A Grammar of Creek (Muskogee)

A Grammar of Creek (Muskogee)

A Grammar of Creek (Muskogee)

A Grammar of Creek (Muskogee)

Synopsis

Creek (or Muskogee) is a Muskogean language spoken by several thousand members of the Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations of Oklahoma and by several hundred members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This volume is the first modern grammar of Creek, compiled by a leading authority on the languages of the southern United States. Intended for scholars, students, and Creek instructors, this reference grammar describes all the major morphological and syntactic patterns in the language. Special attention is given to pitch accent and tone, active agreement, locative prefixes, tense, aspect, and switch reference. The description covers several hundred years of documentation and draws heavily on materials written by Creek speakers. It is likely to be the definitive source on the language for years to come.

Excerpt

Creek (or Muskogee) is a major language of the American South, originally shared by several dozen tribes in Alabama and Georgia and spoken today within the Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations of Oklahoma and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This book is the first modern grammar of the language. It is divided into six parts, covering the language and its speakers, sounds, nouns and their modifiers, verbs and their modifiers, discourse markers, and syntax. The description is unusual in its time-depth (covering several hundred years of documentation) and in its geographical spread (describing speech in Oklahoma as well as in Florida). It draws heavily on natural data produced by Creek speakers. When it seems useful, historical context is provided by references to the other languages of the Muskogean family.

Besides its historical importance, Creek has several grammatical features that make it of interest to linguists. Its prosodic system reflects the interplay of stress, tone, and intonation. It has a rich system of number in verbs, often distinguishing singular and plural as well as singular, dual, and triplural. Like the other Muskogean languages, it has a complex system of grades or internal changes in verbs for marking aspect. It has an agent-patient system of person marking on verbs and an unusually broad subject-nonsubject distinction in case marking. Case markers on noun phrases are intimately connected with switch-reference markers on clauses. Prefixes on verbs are used to classify location and direction and to add instruments and benefactives. The tense system is unusual in distinguishing five degrees of remoteness in the past.

The present volume is part of a larger project to document the Creek language. This project includes a dictionary (Martin and Mauldin 2000), a collection of folktales by Earnest Gouge (Gouge 2004), and the texts of Mary R. Haas and James H. Hill (in progress).

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