Marquesan: A Grammar of Space

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Walter de Gruyter, 2006 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 682 pages

This volume investigates the linguistic and semantic encodings and conceptions of space in the East-Polynesian language Marquesan by focusing on the great variety of language- and culture-specific ways of referring to space, thus documenting an essential part of human behaviour and everyday communication in a South Pacific island population. On the basis of a large corpus of both natural and elicited spoken language data the morphosyntactic and semantic properties of all relevant lexical and grammatical units and constructions used for spatial reference are analysed in detail.

Remarkable for this language is the fact that a particular kind of spatial orientation system based on local landmarks of the environment - a so-called 'absolute system' - is used for spatial description even on a micro-level or so-called 'table-top' space. Marquesan -A Grammar of Space is the first comprehensive description and in-depth study of spatial language to be found in an Austronesian language. Apart from examining the complex sociolinguistic situation, the degree of language endangerment in the bilingual speech community and the resulting rapid linguistic change in spatial language use, the book also offers a detailed description of the theoretical background of 'language and space' research and the linguistic variability to be found across languages.

Moreover, the volume contains an extensive grammatical sketch of Marquesan which complements the language description of the specific domain space in a useful way providing the reader with general insights into one of the not well documented Oceanic languages.

The volume addresses linguists, psycholinguists, anthropologists, fieldworking linguists, and especially Oceanists and Austronesianists. Moreover, it provides important insights for researchers from other disciplines that are interested in the study of space.

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Chapter 1 Motivations for a study of space
Chapter 2 Ethnographic and linguistic background and methodology
Chapter 3 Grammatical Sketch
Chapter 4 Theoretical background of language and space research
Chapter 5 Semantic and morphosyntactic analysis of locative constructions in North Marquesan
Chapter 6 Modifiers in locative constructions
Chapter 7 Usage of locative constructions in largescale and smallscale reference
Chapter 8 Summary and conclusion

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About the author (2006)

Gabriele H. Cablitz, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

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