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A Grammar of Cheke Holo

On November 21st, Frederick Boswell succesfully defended his doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Frederick on this great result.

Frederick Boswell
21 November 2018
Leiden University Repository


This book provides a synchronic description of the phonology, word classes, morphology, and syntax of the Cheke Holo language. Cheke Holo is an Austronesian language of the Oceanic subgroup, spoken by 11,000 speakers on Santa Isabel island in the Solomon Islands. This is the first published grammar of Cheke Holo. It is based on the author’s 30 years of linguistic work carried out among Cheke Holo speakers. Like many other Oceanic languages, Cheke Holo has SVO word order, serial verbs, distinguishes alienable and inalianable possession of nouns, and reduplicates verbs to intensify or prolong the action they denote. Four types of demonstratives are attested in Cheke Holo. Basic distinctions of the demonstratives occur between specificity and number, and whether or not the noun modified is proximal or distal. The two-way distinction of past and non-past is the most useful descriptor for the Cheke Holo tense system. Several features of Cheke Holo phonology and grammar are less typical for an Oceanic language. These include its consonant clusters, the voiceless continuants, the verb nominalizations in four different phonemic environments, and the gender distinction in the third person singular pronouns. The encoding of pragmatic emphasis is a common feature of Cheke Holo grammar.

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