A Descriptive Grammar of Ket

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Together with Yugh, Kott, Arin, Assan and Pumpokol, all of which are completely extinct, it forms the Yeniseic family of languages, which has no known linguistic relatives.

Synonyms and antonyms of Ostyak in the English dictionary of synonyms

This Grammar of Ket constitutes the first book of its kind in English and is structured as follows: 1 Introduction; 2 The Kets and their Language; 3 Phonology; 4 Morphology; 5 References. A second volume is planned on Ket syntax, supported by a collection of original texts with translations and annotations. Global Oriental. Founded in , Brill is a publishing house with a rich history and a strong international focus.

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Global Oriental Founded in , Brill is a publishing house with a rich history and a strong international focus. Essential German Grammar Martin Durrell author Reading Greek Joint Association of C A New Reference Grammar of Mode John Butt author , Ca Verb morphology Ket verb morphology is very complex which has led to the development of many different analyses.

The account of Ket verb morphology in this book is very similar to that in Vajda , although there are more examples in this book. Two aspects of Ket verb morphology are particularly unusual. The syntactic alignment of Ket verbs is lexically specified - different verbs mark their core arguments in different ways.

Argument agreement may also be lexicalised in which case it no longer gives a true reflection of the arguments present. Ket is of interest to typology in that it lacks a single type of syntactic alignment. Vajda divides Ket verbs into five distinct conjugation classes which are defined according to agreement strategy and the form of the TAM morphemes.

Each of the agreement patterns instantiates a different type of syntactic alignment. For example, one conjugation class uses a classic split-subject system; some intransitive subjects are cross-referenced using the same strategy as for as transitive subjects while others are cross- referenced by the same strategy as transitive objects.


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The other two conjugation classes use more unusual systems. Unlike most systems of verb conjugation classes, the Ket system is not exhaustive. Some verbs cannot be classified as having a conjugation type. These verbs include weather verbs that have an inherent weather subject such as 'rain' or 'snow' and lack agreement altogether.

These cannot be categorised as belonging to any particular conjugation class. The verbal agreement strategy is lexically specified for Ket verbs. In addition, the exact form that agreement takes is partly lexicalised for some verbs. The morphemes in slots P1, P3 and P8 which typically function as third person agreement morphemes are lexically specified for some verbs. These morphemes no longer show agreement that corresponds to any syntactic argument. Vajda calls these morphemes 'pseudo-actant markers'. However, a small group of verbs have no argument that corresponds to this agreement morpheme.

These include verbs with meanings such as 'turn yellow', 'broken' and 'slip'. These verbs have a single core participant which is cross-referenced as an absolutive.

The transitive subject marker has become lexicalised in these verbs and is effectively a dummy argument. The lexicalisation of verbal argument-agreement morphology is found in various unrelated languages see for example Evans ; Frantz ; Harvey ; Singer forthcoming. There are strong parallels between the meanings of verbs with lexicalised agreement in Ket and those in other languages.

In Ket as elsewhere lexicalisation of agreement is restricted to third person agreement. There a set of verbs with pseudo-actant markers which Vajda describes separately as 'inversional verbs'. Most have intransitive stems and a few such as 'I got sleepy lit: sleep took me inside ' can have an external nominal that corresponds to the dummy argument in this case the noun for 'sleep'.

The inversional verbs encode their sentient experiencer as non- subject absolutive or inactive and usually have a dummy subject. The inversional verbs are similar to those described as experiencer-object verbs in Iwaidjan languages Evans This economical analysis gives a very neat and consistent picture of Ket phonology. Furthermore, the description of segmental allophony and tonemes is not confined to SK but includes information on NK and CK as well. However, for the reader's orientation, it would have been helpful to include a chart which gives an overview of all segmental phonemes, their allophones, and the segmental and suprasegmental contexts which determine allophony.

Also, the posited segmental phonemes are not substantiated by minimal pairs. The analysis of Ket as having prosodic word-tone is plausible because in mono- and disyllabic words tonal melodies contrast at the level of the word and not the syllable examples are almost exclusively nouns. It is not the case that each syllable is allowed to bear a distinctive tone independent of the other syllables in the word.

The glottalized and the falling toneme occur on monosyllables, the high-even toneme occurs on monosyllables but allows some spreading to excrescent vowels in following syllables. Both of these tonemes can also appear on words which surfaces as a monosyllable with a geminate vowel due to intervocalic consonant deletion in a underlyingly disyllabic word, which is mainly a feature of fast speech. However, there is a major difference between Ket as a word-tone language and typical word-tone languages, such as Shanghai, Mende Sierra Leone and many Papuan languages e.

Kairi, Golin. In these languages tone is lexically specified for roots. Tonal melodies are taken out of their respective lexical entries as unpredictable information pertaining to a lexeme. In Ket, on the other hand, one of the five tonemes is assigned to the first or the first two syllables of a phonological word. Some toneless subject agreement prefixes obviously fall outside the domain of tone assignment.

As the Ket verb is heavily prefixal, a verbal root is often quite far from the point where tone is assigned to the phonological verbal word. If tone is purely prosodic in Ket and is associated after the whole word has been assembled by the morphology, how does the language know what tone it has to use? If tone is lexical, why is it that roots in polysyllabic words normally do not bear any tone?

Answers to these questions would have been welcome.

In polysyllabic words, i. It would have been interesting to know in how far verbal and nominal tone differ. Also, it does not become quite clear what the tonal specification for those syllables are which do not carry any of the five tonemes because they happen to lie outside the first or the first two syllables of a word, a very common situation in polysyllabic verbs. Moreover, sometimes a phonological verbal word seems to bear more than one toneme maybe because an incorporated element retains its tone? I am aware that detailed information on tone is probably not the first priority for most readers of the book nor would it be feasible to include such details in a phonological sketch, but I would have liked more on tonal behavior in complex words, that is nominal compounds and especially the verb.

Verb morphology Vajda describes the categorisation of Ket verbs into five conjugations as his major contribution to Ket studies. He argues that each verb is lexically specified for conjugation class, which is based on verbal agreement strategy and TAM morphology. Vajda's analysis seems to have been well received by others working on Ket. The main problem with the conjugation- class analysis is that it separates what we would want to categorise as a single verb on the basis of semantics and lexical morpheme distribution into separate lexical items. The lexical morphemes of Ket verbs are found in the P0 and P7 slots.

However many verbs which have the same lexical morphemes and the same basic meaning are classified as separate lexical items in Vajda's analysis because they differ in conjugation class. These include verbs related as causatives, inceptives, resultatives, reflexives, reciprocals and infinitives. An example of three forms classified as separate verbs because of their different conjugation classes is given below.

Examples are from Vajda ; see Vajda's publications for abbreviations and descriptions of the position slots marked by suffixed numerals. Note that all three verbs have the same lexical morphemes in their P0 and P7 slots.

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RS6-SU5-go0 'I go to the river for a few hours and come back. RS1-go0 'I go to the riverbank and remain there. No doubt this is a necessary step along the path to understanding Ket verb morphology. However, it is hard to see how this system of verb classification alone will provide much insight into the semantic and syntactic properties of Ket verb roots. It is not actually clear whether Vajda believes that the concept of 'verb root' is useful for describing Ket verbs.

The use of lexical morphemes to construct meaning is briefly discussed on page 61 but this is a very interesting topic that deserves further research. It would be interesting to see how productively lexical morphemes can combine and how Ket verbs with two lexical morphemes compare with complex verbs in other languages.

Ket language

Ultimately it seems that it will be necessary to set up a number of cross-cutting verb categorisations, one of which is based on verbal agreement strategy. It is likely that correspondences between the classes set up by these categorisations will emerge. Vajda greatly emphasises the independence of conjugation class and verb meaning.