Mussau grammar essentials by John Brownie, Marjo Brownie

By John Brownie, Marjo Brownie

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Paired objects Objects which are pieces of something, long things? ) Examples of nouns in the seven classes are listed in table 9. Table 9: Noun Classes Class Noun I ale asi kko koto liu loa motouru olimo paanaka paua raroai samana taita tokapaipe vause II ai aisalo aranna arari III keke kuraa ngaa nima Gloss ‘house’ ‘taro’ ‘fish’ ‘wave’ ‘place, hole’ ‘species of ant’ ‘mountain’ ‘canoe’ ‘boat’ ‘dog’ ‘evil spirit’ ‘outrigger’ ‘man’ ‘willie wagtail’ ‘woman’ ‘tree’ ‘bridge, platform’ ‘species of pandanus (tree)’ ‘name’ ‘leg’ ‘long piece of firewood’ ‘branch’ ‘arm’ 47 Class Noun IV aikuukuvati aisoasoa alo atu kalio koikoi komo musuke ose suena tum vili V aranna utana VI kapa nima muenna nima uaise pai pelete terei va, bba viliki veu VII karoiroi moni salana saoa uasa uru ngai uu nguru Gloss ‘shotgun’ (lit.

It is apparent that the number system is being lost apart from the small numbers, to about five or six. Many, especially younger speakers, use English and/or Tok Pisin numbers beyond this limit. For example, many speakers are unsure whether ai means ‘hundred’ or ‘thousand’. 2 Prenominal Number-Classifiers The prenominal number-classifiers encode number and, for numbers one to five, class. There are seven classes in Mussau-Emira, which have some semantic basis, but there are exceptions. The majority of nouns fall into class I, with small numbers falling into the other six classes.

65) a. maamaa ng-atoa mother LIG-PL. ‘the/some mothers’ b. vau ng-alua. chief LIG-DL:I. ‘two chiefs’ c. namu ng-ateva big LIG-SG:I. soakiikii ng-alua. bodyguard LIG-DL:I. ‘the two bodyguards’ However, note the contrast with the following examples: (66) a. vau eteva chief SG:I. ‘a chief ’ b. aliki elua child two:I. ‘two young people’ c. atu etiulu. rock SG:IV. ‘a rock’ Note the inconsistent treatment of vau ‘chief ’. If the form vau ngalua is not typical, it would be easier to argue that the length of the final vowel is the determining factor.

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