Chains of influence in Himalayan grammars: models and interrelations shaping descriptions of Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal

Abstract : This paper examines comparability of descriptive grammars across typologically different languages. Focusing on the Nepal Himalayas, which has high language diversity that extends beyond areal, genetic, and historical categorization, the paper examines similarities across grammars and the influences motivating these. It reports on the construction and use of a relational database comprising materials from 18 descriptive grammars of Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal written over a 30-year period. This includes a small sub-database of metadata, noting grammarian linguistic training, career affiliations, and dissertation supervisors and a larger sub-database of fully tagged tables of contents for each of the grammars. The overarching relational database links sections containing similar content, enabling search functions to explore the locations of similar information and feature labels across grammars in the database. While some grammar-features in the corpus reflect broader structural properties across grammars, findings indicate strong local influences. We find evidence of three foundational linguistic 'schools' connecting the structural organization of the grammars across multiple generations of linguists. Strong correspondences are evident across the chapter titles, sections, and information across nominal and verbal morphology. Additionally, we see 'school'-influenced organization of verbal paradigms, treatment of marginal topics, and terminological choices.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 16, 2019 - 11:33:40 AM
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Barbara Kelly, Aimée Lahaussois. Chains of influence in Himalayan grammars: models and interrelations shaping descriptions of Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal. Linguistics, De Gruyter, In press. ⟨hal-01899141v2⟩

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