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Title: The Language of the Apurinã People of Brazil (Maipure/Arawak)
Authors: Facundes, Sidney da Silva
Keywords: Apurinã - Grammar
Maipurean Languages
American Indigenous Languages
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: State University of New York at Buffalo
Abstract: A somewhat typologically informed grammatical description of the Apurinã language is provided, including historical, socio-cultural, demographic and geographic information about the Apurinã society. The Apurinã communities spread along tributaries of the Purus River, in western Brazilian Amazon. The grammatical analysis consists of the phonology, morphology and syntax, with appendixes on language variation and the design of the Apurinã ortography, a text sample, a vocabulary list, and a preliminary reconstruction of Proto-Apurinã-Piro-Iñapari. The grammatical analysis is based on language internal factors, though with some typological observations on major aspects. The segmental phonology is simple; morphophonemic alternations are restricted to pronominal subject/possessor markers and a few other bound morphemes. Stress is predictably penultimate, though with exceptions that need further investigation. Although a preliminary analysis of prosodic structures is suggested, more work is required in this area. The morphology is complex and includes special bound forms which are partially distinguishable from typical affixes. Nouns and verbs are clearly distinct syntact categories; however, property-referring words are describable as a subclass of intransitive verbs. Classificatory nouns are used as part of productive noun compounding and a subset of them can be verb-incorporated and refer back to physical and shape properties of participants previously mentioned in the discourse—in this way resembling verb incorporated classifiers of North America languages. The description of the syntactic organization of the language involves, to a great extent, examining the functions and behavior of bound morphemes, and reaches its highest complexity in the system of relative clauses. A subset of property-referring words, called objective descriptive verbs, presents a morphologically marked split intransitivity system which is partly based on the semantic class of these verbs. Such a system is typical of Arawak languages. The constituent order is semi-free; the VO order is the most frequent in texts, but the patterns of word order correlations point to OV. Overall, the Apurinã language constitutes a laboratory for examining the interplay between morphological forms and syntactic structure and functions, providing certain grammatical and semantic categories and structures that resemble only in part those attested in other languages.
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