Project

A descriptive grammar of Sizang Chin

Goal: The monograph extends author’s MA thesis (Davis, 2017) to deliver only the second ever published linguistic grammar of a Kuki-Chin (Tibeto-Burman) language (after Hartmann 2009, STEDT). The work—based on data largely taken from natural discourse—developed the author’s previous study of Siang verb alternations into a broad syntactic description of argument and clausal structure, plus a full phonological analysis.
The monograph describes an otherwise an underdocumented Nothern Kuki-Chin language, and will be welcomed by Tibeto-Burmanists, typologists, and other linguists. With the growing interest of Kuki-Chin research in linguistics departments at Indiana University, University of North Texas, Dartmouth College, and several universities in India, including Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, this monograph could not be published at a better time. The contents will be entirely original, except for some modest use of data from previous research on Sizang, such as Stern (1984). The page count for this monograph will be around 200 pages in length, plus a lexicon of ~300 etyma, and sample texts.

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Project log

Tyler David Davis
added 2 research items
Sizang Chin exhibits verb stem alternation in which one form of a verb (Stem I) occurs in certain environments and a secondary form (Stem II) occurs in other environments. Henderson (1965) correlates Stem I with final clauses and Stem II with non-final clauses. King (2009) correlates Stem II with subordinate clauses. She also correlates Stem I with the agentive voice and Stem II with the non-agentive voice. Building on the work of Henderson (1965) and King (2009), this study examines the correlation of verb stem alternation and foreground and background information in Sizang third-person narrative discourse. The study demonstrates that foreground information clauses mostly correlate with Stem I and setting (background) information clauses always correlate with Stem II. However, most background clauses conveying possible events or events that did not happen correlate with Stem I, not Stem II as expected. Therefore, verb stem alternation in Sizang Chin cannot be accounted for by foreground and background information alone.
Sizang Chin (Northern Kuki-Chin, Tibeto-Burman) is spoken in Northern Chin State, Burma/Myanmar. It exhibits a form of ablaut commonly referred to as “verb stem alternation” within the Kuki-Chin literature. In verb stem alternation, one form of a verb (Stem I) occurs in certain environments and a secondary form (Stem II) occurs in other environments. Recently, this alternation has been classified as a correlation of agentivity, with Stem I denoting agentive voice and Stem II denoting nonagentive voice. However, the methodology used in that classification depended heavily upon elicited data and the categorization did not make a clear distinction between clausal-level phenomena and argument-level phenomena. In order to observe verb stem alternation in a more natural environment, this study examines the correlation of verb stem alternation with foreground and background information in Sizang third-person narrative discourse. Foreground information refers to the clauses within a narrative that contain main events which advance the timeline. Background information refers to clauses that are not mainline events, but nonetheless add supporting information to the mainline events. The hypothesis for this study was that foreground information clauses would correlate with Stem I and background information clauses would correlate with Stem II. However, contrary to the hypothesis, the results demonstrate that the majority of background information clauses contain a Stem I verb and foreground information clauses sometimes contain Stem II verbs. This is because Stem II in Sizang Chin to indicates nominalization. Therefore, in both foreground and background information, Stem II is present in nominalized clauses, including adverbial clauses, complement clauses and applicative constructions.
Tyler David Davis
added a project goal
The monograph extends author’s MA thesis (Davis, 2017) to deliver only the second ever published linguistic grammar of a Kuki-Chin (Tibeto-Burman) language (after Hartmann 2009, STEDT). The work—based on data largely taken from natural discourse—developed the author’s previous study of Siang verb alternations into a broad syntactic description of argument and clausal structure, plus a full phonological analysis.
The monograph describes an otherwise an underdocumented Nothern Kuki-Chin language, and will be welcomed by Tibeto-Burmanists, typologists, and other linguists. With the growing interest of Kuki-Chin research in linguistics departments at Indiana University, University of North Texas, Dartmouth College, and several universities in India, including Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, this monograph could not be published at a better time. The contents will be entirely original, except for some modest use of data from previous research on Sizang, such as Stern (1984). The page count for this monograph will be around 200 pages in length, plus a lexicon of ~300 etyma, and sample texts.