永宁), Guabie (瓜别), and Ninglang (also known as Beiqu) (宁蒗 / 北渠).
21 Examples of CVT and CGVT syllable structures with a variety of onsets and nuclei can be seen in examples (1) and (2), respectively. 2 CONSONANT INVENTORY The consonant inventory includes three voicing types: voiceless aspirated, voiceless unaspirated, and voiced. There are four places of articulation for stops, six places of articulation for fricatives, and three places of articulation for affricates. Both the stop series and the affricate series distinguish among all three voicing types. There are three places of articulation for nasals, three non-lateral approximants, a lateral approximant, and a lateral fricative.