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A grammar of Ashéninka (Ucayali-Pajonal)

On the 6th of April, Toni Pedrós Caballero successfully defended a doctoral thesis. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Toni on this achievement!

T. Pedrós Caballero
06 April 2023
Leiden University Repository

This thesis describes the Ashéninka language as it is spoken in the Gran Pajonal plateau and the upper Ucayali River in Peru, an area where the last Andean foothills give way to the Amazonian lowlands. The number of speakers is estimated at around 10,000. This language forms part of the so-called Ashé-Ashá dialect continuum, which is part of the group of Campan languages, a subgroup of the Arawak language family. The Ashéninka people live in so-called 'comunidades nativas', indigenous settlements with official authorities that are legally recognised in Peru.

The thesis presents a description of the phonology, morphology and syntax of the language. The discussion of the morphology is by far the longest, with the description of verbs comprising roughly half of the thesis due to the complex verbal morphology. Furthermore, the text discusses the relations within the Ashé-Ashá dialect continuum, compares the reality status systems of the different Campan languages and shows the partial loss of this system in Ucayali-Pajonal Ashéninka.

Other relevant findings include the probable origin of the word 'campa', the non contrastive but distinctive affricates, the long adjectives denoting forms, the discussion of the subject cross-referenced with a suffix instead of the usual prefix, the proposal of the existence of a future suffix in all Ashé-Ashá varieties, and some suffixes that have not been mentioned in the literature on other Ashé-Ashá varieties.Moreover, the thesis contains annexes with 11 glossed texts from different genres and a vocabulary of 625 words. 

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