A grammar of Moloko
Free

A grammar of Moloko

By Dianne Friesen, with Mana Djeme Isaac, Ali Gaston, and Mana Samuel
Free
Book Description

This grammar provides the first comprehensive grammatical description of Moloko, a Chadic language spoken by about 10,000 speakers in northern Cameroon. The grammar was developed from hours and years that the authors spent at friends’ houses hearing and recording stories, hours spent listening to the tapes and transcribing the stories, then translating them and studying the language through them. Time was spent together and with others speaking the language and talking about it, translating resources and talking to Moloko people about them. Grammar and phonology discoveries were made in the office, in the fields while working, and at gatherings. In the process, the four authors have become more and more passionate about the Moloko language and are eager to share their knowledge about it with others. Intriguing phonological aspects of Moloko include the fact that words have a consonantal skeleton and only one underlying vowel (but with ten phonetic variants). The simplicity of the vowel system contrasts with the complexity of the verb word, which can include information (in addition to the verbal idea) about subject, direct object (semantic Theme), indirect object (recipient or beneficiary), direction, location, aspect (Imperfective and Perfective), mood (indicative, irrealis, iterative), and Perfect aspect. Some of the fascinating aspects about the grammar of Moloko include transitivity issues, question formation, presupposition, and the absence of simple adjectives as a grammatical class. Most verbs are not inherently transitive or intransitive, but rather the semantics is tied to the number and type of core grammatical relations in a clause. Morphologically, two types of verb pronominals indicate two kinds of direct object; both are found in ditransitive clauses. Noun incorporation of special ‘body-part’ nouns in some verbs adds another grammatical argument and changes the lexical characteristics of the verb. Clauses of zero transitivity can occur in main clauses due to the use of dependent verb forms and ideophones. Question formation is interesting in that the interrogative pronoun is clause-final for most constructions. The clause will sometimes be reconfigured so that the interrogative pronoun can be clause-final. Expectation is a foundational pillar for Moloko grammar. Three types of irrealis mood relate to speaker’s expectation concerning the accomplishment of an event. Clauses are organised around the concept of presupposition, through the use of the na-construction. Known or expected elements are marked with the na particle. There are no simple adjectives in Moloko; all adjectives are derived from nouns. The authors invite others to further explore the intricacies of the phonology and grammar of this intriguing language.

Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations
  • 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 Linguistic classification
    • 1.2 Language use, language contact, and multilingualism
    • 1.3 Previous research
    • 1.4 Snake story
    • 1.5 Disobedient Girl story
    • 1.6 Cicada story
    • 1.7 Values exhortation
  • 2 Phonology
    • 2.1 Labialisation and palatalisation prosodies
    • 2.2 Consonants
      • 2.2.1 Phonetic description
      • 2.2.2 Underlyingly labialised consonants
      • 2.2.3 Prosodic conditioning of consonant allophones
      • 2.2.4 Non-prosodic conditioning of consonants
        • 2.2.4.1 Word-final allophones of /n/ and /h/
        • 2.2.4.2 Word-final allophones of /r/
    • 2.3 Vowels
      • 2.3.1 Vowel phonemes and allophones
      • 2.3.2 Prosodic conditioning of vowel allophones
      • 2.3.3 Non-prosodic conditioning of vowel allophones
    • 2.4 Tone
      • 2.4.1 Depressor consonants
      • 2.4.2 Tone spreading rules
    • 2.5 Notes on the syllable
      • 2.5.1 Syllable structure
      • 2.5.2 Syllable restructuring
    • 2.6 Word boundaries
      • 2.6.1 Phonological criteria for word breaks
        • 2.6.1.1 Word-final /h/ realized as [x]
        • 2.6.1.2 Word-final /n/ realised as [ŋ]
        • 2.6.1.3 Prosodies do not cross word boundaries
        • 2.6.1.4 Deletion of the -aj suffix in verbs
        • 2.6.1.5 Deletion of word-final /n/
      • 2.6.2 Affix, clitic, and extension
  • 3 Grammatical classes
    • 3.1 Pronouns
      • 3.1.1 Free personal pronouns
        • 3.1.1.1 Regular pronouns
        • 3.1.1.2 Emphatic pronouns
      • 3.1.2 Possessive pronouns
        • 3.1.2.1 Semantic range of possessive constructions
        • 3.1.2.2 Tone of possessive pronouns
      • 3.1.3 Honorific possessive pronouns
      • 3.1.4 Interrogative pronouns
      • 3.1.5 Unspecified pronouns
    • 3.2 Demonstratives and demonstrationals
      • 3.2.1 Nominal demonstratives
      • 3.2.2 Local adverbial demonstratives
        • 3.2.2.1 Proximal and distal local adverbial demonstratives
        • 3.2.2.2 Anaphoric demonstrative
      • 3.2.3 Manner adverbial demonstratives
    • 3.3 Numerals and quantifiers
      • 3.3.1 Cardinal numbers for items
      • 3.3.2 Numbers for counting money
      • 3.3.3 Ordinal numbers
      • 3.3.4 Non-numeral quantifiers
    • 3.4 Existentials
    • 3.5 Adverbs
      • 3.5.1 Simple verb phrase-level adverbs
      • 3.5.2 Derived verb phrase-level adverbs
      • 3.5.3 Clause-level adverbs
      • 3.5.4 Discourse-level adverbs
    • 3.6 Ideophones
      • 3.6.1 Semantic and phonological features of ideophones
      • 3.6.2 Syntax of ideophones
      • 3.6.3 Clauses with zero transitivity
    • 3.7 Interjections
  • 4 Noun morphology
    • 4.1 Phonological structure of the noun stem
    • 4.2 Morphological structure of the noun word
      • 4.2.1 Subclasses of nouns
      • 4.2.2 Plural construction
      • 4.2.3 Concrete nouns
      • 4.2.4 Mass nouns
      • 4.2.5 Abstract nouns
      • 4.2.6 Irregular nouns
    • 4.3 Compounding
    • 4.4 Proper Names
  • 5 Noun phrase
    • 5.1 Noun phrase constituents
    • 5.2 Noun phrase heads
      • 5.2.1 Noun phrases with nominalised verb heads
      • 5.2.2 Noun phrases with pronoun heads
    • 5.3 Derived adjectives
      • 5.3.1 Structure of noun phrase containing ga
      • 5.3.2 Functions of noun phrases containing ga
    • 5.4 Nouns as modifiers
      • 5.4.1 Genitive construction
      • 5.4.2 Permanent attribution construction
      • 5.4.3 Relative clauses
    • 5.5 Coordinated noun phrases
    • 5.6 Adpositional phrase
      • 5.6.1 Simple adpositional phrase
      • 5.6.2 Complex adpositional phrase
  • 6 Verb root and stem
    • 6.1 The basic verb root and stem
    • 6.2 The consonantal skeleton of the root
    • 6.3 Underlying suffix
    • 6.4 Underlying vowel in the root
    • 6.5 Underlying prefix
    • 6.6 Prosody of verb stem
    • 6.7 Tone classes
      • 6.7.1 Effect of depressor consonants
      • 6.7.2 Effect of underlying form on tone of stem
        • 6.7.2.1 Verb stems with one root consonant
        • 6.7.2.2 Verb Stems with two root consonants
        • 6.7.2.3 Verb stems with three or more root consonants
  • 7 The verb complex
    • 7.1 The phonological structure of the verb word
    • 7.2 Imperative
    • 7.3 Verb complex pronominals
      • 7.3.1 Subject pronominal affixes
      • 7.3.2 Indirect object pronominal enclitic
      • 7.3.3 Third person direct object pronominal
    • 7.4 Aspect and mood
      • 7.4.1 Perfective
      • 7.4.2 Imperfective
      • 7.4.3 Irrealis mood
      • 7.4.4 Habitual iterative
      • 7.4.5 Intermittent iterative
    • 7.5 Verbal extensions
      • 7.5.1 Adpositionals
      • 7.5.2 Directionals
      • 7.5.3 Perfect
    • 7.6 Nominalised verb form
      • 7.6.1 Nominalised form as noun
      • 7.6.2 Nominalised form as verb
      • 7.6.3 Verb focus construction
    • 7.7 Dependent verb forms
  • 8 Verb phrase
    • 8.1 Verb phrase constituents
    • 8.2 Auxiliary verb constructions
      • 8.2.1 Progressive auxiliary
      • 8.2.2 Movement auxiliary
      • 8.2.3 Stem plus ideophone auxiliary
  • 9 Verb types and transitivity
    • 9.1 Two kinds of transitive clauses
    • 9.2 Verb types
      • 9.2.1 Group 1: Verbs that can only be intransitive
      • 9.2.2 Group 2: Verbs that can be transitive with direct object
      • 9.2.3 Group 3: Verbs that can be transitive with indirect object
      • 9.2.4 Group 4: Verbs that can be bitransitive
        • 9.2.4.1 in transitive and bitransitive clauses
        • 9.2.4.2 in intransitive clauses
      • 9.2.5 Group 5: Transfer verbs
    • 9.3 “Body-part” verbs (noun incorporation)
      • 9.3.1 elé ‘eye’
      • 9.3.2 sləmay ‘ear’
      • 9.3.3 ma ‘mouth’
      • 9.3.4 va ‘body’
      • 9.3.5 har ‘body’
    • 9.4 Clauses with zero grammatical arguments
  • 10 Clause
    • 10.1 Declarative clauses
      • 10.1.1 Verbal clause
      • 10.1.2 Predicate nominal, adjective, and possessive clauses
    • 10.2 Negation constructions
      • 10.2.1 Negative particles
      • 10.2.2 Clausal negation construction
      • 10.2.3 Constituent negation
    • 10.3 Interrogative constructions
      • 10.3.1 Content question construction
      • 10.3.2 Yes-No question construction
      • 10.3.3 Tag question construction
      • 10.3.4 Rhetorical question construction
      • 10.3.5 Emphatic question construction
    • 10.4 Imperative constructions
    • 10.5 Exclamatory constructions
  • 11 The na marker and na constructions
    • 11.1 Presupposition-assertion construction: na-marked clause
      • 11.1.1 Temporal or logical sequence
      • 11.1.2 Simultaneous events
      • 11.1.3 Tail-head linking for cohesion
    • 11.2 Presupposition-assertion construction: na-marked clausal element
    • 11.3 Assertion-presupposition construction: right-shifted na-marked element
    • 11.4 Definite construction: na-marked clausal element
    • 11.5 Presupposition-focus construction: na precedes the final element of the verb phrase
  • 12 Clause combining
    • 12.1 Complement clauses
      • 12.1.1 Dependent and nominalised verb complement clauses
      • 12.1.2 Finite complement clauses
    • 12.2 Dependent adverbial clauses
    • 12.3 Clauses linked by conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs
      • 12.3.1 Adverbial clauses introduced by a subordinating conjunction
      • 12.3.2 Conditional construction
      • 12.3.3 Coordinate constructions
      • 12.3.4 Adverbial clauses with conjunctive adverbs
    • 12.4 Juxtaposed clauses
  • Appendix A: List of verbs
  • Appendix B: Verb paradigms
  • Appendix C: Moloko-English Lexicon
  • Appendix D: English-Moloko Lexicon
  • References
  • Index
    • Name index
    • Language index
    • Subject index
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