A Grammar of Sanjiang Kam
University of Hong Kong
Kam is spoken mainly in the adjacent areas of Guizhou province, Hunan province, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China. It is a member of the Kam-Tai branch of the Tai-Kadai language family. This study is the first descriptive grammar of Sanjiang Kam, a less studied southern Kam dialect. Without commitment to any particular theoretical framework, this study aims to provide an extensive grammatical description of Sanjiang Kam. The data for this description come from various sources. The author is a native speaker of Sanjiang Kam, thus a major source of data was obtained from the author’s family members and other Kam people of the Meilin village. Another important source comes from the author’s fieldwork notes and records. There are over 100 audio-recordings covering interviews, spontaneous conversations and folk songs.
Phonologically, Sanjiang Kam possesses a complex and conservative sound system, known for its system of up to 15 phonetic tones. Grammatically, Sanjiang Kam is a typical SVO language, showing a strong preference for head-initial structures in both the noun phrases and verb phrases. Relativization is predominantly postnominal as in other head-initial languages, while prenominal relative clauses can be attributed to influence from a local Chinese dialect Guiliu. Nominalization is achieved through two sources: first classifiers are used as nominalizers, a very productive process in Sanjiang Kam; second the use of zero-nominalization where the nominalized constructions are morphologically unmarked. The significance of this work is twofold: it offers a comprehensive grammatical description of the less researched Sanjiang Kam; it is also an important addition to language description and language documentation literature.
ISBN 9783862888856 (Hardbound). Languages of the World 57. 360pp. 2018.