Comparative and internal reconstruction of the Tupi-Guarani language family
Ph.D. Dissertation, 1998
This study examines the Tupi-Guarani (TG) language family a language
family comprising languages spoken in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia,
and French Guiana. This study applies the comparative method of reconstruction
to attested TG languages to arrive at a reconstruction of Proto-Tupi-Guarani
(PTG). The protolanguage, in turn, is subjected to internal reconstruction
to arrive at a Pre-TG phonology and morphology. The proposed reconstruction
of PTG is significant in that it differs in a number of significant ways
from earlier attempts at reconstruction by Jensen (1984). Points of difference
are as follows: (1) The PTG phonemic inventory reconstructed here is analyzed
as having a heretofore unrecognized phonological categorization, called
fortis and lenis (which can be identified in other Amarindian languages).
Fortes are voiceless stops and lenes are voiced continuants homorganic
with the fortes. This captures the fact that, in PTG and many TG languages,
voicing and continuance are redundancy features. This leads to an internal
reconstruction of PTG. (2) PTG is seen here to have three series of fortes:
plain, labialized, and palatalized. This also contributes to the internal
reconstruction. (3) PTG is here found to have had three autosegmental
phonemes, two at the morpheme level and one at the level of the syllable.
Additionally, the phonological reconstruction of Pre-TG is shown to contribute
positively to the ability to identify cognates between TG and non-TG languages
in the Tupian stock. These discoveries, and the resultant reconstruction
of Pre-TG, lead in turn to important conclusions about the morphology
of PTG: (1) Agentive, circumstantial and abstract nominalizers are found
to be related morphemes. (2) Form classes of nouns and verbs are found
to be originally phonologically conditioned. (3) A more accurate reconstruction
of the pronominal system, both formally and functionally, is possible.
From these morphological conclusions, the following syntactic conclusions
are also made: (1) PTG was not ergative, as suggested by Jensen (1990).
(2) Subordination was expressed by nominalized verb phrases, rather than
by separate clauses. (3) The distinction between modifiers and nouns was
essentially non-existent in PTG and the distinction between nouns and
verbs was minimal and may in fact have been more pragmatic than syntactic.
The study concludes with a review of the question of internal classification
within PTG and a proposal of a PTG homeland.
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