LWM 473: Ventureño

Référence: ISBN 9783895867873


Ingo Mamet
University of Bonn

Ventureño, a member of the Chumashan language family, was spoken in Coastal Southern California and is extinct since the middle of the 20th century. The language is documented in form of comprehensive notes by the renowned field linguist John Peabody Harrington (1884-1961). Ventureño exhibits numerous characteristics typical for the languages of Native Western North America. Noun incorporation, however, does not play a significant role.

Ventureño has an elaborated consonantal system with a multitude of complex segments and a velar-uvular distinction. The distribution of laryngeally marked segments is subject to numerous constraints. In contrast to this, the vowel system is simple, lacking a quantity distinction and diphthongs. Vowel sequences are never permitted.

Morphophonologically, the language shows a considerable degree of complexity. Ventureño’s most noticeable facet is sibilant harmony, regimenting the distribution of sibilant segments which are all anterior or non-anterior in a word. Different vowel harmonic processes are operative; consonantal ablaut is grammatically productive. Ventureño exhibits a tendency to express several grammatical categories by reduplication. The reduplicative patterns are variable and noticeable in cross-linguistic perspective.

Ventureño is a polysynthetic-agglutinating language and predominantly prefixing. It is head-marking and shows a nominative-accusative alignment. The distinction between active and passive voice is morphologically marked. Ventureño may be described as a «pronominal argument language»: nominals usually have the status of adjuncts, every verb can function as a sentence alone. The noun-verb distinction is not particularly robust; an establishment of lexical categories generally appears challenging. Pronominal prefixes, distinguishing three persons and numbers, refer to a possessor in construction with nouns and to the subject argument with verbs. Suffixed object markers distinguish two numbers only.

Ventureño verbs can exhibit a considerable degree of intricacy. The language has an elaborated set of over hundred derivational markers, traditionally labeled «instrumental» prefixes. They predominantly indicate manner meanings, cross-linguistically expressed by adverbs or adpositions. Ventureño nouns, which can be marked for tense, typically appear with a proclitic article and a demonstrative determiner. Nouns are not marked for case, there is no grammatical gender. With possessed nouns, an alienability distinction is morphologically marked to a certain extent. Ventureño shows a VOS basic constituent order; the roles of constituents are hardly morphosyntactically specified. The language exhibits a strong tendency for nominalization as well as relativization; furthermore, cleft-sentence constructions are common.

ISBN 9783895867873. Languages of the World/Materials 473. 120pp. 2008.

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