Dependent-Head Synthesis in Nivkh

A contribution to a typology of polysynthesis

Johanna Mattissen | University of Cologne
ISBN 9789027229656 (Eur) | EUR 130.00
ISBN 9781588114761 (USA) | USD 195.00
ISBN 9789027275202 | EUR 130.00 | USD 195.00
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Dependent-Head Synthesis in Nivkh has been awarded a prize of the Offermann-Hergarten Donation at the University of Cologne in 2004. The endowments are granted for outstanding innovative and comprehensibly documented research.

This book offers an innovative approach to three interlaced topics: A systematic analysis of the morphosyntatic organization of Nivkh (Paleosiberian); a cross-linguistic investigation of complex noun forms (parallel to complex (polysynthetic) verb forms); and a typology of polysynthesis. Nivkh (Gilyak) is linguistically remarkable because of its highly complex word forms, both verbs and nouns. They are formed productively from ad hoc concatenation of lexical roots in dependent — head relations without further morphological marking: primary object — predicate, attribute - noun, noun — relational morpheme ("adposition"). After an in-depth examination of the wordhood of such complexes the morphological type of Nivkh is explored against the background of polysynthesis, noun incorporation, verb root serialization, noun complexes and head/dependent marking. For this purpose, a new delimitation and classification of polysynthesis is proposed on the basis of an evaluation of 75 languages. Besides contributing to a reconciliation of previous diametrically opposed approaches to polysynthesis, this study challenges some common preconceived notions with respect to how languages "should be".

[Typological Studies in Language, 57] 2003.  x, 350 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“This volume contains a lot of data that may be of use to typologists, as well as interesting analyses of a broadly functional and cognitive nature. The linguistic expression of motion, direction, and location offers a wealth of material for typological analysis, and this volume is a welcome contribution to the field.”
“In this masterly, detailed analysis of the phonology-syntax interface in Nivkh (Gilyak), a language isolate of eastern most Asia, Johanna Mattissen succeeds in showing how phonological and other evidence force an analysis whereby many constructions that would be phrases in other languages must be treated as single words. She thereby demonstrates that Nivkh represents a new type of dependent-head synthesis, one that leads the language to make a number of other unusual choices, for instance in the syntax of relative clauses. This work is essential reading for anyone concerned with how empirical evidence and close analysis of little described languages can lead to new insights in grammatical theory.”
“Mattissen's book is strongly recommended. Drawing on a comprehensive range of secondary sources, it fills a long-standing gap by making available the first monograph-length treatment, in English, of this fascinating and unusual language — until now, the most substantial material has been available only in Russian or Japanese. Her novel analysis of Nivkh morphosyntax in terms of dependent-head synthesis,by which modifiers are morphologically joined to their heads, and governees to their governors, makes a compelling case for recognizing a type of morphological complexity that, although it partly resembles polysynthesis, does not fit easily into existing typological categories.”
“Mattissen succeeds in introducing a new quality to the inventory of morphological types. She also convincingly demontrates that dependent-head synthesis is most probably not restricted to Nivkh. Her findings provide a valuable platform for reconsidering the issues of polysynthesis, incorporation and compounding. At any rate Mattissen's interpretation of the Nivkh data is a challenge to the current views of the structure of polysynthetic languages. The book is generally carefully outstanding exemplar of this genre.”
“It is out of question that Dependent-Head Synthesis in Nivkh is a 'must' to read for all who are interested in the question of intra-clausal concatenation strategies from a typological point of view. In addition, the book serves another important purpose, namely to introduce the linguistics of Nivkh to the general audience in a way that brings the book close to a 'functional description' of Nivkh. Sure, the book is not a reference grammar of the language. For this, the reader should for instance turn to Gruzdeva 1998.
Still, the amazing wealth of data presented by J.M. allows the reader to get a deep insight into the linguistics of Nivkh that goes far beyond other comparable studies.
We have to thank Johana Mattissen for having prepared this wonderful and stimulating book, which is formally well-done and accurate in the presentation of both data and analyses.”
“This book should be appreciated not only for its superb and detailed description of the Nivkh language. It also succeeds in providing a more meaningful definition of the term "polysynthetic" than has been hitherto attempted. In doing so, it contributes to our understanding of the general notion of morphologial word, and once again affirms the extreme theoretical importance of carefully studying the world's lesser-known languages before they disappear.”
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This list is based on CrossRef data as of 17 may 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CF: Linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2003062993 | Marc record