Selected Topics in the Grammar of Nalca
Abstract: The present study analyzes a selection of topics in the grammar of Nalca (Mek language; Papua), with a focus on verbs and nominals. No published grammar or dictionary is available for Nalca, but a translation of the New Testament was used as a parallel text. The results showed that Nalca is split-ergative, strongly suffixing and agglutinating, with subject-object-verb (SOV) as the dominant word order. Verbs consist of a stem and a series of suffixes expressing tense/aspect/mood, negation, number and person. The case alignment is ergative-absolutive for nouns, for which syntactic function is indicated by a series of postpositions. These postpositions agree with nouns in gender. Ergativity was not observed for pronouns; while the results were inconclusive, they appeared to show a nominative-accusative case alignment. The numeral system is an extended body-part system with the base 27. Many of the features found in Nalca are comparable with other Mek languages, with the gender system and split-ergativity being two major exceptions. Finally, the use of the New Testament as a parallel text was a success, with a basic description of the grammar of Nalca having been made, although further investigation is needed.
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