Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Bixwá Verb: Part the Second

In the previous post on Bixwá's verb system, I talked about grammatical affixes, aspect and valency. This post will cover affixes that are more lexical, though the direction prefixes are used for some aspectual refinements. The verb so far:

Aspect - STEM - Voice

Instrumental Prefixes

I got the idea for the instrumental prefixes, once again, from Native languages of North America, though not Athabascan for a change. Instrumental prefixes are fairly common in unrelated languages across a wide area, from Haida in British Columbia to the Siouan languages of the plains. The Bixwá set is larger than some, but is by no means the largest.

The instrumental prefix comes to the left of any aspect prefix. The instrumental prefix will be separated from the verb stem by any aspect prefix, and I use a dash in the lexicon as a reminder, ró-má read (from ró- by/with words, language and see).

In Bixwá the instrumental prefixes can cover a range of meanings, not all of which are really instrumental. For several of them, such as kwí- by thought, by contemplation, by planning, the significance can be pretty metaphorical, as in kwí-'ééz rage from ééz burn.

All verbs with instrumental prefixes are transitive (a habit sometimes seen in natural languages with these). Any noun stem is converted to a verbal meaning when taking one of these prefixes.

A lot of fun lexical derivation can go on with these:

olo-'éke bore someone to tears olo- by falling, by dropping, éke head
olo-míír to cast a shadow, shade something olo- by falling, by dropping, míír shadow, shade
nóó-ját write nóó- by color, by dye, ját sign, mean
ró-nó'ó interrupt someone speaking ró- by language, speaking, nó'ó to break off
thahe-nó'ó burn, cauterize something off thahe- by fire, heat, nó'ó to break off
xaa-nó'ó cut off xaa- by edge, by blade, by arm, nó'ó to break off
bii-vích spit something a distance bii- by mouth, vích to take flight, to enter the air
thahe-vích to rise into the air from heat thahe- by fire, heat, vích to take flight, to enter the air

Direction and Mode

To the left of any instrumental prefix come the direction prefixes. Most of the time they are oriented to the speaker, but the focus of orientation can shift in a narrative. Bixwá has the usual set, chu- for away from the speaker and ní- towards the speaker. These give direction to basic verbs of motion, such as áá which without other marking can mean either go or come.

These prefixes interact with the aspect prefixes to give some refinements. With stative verbs (which do the job of adjectives in Bixwá), chu- with the perfective ho- gives the inchoative, né chuhochis I got sick (from chis to be ill, weak). With any verb type, ní- with the conclusive perfective isii forms the experiential perfect,

I have read that book

The prefix lii- is a deictic marker that situates the action in some communications technology, usually some online social sphere. It goes into the same slot as the direction prefixes. Rarely it can co-occur with one of them, and will be to the left, but more likely it will drive any direction prefix away.

We talked together.

The Verb Template

After all of that, the full template for verb affixes is:

Direction - Instrumental - Aspect - STEM - Voice

Next I'll cover the preverbs, which will always occur before the verb complex I've given above. They're not counted part of the affix chain, since their phonology precludes their use as prefixes.

1 comment:

  1. I like very much how you compounded these verbs and aspects, very fitting. The idea of those instrumental prefixes is great and has so many possibilities! They remind me a lot of Native American languages, for instance Mayan languages employ something very similar to that, and also things very similar to the postural verbs you mention, I remember seeing the same example of the drunk in some Mayan language.

    It's wonderful how you combined a language with very pleasing sounds but with a semantical precision that could rival even Greek in many ways the semantic load in Bixwá verbs is incredible!