Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Vjatjackwa verbs

From:Amanda Babcock <ababcock@...>
Date:Saturday, January 10, 2004, 4:00
So, in order to figure out how the Vjatjackwa-speakers work their verbs,
I had to develop the Witícku verb system and then decide which parts made
it into Vjatjackwa.  (Stress in Proto-Witícku has shifted to the second
syllable and every third syllable thereafter, so that the syllables which
drop between proto- and attested Witícku are now the ones *after* the
stressed syllables, which sounded more natural; hence the slight change
to the name.  Since the speakers of Vjatjackwa use penultimate stress
anyway, the Vjatjackwa results are the same, but Witícku words have simply
switched their stresses to the previously unstressed syllables.)

So.  In Proto-Wit., the verb system is somewhat... odd.

All verbs spring from intransitive roots.  In the intransitive, the
pronominal prefixes are rather simple: pi- for 1st person, tu- for 2nd,
0 (null) for third, and se- for fourth (distant/obviative 3rd person).
So lelipe "go" looks like this:


Which undergoes sound change from Proto-Witícku --> Witícku --> Vjatjackwa
(or forms which *would* be Vjatjackwa, had they survived intact) into
something like this:

        pilelipe --> pilélpe --> pjalilpi
        tulelipe --> tulélpe --> twalilpi
        lelipe --> lelíf --> liljaf
        selelipe --> selélpe --> sililpi

Of these, I figure the Vjatjackwa speakers keep "liljaf" as a word for
"go-er(s)" (by the same logic whereby they kept "vjatjackwa", which had
meant "they speak it", as the word for "language"), and analyze the other
three as "(pja, twa, si) lilpi", discarding the 4th person in the process.

But once we make the word transitive, it becomes much more complex.

This is because the same 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th person morphemes in a
transitive context carry an assumption that they act on a person one
step lower in animacy unless otherwise specified: pi- means 1->3, tu-
means 2->1, 0 (null) means 3->3-inanimate, and se- means 4->4-inanimate.

Fortuitously, in the verb forms for acting upon a 3rd person (which
I consider likely candidates for survival into Vjatjackwa), there just
happens to be a pleasing symmetry that results from a combination of
the -wo- infix (object decreases in animacy, to turn 2->1 into 2->3)
and the -he- infix (in 3rd- and 4th-person context, means that object
increases in animacy to the same level as the subject), as follows
(using lelipepe, "to go toward", made from lelipe and the -pe- infix):

        pilelipepe --> pilélpepé --> pjalilpipi
        tuwolelipepe --> tuwóilipéf --> twavyljapif
        helelipepe --> helélpepé --> hililpipi
        sehelelipepe --> sehéilipéf --> sihiljapif

I figure from this that transitive verbs acting upon persons could
be analyzed by modern Vjatjackwa speakers as "pja lilpipi, twavyl japif,
hi lilpipi, sihil japif".  In this form perhaps they keep the fourth
person - I'm not yet certain which forms are preserved.  The only problem
with this analysis is that their agreement gets tricky, with the 2nd and
4th person pronouns now agreeing with the verb, even to the point of
agreeing with as many different verb classes as there were initial
consonants on the verb!  (Compare "twavyl" with, for example, "twavus",
"twavum", and "twavuP", which can result in the same position from verbs
beginning with s, wu (-> m), and wi (-> P).)

Now comes the really tricky part: the forms for acting upon an inanimate
object.  I consider these also likely candidates for preservation, but
they do not fall into nearly so neat a symmetry.

To act on an inanimate object, the 1st person marker must drop 1 level
in animacy of its object, so pi- (1->3) becomes piwo- (1->3-inan).  The
2nd person marker tu- (2->1) must drop two slots, so becomes tuwowo.
The 3rd person marker, which is null, loses its "-he-", which we were
using before to elevate it; as does the 4th person marker se-.

As a result, all three stress patterns are exhibited:

        piwolelipepe --> piwóilipéf --> pjavyljapif
        tuwowolelipepe --> tuwómlelífpe --> twavumliljafpi
        lelipepe --> lelífpe --> liljafpi
        selelipepe --> selélpepé --> sililpipi

The repetition of "liljafpi" suggests that they might analyze this the
basic form, with "twavum" in the 2nd person (no agreement with verb
class this time, as tuwowo will always become twavum regardless of the
verb); but now the *1st* person gets the variable ending, currently
"vyl", tacked onto it, and both "japif" and "lilpipi" are seen in addition
to "liljafpi".

I suspect that, in the end, they may merge the 3rd-person-animate-object
and 3rd-person-inanimate-object paradigms to create a simple conjugation
for a transitive verb.  They will, however, need to invent some accusative
pronouns, as the old system is no longer in force.

I haven't even addressed the formation of passive voice from the old
Witícku inversion infix -re-.  That's a whole nother can of worms (as
Vjatjackwa speakers would undoubtedly say).

Just for fun, here are a bunch of other verbs.  Scroll down to "to speak"
for some tense/aspect fun.

"lelipe" with "-pu-" infix, for "to go away from":

        1->3: pilelipupe --> pilélpupé --> pjalilpwapi
        2->3: tuwolelipupe --> tuwóilipúf --> twavyljapwaf
        3->3: helelipupe --> helélpupé --> hililpwapi
        4->4: sehelelipupe --> sehéilipúf --> sihiljapwaf

        1->inan: piwolelipupe --> piwóilipúf --> pjavyljapwaf
        2->inan: tuwowolelipupe --> tuwómlelíbpe --> twavumliljabpi
        3->inan: lelipupe --> lelíbpe --> liljabpi
        4->inan: selelipupe --> selélpupé --> sililpwapi

lelasa "to be", with sahi "good" incorporated (special case; the small,
closed class of adjectives, normally found as suffixes to nouns, can
also appear incorporated into the copula _lelasa_), meaning "to be good":

        1: pisahilelasa --> pisáilelás --> pjaselilOs
        2: tusahilelasa --> tusáilelás --> twaselilOs
        3: sahilelasa --> sahíilasá --> sOhjilOsO
        4: sesahilelasa --> sesáilelás --> siselilOs

The above with the -ki- causative infix, "to make someone/thing be good"
(the "sh" digraphs are not /S/, they are separate consonants):

        1->3: pisahilelakisa --> pisáileláxsa --> pjaselilOxsO
        2->3: tuwosahilelakisa --> tuwóshilélkisá --> twavushjalilkjasO
        3->3: hesahilelakisa --> hesáileláxsa --> hiselilOxsO
        4->4: sehesahilelakisa --> sehéshilélkisá --> sihishjalilkjasO

        1->inan: piwosahilelakisa --> piwóshilélkisá --> pjavushjalilkjasO
        2->inan: tuwowosahilelakisa --> tuwómsahíilakís --> twavumsOhjilOkjas
        3->inan: sahilelakisa --> sahíilakís --> sOhjilOkjas
        4->inan: sesahilelakisa --> sesáileláxsa --> siselilOxsO

Now for witiku, "to speak", intransitive:

        1: piwitiku --> piwícku --> pjavjackwa
        2: tuwitiku --> tuwícku --> twavjackwa
        3: witiku --> witíg --> vjatjag  (will mean "speaker" in Vjat.)
        4: sewitiku --> sewícku --> sivjackwa  (3p in Vjat.)

3rd and 4th person with inceptive prefix wi- and completive prefix pe-
(it's very unlikely that this means anything in Vjatjackwa):

        3, inceptive: wiwitiku --> wiwícku --> vjavjackwa
        3, completive: pewitiku --> pewícku --> pivjackwa
        4, inceptive: wisewitiku --> wiséPtikú --> vjasiPtjakwa
        4, completive: pesewitiku --> peséPtikú --> pisiPtjakwa

3rd person with tense/aspect suffixes: -wu is past, -ti is irrealis
(also used for future); -to is repetitive, -we is punctual.  Without
any of these suffixes, it's an aorist, basically.

        past: witikuwu --> witígwu --> vjatjagvwa
        "used to": witikuwuto --> witígwutó --> vjatjagvwatu
        past pfct: witikuwuwe --> witígwuwé --> vjatjagvwavi
        irrealis: witikuti --> witígti --> vjatjagtja
        irr, rep: witikutito --> witígtitó --> vjatjagtjatu
        irr, punc: witikutiwe --> witígtiwé --> vjatjagtjavi
        repetitive: witikuto --> witígto --> vjatjagtu
        punctual (the near future or present): witikuwe --> witígwe --> vjatjagvi

Past and irrealis in 3rd, 4th, and 4th-with-inceptive prefixes, to show how
the suffixes change under different stress patterns:

        witikuwu --> witígwu --> vjatjagvwa
        sewitikuwu --> sewíckuwú --> sivjackwavwa
        pesewitikuwu --> peséPtikúm --> pisiPtjakwam

        witikuti --> witígti --> vjatjagtja
        sewitikuti --> sewíckutí --> sivjackwatja
        pesewitikuti --> peséPtikúc --> pisiPtjakwac

Well, that's enough for one evening.  Thoughts?  Ideas about different
ways these forms could end up meaning completely different things in