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A Grammar of Tariana, from Northwest Amazonia (Cambridge Grammatical Descriptions)

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521826648
ISBN-10: 0521826640
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Editorial Reviews


"[...]a masterly piece of work[...]useful to the ordinary working linguist[...]It can be used as a model for writing a detailed technical grammar of an unusual language. It is an excellent model for anyone who must write a grammar of a severely endangered language, especially when the grammar is likely to be THE scholarly repository for all human time of that language's structure."
-Terry Malone, SIL

Book Description

This is a comprehensive reference grammar of Tariana, an endangered Arawak language from the northwest Amazonian jungle. Its speakers traditionally marry someone speaking a different language, and therefore most people are fluent in five or six languages. Because of this rampant multilingualism, Tariana combines its own features with those borrowed from neighbouring languages. The language has many unusual properties, including evidentiality: every sentence contains a special element indicating how the speaker acquired the information. This grammar will be a valuable source-book for linguists and others interested in natural languages.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Grammatical Descriptions
  • Hardcover: 730 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521826640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521826648
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.6 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,676,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Geraldo Faria on March 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Tariana people, located at the confluence of O°16'52.78"N 68°37'26.37"W, are an Amazonian indigenous group doomed to extinction. Due to endo- and exogenous reasons (i.e. marriage can only take place between speakers of different languages, as speakers of the same language are considered siblings) and, to say the least, for other anthropological reasons. Tariana is spoken actively only by 100 people over a radius of more than 600 kilometers, and each of them can and actively speaks various languages.

Alexandra Aikhenvald has painstakingly gathered over 1700 pages of texts and word lists of this endangered language collected during 5 fieldtrips in the 90's, and with the precision of fine surgeon dissected its grammar. A Grammar of Tariana, from Northwest Amazonia consists of over 700 pages where she initially compiled pertinent data in a descriptive form, and followed by a meticulous breakdown of various grammatical categories in an analytical format. The Tariana phonology comes first after the introductory chapter. Verbs, nouns and adjectives are analyzed next. Morphology and Syntax are looked at from various angles. Valency, evidentiality, TAM (tense, aspect, mood/modality) comes after. Serial verb constructions, nominalization and discourse organization are all investigated in various chapters, leading to a concluding chapter on etymology and semantics of the language. An unfortunately font selection caused the appendix on Tariana-English vocabulary (pages 671-681) slightly confusing as the Tariana words are not distinguished from English by font type or bold/italicization.

An assortment of valuable points have been raised and properly described over 26 chapters.
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