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David Foris gathered the data for this volume during the sixteen years he lived in the northwest part of Oaxaca in Mexico. He settled in the Chinantla, a Mexican term meaning ‘an enclosed place’, a region boxed in by high mountain ridges and difficult to reach.
Foris makes available the knowledge he has acquired about the fascinating Sochiapan Chinantec language. It is an isolated language that exhibits a complex system of verbal inflection. Speakers of the language can use more than thirty tone-stress distinctions to communicate messages in whistle speech with minimal ambiguity. The majority of words consist of a single syllable; there are a small number of two-syllable words and less than a dozen known tri-syllabics.
This model-neutral presentation describes everything from the phonemes up through phrases and clauses to compound sentences; from the changes of tone and stress to changes in nucleus to signal a wide variety of tense, aspect, and related features.
Regarding this book, Dr. Rudolph C. Troike, Head of the Department of English at the University of Arizona, says, “This is overall a masterful piece of work which makes a major contribution to Chinantec studies and to language typological research in general.”