19. Ethnicity, bilingualism and variable clitic marking in Bishnupriya Manipuri

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This paper discusses variable patterns of overt marking in Bishnupriya NP structure. The main interest of the paper lies in the use of animacy-based classifier clitics (clf) which may be located on the head of a noun phrase, on one or more dependents, on both the head and the dependent(s) or on neither (i.e., zero marking). The variation in marking appears to be intimately linked with the structure of NP, variability in word order of NP constituents (i.e., head and the dependents), and the occurrence of the pronominal/numeral clitics (cl). The presence of cl itself is variable. The connection between the variable patterns of marking (of both clf and cl) and the variation in the ordering of head and dependent is explained in terms of bilinguality that is deeply embedded into the linguistic structure of Bishnurpriya. The duality of structure, it is argued here, serves as the symbolic marker of dual linguistic and ethnic identity of the Bishnupriyas as Bishnupriya Manipuri.


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