Meyah morphology and syntax

  • Gilles Gravelle

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    Mcyah is a Papuan language located in the eastern Bird's Head Peninsula of lrian Jaya1, Indonesia. Features of Meyah, such as a rigid SVO word order, genitive plus noun order for possessive constructions and a pronominal system that has an inclu􀀚ive/exclusive opposition, are generally typical of other East Bird's Head phylum and many West Papuan phylum languages. 

    Mcyah distinguishes the two major word classes, nouns and verbs. Adjectives arc a subclass of the verb. Nouns include the two subclasses, inalienable and alienable. Alienable nouns take only a couple of inflectional affixes, whereas inalienable nouns can take some verbal inflections as function as predicates. Verbs inflect for subject, 1:1Spect, instrument, and mode. There is also a circumfix that cross­references the agent and the patient of reciprocal actions. Mcyah can use a free pronoun or a clitic to indicate the person and number of object. Demonstrative clitics and locative adverb clitics can also be added to verbs. 

    Minor word classes include adverbs, demonstratives, and prepositions. Locative adverbs and demonstrative pronouns are part of a somewhat complex spatio-deictic system that also includes elcvational orientation and distance in relation to the speaker. 

    The core arguments of the verb are the subject and object, which occur before and after the verb, respectively. Non-core arguments are obliques marked by prepositions. Meyah also uses a number of clause-modifying adverbs, such as temporal, aspcctual, and modal adverbs. Syntactic constructions include complex clauses involving more than one verb, such as serial verb constructions, causative constructions, and instruments. Dependant structures include relative clauses and complement clauses that involve speech and cognition verbs. 

    Date of Award2001
    Original languageEnglish

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