Book notice: Santali

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 18 14:05:39 UTC 2006

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Title: Santali
Series Title: Languages of the World/Materials 323
Published: 2006
Publisher: Lincom GmbH      

Author: Lukas Neukom, University of Zurich

Santali belongs to the North-Munda branch of the Austro-Asiatic language
family. It is the largest Munda language, spoken by 5.8 million people,
who live scattered over the Indian states of Bihar, West-Bengal and
Orissa.  Most of them are bilingual in Santali and in the local dominant
Indo-Aryan language.

The Santali phonemic system includes a series of retroflex consonants,
voiced and voiceless aspirated stops and glottalized stops in word-final
position, alternating with the voiced series. Some harmony rules underly
the vocalism. Nouns can be marked for number (singular, dual, plural),
class (animate), case (seven in number), possessor and focus or topic. The
demonstrative system has four dimensions: distance (near / far / far
away), emphatic, animate, and number.

Santali has a very elaborate verb morphology. Besides various types of
argument marking (subject, object, concerned object) the verb is inflected
for seven TAM categories the markers of which have two shapes, one for
active and one for middle voice. In addition, several derivational
processes apply to the stem, such as the marking of reciprocal or
intensive. Verbs in series are very common. Santali is known to have a
weak distinction between nouns and verbs, many stems are used both in
argument and predicate function. The analysis is mainly based on data
collected by Bodding, especially on his text collection (published in
1925) and on his huge dictionary (1929-36).  Critical portions of the
grammar have been discussed with a native speaker.

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