Babine-Witsuwitʼen language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Babine language)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Babine–Witsuwitʼen
Witsuwitʼen
Native toCanada
RegionBritish Columbia
Ethnicity3,410 Nadotʼen (Babine) and Wetʼsuwetʼen in 7 of 9 communities (2014, FPCC)[1]
Native speakers
135 (2016 census)[2]
Dené–Yeniseian?
Dialects
Language codes
ISO 639-3bcr
Glottologbabi1235[3]

Babine–Witsuwitʼen or Nadotʼen-Wets'uwetʼen is an Athabaskan language spoken in the Central Interior of British Columbia. Its closest relative is Carrier. Because of this linguistic relationship together with political and cultural ties, Babine–Witsuwitʼen is often referred to as Northern Carrier or Western Carrier. Specialist opinion is, however, that it should be considered a separate, though related, language (Kari 1975, Story 1984, Kari and Hargus 1989).[4][5][6]

A term used briefly in the 1990s is Bulkley Valley – Lakes District Language, abbreviated BVLD. Ethnologue uses the bare name Babine for the language as a whole, not just for the Babine dialect.[7]

As its name suggests, Babine–Witsuwitʼen consists of two main dialects:

The two dialects are very similar and are distinguished primarily by the fact that in Babine but not in Witsuwitʼen the Athabaskan front velar series have become palatal affricates.

Like most languages native to British Columbia, Babine–Witsuwitʼen is an endangered language. It is spoken by a minority of the population, primarily elders. There are 161 fluent and 159 partial speakers of the Babine dialect[8] and 131 fluent and 61 partial speakers of the Witsuwitʼen dialect.[9] At most, a handful of children are still speaking the language.[10]

Classification[edit]

Babine-Witsuwitʼen is classified as Northern Athabaskan, in the same linguistic subgrouping as Dakelh and Chilcotin (though the latter is far more distinctly separate from Babine-Witsuwitʼen).[11]

Several non-specialist sources (the First Peoples' Heritage Language and Culture Council, the British Columbia Ministry of Education, and the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology) classify Witsuwitʼen as one language and Babine as a distinct language, either on its own or together with Carrier proper under the name Dakelh. Experts on the languages reject this classification. All agree that the differences between Babine and Witsuwitʼen are small and that the major split is between Babine and Witsuwitʼen on the one hand and Carrier proper on the other hand. The distinction is because speakers of Babine and of Carrier proper call themselves and their language Dakelh but that speakers of Witsuwitʼen do not.[12]

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

Witsuwitʼen has 35 consonants. Aspirated and ejective labials are rarer than other consonants.[13]

Witsuwitʼen Consonant Inventory[13][14]
Labial Alveolar Dorsal Glottal
central lateral sibilant fronted rounded backed
Nasal m n
Occlusive tenuis b [p] d [t] dl [tɬ] dz [ts] g [c] [kʷ] G [q] ʔ
aspirated p [pʰ] t [tʰ] [tɬʰ] ts [tsʰ] c [cʰ] [kʷʰ] q [qʰ]
ejective tɬʼ tsʼ kʷʼ
Continuant voiced l z y [j] w ɣ [ʁ]
voiceless ɬ s ç χ h

Vowels[edit]

Witsuwitʼen has six underlying vowels in its inventory.[14]

Witsuwitʼen Vowel Inventory[14]
Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e ə o
Low a

Grammar[edit]

Lexical categories[edit]

Witsuwitʼen lexical categories include nouns, verbs, adjectives, and postpositions. Directional terms are considered to be a lexical group in Witsuwitʼen found throughout lexical categories.[14]

Nouns[edit]

Witsuwitʼen nouns are only inflected for possession, and no case marking exists in Witsuwitʼen.[14] Possessive morphology takes different forms depending on whether the referent is alienable or inalienable.

Alienable Inalienable
cʼəni s - əɬtsen
trap.bait 1.SG.POSS-brother
'trap bait' 'my brother

Because trap bait is an alienable entity which need not be possessed by anyone/anything, it does not include any possessive morphology but stands alone in its bare form. In contrast, brother is an inalienable entity; a brother cannot exist without someone else to be in relation to. Thus, brother requires possessive morphology, as exampled in səɬtsen 'my brother'.[14]

Verbs[edit]

The basic lexical verb in Witsuwitʼen is the verb theme, a unit composed of two parts: a verbal root and required thematic prefixes.[14]

Verbal morpheme order is stable throughout the Athabaskan family; thus, the template of the Witstuwitʼen verb is very similar to other Athabaskan languages.[15] Prefixes which are furthest away from the lexical stem display more variability. The Witsuwitʼen verb consists of a lexical root and an aspectual, tense, or modal affix (most often a suffix). All Witsuwitʼen verbs carry tense and subject inflection; there is no Witsuwitʼen equivalent to the English infinitive.[16]

Postpositions[edit]

Postpositional object marking is demonstrated in the examples below. Postpositions can stand by themselves, as in the example '3s was playing with it,' or attach to the verbal complex.[17]

Yi-lh niwilyekh.
with-3s 3s-plays
'3s was playing with it.'

Directional terms[edit]

Complex directional systems and directional terms have been described in Ahtna, Slavey, Kaska, Koyukon, Tsek'ene, and Witsuwitʼen. Directional terms are composed of a directional root, prefixes which describe distance, and suffixes which indicate motion or rest.[14]

Syntax[edit]

Like most Athabaskan languages, basic word order in Babine-Witsuwitʼen is Subject-Object-Verb (SOV), demonstrated in the example below.[16]

Mary dilhtsen yikʼëntsiyʼ
Mary 3.SG.REFL.brother 3.SG.loves.3.SG.
'Mary loves her own brother.'

Grammatical relations[edit]

Babine-Witsuwitʼen uses verbal morphology to express grammatical roles. Subjects of transitive and intransitive constructions are marked in the same way and appear in identical positions within the sentence, while objects of transitive constructions may differ in position and occasionally in morphological form. Subjects are marked in different places within the verbal complex, with 1st and 2nd person subjects appearing more closely to the verb stem and 3rd person subjects and direct objects further to the left.[18]

Two object prefixes [hiy-] and [y-]:[17]

Hiy-ïtsʼoldeh.
'They need it.'
Ndutah yiziz
what 3S.is.drinking.it
'What's he drinking?'

1st and 2nd person subjects include 1SG, 2SG, and 2PL. 3rd person subjects can be expressed as unspecified (human), indefinite, or 4th person (referred to as the obviative in Algonquian languages).[18]

Voice / Valence[edit]

Athabaskan languages like Babine-Witstuwitʼen make use of two main argument transferring morphemes known as classifiers. However, the term classifier is recognized among Athabaskanists as a misnomer; voice and valence markers are more appropriate descriptors.[18] Each lexical entry of Witsuwitʼen verbs features a lexicalized voice/valence marker fused with the verb stem, though this element sometimes appears as zero. The classifiers [ɬ] and [d] regulate transitivity: [ɬ] increases transitivity by creating causatives and the [d] classifier lowers transitivity to create middle voice. The valence marker [l] is more complex in nature, indicating a combination of [ɬ] and [d] where a middle is built upon a causative.[18]

Words and phrases[edit]

Witsuwitʼen Southern Carrier English
lhok lhook fish
neʼ ʼama mother
lhkʼiy lhukʼi one
nek nankoh two
takʼiy takʼih three
Hadï Soʼendzin Hello. How are you?
Sne kal yëgh Thank you

Source: First Voices

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Babine-Witsuwitʼen language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "Language Highlight Tables, 2016 Census - Aboriginal mother tongue, Aboriginal language spoken most often at home and Other Aboriginal language(s) spoken regularly at home for the population excluding institutional residents of Canada, provinces and territories, 2016 Census – 100% Data". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Government of Canada. Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Babine". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Kari, James (1975) Babine, a New Athabaskan Linguistic Grouping, ms. Alaska Native LanguagezCenter, Fairbanks, Alaska.
  5. ^ Story, Gillian L. (1984) Babine and Carrier Phonology: A Historically Oriented Study. Arlington, Texas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  6. ^ Kari, James and Sharon Hargus (1989) Dialectology, Ethnonymy and Prehistory in the Northwest Portion of the 'Carrier' Language Area, ms. Alaska Native Language Center, Fairbanks, Alaska, and University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
  7. ^ "Babine". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  8. ^ First People's Language Map of British Columbia Nedut'en (Babine): State of the Language
  9. ^ First People's Language Map of British Columbia Witsusit'en: State of the Language
  10. ^ The Status of the Native Languages of British Columbia Yinka Déné Language Institute 2007
  11. ^ Krauss, Michael E. and Victor Golla (1981) Northern Athapaskan Languages. Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 6: Subarctic, ed. by June Helm, 67–85. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
  12. ^ Poser, William J. (2011) The Carrier Language: a brief introduction. Prince George, British Columbia: College of New Caledonia Press. Page 8, footnote 15.
  13. ^ a b Wright, Hargus & Davis (2002:45)
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Hargus, Sharon (2007). Witsuwitʼen Grammar: Phonetics, phonology, morphology. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press. ISBN 978-0774813822.
  15. ^ Tuttle, Siri G. 2002. A Short Introduction to Athabaskan Morphology. Morphology in Comparison, ed. by Elke Nowak, 1–37. Technische Universität Berlin Arbeitspapiere zur Linguistik 37.
  16. ^ a b Denham, Kristin (2000). "Optional Wh-Movement in Babine-Witsuwitʼen". Natural Language & Linguistic Theory: 199–251.
  17. ^ a b Gunlogson, Christine (2001). "Third-Person Object Prefixes in Babine Witsuwitʼen". International Journal of American Linguistics. 67: 365–395. doi:10.1086/466468.
  18. ^ a b c d Rice, Keren (2000). Voice and valence in the Athapaskan family. Changing Valency: Case Studies in Transitivity, ed. by R.M.W. Dixon and A.Y. Aikhenvald, 173-234. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hargus, Sharon (2007) Witsuwitʼen Grammar: Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology. Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • Kari, James (1975) Babine, a New Athabaskan Linguistic Grouping, ms. Alaska Native LanguagezCenter, Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Kari, James and Sharon Hargus (1989) Dialectology, Ethnonymy and Prehistory in the Northwest Portion of the 'Carrier' Language Area, ms. Alaska Native Language Center, Fairbanks, Alaska, and University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
  • Krauss, Michael E. and Victor Golla (1981) Northern Athapaskan Languages. Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 6: Subarctic, ed. by June Helm, 67–85. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Rice, Keren (2000) Voice and valence in the Athapaskan family. Changing Valency: Case Studies in Transitivity, ed. by R.M.W. Dixon and A.Y. Aikhenvald, 173-234. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Story, Gillian L. (1984) Babine and Carrier Phonology: A Historically Oriented Study. Arlington, Texas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  • Wright, Richard; Hargus, Sharon; Davis, Katharine (2002), "On the categorization of ejectives: data from Witsuwitʼen", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 32 (1): 43–77, doi:10.1017/S0025100302000142

External links[edit]