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Title: A Descriptive Grammar of Chhatthare Limbu
Authors: Tumbahang, Govinda Bahadur
Keywords: Sino-Tibetan Languages
Tibeto-Burman Languages
Limbu - Grammar
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: Social Inclusion Research Fund/SNV Nepal
Abstract: The Limbus living in the Chhatthar area are called Chhatthare Limbu or Chhatthare Yakthungba and their language is called Chhatthare Yakthungba Pan or Chhatthare Pan in the mother tongue and simply as Chhatthare Limbu in non-native language. It differs from other Limbu varieties in phonology, morphology and lexical words. Genetically, Chhatthare Limbu belongs to Proto-Limbu (following David Watters personal communication), Kiranti, Mahakiranti, Himalayan, and Tibeto-Burman and Sino-Tibetan group of languages. On the basis of the index of synthesis Limbu falls among the synthetic group of languages and on the basis of index of fusion, it falls among the fusional group of languages with single lexical item plus other affixes or more than one lexical item and multiple affixes. In Chhatthare Limbu, there are twenty consonant phonemes and seven vowels with no vowel length contrast. The syllable has basically CVC pattern and it extends from one syllable to five syllables with multiple patterns. Morphophonological changes are conditioned by syllable structure and surrounding segments. Nouns inflect for number and case. Dervative adjectives also function as nouns inflecting for number and case. It has human classifier suffixes < -pa> and <-pΗu>. The first one is used for a single person and the second one is used for more than one person following the first syllable of the numerals. Pronouns are divided into personal pronouns, interrogative pronouns and demonstrative pronouns. Personal pronouns have eleven categories. Interrogative and demonstrative pronouns have only three categories. Adjectives are derived from verbs, bound adjectives, nouns and adverbs by suffixation. Only a few adverbs are lexical adverbs and rests of them are derivative adverbs formed by suffixation, reduplication and compounding. The verb has twenty types of verb stems and they have two stem classes-variable and invariable. On the basis of conjugation patterns there are three types of verbs –intransitive, reflexive and transitive – in the language. Intransitive and reflexive verbs exhibit eleven different forms and transitive verb marks 44 different forms out of 75 theoretically possible forms. Voice is differentiated as active and middle. Chhatthare Limbu finite verbs mark person, number, case, reflexivity, tense, inclusivity and exclusivity by affixes. Each of these affixes occupies a certain slot. Sometimes, more than one affix can also occur in the same slot. Animacy hierarchy plays significant role in setting the order of affixes. There are altogether three slots for prefixes and ten for suffixes. Majority of affixes are portmanteau morphemes. Tense is marked by the suffix <-a> or <-Ο> after the main verb stem and after the auxiliary. Progressive aspect is marked by the suffix <-ro~ -lo> and perfect aspect by the suffix <-aΝ>. Indicative mood is the finite verb form. Other moods are marked by particles and suffixes. However, adhortive mood is expressed by dropping the first person suffix <-a> from the finite verb form. Infinitives, purposives, converbs and participles are non-finite verbs. Verbal complex includes serial verbs, compound verbs, analytic verbs, sequential verbs, infinitival verbs, purposive verbs and possessive verbs. They show different shades of meaning in the language. Sentences follow certain constituent order and have simple, compound and complex forms. Simple and compound sentences can be included in basic sentence patterns which are formed without any verbal or adverbial conjunctions. Complex sentences, on the other hand, consist of finite and non-finite clauses. Morphologically, Chhatthare Limbu is an ergative language and syntactically, it is almost a head right language because except in a few cases, all the modifiers precede the head.
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