By Liberty A. Lidz
This dissertation is a descriptive grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo), a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in southwestern China. The theoretical techniques taken are useful syntax and the discourse-based method of language description and
documentation. the purpose of this dissertation is to explain the ways in which the language’s
features and subsystems intersect to make Na a distinct entity: analycity; 0 anaphora;
OV note order; topic/comment details constitution; a five-part evidential process; a
conjunct/disjunct-like method that intersects with evidentiality and verbal semantics;
prolific grammaticalization; overlap among nominalization and relativization and
associated constructions; illustration of time via element, Aktionsart, adverbials, and
context; and the Daba shamanic register.
Topics coated within the grammar contain an outline of the sociolinguistic
environment; the phonemic stock; phonological procedures; compounding; word
classes; the constitution of noun words; the classifier method; kinds of ownership; methods
for quantification; grammatical family and non-systemic ‘ergative’ and ‘anti-ergative’
marking; the constitution of verb words; the a number of existential verbs; the aspectual
system; evidentiality; grammaticalization; clause-combining; narrative texts; and lexicon.
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Additional info for A Descriptive Grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo)
3 will present laboratory studies to support the analyses in this section. §4 will discuss the phonological processes of Na. §5 looks at tonogenesis. 1 discusses syllable structure. 3. Na has a fairly wide inventory of consonants and vowels, particularly in contrast with Lolo-Burmese languages spoken in adjacent areas of Yunnan and Sichuan, but lacks the prenasalized stops of Lijiang Na. This inventory, however, pales in comparison with the Qiangic languages spoken to the northeast in Sichuan.
In Kunming, I elicited data from another native speaker of Yongning Na (as spoken in Abuwa Village [阿布瓦村]), who is also a Na–Mandarin bilingual, Yang Zhenhong. 9 The principle research methodologies used were the discourse-centered approach to language documentation (Sherzer 1987, Sherzer and Woodbury 1987, Urban and Sherzer 1988), the ethnography of speaking (Grimshaw 1974, Hymes 1974), linguistic elicitation (Payne 1997, Samarin 1967), participant observation (Bernard 1994, Hume and Mulcock 2004, McCall and Simmons 1969, Spradley 1980), and ethnographic techniques (Hammersley and Atkinson 1983).
5 SUBSISTENCE The Na territories span different climates. The Lugu Lake area is in an alpine valley in the mountains, while Ninglang and parts of Guabie are significantly more temperate, permitting a wider range of crops to be grown. Pork provides a key source of nutrition, and several hundred pound pigs are a common sight in homesteads. Chickens, sheep, and goats are also raised, as well as oxen for ploughing, and Na tend to be extremely competent horse-riders, with a small-sized horse breed preferred for their stamina in carrying heavy loads of goods over long distances at high altitude.