Topic and Discourse Structure in West Greenlandic Agreement Constructions


Topic and Discourse Structure in West Greenlandic Agreement Constructions

Anna Berge

Studies in the Native Languages of the Americas Series

464 pages
12 tables


July 2011


$75.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2011


$75.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

West Greenlandic Eskimo, a part of the Eskimo-Aleut language family spoken all across the Arctic, is primarily found among the Native peoples of central west Greenland. In this highly nuanced study of West Greenlandic, linguist Anna Berge examines how the speaker’s role affects syntactic structures within discourse. Also included are transcripts of conversations with fluent Native speakers, providing a practical context in which to examine these grammatical questions.
This study was the winner of the prestigious Mary R. Haas Award, presented annually by the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, the highest award given in the study of Native languages.

Author Bio

Anna Berge is an associate professor of linguistics in the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is the coauthor of Niigugis Mataliin Tunuxtazangis/How the Atkans Talk: A Conversational Grammar.


"[Topic and Discourse Structure in West Greenlandic Agreement Constructions] is comprehensive, written with great clarity, and will be of considerable interest to scholars of syntax and linguists working on such polysynthetic languages."—Stephen Pax Leonard, Journal of Anthropological Research

Table of Contents

List of tables   



List of abbreviations  

Orthographic conventions     

<A>1 Introduction</A>

1.1      Overview of West Greenlandic grammar  

1.2      The Inuit language in syntactic theory

1.3      Approaches to the study of discourse  

1.4      Theoretical approach to discourse structure in West Greenlandic     

<A>2 Topic (and theme) as discourse roles</A>

2.1      Issues in the definition of topic     

2.2      Issues in the definition of theme     

2.3      The introduction and identification of topics and themes

2.4      Discourse roles     

<A>3 Ergativity as a reflection of topic status</A>

3.1      Ergativity in West Greenlandic  

3.2      The treatment of ergativity in modern syntactic theories of West Greenlandic    

3.3      Subjecthood, agency, and topic  

3.4      The role of topic in the use and distribution of ergative structures in West Greenlandic   

3.5      Data analysis 

3.6      Chapter conclusion  

<A>4 Switch-reference or thematic coherence and topic continuity?</A>

4.1      Switch-reference in West Greenlandic  

4.2      Switch-reference as a system of subject or topic/thematic coherence 

4.3      Role of topic in the use and distribution of switch-reference marking in West Greenlandic   

4.4      Data analysis 

4.4.1    Subordinate pronominal inflection     

4.4.2    Contemporatives and participials  The contemporative  The participial     

4.5      Chapter conclusion  

<A>5 Conclusion</A>

5.1      Findings

5.2      Some comments on the role of discourse in linguistic descriptions   


A1       Notes on data collection  

A2       Notes on transcription and intonation 





Also of Interest