Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master Thesis
Title The noun phrase of Atchin. A language of Malakula, Vanuatu
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
URL https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/2292/25753/whole.pdf?sequence=2
This thesis presents a description of the Noun Phrase in the language spoken on Atchin Island in Central Vanuatu. The indigenous language of Atchin islanders belongs to the Oceanic subgroup of the Austronesian language family. Atchin is thought to be a dialect of the Northeast Malakula language which is estimated to have a population of 9,000 speakers. The study is based on narratives and elicitation notes collected in 2010 during two fieldtrips on Atchin. This corpus of data provides linguistic evidence to support the phonological, morphological and syntactic analysis throughout the thesis. Atchin has an SVO word order, distinct noun, verb and adjective classes. Nouns can inflect for possession, and verbs are preceded by a particle marking modality, person and number.

Noun modifiers are postposed to the noun. Atchin presents definite and indefinite articles, demonstratives and a small class of adjectives. Adjectives, adjectival verbs and relative clauses are common noun postmodifiers. In the adjectival verb construction, the preverb agrees in person and number with the noun modified. All members of the class of adjectives can appear in an adjectival verb construction. The language shows a formal distinction between inalienable and alienable possession. Syntactically, the distinction is expressed by two types of possessive constructions: the possessive suffix (marking the person and number of the possessor) is attached to the possessum for inalienable possession or to the classifier postposed to the possessum for alienable possession. Distinct classifiers encode relations of distinct natures: a classifier establishes a relation of possession with food, another relation of possession with drink and two classifiers express a relation of general possession. One of the general purpose classifiers is restricted to non-human possessors. The phonological survey of the under-described language reveals a series of labiovelar consonants and free variation in speakers between fricatives and affricates. Tense mid-vowels become lax in an unstressed close syllable and vowel harmony is a common occurrence.

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