By Liberty A. Lidz

This dissertation is a descriptive grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo), a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in southwestern China. The theoretical ways taken are useful syntax and the discourse-based method of language description and
documentation. the purpose of this dissertation is to explain the ways in which the language’s
features and subsystems intersect to make Na a different entity: analycity; 0 anaphora;
OV be aware order; topic/comment details constitution; a five-part evidential method; a
conjunct/disjunct-like procedure that intersects with evidentiality and verbal semantics;
prolific grammaticalization; overlap among nominalization and relativization and
associated constructions; illustration of time via element, Aktionsart, adverbials, and
context; and the Daba shamanic register.
Topics lined within the grammar contain an outline of the sociolinguistic
environment; the phonemic stock; phonological methods; compounding; word
classes; the constitution of noun words; the classifier approach; sorts of ownership; methods
for quantification; grammatical family and non-systemic ‘ergative’ and ‘anti-ergative’
marking; the constitution of verb words; the a number of existential verbs; the aspectual
system; evidentiality; grammaticalization; clause-combining; narrative texts; and lexicon.

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Extra resources for A Descriptive Grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo)

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In Luoshui, I elicited data from Geze Dorje and Da Lang, both native speakers of the Yongning dialect of Na who are Na–Mandarin bilinguals. In Kunming, I elicited data from another native speaker of Yongning Na (as spoken in Abuwa Village [阿布瓦村]), who is also a Na–Mandarin bilingual, Yang Zhenhong. 9 The principle research methodologies used were the discourse-centered approach to language documentation (Sherzer 1987, Sherzer and Woodbury 1987, Urban and Sherzer 1988), the ethnography of speaking (Grimshaw 1974, Hymes 1974), linguistic elicitation (Payne 1997, Samarin 1967), participant observation (Bernard 1994, Hume and Mulcock 2004, McCall and Simmons 1969, Spradley 1980), and ethnographic techniques (Hammersley and Atkinson 1983).

11 describes the Na verb phrase, including morphological structure, verb phrase structure, the copula, the existential verbs, stative verbs, transitivity, the special role of verbal semantics in Na, adverbials, negation, causativity, serial verb constructions, and verb phrase coordination. §12 looks at modality. §13 examines temporal representation in Na, with a focus on tense / aspect and Aktionsarten. §14 discusses the five-fold evidential system, as well as the ways that person, evidence, and verbal semantics interact in Na.

Fu (1940/1941, 1941, 1943) and Li (1971), use the ethnonym ‘Moso’ in the titles; however, these works actually refer to Naxi. This discrepancy is due to inconsistencies in the ways that the terms ‘Mosuo’ and ‘Naxi’ were used in the past, as will be described shortly. Lexicostatistical data to gauge roughly the distance of the relationship between Na and Naxi are not yet available. However, native speaker reports from both Lijiang (western) and Yongning (eastern) indicate that these two varieties are not mutually intelligible, with most estimating that it would take a native speaker of the Lijiang variety approximately a year living in Yongning to speak that variety, and vice-versa.

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A Descriptive Grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo) by Liberty A. Lidz


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