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The Manambu language of East Sepik, Papua New Guinea : [book review] Sousa, Hilário De Jun 30, 2010

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Pacific Affairs: Volume 83, No. 2 – June 2010  40 depicts a Dani man delicately extricating an arrow from a Dani boy, whose head rests on another warrior. In his essay, Burbriski writes about the advantages of documenting a culture within the context of conflict, referring to what fellow documentary filmmaker Peter Getzels describes as the ideal conditions for “a culture to express itself unselfconsciously.” Perhaps the most powerful images are those that Rockefeller took of the Dani in mourning, particularly those of the Dani women with their arms outstretched, presumably towards the recently departed. Then there is the photograph of two Dani girls, each with one of their arms bound in banana leaves and held in the air. After reading Gardner’s accompanying text you realize that the girls’ fingers had just been sacrificed as part of the mourning process and the seemingly innocuous image becomes much more startling. It is clear from the foreword by Gardner and Bubriski’s essay, that both men had a strong affection for Rockefeller, recalling fondly his response to almost anything on the expedition as “It’s unbelievable!” While the catalogue reproduces what must have been an intimate and beautiful exhibition, it certainly does make one wonder what Rockefeller’s life might have been, had it not been cut short. Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA Jennifer WAGelie THE MANAMBU LANGUAGE OF EAST SEPIK, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. By Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, with the assistance of Jacklyn Yuamali Ala and Pauline Agnes Yuaneng Luma Laki. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. xxv, 702 pp. (Tables, figures, maps, B&W photos.) US$180.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-19-953981-9. Of the 800 or so Papuan languages in the world, most of them remain undocumented or inadequately documented and many are rapidly disappearing under the shadow of trade languages like Tok Pisin and Papuan Malay. Aikhenvald’s grammar of the Manambu language is a momentous (and timely) addition to Papuan linguistics; the grammar is crafted to the highest quality and the range of topics covered in the grammar is substantially wider than in most other grammars of Papuan languages. Manambu is spoken along the Sepik River and belongs to the relatively well-known Ndu language family. Chapter 1 provides a linguistic summary of the language and discusses a wide array of fascinating ethnographic topics, such as the structure of houses and the ownership of names in Manambu society. Chapter 2 deals with phonology: there are 9 vowels, 21 consonants and stress is contrastive, for example, ákəs, “habitual negation,” while ak ə́ s, “catch!” (47). The section on intonation is lengthy for grammars of Papuan languages, but more could be said on the intonational patterns before the  41 Electronic Book Review: Southeast Asia right edge (i.e., end) of a sentence. Chapter 3 introduces the grammatical relations in Manambu. Subjects behave very differently from all non-subject relations. For instance, subjects are always indexed on finite verbs, whereas objects and other non-subjects are indexed only when they are more topical than the subject. Chapter 4 discusses the properties of the various word classes in Manambu: nouns, verbs, adjectives (which number around 20 in total), adverbs and other closed classes of words, like modal words. Interestingly, chapter 10 is also called “closed classes” and deals with noun-like classes such as personal pronouns and numerals, whereas chapter 4 deals with non-noun-like classes such as postpositions and interjections. Chapters 5 to 8 deal with grammatical categories which are more noun-oriented. Chapter 5 is on grammatical gender; with inanimate entities, masculine gender correlates with long and/or large entities, while feminine gender correlates with small and/or round entities. Chapter 6 is on grammatical number: singular, dual (two), and plural (three or more). Chapter 7 is on nominal cases: there are nine case markers, with interesting case conflations like accusative–locative (object plus “at”/”in”) and allative– instrumental (“to” plus “with”). Chapter 8 outlines the numerous ways of indicating possession. Chapter 9 is on compounding and derivation; an example is verb root reduplication, which derives action nominalizations: nas(ə)-, “count,” while nasənas, “counting” (179). Chapters 11 to 19 concentrate on verb-oriented issues. Chapter 11 discusses the structure of verbs, non-verbal predicates (e.g., nominal predicates) and verb root forms. Verbs can be quite long in Manambu, for example, kay-kwa-taka-saki-sala-kwa-k-na-wun-ək, “I will be pouring (liquid) by moving it side to side (across and inward)” (247). Chapter 12 deals with various verbal categories like tense and aspect, chapter 13 discusses mood and modality, and chapter 14 outlines strategies of indicating negation. Chapter 15 discuses various types of verb compounding—such as təpə-taka-, “(close- put) cover” (338)—and their meanings. Chapter 16 combines discussions on directionals, such as the suffix səwəl, “inside or away from the Sepik River” (378) and valency-changing devices, such as the causative prefix kay- as in kay-bətuku, “cause-to-be blown-up” or “pump (something)” (407)). Chapter 17 discusses the complex predicates, which in Manambu are predicates involving two separate words, e.g., resain tə-ku. “resign have-completive same subject” or “having resigned” (432). Chapters 18 and 19 contain detailed discussions on clause chaining and various types of dependent clauses. Similar to many other Papuan languages, most types of chained clauses in Manambu indicate switch-reference, that is, whether the subject of the next clause is the same or different. Chapter 20 outlines the syntax of phrases and clauses in Manambu, the pragmatic significance of the order of constituents in a clause (e.g., for Pacific Affairs: Volume 83, No. 2 – June 2010  42 discourse focus) and discourse organization. Chapter 21 is an interesting chapter on the ethnography of speaking in Manambu and also the semantics of more than 20 notable words: kə-, “eat, drink, smoke,” and the “lazy” verb məgi-, “do whatever, happen (whatever),” for instance. Chapter 22 discusses Manambu’s relationship with the other languages in the area. It also discusses the use of Tok Pisin and English in Manambu language and society and the viability of the language. Following chapter 22 are three lengthy texts, 38 pages in total, and vocabulary/affix lists, 14 pages in total. The detail in this grammar is meticulous. Nonetheless, a professional linguist might find it too meticulous at times; sometimes a relatively minor point (to a professional linguist) is accompanied by an overwhelming amount of explanation (e.g., §7.10 “how many cases does Manambu have?”). On the other hand, this is precisely why this grammar would appeal to junior linguists and other human scientists who would benefit immensely from the sumptuous amount of in-depth argumentation. This publication would be most valuable to any linguists interested in Papuan languages and anyone interested in New Guinea in general. École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, France hilário de sousA


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