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Re: USAGE: Mayan construct state?

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Monday, July 25, 2005, 2:36
On 7/24/05, Tim May <butsuri@...> wrote:
> > Andreas Johansson wrote at 2005-07-25 01:36:24 (+0200) > > > I'm reading about the Classic Maya again, and came across the word > > _yajaw_, obviously a form of _ajaw_ "lord", and translated as "his > > lord". However, from it's occurence in phrases like _yajaw te'_, > > translated as "lord of the tree", it rather seems some kind of > > construct state form, used in head-marked possessive formations. > > > > Can someone give me the straight dope on this? Thanks. > > Mayan languages employ possessive prefixes inflecting for person > (these are often (always?) the same as the ergative prefixes on > verbs).
I believe it's always so. (I know of no counterexample, and it's unlikely.) They're called Set A prefixes, to distinguish them from the Set B absolutive suffixes. So, yeah, it's pretty much as you've surmised. "Lord of the
> tree" is expressed as "its-lord the tree", here. > > Here are some Tzotzil examples (from > > > j- na my house > a- na your house > s- na his/her house > > s-na li Xun=e > 3-house DEF John=DEF > his-house John > "The house of John" >
For questions of "what else might this state be used for other than possession?", here are some other uses of this construction. Examples are from Itzaj, the grammar of which (Hofling, 2000) was closest to hand. Beneficiaries/Recipients: a' chämachej tuntz'ik u-janal uba'alche'oo'. the old=man is-giving 3rd-food 3rd-animals. The old man is giving his-animals the/their-food. Parts of a whole: u-jol a' najej. its-hole the house-TOP. the door of the house. Many locatives: t-u-ni' junkuul witz at-its-nose a hill on top of a hill (lit: at the nose of a hill) Composition: u-witzil tunich its-hill stone the stone hill Amount: u-masil b'u'ul its-more bean more beans Origin: u-p'uulil San Josej its-jug San José the jug from (made in) San José. Time periods: t-u-jabb'il milnob'esiyentos'ocheentaj at-its-year 1980. In 1980. Even some prepositions take this construction! b'el in-ka'a ti mukb'ul t-aw-etel go I-go that be-buried at-your-with I am going to be buried together with you. There are some differences in the way the head is marked here; the constructions are not completely identical. For example, the suffix -il, which appears on a number of the heads, generally indicates that the relationship isn't between an animate possessor and its possession. (For example, the difference between my own living brain and the brain of a corpse.) It's used for inanimate possession, location, source, origin, material of construction, and metaphorical possession. The suffix -al indicates a sort of "group" possession, in which the possessions are to be considered as a group. (I don't completely understand the uses of this one.) The suffix -el indicates inalienable possession of body parts. If you wish, you could consider these different "states", for those who were wondering what other uses "states" might have. On another note, these head-marking possessive-prefix constructions, along with verb-initial word order and extensive use of body-part metaphors, are found in unrealted languages all over the Mesoamerican sprachbund. Hope this inspires some good ideas, -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00