Chapter 4. Noun class and number in Kiowa-Tanoan: Comparative-historical research and respecting speakers' rights in fieldwork

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Sutton, Logan
Kiowa-Tanoan, noun class, number, Pueblo, morphosemantic
book chapter description
The Kiowa-Tanoan family is known to linguists by two characteristic features: a) a package of complex morphosyntactic structures that includes a typologically marked noun class and number marking system and b) the paucity of information available on the Tanoan languages due to cultural ideologies of secrecy. This paper explores both of these issues. It attempts to reconstruct the historical noun class-number system based on the diverging, yet obviously related, morphosemantic patterns found in each of the modern languages, a study that would be greatly benefited by fieldwork and the input of native speakers. At the same time, it reviews the language situation among the Kiowa-Tanoan-speaking communities and what some of the difficulties are in doing this kind of fieldwork in the Pueblo Southwest, touching on the myriad complex issues involving the control of information and the speech communities’ rights over their own languages as well as the outside linguist’s role in such a situation. The paper underscores these points by using only language data examples from previous field research that are already available to the public so as not to compromise native speakers’ sensitivity to new research on their languages.

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