A descriptive grammar of Huehuetla Tepehua

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Kung, Susan Smythe

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This dissertation is a comprehensive description of the grammar of Huehuetla Tepehua (HT), which is a member of the Totonacan language family. HT is spoken by fewer than 1500 people in and around the town of Huehuetla, Hidalgo, in the Eastern Sierra Madre mountains of the Central Gulf Coast region of Mexico. This grammar begins with an introduction to the language, its language family, and its setting, as well as a brief history of my contact with the language. The grammar continues with a description of the phonology of HT, followed by morphosyntactic and syntactic description of all of the major parts of speech, including verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and numbers; the grammar concludes with a description of the sentence-level syntax. A compilation of interlinearized texts appears in the appendix. HT is a polysynthetic, head-marking language with complex verbal morphology. Inflectional affixes include both prefixes and suffixes for which a templatic pattern is difficult to model. In addition to inflectional and derivational morphology, HT verbs are also host to a large number of aspectual derivational morphemes, each of which alters the meaning of the verb in a very specific way. Plural marking on both nouns and verbs for any third person argument is optional and determined by an animacy hierarchy, which is also used to determine verbal argument marking in various morphosyntactic constructions. HT nouns are completely unmarked for case, and certain nouns, including kinship terms and parts of a whole, are obligatorily possessed. The order of the major constituents is pragmatically determined, with a tendency towards VSO order in the absence of pragmatic or contextual clues and SVO order in context-rich textual examples. HT is an under-documented moribund language that is at imminent risk of extinction within the next two-to-three generations. Thus, this dissertation is a major contribution not only to the field of linguistics, but also to the Tepehua people who might one day be interested in the language of their grandparents.





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