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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

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Agency and Intentional Action in Kathmandu Newar

The paradigm of verbal morphology in Kathmandu Newar involves a binary opposition of two sets of forms, the so-called conjunct/disjunct system. However, in its distributional properties, the system indexes a complex functional interaction between semantic representations and pragmatic principles:

1) The construal of intentional action as a force dynamic with an appropriate mental representation,2) The deictic properties of speech acts and speech participant roles,3) An evidential principle requiring privileged access to internal states.

In addition, related concepts of agency and causation are indexed via the system of ergative/absolutive nominal case marking and causative morphology. Although there is a fair degree of semantic overlap between notions of causation, agency and intentional action, the formal and functional properties of the three domains (verbal inflectional morphology, causative morphology and the ergative/absolutive case marking) exhibit significant degrees of formal and functional autonomy.