The dissertation comprises a detailed grammatical description and comparison of two dialects of Magar: Tanahu and Syangja; both are spoken in west-central Nepal. Magar is an endangered Himalayish language, belonging to the Bodic branch of the Tibeto-Burman language family. The dialects represent two distinct branches of Magar: eastern and western. The dissertation is systematic and comprehensive in scope. Its purpose is to provide a record of a language for which, previously, there has existed no adequate description and for which the opportunity to gather data is quickly disappearing. The data presented in the dissertation is a record of primary research carried out in Nepal in 1998, 2006 and 2008.
The dissertation commences with a demographic and socio-cultural description of the Magar people, their history, and the language's state of endangerment; as well it provides a typological sketch which places Magar into the linguistic context of the Nepal Himalaya. Chapters two to fourteen document primary data and analyze it in order to yield the generalizations that govern the language. The chapters progress from smaller to larger linguistic elements, proceeding from phonology to morphology to syntax, with chapters thirteen and fourteen analyzing larger portions of discourse. The dissertation concludes with a selection of texts from each dialect.
The grammar highlights divergence between the Magar variants, specifically with respect to their phonological inventories, nominal case-marking systems, and subject-verb agreement marking as well as valence-marking patterns. This divergence is discussed in terms of language contact and of Magar's own historical development.
In the course of the description and analysis, significant features (i.e. those which relate or distinguish Magar from areally and genetically related languages) are foregrounded. Among these features are phonation register, dative case-marking of primary-objects and experiencers, the processes and functions of nominalization, the processes and functions of grammaticalization, and the expression of evidentiality.
It is intended that the grammar should be of use to scholars in a variety of subdisciplines of linguistics, including those interested in Kham-Magar languages, those interested in Himalayish languages, those interested in comparative Tibeto-Burman, typologists, and those interested in contact linguistics.