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Title: Yowlumne in the twentieth century
Authors: Weigel, William
Keywords: American Indigenous Languages (Northern)
Yokutsan Languages
Yokuts - Grammar
Yowlumne - Grammar
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: University of California at Berkeley
Abstract: This dissertation consists of four studies of Yowlumne, also known as Yawelmani Yokuts, a highly endangered language of the Yokuts family spoken mostly on the Tule River Reservation, located in the southwestern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. An introductory chapter offers a quick snapshot of the language in terms of genetic affiliation, typological profile, and primary sources used. It also gives biographical information about the native-speaker consultants who worked with the author and provides a very brief grammatical sketch. Little attention has ever been paid to other aspects of Yowlumne grammar other than morphophonology. The next two chapters attempt at least to partially correct this situation, by offering studies of grammatical relations and reference tracking. Chapter 2 relies on the typological distinction between direct object languages and primary object languages. Yowlumne is clearly a primary object language, but has some features that do not fit the current primary object prototype. In particular, the chapter demonstrates that object alignment in Yowlumne has a straightforward semantic motivation, contrary to the usual characterization of primary objectivity. Chapter 3 deals with Yowlumne reference tracking system, viz., the syntactic mechanisms that define coreferential links between clauses and create narrative continuity and cohesion. There are two categories of such mechanisms: those operating between subordinate and superordinate clauses (the switch reference system), and another operating between coordinated clauses. The former follows fairly simple and inviolable rules, while the later is also subject to pragmatic controls. Among the interesting phenomena noted in this chapter is an object-pronoun fronting construction that seems to be on its way to becoming an inverse form. Chapter 4 is a diachronic study of Yowlumne during the period 1930-2000. It attempts to provide a fairly comprehensive structural comparison of the language as documented around 1930 with the speech of the two modern-day consultant speakers, with special attention to effects of language obsolescence. Chapter 5 deals with the methodology of linguistics. Yowlumne has played a major role in the development of modern generative phonology. However, most of the Yowlumne data in the generative literature is not from attested sources, but has been constructed by its authors based on rules adduced in Newman 1944, the leading reference grammar of Yowlumne. The chapter examines the reasons for this practice and the problems that can arise when it is indiscriminately followed, and also makes some recommendations. The chapter closes with some observations about Newman’s grammar and its place in the history of modern linguistics.
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