A Grammar of the Seneca Language by Wallace Chafe

By Wallace Chafe

The Seneca language belongs to the Northern Iroquoian department of the Iroquoian language kinfolk, the place its closest relations are Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora. Seneca holds specific typological curiosity due to its excessive measure of polysynthesis and fusion. it's traditionally very important due to its important function within the Longhouse faith and its position within the pioneering linguistic paintings of the nineteenth century missionary Asher Wright. This grammatical description, together with 4 prolonged texts in different genres, is the culminatin of Chafe’s long-term research of the language over part a century.

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Additional info for A Grammar of the Seneca Language

Example text

Hehs-V,RV,tV,hV hehse- 20. ho-C,a,i haw-e ha-o him he 38. shako-C,a,i shakaw-e shaka-o 43. she-C,i shey-a,e,o 22. (ya)ko-C,a,i (ya)kaw-e (ya)ka-o her she them they men 21. hoti-C hon-V them/they it women animals 23. yoti-C 24. yo-C,a,i yon-V yaw-e ya-o 39. hakö-C,i haköy-a,e,o 50. yötat-V,RV,tV,hV 52. höwati-C yötate-else höwën-V 44. yetshi-C,i yetshiy-a,e,o 42. yethi-C,i yethiy-a,e,o 40. khe-C,i khey-a,e,o 41. yakhi-C,i yakhiy-a,e,o 31. shesni-C shesn-i,e,o shesny-a 32. sheswa-C sheswë-i shesw-a,e sheš-o 20a.

Meanings of the habitual and stative suffixes. Verbs with this minimal structure exhibit only two aspect suffix forms, habitual and stative (Lounsbury’s iterative and perfective)2, but there are four aspectual meanings that are expressed by those two forms. (1) ‘habitual’ (a habitual or generic event) (2) ‘progressive’ (an event that extends before and after the moment of speaking) (3) ‘perfect’ (a past event with current relevance) (4) ‘stative’ (a state) These four meanings are distributed across the two forms in ways that are determined by the nature of the verb base, and specifically whether its meaning is consequential or nonconsequential.

Although the change appears on the surface to have taken this form, its origin was more likely in the sequence *yaw-a, making it a variant of the change that follows. yödö́ gweta’ (*ye-atökwetha’) ‘she’s in good health’ *wa’wak > *ök. The reduction of wa(’)wa to ö applied in more environments in the other Northern Iroquoian languages, but in Seneca it was for the most part restricted to cases where the factual prefix wa’- was followed by the 1st person singular patient prefix wak-. It is likely that wa’wa coalesced to form a vowel in the low back position (ɲ), where it fell together with an existing vowel that was already nasalized.

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