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R. M. W. Dixon, author of acclaimed grammars of Australian Aboriginal languages and Fijian, here describes the hauntingly complex structure of Jarawara, spoken by just 170 Indians. Professor Dixon shared their daily lives, deep in the Amazonian jungle, during seven field trips. He explains how their unusual language reflects their environment and their mental attitudes: for example, when someone describes something that has happened the grammar obliges that person to state whether or not he or she saw it happen. His account brings to life the culture of this tribe of slash-and-burn agriculturalists.
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R. M. W. Dixon is Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University. He has published grammars of a number of Australian languages (including Dyirbal and Yidin), in addition to A Grammar of Boumaa Fijian (University of Chicago Press 1988), A New
Approach to English Grammar, on Semantic Principles (OUP 1991, revised edition in preparation), and The Jarawara Language of Southern Amazonia (OUP 2004). His books on typological theory include Where have all the Adjectives Gone? and other Essays in Semantics and Syntax (1982) and Ergativity
(1994). His essay The Rise and Fall of Languages (1997) expounded a punctuated equilibrium model for language development which is the basis for his detailed case study Australian Languages: their Nature and Development (2002). He is currently working on an extensive study of basic linguistic
"Fascinating... This book is a thorough descriptive grammar of the Jarawara language... Dixon's treatment of it is an important work to be added to the libraries of ANYONE doing comparative and/or typological study of languages...the grammatical treatment and exposition are excellent."--Linguist List 16.1940
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