Motion, Transfer and Transformation

The grammar of change in Lowland Chontal

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Typologies are critical tools for linguists, but typologies, like grammars, are known to leak. This book addresses the question of typological overlap from the perspective of a single language. In Lowland Chontal of Oaxaca, a language of southern Mexico, change events are expressed with three types of predicates, and each <i>predicate</i> type corresponds to a different <i>language</i> type in the well-known typology of lexicalization patterns established by Talmy and elaborated by others. O’Connor evaluates the predictive powers of the typology by examining the consequences of each predicate type in a variety of contexts, using data from narrative discourse, stimulus response, and elicitation. This is the first de&#173;tailed look at the lexical and grammatical resources of the verbal system in Chontal and their relation to semantics of change. The analysis of how and why Chontal speakers choose among these verbal resources to achieve particular communicative and social goals serves both as a documentation of an endangered language and a theoretical contribution towards a typology of language use.

Subjects: Semantics; Linguistics of isolated languages; Syntax; Theoretical linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: University of California, Santa Barbara/ Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen

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