Talking about kin in Tiwa


Talking about kin in Tiwa

A talk by Dr. Virginia Dawson

Brought to you by The Department of Linguistics

Languages vary widely in how they express kinship relations. The Boro-Garo languages of northeast India in particular are known to have complex and typologically unusual systems of kinship reference, but have received relatively little attention in the broader literature (Bouchery and Longmailai 2018). In this study, Dawson provides a systematic description of Tiwa kinship terminology and its interface with Tiwa cultural practices, and highlights one way in which the study of kinship terminology in Tiwa has real consequences for semantic theory more generally. Specifically, Tiwa has a series of nominals denoting groups of people in particular kin relationships. While nominals in Tiwa more broadly cannot be directly modified by numerals (instead requiring a classifier), these group kin terms can. Dawson compares these expressions to what Bradley (2001) terms "group classifiers" in Yi languages, and highlights their implications for the ongoing debate about numeral modification in classifier languages (e.g. Bale and Coon 2014).


Dr. Virginia Dawson

Virginia Dawson is an assistant professor of linguistics at Western Washington University. Her research centers on semantics, pragmatics and language documentation, with a primary focus on Tiwa, a Tibeto-Burman language of northeast India. She received her PhD in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2020.



Thursday, March 4, 4:00 p.m.



Contact Sara Helms at with any questions or comments.  

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