Namakir: a description of a central Vanuatu language

by Sperlich, Wolfgang B.

Abstract (Summary)
This is a description of the phonology, morphology and syntax of Namakir, a language of the Oceanic subgroup of Austronesian, which is spoken on some six small islands of the Shepherd Islands, central Vanuatu. My perspective on Namakir is that of a person trained in linguistics, who carried out linguistic fieldwork for the purpose of grammatical description. In addition I contributed to ethnographic work as well as compiling data for a dictionary, part of which is appended to the present description. Namakir is a conservative language which retains many features that make Oceanic languages unique. Thus it is a valuable witness for comparative and reconstructive work in Oceanic linguistics. The physical, social and historical setting of Namakir is detailed in the introductory chapter. A section on theoretical issues concerning the descriptive enterprise is included. The chapter on phonology outlines the Namakir consonant and vowel inventories, with due emphasis on the glottal stop which, as a reflex of the Proto-Oceanic glottal stop, is a unique occurence in Vanuatu languages Sections on phonotactics, stress and phonological processes add to the basic description of segments. In the chapter on morphophonemics the dynamics of derivational processes are explored. A major section deals with consonant alternation, a phenomenon widely discussed in Oceanic Linguistics. The major form classes are detailed in the next chapter. Nominals, determiners, adjectives, verbs and adverbs are established as word categories and paradigm tables are provided for comprehensive overviews. The last chapter on Namakir syntax provides a systematic description of noun phrase and verb phrase. Possessive constructions receive special attention as they exhibit a number of unusual features. The verb phrase is discussed within the framework of the Oceanic definition of verb and periphery which include subject markers as well as pronominal objects. The Namakir mood and aspectual system is presented in detail. A major section deals with serial verb constructions in relation to current descriptive theories. The concluding sections discuss selected items regarding complex sentence structures. Negation and question sentences, existential and comparative sentence types are included. Coordination together with direct and indirect speech is noted to use forms of a quotative verb, being especially significant in the organisation of narrative sequences. Relative and temporal clauses share a single overt marker. A morpheme-to-morpheme glossed narrative is appended to demonstrate narrative style. A substantial Namakir-English-Bislama wordlist is added as a repository of data collected during fieldwork.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Ross Clark

School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:fields of research 380000 behavioural and cognitive sciences 380200 linguistics


Date of Publication:01/01/1991

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