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Title: A Grammatical Sketch of Eastern Kayah (Red Karen)
Authors: Solnit, David
Keywords: Sino-Tibetan Languages
Tibeto-Burman Languages
Kayah - Grammar
Issue Date: 1986
Publisher: University of California, Berkeley
Abstract: This dissertation describes the Eastern dialect of Kayah (also known as Red Karen), a language of the Karen group of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic stock. Kayah is the major language of the Kayah State of Burma, and is also spoken in a small area of Mae Hong Son province in northwestern Thailand, where the data for this grammatical sketch was recorded. Kayah is tonal, monosyllabic (with familiar qualifications), and lacks affixational morphology except in relic form. Compounding, however, is extensive, involving both nouns and verbs. After brief descriptions of the phonology and the nature of the morpheme and form classes, a fairly detailed description is given of the Verb Complex, a potentially very complicated structure centered around the main verb of the simple clause. Kayah is typical of languages of the mainland Southeast Asia-southern China linguistic area in having verb serialization (also 'verb series', 'verb concatenation'). It is unusual in combining basic SVO typology with extensive use of immediate concatenation of verbs, with no intervening arguments, a trait more typical of the verb-final languages of the area. It is argued that these constructions in Kayah are best analyzed as compounds, formed in the morphology/lexicon, rather than syntactic phrases, whether base-generated or derived by transformation. The lexical structure of these compound verbs is described in terms of (a version of) current morphological theory. "Other chapters describe clause structure; the syntactic behavior of the NP, PP and Numeral-Classifier construction; sentence types; and an outline of interclausal syntax (nominalized clauses, attributive clauses, and clause sequences).
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