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Title: A Sketch of the Phonology and Grammar of Rājbanshi
Authors: Wilde, Christopher P.
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Indo-Aryan Languages
Rajbanshi - Grammar
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: University of Helsinki
Abstract: This dissertation is a synchronic description of the phonology and grammar of two dialects of the Rajbanshi language (Eastern Indo-Aryan) as spoken in Jhapa, Nepal. The grammatical analysis is based, for the most part, on a corpus of narrative text which was recorded and transcribed from three informants from north-east Jhapa. Additional material elicited from a fourth informant from south-west Jhapa has also been consulted. I have primarily confined the analysis to the oral expression, since the emerging literary form is still in its infancy. I have attempted to describe the phonology, morphology and syntax of the language, and also one aspect of its discourse structure. For the most part the phonology follows the basic Indo-Aryan pattern. Derivational morphology, compounding, reduplication, echo formation and onomatopoetic constructions will be considered, as well as number, noun classes (their assignment and grammatical function), pronouns, and case and postpositions. In verbal morphology I will cover the causative stems, the copula, primary and secondary agreement, tense, aspect, mood, auxiliary constructions and non-finite forms. The term "secondary agreement" here refers to genitive agreement, dative -subject agreement and patient (and sometimes patient-agent) agreement. The breaking of default agreement rules has a range of pragmatic inferences, and I will advance a governing principle of "affectedness" to explain this phenomenon. I will argue for a distinction to be made between conjunct verbs, derivational compound verbs and quasi-aspectual compound verbs based on formal, semantic and statistical grounds. Rajbanshi has an open set of adjectives, and it additionally makes use of a restricted set of nouns which can function as adjectives. Various particles, and the emphatic and conjunctuve clitics will also be considered. The syntactic structures studied include: non-declarative speech acts, phrase-internal and clause-internal constituent order, negation, subordination, coordination and valence adjustment. I will explain how the future, present and past tenses in Rajbanshi oral narratives seem not to maintain a time reference, but to indicate a distinction between background and foreground information. I will call this "tense neutralization"- Appendix 1 presents verb paradigms, mostly from the Jhapa dialects, but also including an incomplete paradigm from two dialects spoken in Morang. Appendix 2 comprises a complete lexicon of the words found in this work. Appendix 3 consists of the text corpus on which this grammatical analysis is based. Audio recordinds of the transcribed text corpus, together with twenty-four other non-transcribed texts from a range of dialects throughout Morang and Jhapa, can be found on the accompanying CD.
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