Iroquoian: Mohawk

Marianne Mithun

in The Oxford Handbook of Compounding

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199695720
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Iroquoian: Mohawk

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Language Families



Mohawk is a language of the Iroquoian family of northeastern North America, spoken in Quebec, Ontario, and New York State. Like other Iroquoian languages, it is polysynthetic: words, particularly verbs, can consist of many meaningful parts (morphemes). Often, what is said in a single verb in Mohawk would be expressed in a multi-word sentence in other languages such as English. This fundamental difference in grammatical structure raises interesting questions about the boundaries between morphology and syntax. Perhaps the most intriguing involve a robust kind of noun–verb compounding called noun incorporation. This chapter discusses Mohawk words, noun incorporation, determiner phrases, possession, the noun–verb relationship, semantic transparency and idiomaticity, productivity, and reference.

Keywords: Iroquoian languages; compounds; compounding; noun incorporation; determiner phrases; possession; noun–verb relationship; idiomaticity

Article.  6335 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology ; Language Families

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