Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

J. Albert Bickford


Awara is a language in the Wantoat family spoken by the Awara people of Papua New Guinea. Though it has been mentioned in papers written about the Finisterre-Huon languages and about the Wantoat language (another language in the Wantoat family), it has not been described in depth.

This paper presents a description of the verbal system of the Awara language. The major grammatical constructions described are 1) the verbal morphology, 2) serial-verb constructions, 3) clause chaining, and 4) subordination.

Interesting aspects of the language shown here are 1) the variety of clause types based on the type of subject-indexing suffix, if any, used on the clause and 2) the variety of structures and functions of serial-verb constructions.

Awara also shows the need to make the distinctions between certain categories of clauses. The switch-reference system in Awara shows a distinction between the "reference" clause, with respect to which switch-reference subject-indexing is marked, and the finite clause, on which the marked clause depends for tense or modality. Awara also shows the need to distinguish the concepts of subordination and dependency. Awara has two kinds of dependent clauses: 1) subordinate clauses, which are ignored by the switch-reference marking of the clauses around them, and 2) cosubordinate clauses, which participate in the switch-reference system and also have a distinct morphological pattern from subordinate clauses and from independent clauses.

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