The Languages of the Amazon

The Languages of the Amazon

By: Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (author)Paperback

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This is the first guide and introduction to the extraordinary range of languages in Amazonia, which include some of the most the most fascinating in the world and many of which are now teetering on the edge of extinction. Alexandra Aikhenvald, one of the world's leading experts on the region, provides an account of the more than 300 languages. She sets out their main characteristics, compares their common and unique features, and describes the histories and cultures of the people who speak them. The languages abound in rare features. Most have been in contact with each other for many generations, giving rise to complex patterns of linguistic influence. The author draws on her own extensive field research to tease out and analyse the patterns of their genetic and structural diversity. She shows how these patterns reveal the interrelatedness of language and culture; different kinship systems, for example, have different linguistic correlates. Professor Aikhenvald explains the many unusual features of Amazonian languages, which include evidentials, tones, classifiers, and elaborate positional verbs. She ends the book with a glossary of terms, and a full guide for those readers interested in following up a particular language or linguistic phenomenon. The book is free of esoteric terminology, written in its author's characteristically clear style, and brought vividly to life with numerous accounts of her experience in the region. It may be used as a resource in courses in Latin American studies, Amazonian studies, linguistic typology, and general linguistics, and as reference for linguistic and anthropological research.

About Author

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald is Distinguished Professor, Australian Laureate Fellow, and Director of the Language and Culture Research Centre at James Cook University. She is a major authority on languages of the Arawak family, from northern Amazonia, and has written grammars of Bare (1995) and Warekena (1998), plus A Grammar of Tariana, from Northwest Amazonia (Cambridge University Press, 2003), in addition to essays on various typological and areal features of South American languages. Her other major publications, with OUP, include Classifiers: A Typology of Noun Categorization Devices (2000), Language Contact in Amazonia(2002), Evidentiality (2004), The Manambu Language of East Sepik, Papua New Guinea, (2008), Imperatives and Commands (2010), Languages of the Amazon (2012), and The Art of Grammar (forthcoming).


1. Languages of the Amazon: a bird's eye view ; 2. Language contact in Amazonia ; 3. The sounds of Amazonia ; 4. Building words ; 5. The multifaceted noun ; 6. The versatile verb ; 7. Who does what to whom: grammatical relations ; 8. Changing valency ; 9. How to know things: evidentials in Amazonia ; 10. Reflecting the world around: genders, noun classes, and classifiers ; 11. 'We can't say it with one word': multiverb constructions ; 12. Putting a sentence together ; 13. The art of speech ; 14. Finale: the treasures of Amazonian languages ; Glossary of terms ; References ; Index of authors ; Index of languages, linguistic families, and areas ; Index of subjects

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780198723011
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 548
  • ID: 9780198723011
  • weight: 966
  • ISBN10: 0198723016

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