Publication Date

Winter 12-13-1990


Laguna Keres is one of seven Keresan dialects spoken by the Pueblo peoples in New Mexico. The present study focuses on lexical categories in general, and on verb morphology and classification in particular. Language can be construed either as a system governed by universal rules, or as an idiosyncratic listing; the two constructions balance and define each other. In language description, these two approaches usually appear as "grammars" or "lexicons". For Laguna Keres, I argue that division into lexical categories and sub-categories must be based on semantics, morphology, syntax, and phonology.

After a sketch of Laguna Keres, I review previous studies, especially Franz Boas (Laguna and Cochiti), Irvine Davis (Santa Ana) and Wick Miller (Acoma). I then discuss theoretical issues of sound representation, sound change rules, and morphology, and apply these to Laguna. Problems in phonology are general "posture", the general representa­tion of segments, and the tone system. Problems in morphology are the word, cliticization, and verb morphology. The prefix system of verbs of various kinds is studied: "thematic affixes" (related to argument structure and voice), pronominal prefixes (marking for person of two arguments and mode), and number prefixes (marking for number of the object in transitive verbs and of subject in some intransitive verbs). I divide verb-types into auxiliaries (numbering fourteen) and verbs; the latter are divided into morphologi­cally simple verbs, classificatory verbs, those formed from auxiliary complement stems, those connected with nouns (ambivalents, kin terms, body terms), those formed from fully inflected impersonal verbs, and other morphologically complex verbs. I argue that various connected forms must be listed as stem sets (including stem suppletion for non­singular arguments) and theme sets (with various argument and voice structures).

My conclusion is that a "lexical approach", a listing of sets of verb stems and themes according to type, is preferable to a "morphophonemic approach", which assumes that both meaning and theme derivation are regular.

There is one Laguna text in an appendix, and reference is made to a number of other texts that were used in the study. There is a full bibliography of works pertaining to Keresan.

Document Type


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Alan J. Hudson

Second Committee Member

Richard D. Janda

Third Committee Member

Garland D. Bills

Fourth Committee Member

Robert D. Leonard


Pages 344 and 561 missing from the dissertation.

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