Morpheme Order and Semantic Scope

Athapaskan languages are well known for their intricate morphology, in particular the complexity of their verbs. The significance of these languages for linguistic theory is widely acknowledged. In this book, Keren Rice offers a rich typological survey of morpheme ordering in Athapaskan verbs, with implications for both synchronic grammar and language change. She shows that verb structure is in fact widely predictable across Athapaskan languages if appropriate syntactic factors and an overarching principle of semantic scope are taken into account. The presentation also includes a detailed study of argument and aspectual systems. This landmark volume is the first major comparative study of its type for the Athapaskan language family, combining descriptive depth with a contemporary theoretical perspective. Clear and insightful, it will be welcomed by Athapaskanists, typologists, historical and theoretical linguists alike.

• Major reference work on a language family of growing interest to theoreticians • Author is well known as an authoritative expert on this language family • Book is written in an accessible style that makes it useful to both theoreticians and traditional language scholars interested in empirical description


1. Introduction: beginning the journey; Part I. First Steps: 2. Introducing the problem; 3. Global uniformity and local variability: a possible account; Part II. The Lexical Terms: 4. First stop: introducing the lexical items; 5. A brief side trip: the position of the verb stem; 6. Ordering of the lexical items; 7. Voice/valence; 8. Summary: lexical items; Part III. The Functional Items: 9. An introduction to the functional elements; 10. Pronominals; 11. The aspect system; 12. Qualifiers and their ordering; 13. On the ordering of functional items; Part IV. A View of the Lexicon: 14. The scopal hypothesis and simplifying the lexicon; 15. Evidence from the lexicon; Part V. The End of the Journey: 16. Looking back, looking ahead; Part VI. Appendices: Appendix 1. Templates and affix ordering; Appendix 2. The languages; Appendix 3. Summary of constraints and language differences; Notes; References; Indexes.


‘This book treats virtually all of the important matters pertaining to the grammatical features of the Athapaskan verb word, in depth for an impressive number of individual languages and in sumptuous comparative detail for languages representative of the family as a whole …The book contains at least a dozen detailed and interesting discussions of the ordering of elements in the Athapaskan verb word. It contains much more than this, however. New analyses of many aspects of the Athapaskan verb are developed. These are consistently of great value and full of the insight and scholarship we have come to expect from this fine linguist and Athapaskanist … Rice’s book is a treasure. Though it is organized around the theme of morpheme order, it is a rich source of both problems and solutions in Athapaskan linguistics generally and deserves to be considered a classic in the field.’ Ken Hale, Diachronica