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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Himalayan Linguistics is a free peer-reviewed web journal and archive devoted to the study of the languages of the Himalayas. It includes the series Languages and Peoples of the Eastern Himalayan Region, which incorporates the North East Indian Linguistics (NEIL) volumes.

Himalayan Linguistics 19.2

Issue cover
Cover Caption: Siyuewu Village, northwestern Sichuan Photo by Yulha Lhawa

Languages and Peoples of the Eastern Himalayan Region

Languages and Peoples of the Eastern Himalayan Region and the North East Indian Linguistics Society: Taking stock

This introductory contribution to the inaugural issue of Languages and Peoples of the Eastern Himalayan Region (LPEHR) outlines the mission and goals of this new publication outlet. LPEHR takes over where the North East Indian Linguistics (NEIL) series left off. As such, this introduction also looks back on NEIL. An index of all articles published in the NEIL volumes is attached as supplemental material to this contribution.

Deictic motion in Hakhun Tangsa

This paper provides a detailed description of how deictic motion events are encoded in a Tangsa variety called Hakhun, spoken in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in India, and in Sagaing Region in Myanmar. Deictic motion events in Hakhun are encoded by a set of two motion verbs, their serial or versatile verb counterparts, and a set of two ventive particles. Impersonal deictic motion events are encoded by the motion verbs alone, which orient the motion with reference to a center of interest. Motion events with an SAP figure or ground are simultaneously encoded by the motion verbs and ventive particles. These motion events evoke two frames of reference: a home base and the speech-act location. The motion verbs anchor the motion with reference to the home base of the figure, and the ventives (or their absence) anchor the motion with reference to the location of the speaker, the addressee, or the speech-act. When the motion verbs are concatenated with other verbs, they specify motion associated with the action denoted by the other verb(s).

Causatives in Liangmai

Liangmai, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Manipur and Nagaland, has causative constructions as one of its morpho-syntactic aspects. The purpose of this paper is to examine the morphological processes involved in causative constructions in the language. Liangmai have a productive strategy for forming causatives from all kinds of non-causative verbs. All verbs, intransitive and transitive, form their corresponding morphological causatives by prefixing the causative marker pí-. Another productive causative prefix used in the language is kám-, which causativises intransitive verbs. Besides these two morphological prefixal causative constructions, causative is also expressed lexically by suppletion in the language. The occurrence and the form of double causation is also discussed in the paper.

On the genetic position of Chakpa within Luish languages

Chakpa is a ritual and heritage language which is usually classed under the Luish group of Tibeto-Burman language family. It was once spoken in the Imphal valley by such clans as Andro, Sengmai, and Phayeng (McCulloch 1859). However, they do not speak Chakpa anymore. They now speak a variety of Meitei and are collectively known as Lois (Devi L. B. 2002). The Luish languages are divided into three major goups: (i) Cak-Sak, (ii) Chakpa, and (iii) Kadu-Gnan (Matisoff 2013). In this paper, based on my field data (Cak, Sak, Kadu, and Ganan) and secondary sources (McCulloch 1859 and Basanta 2008), I will try to classify Chakpa within Luish.

Assimilation in Maring

Assimilation is a phonological process in which a sound becomes more like its neighboring sound. This process can occur either within a word or in between words and is of two types depending upon its directionality –regressive or progressive. Maring exhibits total contact regressive assimilation within word boundary. This is a prevalent morphophonological phenomenon that affects the formation of perfect aspect - kur and genitive case marker - jəi. For instance, if a verb ends with the perfect aspect will become - ŋur, if it ends with -l then the perfect aspect will become - lur and so on. The same process is applicable with the genitive case marker - jəi. If the noun, i.e. the possessor ends with -m or -n or -r then -jəi will become -məi, -nəi and -rəi respectively. These changes occur in reference to all the verbs and nouns (the possessors). The target sounds change completely in reference to its preceding segment for facilitating a smooth, effortless and economical task of utterance. This paper will discuss in detail the cause of the assimilation, the rules and constrains, and the various implication the process has on the language, the speakers and second language learner.

Syllable duration in Tai Phake: The interaction between vowel length and tone length

Tai Phake (Tai Kadai/Southwestern Tai) has six lexical tones, and nine phonemic vowels plus a length distinction between /a/ and //. Following Banchob Bandhumedha (1987), the long // is written as <ā>. The vowel length distinction is only found when there is a final nasal (/m/, /n/, /ŋ/), semivowel (/i/, /u/) or stop (/p/, /t/, /k/). Three of the six tones are mid falling tones, which are conventially notated as Tone 3, Tone 4 and Tone 5. Tone 3 is creaky and is primarily distinguished from the others by phonation. Tone 4 is mid falling and short, whereas Tone 5 is mid falling and longer. In the speech of the Tai Phake speakers presented here, the most salient distinction between these two mid falling tones is usually length, thus in citation /⁴/ ‘mother‘s sister’ was half the length of /⁵/ ‘melt away’. This paper presents some preliminary findings on the interaction between vowel length and tone length, findings that we hope can lay the foundation for more detailed phonetic studies in the future.

The stem alternation in Rengmitca

It is well-known that South Central Tibeto-Burman (=Kuki-Chin) languages may exhibit a morphosyntactically-conditioned verbal stem alternation. This paper provides an exhaustive account of the stem alternation in Rengmitca, a highly endangered SC language of Bangladesh, based on a naturalistic text corpus. Compared to systems present in other languages, Rengmitca’s stem alternation is formally quite limited. The distribution of stem alternants involves similar parameters to those seen for other SC languages, but there are some deviations from more commonly attested patterns, as well. The finding that the stem alternation is present in Rengmitca is noteworthy because evidence for it in the Southwestern SC subgroup up to this point has only been minimal. The paper also considers additional issues in the diachrony of the stem alternation in SC.

The function of the suffix -le as declarative marker in Maram

The primary purpose of this paper is to describe the function of the suffix - le in the Maram language. This paper discusses the function of the suffix -le in marking the end of declarative sentences, and the occurrence of -le with predicate nominals, predicate adjectives, and the existential. The paper also explores the tonal changes of  -le and its non-determination of tense/aspect.

Conditional suffixes in Assamese: Structure and function

The present paper is an attempt to analyze and discuss some important concepts relating to the conditional conjunctions in Assamese, an Indo-Aryan language spoken primarily in Assam. This study explores the form, function and distribution of conditional conjunctions which are used to describe a condition. Conditional conjunctions enable non-finite forms to express conditionality and temporal circumstances. The study focuses on one important way of introducing the structure of condition in Assamese by suffixation to the verb root. The verb of the dependent clause of a conditional sentence carries the inflectional morpheme as a non-finite form, which is not fully inflected for tense and person. The non-finite forms which are used to indicate the function of conditional marker will be discussed. While discussing the function of conditional conjunction as part of sentence structure, the subject-verb agreement of the dependent clause and the temporal expression of the inflectional form will be examined. Most of the examples in this paper are taken from the author’s own native speakers introspection, but some of the examples were first observed in The CIIL-Lancaster Assamese Corpus.