Review of Gramática do Kamaiurá, lingua Tupi-Guarani do Alto Xingu

by Lucy Seki
Book Reviewed
Book Title
Gramática do Kamaiurá, lingua Tupi-Guarani do Alto Xingu
Book Author
Lucy Seki
Book Publisher
Walter de Gruyter
Place of Publication
Book Review Citation
Review Author
R. M. W. Dixon
International Journal of American Linguistics
Select License
November 27th, 2012

DO ALTOXINGU.By Lucy Seki. Campinas, Brazil: Editora da Unicamp, 2000. Pp. 500.

South America is at once the area of greatest linguistic diversity in the world, and the area of greatest linguistic neglect. Brazil makes up just over half the area and just over half the modern population of South America. Since most of the dense jun- gle of Amazonia falls within Brazil, it probably hosted rather more than half of the indigenous languages. Many of these have already passed into extinction; of the approximately 170 still spoken in Brazil, 115 have less than 1,000 speakers, while only four have 10,000-20,000 (Rodrigues 1986). No group of languages anywhere in the world is more in need of detailed and sympathetic documentation by trained linguists.

Lucy Seki's Gramdtica do Kamaiurd is the first comprehensive grammar of an indigenous language to be published by a Brazilian linguist. KamaiurB, which be- longs to the Tupi-Guarani branch of the Tupi family, is spoken in the Upper Xingu region by about 170 people. The grammar is based on over 30 years of field research (commencing in 1968). There are 22 chapters, covering all areas of syntax, morphol- ogy and phonology, plus an account of the people and their language, 16 pages of fully analyzed text, a vocabulary of lexemes used in examples (about 640 items), a list of clitics and suffixes (about 80 items), and a welcome addendum of 32 color photos covering traditional life, customs and habitat, and also a present-day literacy course. Bernard Comrie has contributed a timely foreword.

The grammar is a mine of fascinating materials which will be of interest to lin- guists of every persuasion. Kamaiurri has a system of bound pronominal marking that is typical of Tupi-Guarani languages and was first explained in Seki's seminal 1990 paper. Just one of transitive subject (A) or transitive object (0) is marked on the verb, determined by the hierarchy first > second > third person, and by A > 0 if both are third person (with special forms for some combinations of first and second person). Intransitive verbs divide into active (S, argument, cross-referenced like A) and stative (So argument, cross-referenced like 0). However, all of A, S,, and So are grouped together for some purposes; for example, the postverbal particle awa refers to an indefinite third-person subject (A or S, and So).

Seki investigates the possibilities of NP ellipsis between two clauses that share a common argument, both for coordination (e.g., 'X came and shouted') and for ger- und constructions (e.g., 'X came shouting'). She investigates all possibilities for the shared argument, whether it is S, or So or A or 0 function in each clause (that is, 4 x 4 = 16 possibilities). Using the abbreviation "function in first clause/function in second clause," ellipsis of the occurrence of the shared argument in the second clause is possible for Salsa, Sa/So, SdS,, SOIS,, S$A, and So/A for both construction

[IJAL, vol. 68, no. 1, January 2002, pp. 120-301
Permission to reprint a review printed in this section may be obtained only from the author(s).



types; for Also, OIS,, AIO, and 010 just in coordination; and for AIS,, OIS,, and AIA just in gerund constructions (pp. 250-57).

As with many other Amazonian languages, nominalization plays a major role and forms the basis for both complement clauses and relative clauses. The verb of a rel- ative clause bears a suffix indicating the function in the main clause of the shared argument; there is one suffix for S function in the main clause (grouping together S, and So), one for A, one for 0, and one for peripheral functions.

In a short review it is possible to highlight only a few of the many interesting features of this language. Causatives employ a number of derivational affixes. An intransitive verb (of type S, or of type So) can take prefix mo-, indicating that the causer is not included in the activity (e.g., 'I made the child run for fear of the jag- uar'), or prefix -ero, indicating that the causer was also involved (e.g., 'I made the child run, with me, for fear of the jaguar'). A transitive or ditransitive verb forms its causative through the suffix -ukat, with the underlying A now taking dative marking. If there was already a dative NP (in a ditransitive), there will now be two dative NPs, although one of them will often be omitted. Seki also includes most useful discus- sion on the semantics of the various types of causatives.

Reflexive and reciprocal are marked by verbal prefixes (-je- and -jo-, respec- tively), which derive an intransitive stem, its S argument marking A = 0 (or A = indirect object). One set of forms has both interrogative and indefinite meanings, e.g., 'wholsomeone', 'whatlsomething'. When used with interrogative sense they must occur clause-initially, whereas with indefinite sense they may occur at any position in the clause. Polar questions can be shown by an initial particle po (with neutral expectation) or else with ko (expecting a positive answer).

Negation is an area of particular richness in Kamaiura, there being distinct mark- ers of negation for an independent clause (suffix -ite and generally also prefix na-), for an imperative (suffix -em), and for an exhortative (suffix -urn). The particle ruEj negates a clausal constituent, while suffix -e'ym negates both a noun and a subordi- nate clause. Seki shows (p. 335) that there are three ways of negating 'the rabbit jumped': (i) with suffix -ite and prefix nu- to the verb, giving 'the rabbit didn't jump';

(ii) with particle ruEj 'after 'rabbit', giving 'it wasn't the rabbit that jumped'; and (iii) with suffix -e'ym on 'rabbit', giving, literally, 'the non-rabbit jumped'.

Other points which are of general interest include: the extensive tenselaspect system, comparatives and equationals, the five types of subordinate clauses, verbal incorporation, the forms and functions of the gerund, particles of attestation and evidence (an evidential contrast having evolved from markers of temporal distance), copulas and verbless clauses, and types of possession.

Seki's grammar is written in terms of basic linguistic theory, shunning the fad of a formalism which may both cloak the basic facts and bias the analysis. Her data, argumentation, and explanations are set out clearly, with ample and welcome use of diagrams. Being written in Portuguese, this grammar will have limited accessibility outside Brazil. There is a strong case for it to be translated into English and issued by a linguistics publisher from Europe or North America.

Seki has set a fine example to other Brazilian linguists. It is to be hoped that others of her generation (and of the generation below), who have been working on 122 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AMERICAN LINGUISTICS

languages for several decades, will now settle down to writing a comprehensive grammar. Through the aegis of Denny Moore (of the Goeldi Museum in Belem), a number of bright young Brazilians have recently been sent north for their Ph.D.s. Some have produced good-and a few have written excellent-grammars, in terms of basic linguistic theory (while a couple have limited themselves to exploring odd bits of the grammar in terms of a formalism). It is to be hoped that they will all return to Brazil to train the next generation, and to exhort them to get out into the field in order to document indigenous languages before it is too late (the "too late" will come all too soon).

With the publication of Lucy Seki's grammar, Brazilian linguistics can for the first time hold up its head on the international scene. Let us hope that it is but the beginning of greater things.
R. M. W. DIXON,La Trobe University


RODRIGUES,ARYON DALL'IGNA. 1986. Linguas brasilieras: para o conhecimento das linguas

indigenas. Sgo Paulo: Edi~Bes Loyola. SEKI, LUCY. 1990. Kamaiuri (Tupi-Guarani) as an active-stative language. Amazonian Lan- guages: Studies in Lowland South American Languages, ed. Doris L. Payne, pp. 367-91. Austin: University of Texas Press.

RETHINKINGLINGUISTICRELATIVITY.Edited by John J. Gumperz and Stephen C. Levinson. Studies in the Social and Cultural Foundations of Language, vol. 17. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Pp. viii + 488. $32.95.

In 14 chapters, various authors explore whether language influences thought, as have many others. But the editors distinguish this volume by extending the question from lexicon and grammar to aspects of language that interact with universals, deixis, contexts of use, and interpretive strategies. Although few previous studies demonstrate in a replicable way that words or morphology affect cognition, what shall we find when our inquiry expands to all that we have learned about language since the 1940s? Gumperz and Levinson break this book into four parts, separately prefacing each genre of potential language-thought influence. All chapters descend from a Wenner-Gren Foundation international symposium at Ocho Rios, Jamaica, "Rethinking Linguistic Relativity," organized by John Gumperz in 1991 (Gumperz and Levinson 1992).

Part 1. The editors preface chapters that test the linguistic relativity hypothesis as Sapir and Whorf framed it: speakers of languages with different lexicons, mor- phology, and syntax will think differently BECAUSE OF these kinds of linguistic difference. They masterfully review the history of the hypothesis in notes.

John Lucy ("The Scope of Linguistic Relativity" [pp. 37-69]) holds that thought is not prior to language but depends on it, while language is an extremely flexible

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