Hannah S. Sarvasy
August 9, 2014
The verbal categories of Finisterre-Huon Papuan languages Awara, Ma Manda, Nek, and Nungon are typologically remarkable in several ways. Their tense systems have multiple subdivisions within past and future tenses. Tense is fused with number, but the number system varies depending on tense, with the most number values distinguished in the future tenses. Immediate and delayed imperatives are distinguished, with the immediate imperative implying brusqueness and the delayed imperative implying politeness. Aspect is generally encoded analytically, with auxiliary verb constructions, although some languages mark habitual aspect through a verbal suffix. Surprisingly, medial verbs may mark more aspectual distinctions than final verbs. Finally, although grammatical evidentiality is not widely known to exist in Papuan languages of northeastern New Guinea, non-firsthand evidentiality is found to be entwined with verbal aspect marking in both Awara and Nungon. The four Finisterre-Huon (FH) Papuan languages represented in this volume – Awara, Ma Manda, Nek, and Nungon – bring to light many of the unique typological characteristics of this group of under-described languages. The papers presented here offer a sense of the commonalities and differences found in the verbal inflectional systems of FH languages. This introduction provides general background on FH languages, and summarizes some of the points of convergence and divergence among the languages discussed in this volume.