Waranya Ota

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies




Categorization of Word Classes in Kuay


Categorizing word classes in an isolating language is a difficult task. Most linguists who are researching on such languages have been trying to classify word classes based on other languages that have absolute morphological part of speeches, such as most Indo-European languages. In other cases, they have been focusing on semantic properties of the words. Some researchers even gave up on categorizing word classes in detail, and simply presented two major classes: nouns and verbs. However, there are small numbers of papers that categorize word classes in some isolating languages primarily based on the distributional criteria.

In this paper, I try to categorize word classes in Kuay (< West Katuic < Mon-Khmer), an isolating language, by focusing on the distributional criteria. This is to examine the co-occurrence of a synnomous word such as a negator, and an autonomous word such as a word that means ‘to eat’ in Kuay.

Investigating the co-occurrence of synnomous words and autonomous words gives us some positive evidences to contemporary classify word classes in Kuay into at least four categories: nouns, verbs, prepositions, and verb particles.

Further studies needed to be conducted in order to fully figure out how many word classes should be identified in Kuay.


Selected Sources

Hattori, Shiro 1960. Gengogaku no hoho [Methods in Linguistics]. Tokyo: Iwanami shoten.

Huffman, Franklin E. 1967. An Outline of Cambodian Grammar. Ph.D. Dissertation, Cornell University.

Kato, Atsuhiko 2004. A Pwo Karen Grammar. Ph.D. Dissertation. The University of Tokyo.