Daniel Everett dan at daneverett.org
Mon Sep 26 18:44:41 UTC 2011


You seem to have captured the facts of Wari' quite well. I believe that the demonstrative pronoun system is nearly unique. I have published on Wari' pronouns and morphology, in addition to the grammar in IJAL (http://www.jstor.org/pss/10.1086/497874) and in the Handbook of Morphology (Blackwell, Spencer & Zwicky, eds).  

Wari' also has a construction for expressing future tenses that, although much more cumbersome phonologically/syntactically, is replacing the future tense markers in frequency. It is what I have referred to as the Intentional State Construction (found in the book, Investigations of the Syntax-Semantics-Pragmatics Interface, edited by Robert Van Valin). Like many Amazonian languages, Wari' prefers to express intentions as quotes to talk about other minds and even future events. So instead of saying "It will rain" (which they can say easily with the future tense suffixes) they more commonly say "The sky says 'I rain.'" It is one of the most interesting constructions I have ever seen, for various reasons (not least of which is that it seems intractable to an X-bar theoretic/Merge account, but is quite easy to express in either RRG or Construction Grammar).  Kwaza, a language analyzed brilliantly by Heine van der Voort) has a similar construction, which is interesting since it is in the same state as Wari', but genetically unrelated.

I talk about unusual constructions and other phenomena one might link to cultural values in a forthcoming book from Random House (USA) and Profile (UK), Language: The Cultural Tool, to be released in March 2012. Jeanette Sakel and I discuss methods for looking at relationships between culture and grammar in our forthcoming book, Linguistic Fieldwork (CUP red series, Dec 2011).

I think that the folks at the MPI Leipzig, for their Rara and Rarissima Conference a few years ago selected Wari' as have the greatest number of rarities known for any language. A cool language. Spoken by about 1500 people in Rondonia, Brazil, along the Bolivian border. Last surviving Chapakuran language. 

The co-author of the Wari' grammar is New Tribes missionary, Barbara Kern. She is the one who really speaks the language. We based the grammar on her more than 1000 pages of transcribed texts and additional work with native speakers (by me) on many aspects of the grammar that arose in writing for publication.

-- Dan

Daniel L. Everett
Dean of Arts and Sciences
Bentley University
175 Forest St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Fax: 781-891-2125
Phone: 781 891 2113


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