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Arawak (Lokono Dian), an Amerindian language in the Arawakan language family, is relatively
undescribed. The purpose of this study is to give a general, bottom-up sketch of
Arawak. It starts with comments on the phonology, then discusses morphology and syntax,
and ends with comments about discourse.
Typologically, Arawak is primarily a right-branching SVO language with postpositions.
Most noun modifiers precede their heads, though heavy relative clauses follow. Question
words, relative pronouns, and focused constituents appear at the left periphery of the
Of particular interest is an asymmetry involving the distribution of a dummy verb in
WH-movement constructions. Subjects, direct objects, time phrases, and locative phrases
may be moved without otherwise affecting the structure of a sentence. Focusing or questioning
a manner adverbial, or fronting of a negative verb, however, involves the obligatory
insertion of a semantically empty dummy verb as the main verb.
This book is a revision of Lokono Dian: The Arawak Language of Suriname: A Sketch of its
Grammatical Structure and Lexicon, the author’s Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 1987.