A grammatical sketch of Nxa'amxcin (Moses-Columbia Salish)




Willett, Marie Louise

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This dissertation is the first grammatical sketch of the Nxa’amxcin (Moses- Columbian) language. Nxa’amxcin is an endangered member of the Southern Interior branch of the Salish language family, a linguistic group indigenous to the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Building on previous work by other Salish linguists, I address to varying degrees all three major aspects of the grammar (phonology, syntax and morphology) from a Lexeme-Morpheme Base Morphology approach to word formation (Beard 1995). A brief introduction to the phonology of Nxa’amxcin provides a look at the segment inventory, the status of schwa, various segmental processes, and syllable structure. An overview of the syntax focuses on aspects of the noun phrase—determiners, demonstratives, locative prepositions, genitive marking—and the major clause types—simple clauses, relative clauses and fronting. An extensive discussion of lexical operations (derivational morphology) addresses the categories of valence, voice, secondary aspect, control, category-changing operations, and operations marking locative, augmentative, diminutive and relational. An overview of inflectional operations (inflectional morphology) is presented starting with the marking of person, number and grammatical relation on the predicate. Viewpoint aspect, mood, temporal marking, negation, non-declarative operations—yes/no questions, imperative, prohibitive—and nominalization are also discussed. A description of the three different types of compounds found in Nxa’amxcin—two involving free stems and the third (known as lexical affixation) comprising a free stem and a bound stem—is provided along with the corresponding word structure rules responsible for these compounds. A number of arguments in support of a compounding analysis of bound stem constructions (lexical affixation), as opposed to a syntactic analysis, are presented. The set of classifiers that has developed from lexical affixation is also addressed.



Salish language, Salishan languages