This dissertation is a synchronic description of the grammar of the Matses language (also know as Mayoruna; Panoan family) as currently spoken by the Matses people living in Amazonian Peru and Brazil. The Matses language is spoken by 2000--2200 people, Amerindians who were first contacted in 1969 and continue to pursue traditional subsistence practices. This is the first attempt at a comprehensive description of the grammar of Matses; full-length grammars of no other Panoan language exist.
Matses phonology, morphology, and syntax are the principal topics of this work. It follows a traditional format and is organized so that it can be used as a reference. The introductory chapter briefly provides information about classification of the language (particularly the Mayoruna subgroup), demography, physical setting, history, ethnography, literature review, and methodology. The second chapter describes Matses phonology, including an inventory of distinctive segments, syllable structure, morphophonology, prosody, sound symbolism, and borrowing. The next seven chapters are on morphology (an introduction to morphology, followed by six chapters describing the morphology of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, postpositions, and particles). All aspects of morphology are treated in these sections, including identification of word classes and subclasses, affixation, clitics, reduplication, and class-changing processes. The last three chapters are on syntax (phrases, one-clause sentences, and multi-clause sentences). The appendix contains three parsed texts.
Matses has six vowels and 15 consonants. A word-level alternating rhythmic stress pattern characterizes the sound of the language. Morphologically, Matses stands between isolating and polysynthetic languages, and between agglutinative inflecting/fusional languages. It is the large number of morphological possibilities that is striking about Matses, not the length of its words. Interesting morphological properties include a complex system for coding evidentiality, an elaborate system of directional verbal suffixes, and adverb transitivity agreement. Constituent order is essentially free from syntactic restrictions. Subordination is achieved through expansion of syntactic slots though class-changing processes. Clause-chaining is a prominent feature of Matses discourse with sentences of up to ten clauses. Interesting syntax includes ergative-absolutive case marking alongside nominative-accusative person agreement, and three-place verbs with identical objects.