Forbes (2019) – Tsimshianic

Clarissa Forbes
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June 2019
[This is a language sketch of the Tsimshianic family oriented toward non-specialists, with reference to topics in phonetics, phonology, syntax, and semantics.] Languages of the Tsimshianic family, spoken in the Skeena River watershed of British Columbia, share a number of properties with other languages of the Pacific northwest region. Their sound inventories feature glottal consonants, and they permit clusters of consonants without vowels. Their word order is verb-first (VSO), and a central property of the grammar is a robust system of plural marking on both nouns and verbs. This chapter reviews topics in the sound system, word formation, and sentence building. In particular, I review two topics that commanded the majority of linguists’ attention until about a decade ago: glottalized sounds, and the agreement/pronoun system. This second is a complicated core area of the grammar, particularly for an L1 English learner, and is perhaps unique to Tsimshianic: linguists have described the pattern as one of ‘pivoting ergativity’ across two types of clauses. In the course of discussing sounds, words, and sentences, I also briefly review some more recent lines of linguistic work of interest to language learning and teaching: the placement of stress, mismatches between words and syntactic units, plural marking, tense and perspective, and ways to form questions and convey emphasis.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004784
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: (submitted) Handbook of Languages and Linguistics of North America
keywords: tsimshianic, overview, language sketch, glottalization, v1 order, ergativity, extraction, syntax, phonology, semantics, morphology