LINGUIST List 15.2480

Tue Sep 7 2004

Books: Language Description/I'saka: Donohue et al

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  1. jmanley, I'saka: Donohue, San Roque

Message 1: I'saka: Donohue, San Roque

Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2004 08:30:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: jmanley <>
Subject: I'saka: Donohue, San Roque

Title: I'saka
Subtitle: A sketch grammar of a language of north-central New Guinea
Series Title: Pacific Linguistics

Publication Year: 2004
Publisher:	Pacific Linguistics

Author: Mark Donohue
Author: Lila San Roque

Paperback: ISBN: 0858835544, Pages: xvii + 131 pp, Price: AUS $ 36.00
	 Comment: In Australia A$39.60 (inc. GST)


I'saka, the language of 600-plus residents of Krisa village in
north-central New Guinea, is a previously undescribed language of the
Macro-Skou family, which spreads across the north coast of New Guinea
from the Skou villages in the west to Sissano lagoon in the
east. I'saka represents the earliest split from the protofamily, and
so represents a valuable source of data for comparative work in
northern New Guinea. The language is endangered, with many of the
younger generation switching to Tok Pisin as their language of
everyday communication, but I'saka remains the language of ethnic
identity and is seen as emblematic of the uniqueness of the I'saka

The grammar of I'saka is interesting for the general linguist as well
as for the New Guinea specialist, since it displays many features,
some possibly unique, which will prove challenging for modern
theoretical and typological linguistics. Two independent
suprasegmental tiers for tone and nasality, and a lack of contrastive
segmental nasals, are rare phonological phenomena. Morphologically,
the language displays a paradigm of agreement morphemes that agree
with non-core arguments, while leaving, in most cases, the object of a
transitive clause unmarked on the verb. Special agreement marking for
questioned subjects is also an unusual feature of I'saka.

This sketch includes discussion of the historical relationship
between I'saka and other languages in the Macro-Skou family, as well
as issues of language endangerment, language maintenance, and spheres
of language use. There is also a word list and a selection of short
texts illustrating many of the points covered in the grammatical

Lingfield(s):	Language Description
Subject Language(s):	Krisa (Language code: KRO)
Written In:	English (Language Code: ENG)

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