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ven. 08/02/2019 Séminaire DTT - Atelier Morphosyntaxe

Natalia Eraso
Gender and classifiers in the Tanimuka Language - Colombia

In the Tanimuka language (Oriental Tucanoan), spoken by about 500 people of the Tanimuka (u’pairã) and the Letuama (retuarã) groups in the department of Amazonas in Colombia, two systems of nominal categorization co-occur together and intersect: gender and numeral classifiers. Nouns in this language are divided first into human and non-human entities. This grammatical categorization is associated with a semantic categorization that includes three gender values. Nouns with the +human feature take masculine, feminine and plural gender suffixes, and nouns with the –human feature (whether animate or inanimate) take neuter gender. Nouns obligatorily agree in gender and number with their determiners. The system of numeral classifiers is obligatorily suffixed on numerals or any word denoting quantity. There are two types of numeral classifiers: a closed system of sortal classifiers and an open system of classifying elements of lexical origin. -sortal classifiers form a group of four monosyllabic marks, completely grammaticalized, that make reference to the figure shape and configuration: long (1 D), flat (2 D), round (3 D), and flexible (1 D) /string-like. -classifiers of lexical origin form an open system of disyllabic marks, partially grammaticalized, which can refer to measure terms, essence, function or simply are repeaters or semi - repeaters of the words they classify. These lexical elements also play a role in nominal composition and are closer to the type of ‘class markers’ that are found in neighboring Amazonian languages, since they function as some sort of agreement to the extent that they appear on both the numeral and the determined noun. Both types have an anaphoric function and serve as reference tracking devices. These classifiers are also suffixed to demonstratives in deictic function, adjectives, where they acquire anaphoric and referential functions, and they also serve as elements of nominalization.

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