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The extension of structure to discourse: Chitimacha participles in discourse and diachrony



Markers of grammatical dependency frequently undergo changes in domain or scope, whether these changes occur at the level of local morphology, clausal syntax, interclausal syntax, or discourse. In Chitimacha, a Louisiana isolate documented by Morris Swadesh in the 1930s, the diachronic continuum of scopal changes from morphology to discourse can be reconstructed for the participle -k using synchronic reflexes.
Hieber, Daniel W. 2014. From grammar to discourse: Chitimacha participles in
discourse and diachrony. Term paper, Syntax beyond the clause, Prof. Marianne
Mithun, Fall 2014, UC Santa Barbara.
The participial -k and the structuring of Chitimacha discourse
Daniel W. Hieber
University of California, Santa Barbara
1 Introduction
This paper aims to describe the participial suffix -k in Chitimacha, namely its
functions within the sentence and discourse. This participle is particularly interesting
because of its highly polyfunctional nature, covering all types of subordination except
reported speech, complement clauses, and certain kinds of temporal clauses (§3). All
other types of subordinate clauses are participial constructions coded with either the
present / general participial -k or the past participle -tuːt. The -k participial suffix also
plays an important role in discourse, providing a means of participant tracking of same
and different subjects, and of structuring the discourse into discrete narrative events.
This paper examines each of these facets of the participial suffix in turn.
The data for this study come from a collection of 88 texts dictated by tribal chief
Benjamin Paul (18671934) to linguist Morris Swadesh (19091967) over a series of
visits by Swadesh to Charenton, Louisiana between 1930 and the time of Chief Paul’s
death in 1934. They consist primarily of traditional narratives, but also a number of
expository texts and some direct commentary from Chief Paul to Dr. Swadesh. Typed
versions of the texts were deposited by Swadesh at the American Philosophical Society
in 1953 (Swadesh 1953), and a digitized version of this manuscript forms the basis for
this study.
The verbal -k suffix is first described in detail in Swadesh’s draft grammar (earlier
work by John R. Swanton did not identify the suffix), where he characterizes the
morpheme as follows:
The participle is used (a) in conjunction with auxiliaries to form periphrastic tense-
modes, (b) in a few complexes as complement of verbs, (c) as the nucleus of modifier
clauses. The last function is the most characteristic. The participial clause, which may
have subject, object, verbal complement, modifiers, stands in the relation of a
generalized modifier to the superordinate clause, and expresses an event or
circumstance somehow related to it. Temporal proximity, simultaneous, prior, or
occasionally subsequent, is always implied. The relation may be purely temporal, as in
the expression of sequence or combination of actions, or it may involve causality, non-
prevention (‘although…’), means, or some other relation. In so far as the events of the
participle or series of participles and the superordinate verb have a temporal sequence,
this is reflected in the order of use. In giving a sequence of events, for example, the
steps in a manufacturing process, it is a common device to express all the steps but the
last in participial clauses, the last being given the form of a predicative verb, formally
the main verb of the sentence. The participle does not indicate tense-mode; the implied
tense-mode is ordinarily the same as that of the superordinate verb. The implied subject
is likewise frequently the same as that of the superordinate verb, but need not be.
(Swadesh 1939:206207)
Many of Swadesh’s observations will be corroborated and expanded on in this paper.
The term participle is apposite for this suffix since, as Payne (1997:38) notes,
Participle is a relatively widely understood term for verb forms that have reduced
verbal properties, but which are not full nominalizations.” Dryer (2007:198) also notes
that, “Participles thus exhibit a mixture of verbal, adjectival, and nominal features.”
Since the Chitimacha participle takes what was historically (and still is elsewhere) a
nominal suffix, but most frequently functions adjectivally, and yet has the clausal
syntax of a verb, the term participle seems fitting.
2 Formal realizations of -k
The participial -k is one of three devices for forming subordinate clauses in
Chitimacha, one finite, and two non-finite (though each non-finite in different ways).
The first is the nominalizer -pa (often realized as -pi), used in complement clauses with
the verbs ‘know / be able’, ‘be unable’, ‘be not’, ‘want’, and the interrogative /
simulative copula te. The resulting non-finite subordinate verb is uninflected for person
or tense, but still marks event number with the pluractional -ma. This subordinate
construction type is exemplified in (1) and (2), with the verb of the subordinate clause
Each example is accompanied by its location in Swadesh’s typed manuscript, following his
numbering system. The letter A refers to texts dictated by Chief Benjamin Paul, the first number to the
number of the text, the next letter to the number of the paragraph, and the final number to the number
of the sentence. Thus A4g.11 refers to the fourth text dictated by Chief Paul, paragraph (g), sentence 11.
All translations are Swadesh’s unless given in square brackets.
(1) weyʼiːkʼ pan pinikank kuːmit kʼu-m-pi kʼay--naʔa.
that.being Indians squirrel eat-PLACT-NZR be.not-PROG-NF.PL.A
‘That is why Indians do not eat squirrel.’ (Swadesh 1953:A4g.11)
(2) wetk hunks nehe ʔap tʼem-pi kʼih-naʔa.
then they self REFL hit(PL)-NZR want-NF.PL.A
‘They wanted to fight [each other].’ (Swadesh 1953:A6a.8)
The second subordinate clause type is formed with the locative nominalizer -nki, which
attaches to fully-inflected finite verbs to create adverbial time clauses, illustrated in
examples (3) and (4).
(3) teweː ni kaːku-mi-naː-nki hus tep kin hi ʔam-naʔa.
but DTRZR know-PLACT-NF.PL-LOC 3SG fire with DIST see-NF.PL.A
‘Still when they found out (about him) they saw him with his fire.’
(Swadesh 1953:A5e.5)
(4) kuː ni uw-a-nki we pan hup ʔap ʔeh-iʔi.
water DOWN go-NF.SG.A-LOC DEM people to RETURN arrive-NF.SG.A
‘When the water went down, he came back to that person.’
(Swadesh 1953:A5e.1)
The final subordinate clause type, the participial construction, is the focus of this
paper. It has two forms: the present or general participle -k and the past participle -tuːt.
Participial clauses are non-finite, marking event number and patientive arguments but
not tense or agentive arguments. This differs from subordinate clauses with -pa in that,
as mentioned, -pa nominalizations do not mark patientive arguments. Examples of
participial constructions with both -k and -tuːt are given in examples (5)(8). -tuːt is
glossed as PTCP(PAST) while -k is glossed simply as PTCP.
Glossing abbreviations for examples are listed at the end of this paper.
General Participle
(5) tutk kunukʼu we siksink kap kʼap-t-k we eːni waʔa=nk
then QUOT DEM eagle UP take-TRZR-PTCP DEM pond other=LOC
hi pe-iʔi.
‘Then they say the eagle took him up and flew toward the opposite side of
the pond.’ (Swadesh 1953:A1c.1)
(6) wetk we ni kiut-k hi nen-w-iʔi.
then DEM pond swim-PTCP DIR out.of.water-VERT-NF.SG.A
‘He crossed that pond swimming.’ (Swadesh 1953:A2a.3)
Past Participle
(7) ʔatkanki ʔu pan kap nuːp-k, hi ney nu-mi-tuːt
sometimes 1PL people PUNC die-PTCP DIST earth work-PLACT-PTCP(PAST)
‘Sometimes when (one of) our people died we would go on after having
buried him.’ (Swadesh 1953:A4b.6)
(8) ʔam ni kʼut-i ni wop-mi-ːkʼ,
something DTRZR eat-GER DTRZR ask-PLACT-PTCP
wetk ni kʼu-tuːt ʔika []
‘He asked for something to eat and when he had finished eating said […]’
(Swadesh 1953:A7b.2)
The present / general participle has four allomorphs, each of which is exemplified
with its conditioning context below. Some minor variation exists for the /n_/ and
/{+SON}_/ environments where the suffix is non-glottalized, but this is extremely rare.
V_ | -ːkʼ
(9) wey memti-ːkʼ neh-w-iʔi.
DEM jump-PTCP go.down-VERT-NF.SG.A
‘He jumped down.’ (Swadesh 1953:A3f.6)
n_ | -tʼk
(10) kap kamin ten-tʼk u hup hi tʼut-naʔa.
INCH deer become-PTCP woods to DIR go(PL)-NF.PL.A
‘Turning into deer they went into the woods.’ (Swadesh 1953:A35c.5)
{+SON} | -
(11) neki i kʼamin kap tey- ni wopmiʔi we puːp […]
elephant STAT sit-PTCP DTRZR he.asked DEM rabbit […]
‘The elephant stopped and asked the rabbit, […]’ (Swadesh 1953:A17b.3)
C_ | -k
(12) wetk we hani kas huk-t-k, kun kas ʔic-wi-ːkʼ
then DEM house BACK close-TRZR-PTCP some BACK turn-VERT-PTCP
we pan pinikank waʔa ni wopmiʔi, […]
DEM Indians other DTRZR he.asked […]
‘He closed the house and turning back to asked (told) the other Indians, […]’
(Swadesh 1953:A11a.9)
The general participle frequently occurs with the topic marker - (roughly 40% of the
time, counting just instances of the allomorph -ːkʼ), for reasons that will be discussed
later but do not significantly affect the function of the participle itself. An example of
this PTCP+TOP construction is given in (13).
(13) kun u-ːkʼ- u-ːkʼ-, eːni=nk hup hi ni-w-iʔi.
‘He went and went until he came to the edge of a pond.’
(Swadesh 1953:A1a.2)
While both -k and -tuːt are participles in the same verbal slot, they have drastically
different frequencies, functions, and distributions in discourse. Even in the several
examples above, there are multiple instances of -k in addition to the cases being
emphasized. While the participial -tuːt occurs 37 times in the corpus, the participial -k
occurs approximately 2,700 times in a corpus of 3,490 sentences, attesting to the
significantly broader range of functions that -k fulfills both within and across sentences.
Even excluding the instances where -k appears to have become lexicalized (when used
on the end of generic, lexicalized discourse markers like wetk ‘so’ and tutk ‘then’ more
on these later), the suffix still occurs at least 515 times and this is only counting
instances of the -ːkʼ allomorph.
The past participle seems limited to expressing temporal sequences, and to giving
internal structure to long procedural sentences involving many steps. It does not code
the many other functions accomplished by -k. It also never occurs with the topic
marker -. An example of -tuːt being used to structure a sequence of steps in a
procedure is given in example (14) below. The past participles are underlined, and
additional participles in the sentence are also emphasized.
(14) weyt bak-te-pi-tuːt we hoku=nki
kap an--t-k heːp-mi-tuːt tuːkun ki
kap ah--t-k hunks hani sekʼis kap akʼit-k weyt
UP IN-HAND-TRZR-PTCP 3PL house up UP hang-PTCP thus
kun kas nu-mi-na-k.
‘After flattening it thus, they fixed it by taking it out of the mortar, putting it
into a sack after fanning it, and (thus) hung it up inside their
house.’ (Swadesh 1953:A74g.2)
In this example, -tuːt serves to section off certain clauses as being temporally prior to
the following ones. The participle antk taking (it) out is itself subordinate to the past
participle heːpmituːt ‘having fanned (it)’. As will be seen later, this internal structuring
of sentences is a function -tuːt shares with the -k+- construction, the difference
between the two being that -k+- groups clauses into macro-units within the sentence
conceptually, regardless of the time of the events, while -tuːt groups clauses into macro-
units specifically on the basis of their temporal sequence.
Since -tuːt is so limited in its functions as well as infrequent, it will not be discussed
further here.
Within the clause, verbs and participles are with very few exceptions clause-final.
The general exception to this for main verbs is reported speech, which typically follows
the verb of saying or a quotative ʔika X saidor kunukʼu it is said’. For participles, the
exception is when the participle is followed by a copula as part of a complex predicate,
as shown in (15).
(15) wetk wey pekup his het-a-nki- ʔ hepi=nk
then DEM on BACK meet-NF.SG.A-LOC-TOP buzzard feces=LOC
kap mestʼi-ːkʼ hi-ʔuy-i.
When we met him up there he was white with buzzard excrement.
(Swadesh 1953:A4c.5)
Within the sentence, the vast majority of participial clauses precede the main clause,
and those that follow have the function of expressing purpose or manner, as will be
seen below. I turn now to describing the various functions of -k within the sentence.
3 Functions of -k within the sentence
3.1 Nominal functions
One of the most frequent uses of -k is as a nominal modifier. More precisely, since
there is not always (or even often) an overt nominal being modified, in this use -k
functions to provide additional detail regarding a participant in the main clause.
Examples (16) and (17) illustrate this function with and without overt nominals,
respectively. In (16), hi amtk getting out of thereis modifying the nominal phrase we
pan the people’. In (17) the participle kʼaptk taking (you)provides additional
information about the first person argument of the main clause.
(16) wetk kunukʼu [[we pan] hi amt-k-] tʼut-naʔa.
‘The people got out and went on.’ (Swadesh 1953:A3d.1)
(17) […] kap kʼap-t-k nen-u-pi-u-k, […]
‘[…] I’ll take you up and take you across [the water], […]’
(Swadesh 1953:A2b.8)
As Nikolaeva (2007:3) notes (citing Kalinina (2001)), typological studies have
demonstrated that in a sizable number of languages arguably non-finite forms with
reduced tense and agreement can function as the only predicate in a clause. This is
also the case for Chitimacha, though it happens infrequently, since typically if a
participle is serving as the main predicate it is accompanied by at least a copula, as
shown in (15) above. Example (18) is one instance where the participle functions as a
main clause without the copula. However, as the copula is not infrequently implied
rather than overt in Chitimacha, one could interpret this sentence as a copular
construction as well.
(18) ʔatkanki kap teyin kuː huh-i-mi-ːkʼ.
sometimes STAT stopped water INDOORS-HAND-PLACT-PTCP
‘Sometimes he would stop and beg for water.’ (Swadesh 1953:A7a.2)
3.2 Adverbial functions
Since Chitimacha lacks any clear class of adverbs,
it is no surprise that the
participial construction fulfills a wide variety of adverbial functions, functioning as a
modifier of verb phrases or entire clauses (Thompson, Longacre & Hwang 2007). This
section briefly examines the Chitimacha participial construction in relation to each of
the types of adverbial clauses listed in Thompson, Longacre & Hwang (2007).
The most common adverbial function of -k is to express sequentiality of events, such
that the participial clause precedes the main clause in time. An example of this is
shown in (19).
(19) wetk ni as-t-k kʼasmank ʔam ʔoːnak noːpi-ːkʼ-,
then DTRZR plant-TRZR-PTCP corn thing all make.crop-PTCP-TOP
weytenkʼenk tʼut-naʔa hesikʼen.
only.then go(PL)-NF.PL.A again.
‘Then they planted, made a crop of corn and so forth, and after that went on
again.’ (Swadesh 1953:A3b.3)
This type of clause expresses slightly different semantics than temporal subordinate
clauses with -nki, shown in (3) and (4) above. Going by Swadesh’s translations
(presumably given to him by Chief Paul), it seems temporal subordinate clauses
There are perhaps a few exceptions, consisting of lexicalized multi-morphemic constructions such
as wetk ‘then’ (‘at that time / that being (the case)’), tutk ‘then’ (lit. ‘being finished’), tʼaːtk ‘now’ (lit. ‘at
this time / this being’), wenk ‘to here’, wenki ‘here’, and a few others. It is notable that many (but not all)
of these contain instances of the participial -k suffix.
with -nki are conceptualized and packaged as a telic event happening at a single point
in time, that then serves as the anchor for the event in the main clause. That is, the
subordinate event marked by -nki is typically the temporal starting point for the main
event. Evidence to this effect is the fact that -nki, with a single exception, never occurs
with the imperfective or progressive suffixes in its approximately 175 uses.
in order to convey temporal sequence using -nki in the specific sense of ‘after’ as
opposed to the more general anchor point ‘when’, additional adverbial modifiers are
required, as shown in (20).
(20) wetk ʔap ʔuy-i-nki henkʼenk ni kʼu-mi-naʔa.
then BACK arrive-NF.SG.A-LOC only.after DTRZR eat-PLACT-NF.PL.A
‘Only after they came back (to earth) did they eat.’ (Swadesh 1953:A4e.5)
This semantic difference is not too surprising given that the subordinate marker -nki
derives from an enclitic locative postposition of the same form on nouns. The
metaphorical extension from a point in space to a point in time explains its restricted
temporal semantics. At the same time, the participle -k is also occasionally used for
‘when’-type temporal sequences:
(21) wetk hesikʼen his tʼut-k, kunukʼu ʔasi nahcʼibunk hi teːtiʔi, […]
then again BACK go(PL)-PTCP QUOT little boy DIR he.said […]
‘When they went back, one little boy said, […]’ (Swadesh 1953:A5b.1)
In addition to sequentiality, participial clauses may also express simultaneity, as in
(22) and (23).
(22) hus kaːcpank wok-mi-ːkʼ hus tep cʼismam ʔuka-ː-i
3SG stick feel-PLACT-PTCP 3SG fire pieces count-PROG-NF.SG.A
‘Feeling with his stick, he counted his pieces of fire.’ (Swadesh 1953:A5a.6)
The single exception is as follows:
(1) nitʼik himk ʼiwkʼi i-ʔuy-i,
it.seems 2SG bad COP(HORIZ)-IMPFV-NF.SG
haksikʼam i-ʔuy-i-nki. COP(HORIZ)-IMPFV-NF.SG-LOC
‘It seems you were a bad one when you were young.’ (Swadesh 1939:A85f.1)
(23) wetk ʼimank piyi hen-t-k naki tʼem-puy-naʔa.
then at.night cane peel-TRZR-PTCP chicken.hawk kill-IMPFV-NF.PL.A
‘Then at night they told stories [lit. ‘killed chicken hawks’] while they peeled
cane.’ (Swadesh 1953:A68a.7)
Many participial clauses can also be interpreted as a temporal sequence involving
causation, as in (24):
(24) waʔa kunukʼu ney kin pokti kin ʔap neh-t-k
other QUOT earth with sky with together trap-TRZR-PTCP
kap tʼem-i.
‘The earth and sky struck together and killed the others.’
(Swadesh 1953:A3c.5)
As mentioned by Thompson, Longacre & Hwang (2007:248), “‘before’ clauses are
conceptually negative from the point of view of the event in the main clause”, and this
conceptualization surfaces in the subordinate clauses expressing ‘before’ relations in
some languages. Such is the case for Chitimacha, which uses the construction GERUND
+ kʼan ki ‘not at’, rather than the participial -k, to express ‘before’ adverbial clauses. An
example is given in (25).
(25) teweː kap kʼu-t-i kʼan =ki kap kʼet-naʔa.
however UP eat-TRZR-GER NEG =LOC PUNC kill(SG)-NF.PL.A
‘However they killed it before it could eat her.’ (Swadesh 1953:A32c.4)
Although expressing the location where an action happens is typically accomplished
with -nki, as in (26), the participle also occasionally fulfills this function, as in (27).
(26) wetk ney pokti kin ʔap ht-ʼi-naʔa-nki
then earth sky with together meet-PROG-NF.PL.A-LOC
hi ʔuy-mi-naʔa.
‘Then they arrived at (the place) where the earth and the sky keep meeting
together.’ (Swadesh 1953:A3c.1)
(27) […] ʔampup hus tep kʼap-t-k hami-ːkʼ hi-ʔuy-i,
[…] to.where 3SG fire take-TRZR-PTCP have-PTCP COP(NEUT)-IMPFV-NF.SG
‘[…] where he got the fire he had,’ (Swadesh 1953:A5e.2)
A common use of the general participle is to express the manner in which the main
event is completed, as in (28) (as well as (6) and perhaps (9) above).
(28) kas ʔiwi-ːkʼ- kas -u-k-.
‘I shall go back by going around.’ (Swadesh 1953:A3f.2)
A few participial manner clauses appear after the main clause rather than in the
canonical slot for participles before the main verb. Thompson, Longacre & Hwang note
the following regarding the function of preposed versus postposed adverbial clauses:
Whether local or global, their function is bidirectional, linking what has gone before to
what is to come. Semantic information encoded in preposed clauses tends to be less
significant, often repeating or giving predictable information from what has already
been stated. The postposed adverbial clause, on the other hand, is often unidirectional,
primarily relating to its main clause, already stated. It conveys information which is
more integrated with the main clause at the local level, and it tends to ‘appear at
paragraph medial positions, i.e. in the middle of a tightly-coherent thematic chain’
Givón (1990:847). (Thompson, Longacre & Hwang 2007:296)
Chitimacha appears to follow this pattern as well. The handful of postposed manner
participles are repetitions of immediately-preceding discourse topics, as illustrated in
(29) wetk kunukʼu tep ʔap ʔaːy-puy-naʔa.
then QUOT fire RECIP lend-IMPFV-NF.PL.A
‘Then they lend fire to each other.’
wetk tep kʼap-t-ʼi-naʔa ʔap ʔaːy-iːkʼ.
then fire get-TRZR-PROG-NF.PL.A RECIP lend-PTCP
‘They get fire by lending back and forth.’ (Swadesh 1953:A5d.4)
In contrast to manner clauses, participial clauses expressing purpose seem to follow
the main clause by default. Postposed constructions like (30) are significantly more
frequent than preposed ones like (31).
(30) wetk pan pinikank naːkbu hi tʼut-naʔa
then Indian children DIR go(PL)-NF.PL.A
tep ʔoːksne-pi kʼih-t-k.
fire steal-GER want-TRZR-PTCP
‘Indian youngsters went to steal the fire.’ (Swadesh 1953:A5a.7)
(31) numi-ːkʼ waːpʼit ʔui-u-ki num-pi kaːhan.
work-PTCP money make-FUT(SG)-1SG.A work-GER unable
‘I can’t work to earn money.’ (Swadesh 1953:A88.42)
In fact, purpose clauses appear to follow the main verb regardless of whether they are
participial clauses. This is shown in (32), where the final clause is functionally
subordinate in the sense of lacking an independent profile (Cristofaro 2003), but
formally independent.
(32) ha eːni nen ʔat-i nen-wi-u-ki.
‘This pond is too big for me to cross.’ (Swadesh 1953:A1a.5)
While Thompson, Longacre & Hwang (2007) note that some languages use the same
construction for both purpose and reason clauses, reason clauses in Chitimacha are
different from purpose clauses in that they generally precede the main clause rather
than follow it, as seen in (33).
(33) nen peksi-ːkʼ, ʼimank teːt tʼapkʼi ʔu-i. be.deep-PTCP night SIMIL dark make-NF.SG.A
‘It makes it dark as night because it is too deep.’ (Swadesh 1953:A5f.4)
Participles are not generally used to express any of the following functions listed by
Thompson, Longacre & Hwang, there being other means of coding these functions in
subordinate clauses:
conditionals (finite verb + -, or juxtaposition of finite verbs)
datives / benefactives (verbal derivative suffix -aʔ)
negative subordinate clauses (kʼan ‘not’)
circumstantial clauses (subordinator -pa)
concessives (future tense verbs)
substitutives and additives (no instances in the corpus)
3.3 Participant relations between main and subordinate clause
As Swadesh notes in the quote at the beginning of this paper, “The implied subject
is likewise frequently the same as that of the superordinate verb, but need not be.”
Interestingly, each of the examples he gives of exceptions are instances of partial
coreference between the argument of the participle and the argument of the main verb,
either as a body-part relation (34) or a member of a group relation (35).
(34) wetk hus mahi we kuː =ki ni ni--t-k,
akʼit-k hi-ʔuy-i.
‘Then he hung there with his tail soaking in the water.’
(Swadesh 1953:A10d.4)
(35) ʔap ʔuy-ma-mi-ːkʼ pan ʔainʼatʼa ʔunkʼunk hi
together arrive-PLACT-PLACT-PTCP people old certain ERG
hi teːtiʔi, […]
DIR he.said, […]
‘When they came together one of the old people [among them] said […]’
(Swadesh 1953:A31c.3)
The argument of the participle is therefore almost always the subject of the main verb.
Example (36) shows that whether a verb is agentive or patientive does not change this
(36) […] we pan pinikank ʔaantkank koː hi kʼet-ki-ːkʼ
[…] DEM people old switch with hit-1SG.P-PTCP
hi -pa-ki-tʼi-na.
‘[…] the old people would have struck me with a switch and made me go
away.’ (Swadesh 1953:A2.29)
Chitimacha does have a means of combining two clauses with different subjects,
however, and that is simply via juxtaposition. For example, the following sentence
contains a purpose clause, which is coded with a postposed participle with -k when the
subjects of the participle and main verb are the same; but here the subjects of the
participle and the main verb are different, so a regular finite verb is used instead. A
similar example was seen in (32) above.
(37) tʼaːtk u hapʼi-uy-i-nkʼ, hetki-ːtʼ-i-naka we u hiskʼis.
now tree create-FUT-NF.SG.A-NEC rest-FUT(PL)-1PL.A DEM tree under
‘You should now create a tree that we may rest beneath the tree.’
(Swadesh 1953:A12b.1)
What this difference in construction types amounts to in practice is a generally
consistent distinction between same-subject and different-subject clauses, i.e. a switch-
reference system, such that participial constructions signal that the following clause is
same-subject, while the coding of a subordinate clause with non-subordinate
morphology (i.e., fully finite verbs) indicates that the following clause is different
subject. This is similar to what Guillaume (2011) reports for Cavinea, except in that
case the language shows an alternation between two different subordinating
morphemes, whereas for Chitimacha the difference is realized by the presence or
absence of the subordinating morpheme. This is also perfectly in line with what
Cristofaro notes regarding the presence or absence of participant marking in the
dependent clause:
[…] constructions with no overt participant reference usually alternate with
constructions involving overt participant reference, and the latter are used when the
main and dependent [states of affairs, i.e. clauses] do not share participants. This means
that the two construction types function as switch-reference devices[...]: when
there is no overt reference to participants of the dependent [state of affairs], the hearer
should assume that these are the same as those of the main [state of affairs], otherwise
participants are overtly referred to in the dependent clause. In this way, the
construction with no overt participant reference involves no real loss of information.
(Cristofaro 2003:250)
As is typically the case with purported switch-reference systems, there are of course
exceptions, though rare. (38) is one such case where the subject of the participle and
the subject of the main clause are different.
(38) nenukʼu nus yaːkʼ nen-w-i kaːhan. west.wind strong CROSS.WATER-VERT-GER unable
‘They could not cross because the west wind was too strong.’
(Swadesh 1953:A14a.3)
Unfortunately, there are an insufficient number of these cases in the texts to determine
with any certainty what causes these ‘mismatches’.
There are also cases where no relationship holds between the participants of the
subordinate and main clauses, namely where the argument of the subordinate clause
makes reference to an entire event or state of affairs rather than a participant. This is
most frequently accomplished by the use of a demonstrative like wey ‘that’ +
participial -k, and in fact is the single most frequent use of -k in the corpus. The
following example shows a chain of four such cases where the participial clause at the
beginning of the sentence refers back to the entire event preceding it, rather than any
particular participant within that event. tutk in the fourth sentence is also an example
of this, since here ‘finish’ has an unergative/middle semantics, i.e. ‘that having
finished/been done’.
(39) kun uːkʼ uːkʼ, eːnink hup hi niwiʔi.
some going going pond to DIR
‘He went and went till he came to the edge of a pond.’
we-t-k- we eːnink hi niwinki,
weyk hi kiutiʔi. DIR he.swam
‘When he got to the edge of the pond, he swam it.’
we-t-k- hesikʼen uːkʼ hi niwiʔi.
DEM-ANA-PTCP-TOP again going DIR
‘Then he went (on) again and came (again) to the edge (of a body of water).’
tut-k teːtiʔi, ha eːni nen ʔati nenwiuki.
finish-PTCP he.said, this pond big I.will.cross.water
‘He said, “This pond is too big for me to cross”.’
we-t-k- siksink his heːtiʔi.
DEM-ANA-PTCP-TOP eagle BACK he.met
‘Then an eagle met him.’ (Swadesh 1953:A1a.26)
It seems appropriate to describe these cases as absolutive adverbials, following
Thompson, Longacre & Hwang (2007:264), which they define as a marked subordinate
clause with no explicit signal of the relationship between the main and the subordinate
clause, and where the relationship must therefore be inferred from pragmatic context.
Indeed, in cases like these the function of the participle is not so much to signal a
connection between itself and the following main clause, but rather to background the
preceding discourse and set up the new clause in juxtaposition to that.
Thompson, Longacre & Hwang also note that, “lexical overlap – especially when it
is a back-reference can become stylized and reduced until it becomes similar to a
conjunction. Thus, instead of the specific repetition of a verb in back-reference, the
subsequent allusion may be by virtue of a verb of highly generic meaning such as ‘do’,
‘be’, or ‘say’. […] All these forms sum up a previous sentence ‘So being then...’ but
contribute bits of information such as might be found in any dependent [verb]. Often
they are best translated simply as ‘and then’.(Thompson, Longacre & Hwang
2007:290). This is exactly what we see in Chitimacha. In fact, the most common
translation for wetk and tutk when they are translated at all is simply ‘then’. These
two forms especially, but also others, have become so conventionalized as to probably
be lexical. Out of 3,490 sentences, 1,008 begin with wetk ‘so, then’ (lit. ‘that being’),
133 begin with tutk ‘then’ (lit. ‘that finished’), 137 begin with weyʼiːkʼ therefore (lit.
‘doing thus’), and approximately 100 more begin with other combinations with the
demonstrative wey. In total, 36% of sentences begin with one of these generic
subordinators. At the same time, every piece of morphology within these words is still
highly productive, so that there are many instances where wetk can only have its literal
meaning, ‘that being’ (‘thus’), as in (40).
(40) huykʼi hi ʔak-iki- wey-t-k hi tʼut-k,
‘When I looked carefully, (I saw that) they were going along thus,’
(Swadesh 1953:A64f.6)
The use of a generic verb ‘do’ plus a demonstrative as a pervasive stylistic device
referring back to the prior event in discourse that we see in (39) seems to be a type of
generic tail-head linkage (de Vries 2005:376377; Guillaume 2011:111).
This linkage function is not restricted to just sentence-initial position, however.
When it occurs sentence-medially, wetk and other tail-head linkers usually signal the
last item in a sequence of events, as seen in Error! Reference source not found., and
in this way provide macro-structure to the sentence, i.e. demarcate units larger than a
clause but smaller than the sentence.
(41) wetk we ʔainʼatʼa we haksikʼaːank nukʼus hi nenwi-ːkʼ,
then DEM DEM youths behind DIR crossing.water-PTCP
hus u ʔuʼin hup hi u-ːkʼ, hus u ʔuʼin
3SG wood rotten to DIR go-PTCP 3SG wood rotten
kas numi-ːkʼ, wetk u-ːkʼ tusiʔi.
BACK work-PTCP then go-PTCP he.hid
‘The old man crossed behind the youths, went to his rotten wood, prepared
his rotten wood, then went and hid.’ (Swadesh 1953:A38b.4)
What is especially interesting about generic tail-head linkage in Chitimacha,
however, is its interaction with the topic marker -. When a tail-head linker appears
with -, it signals a more significant break in the narrative sequence, and the beginning
of a new narrative event. Consider (39) above: The first tail-head linker, in the second
sentence, takes - because the type of action has changed from simply goingto the
new event of swimming. The ‘going’ is packaged as having been finished. The same
holds for wetk in the third sentence, because once again the action switches from
‘swimming’ to ‘going’. In the fourth sentence, tutk does not take the topic marker
because the event is continuing from the point of the previous clause in both location
and time, and still involves the same single participant. The last sentence, however,
introduces the eagle as a new participant. All of the man’s actions leading up that point
are backgrounded as a single finished package of events by the use of - on wetk in the
final sentence.
Similar patterns can be seen for the presence or absence of - with tail-head linkers
across the texts. Generally speaking, - is much more likely to occur when the clause
involves changes that tend to accompany natural breaks in the narrative a change in
the action being performed, the participants involved, or the location where the event
occurred. This suggests that - is signaling how closely-related the speaker
conceptualizes the two events. We can see more evidence for this by examining clause-
internal uses of - with participles (i.e., non-tail head linkage uses). Consider (42)
below. Here, there is a chain of participial clauses, including two instances of wetk, but
only one is marked by -.
(42) him kut un kaː, kimikʼunatkin kin ʔap ʔimi-ːkʼ,
2SG head for kimigunatkin with together mix-PTCP
kiː napʼikank ʔam ʔoːnak kin ʔap ʔimi-ːkʼ
vine black thing all with together mix-PTCP
we-t-k- u napʼikank ʔap ʔimi-ːkʼ,
DEM-ANA-PTCP-TOP wood black together mix-PTCP
we-t-k kuː ki uhtpi-ːkʼ, kaːuyi him
DEM-ANA-PTCP water in boil-PTCP you.will.drink 2SG
kuː kaːt-ʼi-i-nk- teet.
‘If you drink it for your head, you mix it with kimigunatkin, mix with black
vine, then mix it with black wood, boil it in water, and drink it as you drink
your water.’ (Swadesh 1953:A75a.5)
Why the use of - where it is? If not for the presence of -, it would be possible to
interpret this sentence as meaning, ‘mixing it with black vine and [while] mixing it
with wood’, rather than the correct interpretation as ‘mix it with black vine, then mix it
with wood’. Notice that this topic-marked wetk is given an explicit translation with
‘then’ whereas the non-topic marked wetk is not translated at all, attesting to its greater
salience of the transition signaled by the topic-marked form. The - signals a break in
the sequence of steps, conceptually bracketing off the previous clause as being the
background for the present one.
This interpretation of the function of - when combined with the participial -k also
neatly explains the presence of - in the perfect aspect construction, as exemplified in
(43)Error! Reference source not found..
(43) ʔap tʼut-k- nakun, ʔu pan ʔoːnak kap tuwʔina.
VEN go(PL)-PTCP-TOP COP(1PL) 1PL people all INCH die(PL)-PROG-NF.PL.A
‘We have come because all our people are dying.’ (Swadesh 1953:A3e.6)
(44) waːkstikʼi pan ʔap nahmi-ːkʼ- naʔa ʔam weytemank
lately people PROX send-PTCP-TOP COP(NEUT):NF.PL thing that.sort
kaːkumpi kʼih-t-k.
learning want-TRZR-PTCP
‘They have sent people lately to find out that sort of thing.’
(Swadesh 1953:A5j.1)
(45) ʔi ki ʔatin kap niːki-ːkʼ- hiʔi.
‘My horse has become sick.’ (Swadesh 1953:A67g.7)
Not every instance of this construction imparts a perfect semantics, but most do. This
construction is most clear, however, in the cases where the auxiliary is
grammaticalizing onto the verb, as in Error! Reference source not found.. It is these
cases which consistently signal perfect aspect.
(46) ʔik kuː keta=nki ʔap ni-ːkʼ--iki
‘I have come to the water’s side.’ (Swadesh 1953:Ab.3)
For this construction to express a perfect semantics is unsurprising because, by
signaling a break or bracketing in the narrative sequence, - frequently functions to
situate the first clause prior in time to the second, similar to how we saw the past
participle -tuːt does above. Though the primary function of - is not to signal temporal
sequence per se, the fact that it marks a topical transition often results in just such a
sequencing in practice. It is easy to see how this use developed into a perfect aspect
construction, which indicates that an event occurred prior to the present, and often
focuses on the state that results. The combined backgrounding function of -k and -
does exactly that: packages the prior event as a completed state, against the backdrop
of which the current event takes place.
Because the development of perfect aspect out of the -k+- construction implies a
sequencing function for -, this fact lends greater support to the interpretation of - on
tail-head linkers as functioning to mark turning points in the narrative and segment the
discourse into larger macro-units. The discourse-level function of - with -k is thus
perfectly analogous to the sentence-internal function of wetk seen above, helping to
structure smaller sections of discourse together into larger coherent units. Thus while -k
itself allows the speaker to signal chains of events and indicate same or different
participant reference, the topic marker - is a way of grouping these clause chains into
larger units that structure the narrative into macro-events within the discourse.
4 Conclusion
This paper has aimed to illustrate the various functions of the participial marker -k
in Chitimacha at both the clausal level and the discourse level. Clausally, -k fulfills a
wide range of nominal and adverbial functions. Its presence also correlates strongly
with a same subject in the following clause, and in this manner functions as a switch-
reference system. At the discourse level, -k very frequently occurs as part of a generic
tail-head linker, wetk or tutk, referencing the preceding narrative event and setting the
upcoming event apart from it, thus structuring the discourse into discrete narrative
events. Moreover, when -k appears with the topic marker -, this marks a more
significant break in the narrative, allowing speakers to group chains of participial
clauses with -k into larger macro-units within the discourse.
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Theory). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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description, Vol. II: Complex constructions. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.
Guillaume, Antoine. 2011. Subordinate clauses, switch-reference and tail-head linkage
in Cavinea narratives. In Rik van Gijn, Katharina Haude & Pieter C. Muysken
(eds.), Subordination in Native South American languages. (Typological Studies in
Language 97). John Benjamins.
Kalinina, E. J. 2001. NeWnitnye Skazuemye v Nezavisimom Predloenii [Non-finite
predicates in independent clauses]. IMLI RAN.
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22. Cambridge University Press.
Payne, Thomas E. 1997. Describing morphosyntax: A guide for field linguists. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Swadesh, Morris. 1939. Chitimacha grammar (Copy 1). Chitimacha grammar, texts and
vocabulary. (American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American
Languages, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics
Mss.497.3.B63c G6.5). Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society.
Swadesh, Morris. 1953. Chitimacha texts. Chitimacha grammar, texts and vocabulary.
(American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages,
Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics Mss.497.3.B63c G6.5).
Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society.
Thompson, Sandra A., Robert E. Longacre & Shin Ja J. Hwang. 2007. Adverbial clauses.
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Vries, Lourens de. 2005. Towards a typology of tail-head linkage in Papuan languages.
Studies in Language 2(1975). 363384.
1 first person
2 second person
3 third person
A agent
ANA anaphoric
AND andative
CAUS causative
COP copula
DEM demonstrative
DIR directional
DIST distal
DTRZR detransitivizer
ERG ergative
FUT future
GER gerund
HAND do by handling
HORIZ horizontal position
IMPFV imperfective
INCH inchoative
LOC locative
NEC necessitative
NEG negation
NEUT neutral position
NF non-first person
NZR nominalizer
P patient
PAST past
PL plural
PLACT pluractional
PROX proximal
PTCP participle
PUNC punctual
PROG progressive
QUOT quotative
RECIP reciprocal
REFL reflexive
REL relative
SG singular
SIMIL similative copula
STAT stative
TOP topic marker
TRZR transitivizer
VEN venitive
VERT vertical position
... Chitimacha has a means of distinguishing same-subject vs. different-subject in clause chains (Hieber 2016). ...
... 'Now if you go there, take water, and (if) you splash that cypress, thunder gets you.'The participle in turn developed from a locative nominalizer -(n)k(Hieber 2016), which is still in1SG COP(NEUT)-1SG-LOC COP(NF.PL) 'You [pl.] are at my place.'(Swadesh 1939a:A38 1.13) ...
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Chitimacha is a language isolate formerly spoken in southern Louisiana, and is a part of the Southeast linguistic area. Using documentary materials recorded by Morris Swadesh in the 1930s, this talk examines the language-internal evidence for the diachrony of three features of Chitimacha grammar: positional auxiliary verbs, switch-reference, and agent-patient alignment. Each feature is shown to have a clear, language-internal diachronic pathway, wherein existing lexical and grammatical material were recruited for new functions. However, each of these features is shared by other unrelated languages of the Southeast, suggesting that they were in fact motivated by contact. How then did Chitimacha borrow these structural features without borrowing any lexical or grammatical material? The answer, I suggest, is that multilingual speakers in the Southeast carried over discourse-level patterns of managing information flow from other languages, and that as these discourse patterns became more frequent and routinized, they fundamentally reshaped the structure of Chitimacha grammar.
... Chitimacha has a means of distinguishing same-subject vs. different-subject in clause chains (Hieber 2016 'They cut a cane joint, take the stones and wrap them in hide, tie them well, put them into the section of cane, cork them well, again take hide and wrap the cane section in the hide, tie it well, and, having prepared it in that way, they save it.' The participle in turn developed from a locative nominalizer -(n)k (Hieber 2016), which is still in use synchronically: However, these uses appear to be fossilized leftovers from a time when the use of -(n)k on verbs was more common: ...
... Chitimacha has a means of distinguishing same-subject vs. different-subject in clause chains (Hieber 2016 'They cut a cane joint, take the stones and wrap them in hide, tie them well, put them into the section of cane, cork them well, again take hide and wrap the cane section in the hide, tie it well, and, having prepared it in that way, they save it.' The participle in turn developed from a locative nominalizer -(n)k (Hieber 2016), which is still in use synchronically: However, these uses appear to be fossilized leftovers from a time when the use of -(n)k on verbs was more common: ...
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Within historical linguistics, language isolates are often viewed as a problem. Their isolate status makes it difficult to peer into their history, and internal reconstruction is generally thought to be of limited utility. Campbell (2013:170–172) briefly discusses how historical linguists might productively gain insights into the diachrony of language isolates, but notes the “frequent sentiment that it is not to be tolerated that there should be languages with no relatives” (p. 170). Chitimacha (ISO 639-3: ctm) is one such isolate from Louisiana. It was documented extensively by Albert S. Gatschet, John R. Swanton, and Morris Swadesh from 1881–1934 (Gatschet 1881a; Gatschet 1881b; Gatschet 1883; Swanton 1908; Swanton 1920; Swadesh 1939), and its last native speaker passed away in 1939. Very little has been published on the language, and the majority of what has been published reflects the sentiment mentioned by Campbell – attempts to resolve Chitimacha’s isolate status by incorporating it into this or the other language family (Swanton 1919; Swadesh 1946; Swadesh 1947; Haas 1951; Haas 1952; Gursky 1969; Brown, Wichmann & Beck 2014). None of these proposals has been widely accepted (Campbell & Kaufman 1983; Kimball 1992; Kimball 1994; Campbell 1997). This talk attempts to view Chitimacha’s status not as a problem to be solved, but as a potential treasure trove of insights into the social and linguistic history of both the Chitimacha language and the Southeast U.S. more generally. Because of the limited accessibility of the Chitimacha corpus until recently, and the prevailing interest in language classification, the precise nature of Chitimacha’s participation in the Southeast linguistic area has until now remained largely uncertain. This talk uses language-internal evidence to shed some initial light onto that history and the relationship between Chitimacha and the other languages of the Southeast. In this talk I examine the language-internal evidence for the diachrony of three major grammatical features of Chitimacha: positional auxiliary verbs, switch-reference, and agent-patient alignment. Using archival data from Morris Swadesh (1939), I show that each of these features has a clear, language-internal diachronic pathway, wherein existing lexical and grammatical material were recruited for these new functions. However, each of these features is shared by other unrelated languages of the Southeast U.S., suggesting that their development in Chitimacha was in fact motivated by contact. How then did Chitimacha borrow these structural features without borrowing any lexical or grammatical material? Following Mithun (2012), I propose that multilingual speakers in the Southeast carried over discourse-level patterns of managing information flow into Chitimacha, and that as these discourse patterns became more frequent and routinized, they grammaticalized into major features of Chitimacha grammar. It is not grammatical structures themselves that are borrowed, but rather a preference for packaging information in discourse in ways that parallel grammatical structures in the original language. The existence of these shared structural patterns between Chitimacha and other languages shows that Chitimacha is indeed situated firmly within the Southeast linguistic area. Chitimacha’s isolate status, rather than forming a barrier to our understanding of Southeastern history, in fact provides a unique window into the history of the Southeast, as well as mechanisms of contact-induced grammatical change.
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Introduction Many languages have mechanisms whereby one clause can be said to modify another in a way similar to the way in which an adverb modifies a proposition. Just as with adverbs, which are single words or phrases, adverbial clauses can be labelled and categorized with respect to the semantic roles they play. For example, in the English sentences in (1), the italicized expressions can all be called 'time adverbials': that in (1a) is a 'time adverb'; those in (1b) and (1c) are 'time adverbial phrases'; while in (1d) we have a 'time adverbial clause': (1) a. She mailed it yesterday b. He eats lunch at 11.45c. She has chemistry lab in the morning d. I get up when the sun rises In Part I of this chapter we examine the various structural types of adverbial clauses found in languages of the world, while in Part II we treat the adverbial clause from its discourse perspective. The remainder of Part I is organized as follows: section 1 characterizes the notion 'adverbial subordinate clauses', while section 2 examines the adverbial subordinate clause types which languages typically manifest. In section 3 we describe 'speech act' adverbial clauses, and in section 4 we raise the issue of subordinators being borrowed from one language into another. Section 5 summarizes the findings of Part I. 1 Characterization of adverbial clauses The relationship between 'subordinate' and 'main' (coordinate) clauses is clearly a continuum. © Cambridge University Press 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2010.
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This article examines several grammatical developments that have received relatively little attention, but that may be more pervasive than previously recognized. They involve the functional extension of markers of grammatical dependency from sentence-level syntax into larger discourse and pragmatic domains. Such developments are first illustrated with material from Navajo and Central Alaskan Yup'ik, then surveyed more briefly in several other unrelated languages. In some cases, secondary effects of such changes can reshape basic clause structure. An awareness of these processes can accordingly aid in understanding certain recurring but hitherto unexplained arrays of basic morphological and syntactic patterns, exemplified here with cases of homophonous grammatical markers and of ergative/accusative splits. Like developments described by Gildea (1997, 1998) and Evans (2007), they involve the use of dependent clauses as independent sentences, but the processes described here differ from those in both the mechanisms at work and their results.
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In this article a typological overview of tail-head linkage (THL) in Papuan languages is presented. There are two types of THL, chained THL and thematized THL. The chained type is the default type and its morphosyntactic form follows from the basic clause linkage type in a given Papuan language, for example when switch reference constructions are the basic type of clause linkage, then the default type of THL takes the form of switch reference constructions. Chained THL carries referential coherence mechanisms (e.g. gender agreements, switch reference) and event sequencing mechanisms (e.g. sequence-simultaneity morphology) across chain boundaries. The second, marked, type of THL is with nominalized clauses that discontinue the event and participant lines. The head clause in this type of THL is a thematic NP that is syntactically separate from the chain and this reflects thematic discontinuity: the thematic head clause is off-sequence. In languages like Wambon and Usan the two types of THL select different verb types: medial verbs that express switch reference (same versus different subject) and/or sequence-simultaneity distinctions occur in the chained type and independent verbs that cannot express these distinctions occur in the second, thematic type. THL has four functions, referential coherence, processing ease, thematic continuity (chained type) and thematic discontinuity (thematized type). The phonological form of THL (slowly pronounced, rising intonation, pause phenomena) reflects its processing function to give speakers and addressees a break between two chains.
Cambridge Core - Linguistic Anthropology - Describing Morphosyntax - by Thomas E. Payne
Discourse, consciousness, and time: The flow and displacement of conscious experience in discourse and writing
  • References Chafe
level: [[clause PTCP] [clause PTCP] TOP] Discourse level: [[topic DM] [topic DM] TOP] References Chafe, Wallace L. • 1994. Discourse, consciousness, and time: The flow and displacement of conscious experience in discourse and writing. University of Chicago Press. Gildea • , Spike. 1992. Comparative Cariban morphosyntax: On the genesis of ergativity in independent clauses. PhD dissertation, Department of Linguistics, University of Oregon. Giv • ón, Talmy. 2012. Toward a diachronic typology of relative clause. In Bernard Comrie & Zarina Estrada-Fernández (eds.), Relative clauses in the languages of the Americas (Typological Studies in Language 102), 3-26. John Benjamins.
NeWnitnye Skazuemye v Nezavisimom Predlozěnii [Non-finite predicates in independent clauses
  • E J Kalinina
Kalinina, E. J. 2001. NeWnitnye Skazuemye v Nezavisimom Predlozěnii [Non-finite predicates in independent clauses].
Introduction. Finiteness: Theoretical and empirical foundations
  • Irina Nikolaeva
Nikolaeva, Irina. 2007. Introduction. Finiteness: Theoretical and empirical foundations, 1-22. Cambridge University Press.
Chitimacha texts. Chitimacha grammar, texts and vocabulary. (American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics Mss
  • Morris Swadesh
Swadesh, Morris. 1953. Chitimacha texts. Chitimacha grammar, texts and vocabulary. (American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics Mss.497.3.B63c G6.5).