The Timucua Language


The Timucua Language

A Text-Based Reference Grammar

George Aaron Broadwell

468 pages
4 illustrations, 49 tables, index


October 2024


$90.00 Pre-order

About the Book

The Timucua Language is a comprehensive reference grammar of Timucua, the Native language of much of northern Florida during the Spanish colonial period. Though the Timucua language is no longer spoken, written Timucua was extensively used as a medium of Franciscan evangelism in the seventeenth century; indeed, the Timucua catechisms from 1612 are the earliest written records in any Native language of the land that is now the United States. Two secular letters in the language also survive from that period. As a whole, the Timucua written corpus gives us incomparable insight into the Indigenous culture and history of early Florida.

This grammar is based on a thorough study of the extant printed and handwritten documents and on careful philological and comparative analysis of the corpus. Because the content of printed Timucua material often varies considerably from the Spanish text printed in parallel with it, careful study of Timucua grammar enables linguists, anthropologists, and historians to begin to read these critical texts in Florida and southeastern U.S. history.

Author Bio

George Aaron Broadwell is the Elling Eide Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He won the 2023 Victor Golla Prize from the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas and is the author of A Choctaw Reference Grammar (Nebraska, 2006).


“This grammar of Timucua is exhaustive, and it is impressive how George Aaron Broadwell has derived the grammar from the imperfectly bilingual sources. His extensive database of Timucua texts has helped him greatly in explaining the grammar of this long-extinct language isolate. He does not shy away from the difficulties inherent in working with seventeenth-century material but discusses them in detail.”—Geoffrey D. Kimball, author of Koasati Grammar

“Very important to the early history of Florida, this analysis of Timucua will make it possible for others to work on the language and unlock previously inaccessible materials. . . . A remarkable achievement. George Aaron Broadwell has made a thorough search of archival Spanish materials, gathered transcriptions and translations into a database, and—in a process that can be likened to decipherment—has worked out plausible interpretations of the meanings of words and affixes.”—Jack B. Martin, author of A Grammar of Creek (Muskogee)

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Part I Historical background and overview of previous literature
1 About the Timucua language
1.1 History of the Timucua language
1.2 Dialectal variation in Timucua
1.3 Previous research on the language and its genetic affiliations
2 The corpus and citation conventions
3 Interpreting the Timucua corpus
3.1 Which documents were written by native speakers of Timucua?
3.2 Pareja's Arte
3.3 Orthographic and lexical diversity in Timucua
3.3.1 Lexical choice
3.3.2 Labialization Variation in the postposition beta Variation in the irrealis suffix -haue
4 An overview of Timucua grammar
4.1 Phonological typology
4.2 Morphological typology
4.3 Word order and simple verb inflection
4.4 Simple nouns and noun phrases
4.5 Simple postpositional phrases
4.6 More complex verb agreement
4.7 Linking clauses together
4.8 Question particles and question words
4.9 Typological classification
Part II Phonology
5 Phonological inventory and orthography
5.1 Consonants
5.1.1 The interpretation of <h> in Timucua
5.1.2 Bilabial glide [w]
5.1.3 /hw/
5.1.4 Labiodental or bilabial fricatives
5.1.5 Velar nasal
5.1.6 /r/ as a tap
5.1.7 Lack of geminate consonants
5.1.8 Spelling in loans
5.2 Vowels
5.2.1 Vowel quality
5.2.2 Vowel length
5.2.3 Vowel nasalization
5.2.4 Diphthongs
5.3 Syllables
5.4 Words with <i>+vowel sequences
5.5 Distributional skewing
5.6 Stress
5.6.1 Pareja's description of stress
5.6.2 Accent marking in the corpus Penult stress before -te 'contrastive' Penult stress before -co 'alternative' Penultimate stress before -ta participial
6 Major phonological and morphophonological processes
6.1 Vowel coalescence and deletion
6.1.1 Vowel coalescence and prefixes
6.1.2 Vowel-deleting suffixes
6.1.3 Vowel-deletion in compounds
6.1.4 Vowel-syncope before -ta and -te.
6.2 Round vowel harmony in roots
6.2.1 Height harmony in round vowels Suffixes which show vowel harmony Suffixes which do not show vowel harmony
6.3 Vowel lowering
6.3.1 Lowering after labial consonants
6.3.2 Lowering before -la 'declarative' Lowering in verb roots
6.3.3 Lowering in other environments
6.4 Front vowel lowering
6.4.1 Lowering of -i final affixes
6.5 Voicing after nasals
6.6 Reduplication
6.6.1 Full reduplication
6.6.2 Partial reduplication
6.7 Phonology of loanwords
Part III Morphosyntax
7 Nouns
7.1 Derivational processes
7.1.1 Agent nominalization with -siba Introduction The relationship of -siba 'agent nominalization' and -si 'benefactive'
7.1.2 Nominalizations with Introduction Semantics of nominalizations with
7.1.3 Nominalizations with -no
7.2 Compounds
7.2.1 Head-final N+N compounds
7.2.2 Head-initial N+Adj compounds
7.2.3 Head-final N+V compounds
7.2.4 Noun + -nimi 'all'
7.2.5 Other multi-word expressions
7.3 Nominal inflectional morphology
7.3.1 Nominal inflectional suffix order
7.3.2 Possessive suffixes 1st singular possessor -na 2nd singular possessor -ye 3rd possessor -mi Alternate 3rd possessor -miti ~ -mitota 1st plural -mile and -nica 2nd plural -yaqe Respected 2nd or 3rd possessor -mitono Rare possessive suffix -nchu
7.3.3 Noun plural
7.3.4 Nominal inflection of borrowed words
7.4 Lack of grammatical gender
8 Adjectives
9 Noun phrases
9.1 Order in noun phrases
9.2 Affixes attached to noun phrases
9.2.1 Pre-determiners Indefinite predeterminers -lete ~ -leta and -nco 'or' -lehe Reflexive/emphatic -coco
9.2.2 Determiners -michu 'previous mention' -co alternative -leqe 'additive focus'
9.2.3 Post-determiners Oblique -qua Contrastive focus marker -te Topic marker -no
9.2.4 Frequent combinations Topic marking with -mano Coordination with -mate
9.2.5 Mysteries letani qe
9.3 Prenominal determiners
9.3.1 Introduction
9.3.2 Acu
9.3.3 Caqi and Naqi
9.3.4 Oqe and qeqi – far demonstratives
9.4 Possession
9.4.1 Attributive possession
9.4.2 Lack of genitive case
9.4.3 Predicative possession
9.5 Definiteness
9.5.1 The morphology of definite and indefinite
9.5.2 Co-occurrence of definite and indefinite morphology
9.5.3 Definite marking and possessives
9.5.4 Definite marking and proper nouns
10 Pronouns and other anaphoric elements
10.1 Personal pronouns
10.1.1 First and second person pronouns
10.1.2 Third person pronouns
10.2 Demonstrative pronouns
10.3 Indefinite pronouns
10.4 Pro-verbs
11 Numerals and quantifiers
11.1 Quantifiers and other indicators of plurality
11.1.1 Alleged plurals
11.1.2 Collective nouns
11.1.3 Universal quantifiers and their equivalents
11.1.4 Each
11.2 Numerals
11.2.1 Cardinal numerals
11.2.2 Ordinal numerals
11.2.3 Verbal properties of numerals
12 Adverbs
12.1 Temporal adverbs
12.2 Discourse adverbs
12.3 Manner adverbs
12.4 Manner modification via reduplication
13 Postpositions and their equivalents
13.1 ofueno 'over, concerning, after'
13.2 beta 'oblique'
13.3 toro 'without'
13.4 emoqua 'against, in front of'
13.5 Other postposition-like words
14 Verbs: Morpheme order, derivation, suppletion, and incorporation
14.1 Verb Structure and morpheme order
14.2 Deriving verbs
14.3 Verbal suppletion
14.4 Semi-productive derivation
14.4.1 Derived verbs with -timo
14.4.2 Derived verbs with -qua
14.4.3 Derived verbs with -chi
14.5 Incorporation
14.5.1 Identifying incorporation
14.5.2 Incorporation of the complement of the copula
14.5.3 Verbs with incorporation of cume 'heart'
14.5.4 Incorporation of ano
14.5.5 Incorporated interrogatives
14.5.6 Alternation with non-incorporated structures
14.6 Incorporation of verbs
Part IV Functional systems
15 Verb agreement
15.1 Introduction
15.2 Agreement with 3rd person arguments
15.3 Ergative and absolutive agreement paradigms
15.3.1 Intransitive agreement
15.3.2 Transitives in default or unmarked tense 
15.3.3 Interrogative agreement shift 
15.3.4 Tense-based agreement shift 
15.3.5 Allomorphic alternation in agreement The form of the 1s ergative suffix -n An apparent alternative 1s ergative suffix -na Against an alternative with -la as 1st singular ergative Alternations for the 2nd person Distribution of agreement across verb chains 
15.3.6 Transitives with applied arguments 
15.4 Controversial issues
15.4.1 Arguments for the accusative/ergative split
15.4.2 Is suffixed second person ergative or absolutive?
15.4.3 Is ergative agreement preceded by default tense or the participial
15.5 Unresolved issues
15.5.1 Ergative agreement in intransitives
15.5.2 Ergative/absolutive alternation in reciprocals
16 Valency increase: Causatives and applicatives
16.1 Causatives
16.1.1 Regular causatives
16.1.2 Causatives and quantifiers
16.1.3 Frozen causatives
16.1.4 Causative morphology with irregular semantics
16.2 Applicatives
16.2.1 The na- 'locative/instrumental' applicative
16.2.2 The -si 'benefactive/malefactive' applicative
17 Valency reduction: reflexives, passives, and indefinites
17.1 Reflexives and Reciprocals
17.2 The passive morpheme
17.2.1 Common active-passive contrasts
17.2.2 Morpheme order and the passive
17.3 Passive clauses
17.3.1 The expression of agent
17.3.2 Scope of the passive over preceding -ta marked clause
17.4 The honorific passive
17.4.1 Intransitive verbs in the honorific passive
17.4.2 Transitive verbs in the honorific passive
17.5 Indefinite subject clauses
18 The verbal left periphery
18.1 ta= 'away, at a distance, back'
18.2 ca= 'thus, in this way, here'
18.3 Honorific particle ano
18.4 Preverbal particles
18.5 Proclitics, prefixes, or particles?
19 Tense, aspect, and mood
19.1 Tense, Aspect, and Modality morphology
19.1.1 Unmarked tense
19.1.2 Default tense -te
19.1.3 Durative tense -nte
19.1.4 Past tense -bi
19.1.5 Prior tense -bile
19.1.6 Potential -he
19.1.7 Irrealis -haue
19.1.8 Certain future -hate
19.1.9 Counterfactual -hena ~ -hela
19.1.10 Remote tense -chu
19.1.11 Optative =hante
19.1.12 Other possible TAM suffixes -co ~ cono ~ -sicono verbal suffix -bini verbal suffix
19.2 Modality constructions
19.2.1 Necessity and obligation
19.2.2 Possibility (epistemic and dynamic modality)
20 Evidentiality, illocutionary force, and discourse status
20.1 Evidential -laqe
20.2 Declarative -la
20.3 Final suffix -laha 'emphatic'
20.4 Final suffix -lecu 'insult'
20.5 Final suffix -lechu
20.6 Final suffix -leto
20.7 Final suffix -leqete 'not at all'
20.8 Final suffix -nano
20.9 Final suffix -no
20.10 Final suffix -teo 'angry reply'
20.11 Counterfactual =lahayo
20.12 Final suffix =tiacu 'negative assertion'
21 Negation
21.1 Ordinary verbal negation
21.2 Negation of nonverbal predicates
21.3 Negative commands
21.4 Negative proforms and adverbs
21.5 Expletive negation
22 Light verbs
22.1 Quoso 'do'
22.2 Moso 'do'
22.3 Puqua 'do to many'
22.4 Fa 'be located'
22.5 Queni 'be'
23 Copular and existential constructions
23.1 The incorporating copula le
23.2 Existentials and possessives
Part V Functional systems
24 Grammatical relations
24.1 Case marking
24.1.1 -qua 'oblique case'
24.2 Possessor raising
25 Pragmatically marked structures
25.1 Questions 
25.1.1 Yes/no Questions 
25.1.2 Verbal interrogative 'do what, do how, do why, which' 
25.1.3 Wh-Questions Nominal interrogatives 'who' and 'what' Where questions Word order in wh-questions 
25.2 Imperatives 
25.2.1 Positive imperatives 
25.2.2 Negative imperatives 
25.2.3 Polite alternatives to imperatives 
25.2.4 Use of light verbs in imperatives 
25.3 Exclamations 
25.4 Other special verbal constructions 
26 Clause combinations
26.1 Complement Clauses
26.1.1 Complements in -no
26.1.2 Complements in -nima
26.1.3 Direct speech complements
26.1.4 Switch-reference in desiderative clauses with -siro and -he-ro
26.1.5 Desiderative clauses with -qi
26.1.6 Unmarked desideratives
26.2 Adverbial Clauses
26.2.1 Temporal and conditional adjuncts 'when' clauses with -nima 'when/if' clauses with -hanima 'if' clauses with -qiti 'after' clauses with ofueno
26.2.2 Purpose, consequence, and simultaneous clauses Purpose clauses with -habe-leta Consequence clauses with -qua Simultaneous clauses with -qua
26.2.3 Concessive clauses 'but' and 'although'
26.3 Clause Chaining and Switch Reference
26.3.1 Linking clauses together
26.3.2 Clauses linked with -nima 'when'
26.3.3 Clauses linked with -ta 'same-subject sequential and participial' Introduction to clauses linked with -ta Morphological restrictions on verbs linked with -ta Some issues for the same-subject analysis of -ta
26.3.4 Clauses linked with -qe 'different-subject sequential'
26.3.5 Alternations between same and different subject
26.4 The discourse clitic =qere
26.5 Putting it all together
26.6 Clauses in discourse
27 Relative Clauses
27.1 Tense restrictions in relative clauses
27.2 Relative clauses with no overt head
28 Coordination
28.1 Coordination of noun phrases
28.1.1 Conjunctive coordination – 'and'
28.1.2 Disjunctive coordination – 'or'
28.2 Coordination of clauses
28.3 The =chiqe clitic
Morpheme list

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