LSCL 01: A Grammar of Hunzib

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A Grammar of Hunzib
with texts and lexicon

Helma van den Berg
University of Leiden

Hunzib is a non-written language, spoken by some 2000 inhabitants of Daghestan (Russia). It belongs to the Tsesic group of the Avar-Andi-Tsesic branch of East-Caucasian languages. This relatively little described language has 27 consonants and 16 vowels. Word stress is generally linked to the prefinal vowel of the word. Hunzib has five noun classes, which serve as the basis for agreement between nouns and coreferent adjectives, pronouns, verbs and adverbial constructions. This agreement is generally indicated by class prefixes; these operate on a nominative-ergative system. Demonstrative pronouns in the nominative distinguish between three degrees of distance: near the speaker 'this', near the hearer 'that', far from both speaker and hearer 'yonder'.

A Hunzib verb consists of a central part, the stem, which can be preceded by a class prefix and followed by endings. Simple stems consist of a root only, complex stems of a root and one or more derivational suffixes. Half of the roots can be disrupted by a plural infix. The most frequent valency types are (1) Subject; (2) Agent, Patient; (3) Experiencer, Patient. Derivational suffixes (like causative, antipassive and others) can affect the valency of the verb.

A Grammar of Hunzib consists of three parts. The grammatical sketch of the Hunzib language (part one) covers the phonology, morphology and syntax of the language. The second parts is a corpus of texts with a morpheme analysis. Part three is a Hunzib-English lexicon. All material was gathered during three periods of one-site fieldwork in Dagestan (1990-1994).

ISBN 9783895860065. LINCOM Studies in Caucasian Linguistics 01. 400p. 1996.

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