Nggem morphology and syntax

  • Paul Anthony Etherington

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    This study is a description of the morphology and syntax of Nggem, a language spoken in the highlands of the province of Papua (fonnerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia Nggem is a language in the Dani family of languages, and has many features typical of highland New Guinea languages.

    Nggem is predominantly a verb final language, but otherwise the order of arguments in the clause is flexible. Phrases are more rigid in the order of elements, and the major phrase types are left headed. 
    Nggem distinguishes the major word classes of nouns, adjectives and verbs, as well as a number of minor word classes. In comparison with verbs, non-verbal word classes have relatively little morphology, with the primary exception being pronominal prefixes. Verbs on the other hand have complex morphology. Verbs have a high functional load, and many clauses consist of only a verb. 
    Verbs have a three-way inflection of mode and several tenses, each with idiosyncratic subject inflection. Verbs may also be inflected for hortative and imperative, negation, and various relationships between events such as sequence, simultaneity, condition, minor stage in larger event and equal stage in larger event. Some of these categories also indicate switch reference. 
    Person and number of objects is indicated on the verb by compounded auxiliaries, as is middle voice. Another kind of inchoative is expressed by the verb meaning 'say' in conjunction with generic verbs. Progressive aspect is expressed by an auxiliary related to the verb meaning 'stay'. 
    As with many other Papuan languages, clause chaining is common, and some serial verb constructions are found. 
    Date of AwardNov 2002
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPaul Black (Supervisor)

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