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Title: A grammar of Assiniboine: a Siouan language of the Northern Plains
Authors: Cumberland, Linda A.
Keywords: Assiniboine - Grammar
Dakota Languages
Mississippi Valley Siouan Languages
Mississippi Valley-Ohio Valley Siouan Languages
Siouan Languages
Siouan-Catawban Languages
American Indigenous Languages
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: Indiana University
Abstract: Assiniboine, sometimes referred to as Nakoda, is an American Indian language of the Siouan language family presently spoken by fewer than one hundred people in Montana (United States) and Saskatchewan (Canada). It is a member of a dialect continuum identified byParks andDeMallie (Anthropological Linguistics 1992) as Sioux-Assiniboine-Stoney. The canonical sentence structure is subject-object-verb, also characterized by postpositions, headmarking, and internally headed relative clauses. Morphological processes are primarily agglutinating. The phoneme inventory consists of twenty-seven consonants, including plain, aspirated, and ejective stops, and eight vowels,five oral and three nasal. The language is structure-preserving; consonant allophony is restricted to the phoneme inventory. Assiniboine has no nominal case system, no definite or indefinite articles, and no verbal tense marking. Clauses are marked as “potential” by means of a verbal enclitic and unmarked clausesare “realized,” effectively creating a future/non-future distinction. The verbal system is split-intransitive (active/stative); the object pronominal affixes of active-transitive verbs coincide with the subject pronominalaffixes of the stative verbs. Participant information is encoded on the verb so that nominalantecedents maybe omitted from the clause, but the question of whether Assiniboine is a “pronominal argument” language remains open. Deverbal nominalization is highly productive, as are verb compounding and noun incorporation. Verbal prefixation and suffixation both occur, but verbal prefixation is more systematic. Suffixation occurs in all major word classes. Assiniboine has an elaborate system of post-verbal particles that express aspect and modality; in verb compounding, verbal enclitics attachto the matrix verb and objects of the complement remain on the complement. There is a complex system of motion verbs, analyzed here as consisting of four triadic modules that encode notions of deictic center, base, direction, and belonging. A chapter on kinship includes a description of respect speech and a comprehensive list of kin terms. Appendices include three texts, orthographic equivalencies, and a c ross-dialect comparison of instrumental prefixes.The grammar is written in what has recently been characterized as “basiclinguistic theory.” This is the first comprehensive description of the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the Assiniboine language.
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