A Grammar of Patwin


A Grammar of Patwin

Lewis C. Lawyer

Studies in the Native Languages of the Americas Series

472 pages
17 illustrations, 1 map, 59 tables, 1 appendix


February 2021


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March 2022


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January 2022


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February 2021


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About the Book

Published through the Recovering Languages and Literacies of the Americas initiative, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

A Native American language formerly spoken in hundreds of communities in the interior of California, Patwin (also known as Wintun Tʼewe) is now spoken by a small but growing number of language revitalizationists and their students. A Grammar of Patwin brings together two hundred years of word lists, notebooks, audio recordings, and manuscripts from archives across the United States and synthesizes this scattered collection into the first published description of the Patwin language. This book shines a light on the knowledge of past speakers and researchers with a clear and well-organized description supported by ample archival evidence.

Lewis C. Lawyer addresses the full range of grammatical structure with chapters on phonetics, phonology, nominals, nominal modifiers, spatial terms, verbs, and clauses. At every level of grammatical structure there is notable variation between dialects, and this variation is painstakingly described. An introductory chapter situates the language geographically and historically and also gives a detailed account of previous work on the language and of the archival materials on which the study is based. Throughout the process of writing this book, Lawyer remained in contact with Patwin communities and individuals, who helped to ensure that the content is appropriate from a cultural perspective.

Author Bio

​Lewis C. Lawyer is an independent scholar and is the reference systems manager at Cambridge University Press & Assessment. For more information about the author visit calangdoc.com.


"Lawyer's grammar of Patwin is an excellent work and an important new resource in that it takes diverse documentation from numerous scholars collected over approximately two centuries and creates a clear, concise, yet also in-depth description, which maintains the rich variation present across Patwin dialects while also remaining accessible to both the scholarly community and those outside of it. This grammar is also of significance and importance to those working to study and revitalize the Patwin language."—Uldis Balodis, Linguistic Typology

"This is an incredibly complex study of the grammatical structure of a language that has not been studied with this degree of detail before. It is rare to find any grammar book that pushes beyond repeating what previous grammar textbooks have already stated. Thus, specialists in rare languages, and in particular of Patwin will greatly benefit from having it in their libraries or borrowing it from an academic library to further their relevant research."—Anna Faktorovich, Pennsylvania Literary Journal

“This work is a model of the kind of scrupulous philological methodology that must be brought to bear on such projects. In addition to successfully adding Patwin to the canon of linguistically well-described California languages, it also serves as a model for the kind of methodology that will have to be employed on ever-increasing numbers of other Native North American languages that are no longer spoken, languages which are extensively documented in archival sources but not yet competently or comprehensively described.”—David J. Costa, author of The Miami-Illinois Language

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Alphabetical List of Morphemes
1. Background
1.1. The Patwin Language
1.2. Materials
1.3. Grammaticography
1.4. Orthography and Formatting
2. Phonemics and Phonetics
2.1. Phoneme Inventory
2.2. Minimal Pairs
2.3. Detailed Phonetic and Phonemic Descriptions
2.4. Stress and Intonation
3. Phonology
3.1. Phonotactics
3.2. The Syllable
3.3. Words and Stems
3.4. Stress Assignment and Syllable Weights
3.5. Segmental Phenomena
3.6. Reduplication
3.7. Loanwords
4. Nominals and Nominal Morphology
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Nouns
4.3. Kinship Terms
4.4. Nominalized Verbs
4.5. Number Marking
4.6. Case Marking
4.7. Absolutive Suffix
4.8. Vocatives
4.9. Order of Morphemes
4.10. Verbalization
4.11. Compound Constructions
5. Pronouns
5.1. Tables of Forms
5.2. Roots
5.3. Suffixes
5.4. Verbalization
5.5. In-Law Address Forms
5.6. Doubled Pronouns
6. Nominal Modifiers and the Noun Phrase
6.1. Pronouns as Modifiers
6.2. Adjectives
6.3. Numerals
6.4. Quantifiers
6.5. Relative Clauses
6.6. Nominal Coordination
6.7. Headless and Discontinuous Noun Phrases
7. Directionals and Cardinals
7.1. Directionals
7.2. Cardinals
8. The Verb and Verbal Morphology
8.1. The Verb Stem
8.2. Verbal Suffixes
8.3. Event and Participant Plurality
8.4. Nominalization
8.5. Verb Compounding
8.6. Citation Forms
9. The Clause
9.1. Auxiliary Verbs
9.2. Particles
9.3. Subordinate Clauses
9.4. Negation
9.5. Comparative Constructions
9.6. Clause Coordination with Connector /=ʔu/ ‘CONN’
Appendix: Attested Pronouns by Dialect
A.1. Tables of Attested Pronouns by Dialect
A.2. Discussion of Pronoun Data

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