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A Grammar of Dhao

On the 17th of September, Jermy Balukh successfully defended a doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Jermy on this achievement!

Jermy Balukh
17 September 2020
Leiden University Repository


This book presents a grammar description of Dhao, an endangered Austronesian language spoken by about 3000 people on Ndao Island in Eastern Indonesia. It is a member of the Sumba-Hawu subgroup in the Austronesian family and displays an intensive contact with nearby Kupang Malay and the Rote dialects, which also influences the grammar of the language.

This grammar has six chapters which mainly describe the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Dhao. Dhao has an open syllabic system. Word classes are defined only through constructions. The only derivational prefix pa- bears a variety of meanings and interacts with other morphological processes. (C)a- partial reduplication applies to both nominal and verbal categories. Furthermore, verbs and adjectives are only distinguishable through serial verb constructions (SVCs). In order to indicate grammatical relations, only co-indexing system applies. Due to mismatch between verb valencies and constructions, valency is treated as semantic and transitivity is syntactic term. SVCs include at most three verbs whose types are based on the semantics of the verbs.

This grammar provides an innovative contribution to the tradition of language research and description in Eastern Indonesia and specifically in the Timor Region.

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