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By Liberty A. Lidz

This dissertation is a descriptive grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo), a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in southwestern China. The theoretical techniques taken are practical syntax and the discourse-based method of language description and
documentation. the purpose of this dissertation is to explain the ways in which the language’s
features and subsystems intersect to make Na a special entity: analycity; 0 anaphora;
OV observe order; topic/comment info constitution; a five-part evidential approach; a
conjunct/disjunct-like process that intersects with evidentiality and verbal semantics;
prolific grammaticalization; overlap among nominalization and relativization and
associated buildings; illustration of time via element, Aktionsart, adverbials, and
context; and the Daba shamanic register.
Topics lined within the grammar comprise an outline of the sociolinguistic
environment; the phonemic stock; phonological strategies; compounding; word
classes; the constitution of noun words; the classifier process; different types of ownership; methods
for quantification; grammatical family and non-systemic ‘ergative’ and ‘anti-ergative’
marking; the constitution of verb words; the a number of existential verbs; the aspectual
system; evidentiality; grammaticalization; clause-combining; narrative texts; and lexicon.

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Extra resources for A Descriptive Grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo)

Example text

5. 4 Uvular stops /qʰ, q, ɢ/ Na distinguishes the voiceless aspirated uvular stop /qʰ/, the voiceless unaspirated uvular stop /q/, and the voiced uvular stop /ɢ/. The voicing distinctions are evidenced by the examples in contrastive distribution seen in (7). This series of uvular stops is quite marginal in Na, as the velars and uvulars are in contrasting distribution in only two environments, preceding the monophthong /v̩/, as can be seen in (8), and preceding the diphthong /wɤ/, as can be seen in (9).

17 consists of the narrative text corpus. This is followed by the lexicon; Appendix A, which gives Chinese transcripts of several interviews with Daba shamans; Appendix B, which presents additional spectrograms; and the bibliography. 2 The narrative texts are then presented. These include two creation mythologies, one of which includes sections spoken in the Daba shamanic register; a folktale about the animist goddess Gemu; an interview on the custom of Na women to wear headdresses composed of their female ancestors’ hair; a procedural narrative on building a traditional Na house, which shows strong indications of influence from Tungusic shamanism; and excerpts of interviews with three of the very few remaining Daba shamans.

5. 3. 1. Some varieties of Southwestern Chinese have a sound change from /f/ to /h/, so the appearance of /f/ as a phoneme in Na may be an effect of language contact. 4. Michaud and Latami (to appear) suggest that uvular sounds are not being acquired by younger speakers, probably due to substratum interference from Chinese. This analysis is corroborated independently, as my consultant had mentioned previously that Na is very difficult for the elderly deaf, as there are a lot of sounds coming from the throat which are difficult to lip-read, but that now many younger speakers do not acquire these uvular sounds.

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A Descriptive Grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo) by Liberty A. Lidz


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