Authored by: Alexander D. Smith

Language Isolates

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138821057
eBook ISBN: 9781315750026
Adobe ISBN:


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The aim of this chapter is to outline key typological aspects of Burushaski, including phonology, verb and noun morphology, and syntax. Section 1 (below) describes the geographical context and earlier work on the language and reviews claims of possible genetic affiliations. Section 2 describes Burushaski’s rich phonological inventory, with 36 consonants, a large number of distinctive fricatives and affricates, and five vowels plus a length distinction. Section 3 focuses on sentences including constituent order and some aspects of syntax. Section 4 focuses on Burushaski’s complex verbal morphology, and Section 5, on case marking. Burushaski marks case with both verb and noun morphology. Verb suffixes agree with the nominative subject, while verb prefixes show differential object marking, which agree with nouns under certain semantic restrictions. This sometimes causes double agreement where verb prefixes and suffixes both agree with the same noun. Section 6 focuses on the noun, which has a split ergative alignment that typically appears on the agent in non-future tenses (sentences with a future tense have no ergative marker), but which may also be used pragmatically to show volition in an intransitive sentence. 1

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