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Price: $390.00

Hardback 396 pp.
Tables, 156 mm x 234 mm



Publication date:
May 2006

Imprint: OUP UK

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Serial Verb Constructions

A Cross-Linguistic Typology

Edited by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R.M.W. Dixon

Series : Explorations in Linguistic Typology

This volume of new work explores the forms and functions of serial verbs. The introduction sets out the cross-linguistic parameters of variation, and the final chapter draws out a set of conclusions. These frame fourteen explorations of serial verb constructions and similar structures in languages from Asia, Africa, North, Central and South America, and the Pacific. Chapters on well-known languages such as Cantonese and Thai are set alongside the languages of small hunter-gatherer and slash-and-burn agriculturalist groups.

A serial verb construction (sometimes just called serial verb) is a sequence of verbs which acts together as one. Each describes what can be conceptualized as a single event. They are monoclausal; their intonational properties are those of a monoverbal clause; they generally have just one tense, aspect, mood, and polarity value; and they are an important tool in cognitive packaging of events. Serial verb constructions are a pervasive feature of isolating languages of Asia and West Africa, and are also found in the languages of the Pacific, South, Central and North America, most of them endangered.

Serial verbs have been a subject of interest among linguists for some time. This outstanding book is the first to study the phenomenon across languages of different typological and genetic profiles. The authors, all experienced linguistic fieldworkers, follow a unified typological approach and avoid formalisms. The book will interest students, at graduate level and above, of syntax, typology, language universals, information structure, and language contact. in departments of linguistics and anthroplogy.

Readership : Scholars of linguistic typology and language universals in departments of linguistics and anthroplogy. Students taking graduate courses in syntax, typology, language universals, information structure, and language contact.

1. Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald: Serial Verb Constructions in Typological Perspective
2. Stephen Matthews: On Serial Verb Constructions in Cantonese
3. Birgit Hellwig: Serial Verb Constructions in Goemai
4. Christa Kilian-Hatz: Serial Verb Constructions in Khwe (Central-Khoisan)
5. Felix K. Ameka: Ewe Serial Verb Constructions in their Grammatical Context
6. David B. Solnit: Verb Serialization in Eastern Kayah Li
7. A.V.N. Diller: Thai Serial Verbs: Cohesion and culture
8. Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald: Serial Verb Constructions in Tariana
9. Andrew Ingram: Serial Verb Constructions in Dumo
10. Alexandre Francois: Serial Verb Constructions in Mwotlap
11. John Hajek: Serial Verbs in Tetun Dili
12. Frantisek Lichtenberk: Serial Verb Constructions in Toqabaqita
13. Roberto Zavala: Serial Verbs in Olutec (Mixean)
14. Willem J. de Reuse: Serial Verbs in Lakota (Siouan)
15. Azeb Amha and Gerrit J. Dimmendaal: Verbal Compounding in Wolaitta
16. R. M. W. Dixon: Serial Verb Constructions: Conspectus and Coda
Author Index
Language and Language Family Index
Subject Index

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Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald is Professor and Associate Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University. She has worked on descriptive and historical aspects of Berber languages and has published, in Russian, a grammar of modern Hebrew (1990). She is a major authority on languages of the Arawak family, from northern Amazonia, and has written grammars of Bare (1995) (based on work with the last speaker who has since died) and Warekena (1998), plus A Grammar of Tariana, from Northwest Amazonia (Cambridge University Press 2003), in addition to essays on various typological and areal features of South American languages. Her monographs, Classifiers: A Typology of Noun Categorization Devices (2000, paperback reissue 2003), Language Contact in Amazonia (2002) and Evidentiality (2004) are published by Oxford University Press. She is currently working on a reference grammar of Manambu, from the Sepik area of New Guinea.
R. M. W. Dixon is Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University. He has published grammars of a number of Australian languages (including Dyirbal and Yidiñ), in addition to A Grammar of Boumaa Fijian (University of Chicago Press 1988), The Jarawara Language of Southern Amazonia (OUP 2004), and A Semantic Approach to English Grammar (OUP 2005). His works on typological theory include Where have All the Adjectives Gone? and Other Essays in Semantics and Syntax (Mouton,1982) and Ergativity (CUP 1994). The Rise and Fall of Languages (CUP 1997) expounded a punctuated equilibrium model for language development: this is the basis for his detailed case study Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development (CUP 2002).

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Special Features

  • New work by distinguished, international scholars
  • Designed for use in graduate courses
  • Explores a neglected aspect of linguistics
  • Reveals aspects of mind-language relations
  • Covers several endangered languaes
  • Second volume in an important series in linguistic typology
  • Combines studies of well known languages such as cantonese or thai and of less known endangered languages