Gongduk agreement morphology in functional and diachronic perspective

Gerber, Pascal (10 January 2019). Gongduk agreement morphology in functional and diachronic perspective (Unpublished). In: ISBS (International Society of Bhutan Studies) Inaugural Conference. Magdalen College, University of Oxford. 10. Januar 2019.

Gongduk is a Trans-Himalayan language spoken in Monggar district in central Bhutan. The language belongs to the oldest ethnolinguistic layer of Bhutan, together with the Mönpa language of the Black Mountains and Lhokpu. The position of Gongduk within the language family is not known and it is therefore treated as an isolate (cf. van Driem 2015). A grammar of the language is currently being prepared for publication (Gerber/Grollmann/van Driem in preparation) on the basis of field notes collected by George van Driem as well as Selin Grollman and Pascal Gerber.

Gongduk is, besides Black Mountain Mönpa, the only Bhutanese language to exhibit biactantial agreement morphology, marking both the subject and the object of a verbal action on the verb. This typologically noteworthy and functionally complex feature is a characteristic feature of several other branches of the Trans-Himalayan language family. Agreement morphology of this kind is
reconstructed to the Trans-Himalayan proto-language (Bauman 1974, 1975, van Driem 1993, DeLancey 1989, 2010, 2011, Jacques 2012).

However, despite the description of the morphology by van Driem (2001, 2013), Camenisch et al. (2014) and Gerber (2015), Gongduk agreement morphology is completely disregarded in publications about agreement morphology in Trans-Himalayan, although the inclusion of Gongduk in the discussion would yield promising new insights into the reconstruction of agreement morphology and the phylogenetic position of Gongduk within Trans-Himalayan.

In this talk, Gongduk agreement morphology will be discussed from a synchronic-functional as well as a diachronic-comparative point of view. The morphology will be presented and illustrated with examples, and the sociopragmatic and syntactic factors determining the choice of the specific markers will be explained. The agreement morphemes of Gongduk will then be subjected to a comparative analysis and related to cognate morphology in other branches of Trans Himalayan. Finally, a phylogenetic assessment of Gongduk based on the comparison of the agreement morphology will be provided. Trans-Himalayan linguistics, both synchronic and diachronic, can benefit significantly from a proper, detailed consideration of the Gongduk language. This talk also
aims to show the general significance of Bhutanese languages for the field of linguistics, both Trans-Himalayan and general linguistics, and the importance of comprehensive documentation and description of the significant, but endangered linguistic diversity of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Gerber, Pascal


400 Language > 410 Linguistics




Pascal Gerber

Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2021 06:29

Last Modified:

14 Jun 2021 06:29



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