A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 2


A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 2

Semantics, Syntax, Discourse

Olga Lovick

648 pages
81 figures, 66 tables, 2 appendixes


February 2023


$85.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

February 2023


$85.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 2 is part of a comprehensive two-volume text that linguistically renders a written record of the endangered Upper Tanana language. Serving as a descriptive grammar of the Upper Tanana language, volume 2 meticulously details a language that is currently spoken, with fluency, by approximately fifty people in limited parts of Alaska’s eastern interior and Canada’s Yukon Territory. As part of the Dene (Athabascan) language group, Upper Tanana embodies elements of both the Alaskan and Canadian subgroups of Northern Dene. This is the first comprehensive grammatical description of any of the Alaskan Dene languages.

The grammar is written in the framework of basic linguistic theory in order to make it accessible to a wide variety of readers, including specialists in Dene languages, linguists interested in the structure of non-Indo-European languages, and teachers and learners of Upper Tanana and related languages.

Author Bio

Olga Lovick is a professor and head of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the author of A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 1: Phonology, Lexical Classes, Morphology (Nebraska, 2020), editor of a collection of stories of the Tetlin people of Alaska, and coeditor of a collection of stories by women from Northway, Alaska.


A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 2 is a treasure trove of well-exemplified insights into the semantics, syntax, and discourse structures of this Alaskan/Yukon language. Based on fifteen years of dedicated field work with nine fluent speakers, this is an indispensable resource for both scholars of Dene languages and the many community members who are committed to carrying the language forward.”—Patrick Moore, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia

“Theoretically informed and empirically well grounded, A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 2 is without parallel as a reference work on the Upper Tanana language and is sure to serve as a model for the comprehensive grammatical description of Northern Dene languages for years to come. Olga Lovick also demonstrates an impressive command of the literature concerning Alaskan Dene languages. The result is a cross-linguistically informed description that remains firmly centered on Upper Tanana language structure, beliefs, and practices.”—Christopher Cox, associate professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
List of Abbreviations
Preface to volume 2
  1. Introduction to volume 2
I           Semantics
  1. Semantic properties of nouns
  2. Noun classification
  3. Lexical semantics
  4. Tense, aspect, modality, evidentiality
  5. Lexical aspect: verb theme categories
  6. Inflectional aspect
  7. The modal system (inflection)
  8. Modal particles
II          The simple clause
  1. Word order overview
  2. Word order in simple clauses
  3. Nonverbal predicates
  4. Polar Questions
  5. Content questions
  6. Requests
  7. Negation
  8. Third-person marking
  9. Pronominal number marking
  10. The noun phrase
  11. Non-clausal coordination
  12. Quantification of entities
  13. Comparison
  14. Prosodic augmentation
III        Beyond the clause
  1. Coordination of clauses
  2. Relative clauses
  3. Adverbial clauses
27 Verbs with clausal complements 
  1. Quotative frames
  2. Addressing individuals
  3. Managing information structure
  4. Insubordination
Appendix I: Portmanteau morphemes in the conjunct zone
Glossed sample texts 

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