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|5 - Other Affixes
So, to summarize what we've covered so far: polysynthetic languages are (basically) languages in which verbs are frequently very long, consisting of a number of morphemes, and which often are the equivalent of entire English sentences. In part this is explained by the ability of polysynthetic languages to mark the person/number/gender/or whatever of both the subject and the object on the verb, and by the ability of many polysynthetic languages to incorporate into the verb a noun root or noun roots to serve various semantic and discourse functions. But these factors alone don't fully explain the length of verbs in many polysynthetic languages. Most (all?) polysynthetic languages also use verbal affixes to mark other notions that are expressed with separate words in languages like English. These often include a tremendous range of notions: adverbial ideas like "quickly" or "by mistake"; temporal ideas like "again" or "yesterday"; verbal or complementizing ideas like "try to..." or "go and..." or "fall" or "make"; locational and directional ideas like "coming this way" or "underneath" or "into the woods" or "downstream"; instrumental ideas like "with the foot" or "by applying pressure"; evidentials like "I know by sight" or "hearsay"; and many others. The handful of examples of polysynthetic words I gave in the first post above present a few such examples.
Here I will only try to give a few more, with some discussion, to help demonstrate the range of possible notions which can be expressed. This is not meant to be exhaustive. (Note that polysynthetic languages also generally use verb morphology to accomplish a range of valency-adjusting operations like causation and passivization, as well as much of the tense/aspect/mood information of the clause, but since these are more familiar categories, I don't address them here).5.1 - OjibweOjibwe
is an Algonquian language of the Great Lakes region (and also the polysynthetic language I know best). For our purposes, I'm only going to focus on a handful of the concepts that can be expressed in Ojibwe via verb morphology (in addition to polypersonal marking and NI, both of which Ojibwe has).
For one thing, the Ojibwe verb suffixes which serve to mark transitivity and the animacy of the absolutive participant (these suffixes are called "finals" by Algonquianists) often carry fairly concrete semantic notions as well, expressing things like environmental descriptions or action (-itigweyaa
, "river flows", -aashi
, "wind blows", etc.), instrumentals (-zo
, "by heat"; -bizh
, "by hand / pull"; etc.), orientation (-shin
"fall/lie/sit", etc.), motion or movement (-batoo
, "run"; -oode
, "crawl"; etc.), and so on. (I wrote a little bit about Ojibwe instrumental/environmental finals a few months ago here
). In some cases the final plus the verb root can come quite close to verb serialization, e.g., ozhaashaabikishin
, "slip and fall on stone" (literally, slip-stone-fall -- see my longer description of such combinations here
Like other Algonquian languages, Ojibwe also has several classificatory verb affixes, which specify the shape, consistency, etc. of a participant (normally an absolutive or oblique). These include -aabikw
, "rock, metal or metallic object", -eg
, "sheetlike object", -aabiig
, "stringlike object", -aakw
, "wooden or sticklike object (including people)", and -min(ag)
, "round object." Some examples are: ginwaakozi
, "it (sticklike) is long"; miskwegad
, "it (sheetlike) is red"; and zhaashaabikad
, "it (rocky surface/object) is slippery".5.2 - Tariana
Evidentiality is the marking of the source of the speaker's information, and several polysynthetic languages make use of sophisticated morphologically-marked evidential systems (though a number of languages with evidentiality are far from polysynthetic). For example, Tariana
distinguishes five evendentials, marked with suffixes
that also mark tense: visual (the speaker saw the action described), non-visual (the speaker knows the action took place based on non-visual evidence, as by hearing it), inferred (the speaker infers the action took place by observing obvious evidence, but did not observe the action itself), assumed (the speaker assumes the action took place based on more indirect evidence, such as custom or common sense), and reported (the speaker's knowledge is second-hand). Examples illustrating all five evidentials (in the recent past tense):
5.3 - Central Alaskan Yup'ik
- Juse irida dimanikaka
"José played football (we saw it)"
- Juse irida dimanikamahka
"José played football (we heard it)"
- Juse irida dimanikanihka
"José played football (the football isn't in its normal place, José is gone along with his football boots, and a crowd is coming back from the football field)"
- Juse irida dimanikasika
"José played football (it's Sunday, José isn't here, and he usually plays football on Sundays)"
- Juse irida dimanikapidaka
"José played football (we were told)"
Like other Eskimo-Aleut languages, Central Alakan Yup'ik
has hundreds of derivational suffixes (called "postbases"), which can be added to noun or verb roots to create new stems. A great many of these postbases have very concrete and specific meanings, however, and a selection of some of them, their meanings, and an example of their use in derivation, is provided below. Note that in many cases constructions like this are very similar to NI or other compounding; the main difference is that these suffixes do not represent free verbs--that is, they are bound suffixes, and cannot be used without attaching to a host root.
Some postbases attach to nominal roots and create new nouns, such as:
- -pig = "genuine" (e.g., atpia, "his real name")
- -rrar = "little bit of" (e.g., cuyarraq, "a little tobacco")
- -qlir = "one located in" (e.g., quleqlikacaarr, "the highest one")
Some postbases attach to verb roots but create new nouns, such as:
- -fig = "place" (e.g., misfik, "airport")
- -saraq = "way, device, method" (e.g., yuraryaraq, "how to dance")
Some postbases attach to verb roots and create new verbs, such as:
- -turar = "to keep ...ing" (e.g., nerurallruuq, "he kept eating")
- -ssiyaag = "too much" (e.g., miksiyaagtuq, "it is too small")
- -suit = "never" (e.g., keggsuituq, "it never bites")
- -lngu = "be tired of ...ing" (e.g., nutelnguuq, "he is tired of shooting [but still doing it]")
- -nqigc = "again" (e.g., atunqigtuq, "he is singing again")
- -ngnaqe = "to try to" (e.g., qanengnaquq, "he is trying to speak")
- -nrit = "not" (e.g., qavanrituq, "he is not sleeping")
Finally, some postbases attach to nominal roots but create new verbs (these are the cases that strongly resemble NI), such as:
5.4 - Nuuchahnulth
- -tur = "to eat, use" (e.g., atsarturtuq, "he eats berries"; qayarturtuq, "he uses a kayak")
- -cur/-sur = "to hunt, seek for" (e.g., neqsurtuq, "he is fishing")
- -li = "to make (for)" (e.g., angyaliuq, "he is making a boat")
- -liqe = "to be afflicted in" (e.g., kegguteliquq, "he has a toothache")
- -ngit = "to have no" (e.g., uingituq, "she has no husband")
- -ngu = "to be" (e.g., qayauruq, "it is a kayak")
- -ngqerr = "to have" (e.g., qayangqerrtuq, "he has a kayak")
Many languages of the northwest coast of North America have hundreds of suffixes, called "lexical suffixes", which are bound (like the Yup'ik derivational suffixes above), but which otherwise carry extremely concrete lexical meanings. Aside from their bound nature, and the fact that they normally have no obvious etymological connection to corresponding free nouns, the lexical suffixes with nominal meanings are indistinguishable from noun roots; likewise, aside from their bound nature, and the fact that they normally have no obvious etymological connection to corresponding free verbs, the lexical suffixes with verbal meanings are indistinguishable from verb roots. The same can be said of lexical suffixes with locational, directional, adverbials, etc. meanings. Below, I provide a sample of just a few of the 400-odd lexical suffixes of Nuuchahnulth
, a Wakashan language of British Columbia.
Some of the suffixes are very verbal in meaning (and in fact the resulting stem is a verb):
- -ʔay̓imč = "presage ... weather" (e.g., wiiʕay̓imčʔaała, "it is a sign of bad weather", with root wiiq-, "bad")
- -y̓iiḥa = "die from ..." (e.g., c̓axy̓iiḥa, "[people are often] speared to death", with root c̓axʷ-, "hurl point foremost")
- -ḥsaa = "desiring to eat ..."
- -awił = "expecting ..."
- -cḥi = "married to ..." (e.g., masčimcḥinƛ, "she had married a commoner", with root masčim-, "commoner")
- -iic = "belonging to ..." (e.g., ʔiiḥtuupiicukʷaḥ, "[this tama song of mine] belonged to a whale", with ʔiiḥtuup-, "whale" [literally, "big thing"])
- -(n)aanak = "having ... along with one out at sea"
- -aatuk = "making ... sound"
- -cʔakʷ = "acting like ..."
- -cy̓ak = "dressed in ..., appearing like ..."
- -ʕiƛ = "find, come upon ..."
- -ʔinḥi = "waiting for ..."
- -maap = "paying attention to ..."
Others are more nominal in meaning (and the resulting stem is a noun):
- -(š)tuup = "... species, kind of thing" (as in "whale" above, or as in kʷistuup, "supernatural being", from kʷis-, "different")
- -uł = "place of ..." (e.g., k̓uuquł, "hunting ground", from k̓uuq-, "stalk")
- -aʔaq = "... hide, skin"
One of the most notable usage of lexical suffixes, though, is in conveying extremely precise indications of location, space, orientation, direction, and movement. Many of these are body part terms. A sample of some of these locative/directional-type suffixes is:
- -kʷist = "move away (perfective)" (e.g., hičkʷisan̓ap̓aƛ, "they startled them [the birds] off the beach with a light" = hič-kʷist-san̓ap- = illuminate-move.away.PERF-on.beach.CAUS.PERF)
- -ʕaaʔatu = "move down" (e.g., c̓itkʕaaʔat̓asʔaƛ, "it rolled downhill", with root c̓itk-, "roll")
- -cswii = "through" (e.g., kuḥswiiʔakweʔin, "they say [their beams] have holes through them", with root kuḥ-, "hollow")
- -sy̓uč = "exposed, extending out, in view" (e.g., huuʔaksy̓uč̓ičim, "be up (out of bed) early!", with root huuʔakʷ-, "early")
- -is = "on the beach"
- -ʔaaʔa = "on the rocks, in the fire" (e.g., m̓ałʔaaʔamaʔaała, "it's always cold on the rocks", with root m̓ał-, "cold")
- -n̓aaqi = "up on a height"
- -ʔimł = "at the ear"
- -aat = "move downstream, out of the woods"
- -inʕatu = "up the coast"
- -w̓isa = "come out of one's hands, escape"
- -c̓as = "at the crown of the head"
- -(k)swiʔii = "at the teeth"
- -pii = "on the back"
- -stiił = "at the collar bone"
- -p̓iqa = "on the knee"
- -asuu = "under, in liquid"
- -caqs = "at the side of a vessel"
- -wiiʔis = "at the bow"
- -ałc̓a = "at a vertical surface"
- -(q)ḥsa = "at the edge, bank"
- -misa = "on top"
A final example word illustrates how much information can be packed into a single verb this way: ʔaʔaʔaƛqimłḥtimyiłm̓inḥʔaaqƛeʔicuu
, "the bunch of you will each move about the house with two dollars on your feet" (PL
=2pl). Or take the following example sentence: ƛiqwiis c̓axy̓ak̓ ƛaatmaqan̓ołʔi
, "the spear, which was (long and) made of yew wood, went clear through him on to the beach" (stick.in.vertical.crosswise.position-extend.there-on.the.beach spear sticklike.object.sticking.up-extending.downward-tree-CAUS
There's a list and discussion here
of all the lexical suffixes in a different NW Coast language, the Salishan language Saanich
.5.5 - Case Study: Koasati
Koasati is a Muskogean language of Texas and Louisiana, with one of the most elaborate verbal systems I've seen. The verbal template can be represented as follows:PREFIXES
slot 9) Indefinite
slot 8) Directional
slot 7) Instrumental
slot 6) Distributive
slot 5) Indirect object
slot 4) Direct object
slot 3) Specific locative
slot 2) General locative
slot 1) Subject/negative markers for verbs of class 1A
slot 1) Adverb
slot 2) Diminutive/intensive
slot 3) Habitual
slot 4) Intention
slot 5) Ability
slot 6) Realis/irrealis
slot 7) Deduction
slot 8) Modality
slot 9) Dubitative
slot 10) Hearsay
slot 11) Auditory
slot 12) Tense
slot 13) Consequence
slot 14) Discourse functions
slot 15) Enclitics
I'll provide some explanation/examples of some of the prefix and suffix slots below.
- Indefinite prefixes (slot 9). These are aat- (and various allomorphs), "someone" and naas- (and various allomorphs), "something", which marks the object of the verb as being indefinite, as in atchimathátlok "you are afraid of people..."
- Directional prefixes (slot 8). There are two of these, oht- (and allomorphs), "go and..." (i.e., a translocative) and iit- (and allomorphs), "come and..." (i.e., a cislocative). For example, itthopótlit "he came and passed through..."
- "Instrumental" prefixes (slot 7). This slot includes the prefixes s(t)- "by means of, with" which is a general instrumental (e.g., choyyí nihá stilihamóhlit, "he rubbed himself with pine resin"), and the prefixes mat- "at a distance" and mas(t)- "full, solid, containing something".
- Distributive or iterative prefix (slot 6). The distributive prefix is ho-/oh-, and the iterative prefix is hoho-/ohoh-, as in ohachóólit, "they all sewed it and..."
- Specific locative prefixes (slot 3). There are nine of these:
- itta-, "action on the ground or in fire" (e.g., stittathómmit, "it whipped the ground")
- oo(w)-, "action in water" (e.g., achoowíllilaho, "I will drown (lit., die in water)")
- paa-, "action on a raised, artificial, or non-ground surface" (e.g., paachayáhlilifóók, "[one could hear the ice cracking as] I walked across it")
- on-, "action on or in a vertical plane" (e.g., onólfat, "[the pine tree] sent up a shoot from the side of its trunk")
- itta-, "in the middle of, in two" (e.g., ittathopótlil, "I pass through the middle of it"; ittakawáthkat, "it snapped in two pieces")
- ibii-, "action on the human face" (e.g., hokchók chabiihókchot, "the stinkbug squirted foul liquid in my face")
- ichoo-, "action on the mouth" (e.g., ilichoosáhlillaho, "I will shave my beard (lit., cut my hair around the mouth)")
- nok-, "action on the human throat" (e.g., konoktithííkalaho, "they will strangle us (lit., press down on our throats)")
- Adverb suffixes (slot 1). There are a number of these, with meanings such as "very, almost", "really", "in the same way", "all the time", "must, to be obliged to", "to be metaphorically like", etc. A few examples: stootamátlibáhnááhimpat, "they say they might be obliged to trade with them"; ískofíntílk, "we drink too much"; ááthimááli, "[the cypress also] gives fruit in the same manner."
- Intention suffixes (slot 4). These are -ááhi and -a, as in kááhááhitok, "[he says he forgot] what he would have said"; chokfááthihilkon immánkalááhimp, "he says that he would like me to tell him a traditional narrative."
- Ability suffixes (slot 5). The most common of these is -halpiisa, "be able to", as in okolchá hóhchalihalpíís, "I can dig a well."
- Deduction (slot 7). This is -:li, as in ifóóliis, "one might guess that it is a dog."
- Modality (slot 8). There are several suffixes in this slot, although none are very common, including -áápi, "almost", and -mááthi, "must, would", as in chatámmáápit, "I almost fell"; áhískamááthon, "were you to give me [some cake, I'd eat it]."
- Dubitative (slot 9). The most common of these is -máámi/-má "perhaps, maybe," which indicates doubt on the speaker's part about the possibility of the action, as in kalifóóniyafoolimáám, "[the oranges] may be from California."
- Hearsay (slot 10). This is the suffix -mpa, and indicates that the speaker's information is second-hand or was said by another person, as in tálwalimp, "he says that I sing"; wáykat nakáthtohoolimpak, "[Hummingbird] flew off, so it is said."
- Auditory (slot 11). This is -hawa, and is similar to the Tariana non-visual evidential above, as in aksóhkaha, "it sounds like [the meat] is charring"; fapliyaalihawat, "one could hear the wind occasionally."
- Consequence (slot 13). There are four of these:
- -:p, "if; when", marking consequential events that are potential or unreal (e.g., akohchóósip kááhaap achóóbon ónk, "now if one says 'akohchóósi', it means an old person")
- -:k, "if; when", marking consequential events that are a generalized possibility (e.g., ilhóósiik máálon haytanáhkat othááchito, "when people got lost, they turned around and went back the same way")
- -ska, "because, for, since" (e.g., chokfík chokííboschoolisk immathátlik..., "since Rabbit was quite small, he was afraid of him, and..."; máámoosok ilanawíhkóóthaskan..., "and then, because hunting season was arriving...")
- -tika, "but" (e.g., alikchí mók hohííchatik sánkon..., "they looked for a doctor also, but were unable to [find one], and...")
- -y, "but", contrary to expectation (e.g., ...íhsok haaláhkayok..., "...[she pulled herself out], but even though she took it and moved it, [her leg was injured]").
Last edited by Whimemsz on Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.