A Grammar of Karbi

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Title: A Grammar of Karbi
Author: Konnerth, Linda
Abstract: Karbi is a Tibeto-Burman (TB) language spoken by half a million people in the Karbi Anglong district in Assam, Northeast India, and surrounding areas in the extended Brahmaputra Valley area. It is an agglutinating, verb-final language. This dissertation offers a description of the dialect spoken in the hills of the Karbi Anglong district. It is primarily based on a corpus that was created during a total of fifteen months of original fieldwork, while building on and expanding on research reported by Grüßner in 1978. While the exact phylogenetic status of Karbi inside TB has remained controversial, this dissertation points out various putative links to other TB languages. The most intriguing aspect of Karbi phonology is the tone system, which carries a low functional load. While three tones can be contrasted on monosyllabic roots, the rich agglutinating morphology of Karbi allows the formation of polysyllabic words, at which level tones lose most of their phonemicity, while still leaving systematic phonetic traces. Nouns and verbs represent the two major word classes of Karbi at the root level; property-concept terms represent a subclass of verbs. At the heart of Karbi morphosyntax, there are two prefixes of Proto-TB provenance that have diachronically shaped the grammar of the language: the possessive prefix a- and the nominalizer ke-. Possessive a- attaches to nouns that are modified by preposed elements and represents the most frequent morpheme in the corpus. Nominalization involving ke- forms the basis for a variety of predicate constructions, including most of Karbi subordination as well as a number of main clause constructions. In addition to nominalization, subordination commonly involves clause chaining. Noun phrases may be marked for their clausal role via -phān `non-subject' or -lòng `locative' but frequently remain unmarked for role. Their pragmatic status can be indicated with information structure markers for topic, focus, and additivity. Commonly used discourse constructions include elaborate expressions and parallelism more generally, general extenders, copy verb constructions, as well as a number of final particles. Audio files are available of the texts given in the appendices, particular examples illustrating phonological issues, and phonetic recordings of tone minimal sets. Supplemental files are located at: https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/13657
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/17928
Date: 2014-06-17

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