This book investigates in detail the grammar of polysynthetic languages—those with very complex verbal morphology. Baker argues that polysynthesis is more than an accidental collection of morphological processes; rather, it is a systematic way of representing predicate-argument
relationships that is parallel to but distinct from the system used in languages like English. Having repercussions for many areas of syntax and related aspects of morphology and semantics, this argument results in a comprehensive picture of the grammar of polysynthetic languages. Baker draws on
examples from Mohawk and certain languages of the American Southwest, Mesoamerica, Australia, and Siberia.
Baker argues that polysynthetic languages - in which verbs are built up of many parts and where one verb can act as a whole sentence - are more than an accidental collection of morphological processes; rather they adopt a systematic way of representing predicate-argument relationships, parallel to but distinct from the system used for English. This idea has repercussions for many areas of syntax and morphology, resulting in a comprehensive picture of the grammar of polysynthetic languages.
Mark C. Baker
is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Department of Linguistics at Rutgers University and a member of the Center for Cognitive Science. He is the author of Incorporation: A Theory of Grammatical Function Changing (1988), The Polysynthesis Parameter (1996), and The Atoms of Language: The Mind's Hidden Rules of Grammar (2001), as well as of numerous articles in journals such as Linguistic Inquiry and Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.