Volume 44, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0731-3500
  • E-ISSN: 2214-5907
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This article analyzes the realis converbs and irrealis converbs in Hwari () Tibetan, an Amdo Tibetan dialect spoken in Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County, Wuwei City, Gansu Province, China. One peculiarity of Hwari Tibetan morphosyntax is the existence of a large set of converbal suffixes. A survey of previous descriptions reveals a lack of consensus in the analysis of these converbs. They have been included in the framework of Written Tibetan too often, which has led to confusion regarding their typological status. A primary objective of our paper is to rectify this approach by describing the language on its own terms by comparing the morphosyntactic behavior of eight selected suffixes with regard to relevant criteria, such as realis and irrealis. This empirical research feeds back into the theoretical discussion, as it shows that the Hwari Tibetan converbs can be described using conventional typological concepts if construed appropriately. Our second objective is to explain the semantic and pragmatic properties of these converbs, particularly and . The conclusion is that the two converb types are located along a continuum from realis/irrealis to positive/negative, thus constituting an instantiation of syntax-semantics isomorphism. The clause chaining in Hwari Tibetan is representative. By describing the converbs in Hwari Tibetan from the perspective of realis and irrealis, and by focusing on the syntactic properties and pragmatic features of -Ce in realis converbs and -Ca in irrealis converbs, it is revealed that the irrealis converbs and function in a unique way in Hwari Tibetan.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): clause-chaining; converb; finite; Hwari Tibetan; irrealis; switch reference
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