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Verbal system in Itakian

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Thursday, March 2, 2000, 8:38
Yes, I finally decided to send the few things I know about the verbal
system of Itakian. Okay, most of it is still in a state of flux, and no
morphemes have been settled, but I have enough to satisfy the curiosity of
all the people that asked me to share :) .

Itakian sentences are divided between two kinds: verbal sentences and
nominal sentences. Both are really important ones.


Verbal sentences use real verbs that follow a trigger system: the function
of the trigger in the sentence depends on an affix put on the verb. This
affix agrees in class with the trigger noun. The trigger is always marked
with high tone on its first syllable. The order between trigger and verb
shows aspect: if I note T: trigger, V: verb and C: mandatory direct
complement, we have:

TVC: imperfective aspect.
VT: perfective aspect.

Yes, the imperfective aspect has always a mandatory direct complement,
while it's excluded in the perfective aspect. The function of this
mandatory direct complement depends on the function of the trigger and the
verb used. In perfective sentences, all complements use prepositions.

NOTE: the imperfective aspect is often used as an inaccomplished tense
(present-future), while the perfective aspect can be used as an
accomplished tense (past). Their primary meaning is aspect though.


The possible triggers are the following:
actor *
patient *
destination *
source *

* means that the verb has a corresponding deverbal noun form (see later for
the use of those verbal nouns).

Destination and source are the only tricky features of this system: they
don't have a spatial meaning, and don't overlap with the dative and
genitive (which by the way is used as well for possession and for origin of
a gift - like dative is the destination of a gift -). Destination and
source are only a way to name the experiencer and experiencee, that's to
say the object and subject of the sentence "I see a dog". I used them
because in sentences like "I look at the dog", the subject is an agent, but
the object cannot be considered patient in Itakian (it is not modified by
the action, which is well marked in English by the preposition): it's a
source. So in Itakian, you have the following sentences possible:

I-agent take the dog-patient.
I-agent look at the dog-source.
I-destination see the dog-source.
(others may be possible, but I have to think more about it)


Nominal sentences are very important in Itakian, for various reasons:
- there is no copula,
- there is no verb of motion,
- the negation is expressed by a morpheme which behaves like a preposition.


Prepositions in Itakian are mainly the same as in Indo-European languages.
The main differences is that prepositional complements can be used with
both nouns and verbs (even the genitive preposition can be used with
verbs), and that prepositions take the class prefix of the noun out and
suffix it to themselves (ex: with "class.1-man", you obtain "to-class.1 man").


Nominal sentences are made of two parts: a topic (S: subject) and a comment
(R: rheme). Those two parts can be put differently depending on the meaning
of the sentence:

SR: definition: used to define things
RS: existence: used to place things (more or less like "there is")

The difference between those two constructions is mainly the same as
between "ser" and "estar" in Spanish.

R can be a noun or a prepositional complement (it's the way to express
motion: "I go to the store" is expressed simply by 'I to the store'). S can
be a noun, or a prepositional complement only in SR sentences. Sentences
with a prepositional S would deserve a complete post to explain their use.
I may write one if you ask for it :) .


The general negation is a preposition (I will mark it N from now on). It is
used in nominal sentences with the meaning "not to be". I still have to
work with how to handle negation with motion sentences, as for now
prepositions are self-exclusive (you cannot have two prepositions for the
same noun).

To negate sentences with normal verbs (trigger-verbs), you have to use N
with a special deverbal noun form of the verb. It means that a negated
sentence in Itakian is quite different in structure from its corresponding
affirmative form.


There are five common deverbal noun forms (one of them slightly less used
than the others):
- agent: run -> runner
- patient: eat -> food
- destination: see -> "see-er"
- source: see -> "see-ee"
- action: look -> the action of looking

Whether a certain verbal noun is possible for a certain verb depends on the
meaning of the verb. The action noun is less used than the others, and
never used for negation. The verbal nouns are also used to make subclauses,
but I will write about that when I've worked on this subject.


Like any other nominal sentence, the negated sentences have two possible
forms (nV means nominalised verb, ... represents the possible prepositional
complements needed after the verb):

SNnV...: definition
NnV...S: existence

Those forms have nothing to do with aspect, and I still have to work on
their exact meanings.

S is not a trigger, so it doesn't have high tone on the first syllable
(except if it has it naturally). But like in the trigger system (with fewer
possibilities), it's the form used for the verb that gives the function of
the subject (example are nice to explain that: "I take the dog" is negated
as "I am not the taker of the dog", or "the dog is not the being taken by

OK, that's all I think. Sorry to be unable to give examples, but I still
have to find the morphemes that express all the things I've presented. Of
course, all feedback is welcome. So, how do you find this system? All
questions and critics are welcome.

                                                Christophe Grandsire
                                                |Sela Jemufan Atlinan C.G.

"Reality is just another point of view."

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