Minor Mlabri: A Hunter-gatherer Language of Northern Indochina
The language described in this monograph is spoken by a small hilltribe in Northern Indochina. Its existence has attracted considerable attention because of the legendary and intriguing primitiveness of the Mlabri or 'Spirits of the Yellow Leaves', as they are traditionally called, but reliable information about the cultural heritage and particularly the language is sparse. This is true in particular of an ethnic subgroup whose culture and language are now close to extinction: the group is referred to as the 'Minor Mlabri'. This monograph is based on field notes from 1988 and later years in which the author visited the 'Minor-Mlabri'. The Mlabri are traditionally hunter-gatherers and seem to have been so for a long time. Until recently this was more or less the lifestyle of the small group under study here. They now associate with Hmongs in remote villages because they were for several years trapped in the war zone between Laos and Thailand and the few survivors of the 'Minor-Mlabri' had to settle down in safer environments. Deforestation has made it increasingly difficult for them to live their traditional life in the area where they belong. Up to now, the Mlabri language (in all its varieties) has been unknown.
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THE LANGUAGE AND ITS SPEAKERS
THE LINGUISTIC SCENARIO
A PHONOLOGICAL SKETCH
THE MLABRI WORD
Causative formation 90 Voicing dissimilation between prefix
Polysemy metaphors metonyms 100 Synonymy antinymy seman
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adverbial bamboo biul bla(a)j borj juuk brii child chYm clause colour consonant constructions Coverbs deixis dirj dYrj Egerod encode example expressions female lg Ferlus glarj glYh hma(a)j hmaaj Hmong hn.tor hnAm idiolectal infixation joorj jrAAk jriuw JYYm Khmuic languages kibi kinship klol Kmhmu kr£c kwaan kwac language Laos lexeme lexical linguistic loanwords male lg meaning minor syllables mlaa Mlabri language Mlabri speakers Mlabri word Mon-Khmer Mon-Khmer languages moon mujmuj n£rj narj Northern Thai noun phrase occurs one's or-Mlabri paam parj person phonetic phonological predicate Preverbal prim pruk reduplication reew refer rice Rischel rooj ruArj semantic sentence sibling speak species syntactic syntax tawin tawm th£h tion tipiaa tuul uulh verb vowel vowel length wife Yumbri