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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 3

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Classical Newar verbal morphology and grammaticalization in Classical and modern Newar

The label "Classic Newari" was first used by the scholar Hans Jorgenson to refer to a collection of late XVIIth century manuscripts consisting mainly of narrative texts. Jorgensen made a thorough study and analysis of these manuscripts, resulting in two pioneering publications in the field. A Dictionary of the Classical Newari (1936) and A Grammer of the Classical Newari (1941). For our present purposes, Classical Newar can be defined as the language which appears in inscriptions, manuscripts, and in legal documents and land grants known as tamsuk, usually written on palm leaves, in the roughly 600-year period from 1114 and 1770 AD. The ongoing Classical Newar Dictionary project, has led to the compilation of a large database using 38 different manuscripts and written texts as source materials. Here I shall provide a preliminary analysis of Classical Newar verbal morphology based on lexical and syntactic data drawn from these historical texts and documents. The source materials obviously represent various stages in the evolution of the languge, so that this analysis attempts to trace the morphophonemic developments in Classical Newar verb roots and flexional and derivational morphology over six centuries of attested data.