Tayap is a grammar and dictionary of a small Papuan linguistic isolate spoken in the lower Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. With a dwindling number of speakers, Tayap is severely endangered and will soon disappear. The book provides a full grammatical description of Tayap, and provides numerous illustrations of what happens to a complex synthetic language when it suddenly, over the course of only a few decades' time, becomes moribund.
Tayap is a small, previously undocumented Papuan language, spoken in a single village called Gapun in the lower Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea. The language is an isolate, unrelated to any other in the area. Furthermore, Tayap is dying. Fewer than fifty speakers actively command it today.
Based on linguistic anthropological work conducted over the course of thirty years, this book describes the grammar of the language, detailing its phonology, morphology and syntax. It devotes particular attention to verbs, which are the most elaborated area of the grammar, and which are complex, fusional and massively suppletive. The book also provides a full Tayap-English-Tok Pisin dictionary.
A particularly innovative contribution is the detailed discussions of how Tayap's grammar is dissolving in the language of young speakers. It exemplifies how the complex structures in fluent speakers' Tayap are reduced or reanalyzed by younger speakers. It should thus be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the mechanics of how languages disappear. The fact that the book is the sole documentation of this unique Papuan language should also make it of interest to areal specialists and language typologists.