Naduhup Languages and the Typology of Nominal Classification (Epps & Obert 2022)

Cadernos de Etnolingüística
volume 10, número 1, abril/2022, e100104

Naduhup Languages and the Typology of Nominal Classification

Patience Epps & Karolin Obert

Nominal classification is a robust feature in many Amazonian languages, and aspects of these systems offer significant challenges to our broader conception of the phenomenon. Yet a clear characterization of Amazonian classification systems must be firmly grounded in detailed descriptive analysis on one hand, and in a principled definition of classification as a typological category on the other — and a failure to do so may lead to spurious claims of typological rara. This paper offers a case in point through an exploration of nominal classification phenomena in the small Naduhup family (aka Makú; Brazil/Colombia): while several aspects of these systems have been highlighted in the typological literature as rare or otherwise remarkable, a reconsideration of these phenomena in the light of more data and analysis suggests significant revisions. We consider nominal classification phenomena across the four languages (Hup, Yuhup, Dâw, Nadëb) from synchronic and diachronic perspectives, and reassess their relevance for a broader typology of classification.

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