Minor Mlabri: A Hunter-gatherer Language of Northern Indochina

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Museum Tusculanum Press, 1995 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 367 pages
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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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Contents

INTRODUCTION
8
THE LANGUAGE AND ITS SPEAKERS
21
THE LINGUISTIC SCENARIO
41
A PHONOLOGICAL SKETCH
63
THE MLABRI WORD
82
Causative formation 90 Voicing dissimilation between prefix
90
Polysemy metaphors metonyms 100 Synonymy antinymy seman
105
SYNTAX
133
Possessive constructions 140 Verbs as descriptive modifiers 141
141
Specifying and quantifying parts Classifiers 143 Determiner
152
THE SELECTION OF LEXICAL INFORMATION
201
MLABRIENGLISH DICTIONARY
219
ENGLISHMLABRI WORD INDEX
343
REFERENCES
363
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