Tag Archives: morphology

Update on the Grammar Writing Process IV

Grammar writing has gone slowly again for the past couple of weeks, which is mostly due to reading up on things. I have now arrived at discussing verbs, which are the most complex part of speech since they are at the head of clauses—not just structurally, but also functionally. Important questions right now are:

  • What evidence is there for a constituent S which holds all the verb’s arguments besides the fact that verbless clauses exist complete with predication?
  • Is there a VP in hiding? This requires performing tests on constituency as well (there is a way to say does so as well, so there should be a VP even if the verb word itself is the head of the superordinate IP).

This is to say, I assume that Ayeri’s basic sentence structure looks essentially like this:

The sentence 'Ang konja Yan pahiley' ('Yan eats a cookie') charted in terms of LFG

And then, there are some further questions which I’d like to answer:

  • Austronesian alignment gave the impetus for Ayeri’s strategy of marking one certain NP on the verb, however, after reading Kroeger (1991) it became clear to me that there are strong differences between the real thing and what I have. This is mostly due to not consistently following the original model but falling back on structures familiar from German and English. Thus: what is a so-called ‘trigger conlang’ of which Ayeri is supposedly a prominent example,[1. The oldest message on Conlang-L (itself the oldest conlanging group on the internet I’m aware of) which uses the term ‘trigger’ to refer to case/voice marking I could find is by John Cowan, dated December 16, 1995. The archives 1991–1997 seem to only survive archived by the Wayback Machine anymore. Search for the time stamp, “Sat Dec 16 13:09:06 1995”, on the linked archive page to read the message.] and how is Ayeri actually positioned in this regard?
  • In consequence, how does Ayeri deal with more complex sentence structures, for instance, involving raising and control, as opposed to what Kroeger (1991) describes?
  • Ayeri basically grammaticalizes topic marking by way of agreement morphology. How (un)typical is this with regards to typology? (e.g., see Li and Thompson 1976 for something very old and basic)
  • Does the way in which Ayeri deals with topicalization have any effects on binding? Topics are supposed to operate outside of the functional hierarchy which Bresnan et al. (2016) propose as an important factor in pronominal binding.
  • Since I’ve been trying my hands on an LFG-based analysis, how do verbs behave regarding assigning roles in argument structure? (Dalrymple 2001: 203–215, Bresnan et al. 2016: 329–348)

To be honest, when I started working on Ayeri in 2003, I would not have understood a word of what Kroeger (1991) writes, so it was basically clear from the beginning that there’d be large inconsistencies with regards to the intention of playing around with Austronesian alignment. The thing is, besides Tagalog’s infamous marking of the ang phrase’s role on the verb (actor, goal, direction, beneficiary, etc.), whatever that phrase is syntactically, It also has effects on raising, control, and binding, which I have long ignored out of a lack of knowledge and awareness of these grammatical processes. Even when I tried to come to terms with Ayeri’s syntactic alignment in an often-clicked blog article in 2012, I applied some of the tests discussed there only mechanically, without actually understanding what they’re about.

It also may be noted that Kroeger (1991) analyzes It as the subject because of consistencies with syntactic traits usually associated with subjects, though with the added complication that it’s not fixed to its conventional position as the specifier of VP.[1. This is probably not much of a problem for the likes of LFG or HPSG, but likely more of a problem for generative grammar.] You can also see It variously analyzed as focus or topic, which is terribly confusing especially when you don’t know a lot, and this confusion had a major impact on what I ended up with in Ayeri. It will also be necessary, thus, to look at whether the logical subject and the syntactic subject in Ayeri coincide. My gut feeling is that they do, which would make Ayeri more similar, in fact, to analyses of the basic clause structure of Celtic languages such as Welsh or Irish (compare, for instance, Chung and McCloskey 1987, Sadler 1997, Dalrymple 2001: 66, Bresnan et al. 2016: 130–138).

  • Bresnan, Joan et al. Lexical-Functional Syntax. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2016. Print. Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics 16.
  • Chung, Sandra, and James McCloskey. “Government, Barriers, and Small Clauses in Modern Irish.” Linguistic Inquiry 18.2 (1987): 173–237. Web. 11 Aug. 2017. ‹http://www.jstor.org/stable/4178536›.
  • Dalrymple, Mary. Lexical Functional Grammar. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2001. Print. Syntax and Semantics 34.
  • Kroeger, Paul R. Phrase Structure and Grammatical Relations in Tagalog. Diss. Stanford University, 1991. Web. 17 Dec. 2016. ‹http://www.gial.edu/wp-content/uploads/paul_kroeger/PK-thesis-revised-all-chapters-readonly.pdf›.
  • Li, Charles N. and Sandra A. Thompson. “Subject and Topic: A New Typology of Language.” Subject and Topic. Ed. Charles N. Li. New York: Academic P, 1976. 457–485. Print.
  • Sadler, Louisa. “Clitics and the Structure-Function Mapping.” Proceedings of the LFG ’97 Conference, University of California, San Diego, CA. Ed. by Miriam Butt and Tracy Holloway King. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications, 1997. Web. 12 Aug. 2017. ‹https://web.stanford.edu/group/cslipublications/cslipublications/LFG/2/lfg97sadler.pdf›.

Update on the Grammar Writing Process III

I’ve recently done a lot of proofreading of basically anything besides the introduction chapter of the new Ayeri Grammar. I did this to weed out errors I’ve previously overlooked and also to make sure that what I’d written earlier in the morphology chapter was consistent with the rather extensive work I did in order to come to terms with why certain pre- and suffixes should be clitics. This detour took quite a while—from January to April—but it was probably worth it, since it clarified some questions I had. My quest for clarity on clitics versus affixes in Ayeri culminated in a lengthy blog article, a version of which, revised in parts, can be found in the new grammar as section 3.2.5.

Starting to document Ayeri’s syntax is the logical next step now after I tried to describe its phonology and morphology as well as I could. So, what I’m up to now is trying to describe the morphosyntactic structure of the various syntactic constituents: noun phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases etc. Since there is very little agreement morphology in Ayeri, this should be rather straightforward for the most part, except for verb phrases (I recently discovered that Dalrymple (2001) contains a whole lot more examples than Bresnan (2016), so that might come in handy). Currently, however, I’m still only concerned with NPs and DPs. What’s still making me self-conscious about all this is that I still have never really studied syntax formally, as I pointed out earlier. So, if you take a look at the grammar and see something implausible, please let me know!

When I tried to figure out clitics in Ayeri earlier, I also came up with a lot of examples of coordination, and one thing I wondered is if the following is actually reasonable.

An attempt to describe formally the distribution of the progressive clitic over two coordinated verbs

What you can see here is an attempt to apply LFG to an example sentence which contains a coordinated constituent: manga sahaya rangya ‘is coming home’ is coordinated with nedraya ‘sits (down)’. The question now is, how to formally describe that manga as the (enclitic) progressive marker is to be understood as distributing over both verbs, sahaya ‘comes’ and nedraya ‘sits’? I actually looked up a few articles (Belyaev et al. 2015; Kaplan and Maxwell 1988; Maxwell and Manning 1996; Peterson 2004) and at least took a casual glance at them, but nowhere did I see any discussion of how to indicate when certain markers in the verb phrase distribute to multiple conjuncts. Instead, I could only find discussions of how to indicate the distribution of the subject to conjuncts. The distribution of the subject is also indicated in the argument-value matrix on the right in the illustration above, namely, in that the first verb’s SUBJ(ect) is connected by a line to the second verb’s empty SUBJ slot.

The question I now have is whether connecting items this way is possible also for other features, like ASP(ect). From what little I know, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be plausible to analogize here, but I might as well be wrong. If you know, please let me know as well. What is slightly frustrating is that a lot of times, you can only easily find information on English.

Also, I’ve been working on writing this grammar for almost a whole year now. Wow.

  • Belyaev, Oleg, et al. “Number Mismatches in Coordination: An LFG Analysis.” Proceedings of the LFG ’15 Conference, Tokyo, Japan, 18–20 Jul. 2015. Ed. by Miriam Butt and Tracy Holloway King. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications, 2015. 26–46. Web. 25 May 2017. ‹https://web.stanford.edu/group/cslipublications/cslipublications/LFG/20/papers/lfg15belyaevetal.pdf›.
  • Bresnan, Joan et al. Lexical-Functional Syntax. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2016. Print. Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics 16.
  • Dalrymple, Mary. Lexical Functional Grammar. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2001. Print. Syntax and Semantics 34.
  • Kaplan, Ronald M., and John T. Maxwell, III. Constituent Coordination in Lexical-Functional Grammar. Palo Alto, CA: Xerox PARC, 1988. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. ‹http://www2.parc.com/isl/groups/nltt/xle/coord.ps›.
  • Maxwell, John T., III, and Christopher D. Manning. “A Theory of Non-constituent Coordination Based on Finite-State Rules.” Proceedings of the LFG ’96 Conference, Rank Xerox, Grenoble, France, 26–28 Aug. 1996. Ed. by Miriam Butt and Tracy Holloway King. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications, 1997. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. ‹https://web.stanford.edu/group/cslipublications/cslipublications/LFG/1/lfg96maxwellmanning.pdf›.
  • Peterson, Peter G. “Coordination: Consequences of a Lexial-Functional Account.” Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 22.3 (2004): 643–679. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. ‹http://www.jstor.org/stable/4048099›.

Clitics in Ayeri: Thoughts and Notes

  • The article below has been included more or less verbatim in the new grammar as section 3.2.5. I have also corrected and added a few things there which are not reflected in this blog article.

For the past months, work on writing my grammar has been stalling since I’ve been trying to figure out which of the functional morphemes that are maybe a little untypical as inflections might in fact be clitics. After having read Spencer and Luís (2012) on the topic nearly cover-to-cover, I’ve become a little disenchanted about the whole effort, since clitics appear to be very elusive things which can’t be easily defined in a formal way (126). Based on my reading, some characteristic traits appear to be:[1. This list also subsumes the criteria proposed in Zwicky and Pullum (1983), though the page numbers given here refer to Spencer and Luís (2012).]

  • Clitics behave in part like function words and in part like affixes, but in any case they are not free morphemes (38, 42).
  • Clitics tend to be phonologically weak items (39).
  • Clitics prominently—and importantly—tend to attach ‘promiscuously’ to surrounding words. That is, unlike inflection, they are not limited to connect to a certain part of speech or to align with their host in semantics (40, 108–109).
  • Clitics tend to appear in a second position, whether that is after a word or an intonational or syntactic phrase (41)
  • Clitics tend to be templatic and to cluster, especially if they encode inflection-like information (41, 47–48).
  • Clitics have none of the freedom of ordering found in true words and phrases (43).
  • Positions of ‘special’ clitics tend to not be available to free words (44).
  • Clitics tend to be functional morphemes, and to realize a single morphosyntactic property (67, 179).
  • There are no paradigmatic gaps (108–109).
  • There tends to be no morphophonemic alteration like vowel harmony, stress shift or sandhi between a clitic and its host (108–109).
  • There tends to be no idiosyncratic change in meaning when a clitic and a clitic host come together, unlike there may be with inflection (108, 110).
  • Similar to affixes, clitics and their host tend to be treated as a syntactic unit, that is, there is lexical integrity, so you can’t put word material in between a clitic and its host (108, 110).
  • Clitics usually get joined to a host word after inflection (108, 110)
  • Affixes tend to go on every word in a conjunct (narrow scope), while clitics have a tendency to treat a conjunct as a unit to attach to (wide scope; 139, 196 ff.).

However, Spencer and Luís (2012) point out many counterexamples in order to drive their point home that the border between clitics and affixes is often fuzzy. It comes as no surprise that according to their assessment, there’s a lot of miscategorization in individual grammars as a result (107). Another consequence of definitional fuzziness is that since not all of the traits described above are always present, making a checklist and summing up the tally is only of limited value. The traits enumerated above are sufficient, but not necessary, conditions.

This blog article has become rather long and technical in retrospect, but I needed to write it all down in order to get a clear head about the status of various particles and affixes in Ayeri which behave not quite like function words or inflection, and which I’ve thus long suspected to belong to the interstitial category of clitics. The first part of this article will detail all the particles and affixes which precede the lexical heads they modify, the second one will elaborate on suffixes. This article is also likely to find its way into the 2016/17 edition of the Ayeri Grammar, which I’m still working on, as a subchapter to the chapter on morphological typology.

1. Preposed particles and prefixes

Now, I think what should be rather unproblematic with regards to analysis as clitics in Ayeri are the preverbal elements, that is, the topic marker, one or several modal particles, the progressive marker, and also the emphatic affirmative and negative discourse particles. All of these particles essentially have functional rather than lexical content, and are usually unstressed. They come in a cluster with a fixed order, and they appear in a position where no ordinary word material could go, since Ayeri is strictly verb-initial. In conjuncts it’s also unnecessary to mark every verb with one or several of them:

    1. [gloss]Ang kece nay dayungisaye māva yanjas yena.
      ang ket-ye nay dayungisa-ye māva-Ø yan-ye-as yena
      AT wash-3SG.F and dress-3SG.F mother-TOP boy-PL-P 3SG.F.GEN[/gloss]
      ‘The mother washes and dresses her boys.’
    2. [gloss]Manga sahaya rangya nay nedraya ang Tikim.
      manga saha-ya rang-ya nay nedra-ya ang Tikim
      PROG come-3SG.M home-LOC and sit-3SGM A Tikim[/gloss]
      ‘Tikim is coming home and sitting down.’
    3. [gloss]Ang mya ming sidegongya nay la-lataya ajamyeley.
      ang mya ming sideg-ong-ya.Ø nay la~lata-ya.Ø ajam-ye-ley
      AT be.supposed.to can repair-IRR-3SG.M.TOP and ITER~sell-3SG.M.TOP toy-PL-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘He should be able to repair and resell the toys.’

In (1a), therefore, the agent-topic marker ang only occurs before kece ‘(she) washes’, and the conjoined verb dayungisaye ‘(she) dresses’ is also within its scope. Repeating the marker as well before the latter verb could either be considered ungrammatical because there is only one topic there—māva ‘mother’—or the sentence could be interpreted as having two conjoined clauses with different subjects: ‘She1 washes and mother2 dresses her boys.’ The latter outcome has māva as the topic only of dayungisaye, while kece‘s topic is the person marking on the verb—a pro-drop subject, essentially.

In (1b), then, the progressive marker manga equally has scope over both verb conjuncts, sahaya ‘(he) comes’ and nedraya ‘(he) sits’ in what I presume is a case of extended/distributed exponence, since the verb conjuncts can be represented by the incomplete f-structure matrix (cf. Bresnan et al. 2016; Butt and King 2015) shown in (2). Manga is treated there as being part of things the verb inflects for, that is, progressive aspect. The topic marker ang is not a semantic property of the verb, but announces the case and—for agents and patients—the animacy value of the topicalized noun phrases (NPs), so the f-structure in (2) lists this information under the TOP relation.

  1. Part of the f-structure of saha- ‘come’ in (1b):

    PRED ‘come ⟨(↑ SUBJ), (↑ OBLloc)⟩’
    CASE A
    ANIM +

Modal particles, exemplified in (1c), are probably slightly less typical as clitics since it seems feasible for them to be stressed for contrast. What is not possible, however, is to front either mya or ming, and the verb itself also can’t precede the particles, which is demonstrated in (3). It’s also not possible to coordinate any of the elements in the preverbal particle cluster with nay ‘and’, as we will see in (4).

    1. * mya ang ming sidegongya
    2. * ming ang mya sidegongya
    3. * sidegongya ang mya ming
    1. * ang nay mya ming sidegongya
    2. * ang mya nay ming sidegongya
    3. * ang mya ming nay sidegongya

It needs to be pointed out that unlike verbs, modal particles in Ayeri resist inflection, so in (1c) the irrealis suffix -ong is realized on the verb sidegongya ‘(he) would repair’ instead of on one or both of the modal particles as * mingong and * myong, respectively. The combination of mya ‘be supposed to’ with an irrealis-marked verb together indicates that the speaker thinks the action denoted by the verb should be carried out. On the other hand, the marking on the verb may also be interpreted as being valid for the whole verb complex, and just generally adds the feature [MOOD IRR] to the verb’s feature list in analogy to [ASP PROG] in (2). With regards to negation, it’s just the same: only the verb can be negated, but not the modal particle. Possibly, it would be useful in this case to abstract the modal particles as a feature [MODALITY] as listed by ParGram for purposes of functional representation. At least superficially, it looks as though Ayeri acts differently from English here in that the verb is possibly not a complement of the modal. I suppose that this is mostly apparent from the fact that in Ayeri, the verb inflects, not the modal particle. Furthermore, modal particles in Ayeri can’t be modified by adverbs like regular verbs can:

    1. [gloss]Ming tigalye ban nilay ang Diya.
      ming tigal-ye ban nilay ang Diya
      can swim-3SG.F well probably A Diya[/gloss]
      ‘Diya can probably swim well.’
    2. * [gloss]Ming nilay tigalye ban ang Diya.
      ming nilay tigal-ye ban ang Diya
      can probably swim-3SG.F well A Diya[/gloss]

In order to not confuse things even more, it seems advisable to decree that combinations of topic particle and modal particle, as well as modal particle and verb, likewise not be interrupted by parenthetical material like naratang ‘they say’, so that:

    1. [gloss]Naratang, ang ming tigalye ban Diya kodanya.
      nara-tang ang ming tigal-ye ban Diya kodan-ya
      say-3PL.M.A AT can swim-3SG.F well Diya lake-LOC[/gloss]
      ‘They say Diya can swim well in a lake.’
    2. * Ang, naratang, ming tigalye ban Diya kodanya.
    3. * Ang ming, naratang, tigalye ban Diya kodanya.
    4. ? Ang ming tigalye, naratang, ban Diya kodanya.
    5. Ang ming tigalye ban, naratang, Diya kodanya.
    6. Ang ming tigalye ban Diya, naratang, kodanya.
    7. Ang ming tigalye ban Diya kodanya, naratang.

Of all the other parts of speech, only nouns also have preposed modifiers. This is the case with proper nouns, where the name will be preceded by a case marker instead of receiving a case-marking suffix. This case marker is phonologically weak in that it is no longer than other affixes, and unstressed, with the exception of the causative case marker , which bears at least secondary stress since it contains a long vowel. We already saw case particles preceding names in (1b) and (5) above: ang Tikim and ang Diya; ang marks the proper-noun NPs as agents in both cases. The case marker is missing when the NP is topicalized, as exemplified by (6), where the agent NP appears as just Diya, not ang Diya. While case suffixes have narrow scope as in (7a) and thus need to be repeated on every NP in a conjunct, preposed case markers may be used with wide scope if both conjuncts are proper nouns as in (7c). Narrow scope with proper nouns may add an individuating connotation in (7d).

    1. [gloss]Toryon veneyang nay badanang.
      tor-yon veney-ang nay badan-ang
      sleep-3PL.N dog-A and father-A[/gloss]
      ‘The dog and father are (both) sleeping.’
    2. * [gloss]Toryon veney nay badanang.
      tor-yon veney_ nay badan-ang
      sleep-3PL.N dog_ and father-A[/gloss]
    3. [gloss]Sa sobisayan ang Niva nay Mico narānye.
      sa sobisa-yan ang Niva nay Mico narān-ye-Ø
      PT study-3PL.M A Niva and Mico language-PL-TOP[/gloss]
      ‘Languages is what Niva and Mico study.’
    4. [gloss]Sa sobisayan ang Niva nay ang Mico narānye.
      sa sobisa-yan ang Niva nay ang Mico narān-ye-Ø
      PT study-3PL.M A Niva and A Mico language-PL-TOP[/gloss]
      ‘Languages is what Niva and Mico (each) study.’

Taking the above characteristics into account, one may argue that the preposed case markers are clitics. They also often enough follow other phonetic material, so it should be possible to analyze case markers as indiscriminately attaching to the word on the left while syntactically modifying the word to the right:

  1. ? Sa sobisayan=ang Niva nay Mico narānye.

There is no audible break or change in intonation between sobisayan and ang, and there is also no morphophonemic modification occurring between them either: if ang were a suffix, stress would shift from /sobiˈsajan/ to /sobiˌsajaˈnang/. According to Klavans (1985), a clitic’s phonological leaning to the preceding word while modifying the following one is a process which is attested in natural languages, and she quotes examples from Kwak’wala, a Wakashan language of British Columbia (Hammarström et al. 2017), for instance:

  1. Adapted from Klavans (1985: 106):
    1. [gloss]nəp’idi-da gənanəm [x̣a gukʷ]​N​’ [sa t’isəm]​N​’
      throw-DEIC child OBJ house OBL rock[/gloss]
      ‘The child hit the house with a rock by throwing.’ (Levine 1980)

Since clitics should be treated as syntactically coherent with their hosts, it shouldn’t be possible, then, to interrupt sobisayan and ang with parenthetical word material in the same way it wasn’t possible in (6). This assumption proves false, however, since Ayeri does not take an issue with placing things other than a case marker after the verb cluster and before the first NP, while the interruption of ang and Niva, on the other hand, is indeed ungrammatical:

    1. [gloss]Sa sobisayan, naratang, ang Niva nay Mico narānye.
      sa sobisa-yan nara-tang ang Niva nay Mico narān-ye-Ø
      PT study-3PL.M say-3PL.M.A A Niva and Mico language-PL-TOP[/gloss]
      ‘Languages is what Niva and Mico, they say, study.’
    2. * [gloss]Sa sobisayan ang, naratang, Niva nay Mico narānye.
      sa sobisa-yan ang nara-tang Niva nay Mico narān-ye-Ø
      PT study-3PL.M A say-3PL.M.A Niva and Mico language-PL-TOP[/gloss]

It is furthermore possible for the case marker to begin an utterance, namely, in equative sentences like the one in (11a). In this case, there is no way for the case marker to lean on a host to its left, but only to its right. In these cases as well, it isn’t possible for parenthetical material to be placed between the case marker and its target of modification, as in (11b).

    1. [gloss]Ang Misan lajāyas puti.
      ang Misan lajāy-as puti
      A Misan student-P zealous[/gloss]
      ‘Misan is a zealous student.’
    2. * [gloss]Ang, paronyang, Misan lajāyas puti.
      ang paron-yang Misan lajāy-as puti
      A believe-1SG.A Misan student-P zealous[/gloss]

Since the case marker and its modification target cohere that closely, we have to assume that here as well, the case marker is proclitic rather than enclitic. Unlike “typical” clitics, however, its attachment is not strictly speaking ‘promiscuous’, unlike in our first hypothesis, but always with a proper noun very specifically. This property puts it very close to an affix—just like the suffixed case markers. More typical of function words, though, there is no morphophonemic interaction between the flexive and the word it inflects, for example, there is no /saːdʒaːn/ from sa (P) + Ajān. This overlap in form between affix and function word is typical of clitics, according to the traits excerpted from Spencer and Luís (2012) above. Moreover, , as mentioned above, represents an exception to other case particles in that it takes secondary stress due to being a long syllable, which cannot be unstressed. Ayeri does not allow words to end in secondary-stressed syllables, but only allows secondary-stressed syllables to precede a stressed one, since word stress spreads backwards from the right edge of phonological words. If we don’t want to create an exception for alone, thus, it is more likely for the preposed case markers to lean to the right rather than to the left also on phonological grounds, like in (12).

  1. Sa sobisayan ang=Niva nay Mico narānye.

From this discussion of prenominal particles, let us return to verbs again for a moment. Besides the preverbal particles discussed above, there is also what is spelled as a prefix on the verb which appears to be a little odd as such in that it can have wide scope over conjoined verbs. This is the prefix da- often meaning ‘so, thus’, displayed in (13).

  1. [gloss]Ang da-pinyaya nay hisaya   Yan sa Pila.
    ang da-pinya-ya nay hisa-ya Ø Yan sa Pila
    AT so-ask-3SG.M and beg-3SG.M TOP Yan P Pila[/gloss]
    ‘Yan asks and begs Pila to (do so).’

Da-, where it is not used for presentative purposes,[1. Although this use is probably related to the anaphoric use.] is a functional morpheme in that it basically acts as an anaphora for a complementizer phrase (CP) the speaker chooses to drop. Thus, it does not mark any of the intrinsic morphological categories of the verb (tense, aspect, mood, modality, finiteness), just like the topic marker refers to a syntactic relation the verb subcategorizes but none of its inflectional categories. As an anaphora, da- cannot stand alone, though it is possible to use a full demonstrative form danya ‘such one’ in its place:

  1. [gloss]Ang pinyaya nay hisaya   Yan sa Pila danyaley.
    ang pinya-ya nay hisa-ya Ø Yan sa Pila danya-ley
    AT ask-3SG.M and beg-3SG.M TOP Yan P Pila such.one-P.INAN[/gloss]
    ‘Yan asks and begs Pila such.’

Unlike the preverbal particles, da- can be associated with a full form, though it still displays special syntax in that unlike English -n’t or ‘ll, for instance, it does not occur in the same place as the full form. Note also how da- is appended to the right of tense prefixes, which express a property of the verb, as shown in (15).

    1. [gloss]Ang da-məpinyaya sa Pila.
      ang da-mə-pinya-ya.Ø sa Pila
      AT so-PST-ask-3SG.M.TOP P Pila[/gloss]
      ‘He asked Pila to.’
    2. [gloss]Ang da-məpinyaya nay məhisaya   Yan sa Pila.
      ang da-mə-pinya-ya.Ø nay mə-hisa-ya Ø Yan sa Pila
      AT so-PST-ask-3SG.M and PST-beg-3SG.M TOP Yan P Pila[/gloss]
      ‘Yan asked and begged Pila to.’

The verb form in (15) becomes ungrammatical with the order of its prefixes reversed, so it is not acceptable to say: * məda-pinyaya, although note that pre- and suffixes proper also have a fixed order in Ayeri, so this alone is probably not enough evidence to claim that da- is not possibly a prefix. Furthermore, while the tense prefixes undergo crasis, this is not the case with da-:

    1. [gloss]Da-amangreng.
      ‘It happens thus.’
    2. * Dāmangreng.
    1. [gloss]Māmangreng.
      ‘It happened.’
    2. * Məamangreng.

Besides the characteristic of not seeking out certain parts of speech, the da- prefix at least satisfies the criteria of being a phonologically reduced form of an otherwise free functional morpheme, and it occurs in a place where normal syntax would not put its corresponding full form. It has wide scope over conjuncts, is attached outside of inflection for proper categories of the verb, and doesn’t interact with its host with regards to morphophonemics. Besides these more typical traits of clitics, there is also no way to place words between da- and the verb stem:

  1. * [gloss]Da, naratang, amangreng.
    da nara-tang amang-reng
    thus say-3PL.M.A happen-3SG.INAN.A[/gloss]
    Intended: ‘It happens, they say, thus.’

The prefix sitang- ‘self’ behaves in the same way as da-, since it also abbreviates a reflexive NP, for instance, sitang-yes ‘herself’ where ‘herself’ as a patient is coreferential with the agent of the clause. Reflexivity, however, is a category a verb in Ayeri could be said to inflect for that way, though on the other hand, Ayeri also does not have any verbs which are obligatorily reflexive to indicate anticausativity like in Romance languages:

    1. [gloss]Adruara biratayreng.
      adru-ara biratay-reng
      break-3SG.INAN pot-A.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘The pot broke.'[1. Actually, I’m slightly tempted to make the S a patient here to reflect that the pot does not cause itself to break but rather suffers breaking.]
    2. * [gloss]Sitang-adruara biratayreng.
      sitang-adru-ara biratay-reng
      self-break-3SG.INAN pot-A.INAN[/gloss]
      Intended: ‘The pot broke.’ (an unspecified force broke it)
    1. [French]
    2. [gloss]Le pot s’est cassé.
      le pot se=est cassé
      the pot self=be.3SG.PRES broken[/gloss]
      ‘The pot broke.’ (an unspecified force broke it)
    3. [gloss]Le pot est cassé.
      le pot est cassé
      the pot be.3SG.PRES broken[/gloss]
      ‘The pot is broken.’

Ayeri has a tendency to reuse prefixes with different parts of speech, and thus da- is also used with nouns, forming part of the series of deictic prefixes, da- ‘such (a)’, eda- ‘this’, ada- ‘that’. The prefix in all these cases represents a grammatical function, is unstressed, and may have wide scope over conjoined NPs, unless an individuating interpretation is intended, as in (21b). These traits are typical of clitics, as we have seen, though (22) shows that unlike with verbs, the deictic prefixes do undergo crasis here, which is a trait more typically associated with affixes.

    1. [gloss]Sinyāng eda-ledanas nay viretāyās tondayena-hen?
      sinya-ang eda-ledan-as nay viretāya-as tonday-ena-hen
      who-A this-friend-P and supporter-P art-GEN-all[/gloss]
      ‘Who is this friend and supporter of all arts?’
    2. [gloss]Sinyāng eda-ledanas nay eda-viretāyās tondayena-hen?
      sinya-ang eda-ledan-as nay eda-viretāya-as tonday-ena-hen
      who-A this-friend-P and this-supporter-P art-GEN-all[/gloss]
      ‘Who is/are this friend and this supporter of all arts?’
  1. [gloss]Sa ming nelnang edāyon.
    sa ming nel-nang eda-ayon-Ø
    PT can help-1PL.A this-man-TOP[/gloss]
    ‘This man, we can help him.’

The deictic prefixes also cannot be used with all types of NPs, only with those headed by generic and proper nouns; the picky nature of the deictic prefixes also makes them more typical of affixes than of clitics. The preverbal particles, on the other hand, also only occur with verbs, and I’ve nonetheless argued for them being clitics above.

As mentioned initially, Spencer and Luís (2012) give numerous counterexamples to the catalog of traits typically associated with clitics. One of this counterexample is what they term ‘suspended affixation’, which occurs in Turkish, for instance, where the plural suffix -lEr and subsequent suffixes can be left out in coordination (23a), as well as case markers (23b), and adverbials with case-like functions (23c):

    1. [Turkish]

      [gloss]bütün kitap(…) ve defter-ler-imiz
      all book and notebook-PL-1PL.POSS[/gloss]
      ‘all our books and notebooks’ (199)

    2. [gloss]Vapur hem Napoli(…) hem Venedik’-e uğruyormuş
      boat and Naples and Venice-LOC stops.EVIDENTIAL[/gloss]
      ‘Apparently the boat stops at both Naples and Venice’ (ibid.)
    3. [gloss]öğretmen-ler(…) ve öğrenci-ler-le
      teacher-PL and student-PL-WITH[/gloss]
      ‘with (the) students and (the) teachers’ (ibid.)

They note that, in “the nominal domain especially, wide scope inflection is widespread in the languages of Eurasia, becoming more prominent from west to east”, and that wide scope affixation “can be found with inflectional and derivational morphology in a number of languages, and it is often a symptom of recent and not quite complete morphologization” (200). They report Wälchli (2005) to find that this is especially the case with ‘natural coordination’, that is, the combination of items very frequently occurring in pairs like knife and fork or mother and father, as opposed to cases of occasional coordination (Spencer and Luís 2012: 200). Whether this is also true for Ayeri would require a separate survey.[1. Or, since it’s a fictional language and I’ve never thought about this before, making up supplemental rules.]

Given the evidence from Turkish, the categorization of deictic prefixes as either affixes or clitics is unclear, especially since the diagnostic of scope is devalued by the Turkish examples. On the other hand, suffixes on nouns don’t behave this way, as demonstrated in (24)—they rather behave like typical affixes in that they mandatorily occur on each conjunct. The question is, thus, whether an exception should be made for prefixes on nouns. We may as well assume that they are clitics.

    1. [gloss]sobayajang nay lajāyjang
      sobaya-ye-ang nay lajāy-ye-ang
      teacher-PL-A and student-PL-A[/gloss]
      ‘(the) teachers and (the) students’
    2. * [gloss]sobayaye nay lajāyjang
      sobaya-ye nay lajāy-ye-ang
      teacher-PL and student-PL-A[/gloss]
    3. * [gloss]sobaya nay lajāyjang
      sobaya nay lajāy-ye-ang
      teacher and student-PL-A[/gloss]

From a functional point of view, the exact nature of the deictic prefixes shouldn’t matter either way—ParGram also cites a [DEIXIS] feature with PROXIMAL and DISTAL as its values, which fits eda- ‘this’ and ada- ‘that’ just fine. At present I’m at a loss about the feature representation of ‘such (a)’, however, since it is clearly deictic, but neither proximal nor distal. In this case it should be possible to just use [DEIXIS this/that/such] as well, I suppose, hence:

    1. [gloss]edāyon
      ‘this man’
    2. PRED ‘man’
      DEIXIS this

As described above, proper nouns are case marked by probably clitic case markers in front of the noun. In fact, these markers are somewhere at the left periphery of the NP, so the deictic prefixes stand in between the case marker and the proper noun itself, which is unproblematic for lexical integrity, since the deictic prefixes are not free morphemes. And even if they were part of inflection, the case markers, as clitics, would be on the outside—the order deictic prefix – case marker – noun is ungrammatical. An example is given in (26).

    1. [gloss]Ang koronay sa eda-​Kagan.
      ang koron-ay.Ø sa eda-​Kagan
      AT know-1SG.TOP P this-Kagan[/gloss]
      ‘I know this Kagan.’
    2. * [gloss]Ang koronay eda-​Kaganas.
      ang koron-ay.Ø eda-​Kagan-as
      AT know-1SG.TOP this-Kagan-P[/gloss]
    3. * [gloss]Ang koronay eda-sa Kagan.
      ang koron-ay.Ø eda-sa Kagan
      AT know-1SG.TOP this-P Kagan[/gloss]

The question now is, what happens to coordinated proper nouns? Since the suffixed case markers on common nouns have the distributional properties of affixes, they occur on every conjunct, the deictic prefix, however, only occurs on the first unless an individuating reading is intended, as shown in (20). For proper nouns it ought to be possible for both a case marker and a deictic prefix to have scope over coordinated proper nouns (27a). Yet, however, my gut tells me that this is slightly odd-sounding (German/English bias?), so I would prefer the strategy in (27b), which avoids the problem altogether by making the names an adjunct to the demonstrative edanya ‘this/these one(s)’.[1. Honestly, it’s these cases where you wish you could just ask a speaker of your fictional language for their judgement instead of relying on your own intuition, which will most certainly be tainted by interference from your native language. While I am the one to make up the rules for Ayeri, I try to be wary of carrying all too familiar patterns over into my creation accidentally.] The example in (27c) is unproblematic and here as well indicates that the two people are referred to individually and not as a group.

    1. ? [gloss]Ang koronay sa eda-​Kagan nay Ijān.
      ang koron-ay.Ø sa eda-​Kagan nay Ijān
      AT know-1SG.TOP P this-​Kagan and Ijān[/gloss]
      ‘I know these Kagan and Ijān.’
    2. [gloss]Ang koronay edanyās, Kagan nay Ijān.
      ang koron-ay.Ø edanya-as Kagan nay Ijān
      AT know-1SG.TOP this.one-P Kagan and Ijān[/gloss]
      ‘I know these, Kagan and Ijān.’
    3. [gloss]Ang koronay sa eda-​Kagan nay eda-​Ijān.
      ang koron-ay.Ø sa eda-​Kagan nay eda-​Ijān
      AT know-1SG.TOP P this-​Kagan and this-​Ijān[/gloss]
      ‘I know this Kagan and this Ijān.’

Of the deictic prefixes, da- is not only available to verbs and nouns, but also to adjectives. Like with verbs, it is short for danya ‘such one’ in this case (28a). The resulting meaning is ‘the adj. one’; da- essentially acts as a nominalizer, at least to the extent the compound of da- + adjective inherits the distributional properties of danya as a demonstrative pronoun. Thus, it can be case- and topic marked (28bc), and also be modified by another adjective (28c). On the other hand, it can’t be reduplicated for diminution, and also also can’t be pluralized. Since adjectives follow their heads, the original order of demonstrative – adjective remains intact.

    1. [gloss]Le noyang danyaley tuvo.
      le no-yang danya-Ø tuvo
      PT.INAN want-1SG.A such.one-TOP red[/gloss]
      ‘The red one I want.’
    2. [gloss]Ang noay da-tuvoley.
      ang no-ay.Ø da-tuvo-ley
      AT want-1SG.TOP one-red-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘I want the red one.’
    3. [gloss]Le noyang da-tuvo kivo.
      le no-yang da-tuvo-Ø kivo
      PT.INAN want-1SG.A one-red-TOP small[/gloss]
      ‘The little red one I want.’

The prefix, again, coheres tightly in that no additional material can be inserted. Like with nouns above, inflecting each form in a group of coordinated adjectives results in an individuating reading (29a). It should be possible for the prefix to take wide scope (29b), though it seems better to me to instead rephrase the coordinated adjective as a relative clause (28c), for instance, besides using the full form danya + adjectives. Since case markers go on every conjunct, (29d) is not grammatical.

    1. [gloss]Ang noay da-tuvoley nay da-lenoley.
      ang no-ay.Ø da-tuvo-ley nay da-leno-ley
      AT want-1SG.TOP one-red-P.INAN and one-blue-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘I want the blue one and the red one.’
    2. ? [gloss]Ang noay da-tuvoley nay lenoley.
      ang no-ay.Ø da-tuvo-ley nay leno-ley
      AT want-1SG.TOP one-red-P.INAN and blue-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘I want the red and blue one.’
    3. [gloss]Ang noay adaley si tuvo nay leno.
      ang no-ay.Ø ada-ley si tuvo nay leno
      AT want-1SG.TOP that-P.INAN REL red and blue[/gloss]
      ‘I want that which is red and blue.’
    4. * [gloss]Ang noay da-tuvo nay lenoley.
      ang no-ay.Ø da-tuvo nay leno-ley
      AT want-1SG.TOP one-red and blue-P.INAN[/gloss]

Possessive pronouns like ‘my’, vana ‘your’, etc. behave the same way when derived to free-standing anaphora (da-nā ‘mine’, da-vana ‘yours’, etc.) from their usual role as modifiers, except they can’t themselves be modified by adjectives in the way da-tuvo ‘the red one’ is in (28c). Taking all of the examples above into account, da- with adjectives and possessive pronouns seems to be most like a simple clitic according to Zwicky’s (1977) definition, compared to the other contexts it can appear in:

Cases where a free morpheme, when unaccented, may be phonologically subordinated to a neighboring word. Cliticization of this sort is usually associated with stylistic conditions, as in the casual speech cliticization of object pronouns in English; there are both formal full pronouns and casual reduced pronouns. (Zwicky 1977: 5)

Typical of a simple clitic as well, the distribution of da- is restricted by grammatical context, as pointed out regarding example (27b). Unlike in English, which Zwicky (1977) gives examples of, the condition in Ayeri is likely not phonological in this case. The nature of the condition, however, is not predetermined in Spencer and Luís (2012), when they write that

we may therefore need to define simple clitics along the lines of Halpern (1998), namely, as clitics that may be positioned in a subset of the positions within which the full forms are found, rather than as clitics that have the same distribution as their full-form counterparts as in Zwicky (1977). Under this broader definition, we capture the fact that simple clitics differ from special clitics in that they can appear in some of the positions that are occupied by their corresponding full forms, while special clitics never can. (Spencer and Luís 2012: 44)

Besides deictic prefixes, nouns may also receive a prefix expressing likeness, ku-. This prefix is also applicable to adjectives, and is maybe more adverbial in terms of semantics than purely functional morphemes like da-. In contrast to da-, ku- has no full-form equivalent. Some examples of it leaning on nouns are given in (30). Like the deictic prefixes, ku- appears in a position which is privileged to dependent functional morphemes in that any modifiers which appear as free words or phrases (adjectives, relative clauses, nominal adjuncts) follow nouns. Slightly untypical of a clitic, it is not fully ‘promiscuous’ regarding its phonological host in that it requires a nominal, adjectival or phrasal host.

    1. [gloss]Ang misya   Amān ku-depangas.
      ang mis-ya Ø Amān ku-depang-as
      AT act-3SG.M TOP Amān like-fool-P[/gloss]
      ‘Amān acts like a fool.’
    2. [gloss]Ang misya   Amān ku-depangas nay karayās.
      ang mis-ya Ø Amān ku-depang-as nay karaya-as
      AT act-3SG.M TOP Amān like-fool-P and coward-P[/gloss]
      ‘Amān acts like a fool and a coward.’
    3. [gloss]Ang misya   Amān ku-depangas nay ku-karayās.
      ang mis-ya Ø Amān ku-depang-as nay ku-karaya-as
      AT act-3SG.M TOP Amān like-fool-P and like-coward-P[/gloss]
      ‘Amān acts like a fool and like a coward.’
    4. [gloss]Ang misya   Amān ku-ada-depangas.
      ang mis-ya Ø Amān ku-ada-depang-as
      AT act-3SG.M TOP Amān like-that-fool-P[/gloss]
      ‘Amān acts like that fool.’
    5. [gloss]Ang misya   Amān ku-ada-depangas nay ada-karayās.
      ang mis-ya Ø Amān ku-ada-depang-as nay ada-karayās
      AT act-3SG.M TOP Amān like-that-fool-P and that-coward-P[/gloss]
      ‘Amān acts like that fool and that coward.’
    6. * [gloss]Ang misya   Amān ada-ku-depangas.
      ang mis-ya Ø Amān ada-ku-depang-as
      AT act-3SG.M TOP Amān that-like-fool-P[/gloss]

Generally, ku- fulfills the function of the preposition like in English in (30). However, if it were a preposition in Ayeri, it should trigger the locative on its dependent. In the examples above, however, the NP ku- modifies takes the patient case, like predicative NPs are otherwise wont to do. While prepositions like kong ‘inside’ in (31) are free morphemes in Ayeri, ku- is bound, which becomes apparent by introducing a parenthetical remark again:

    1. [gloss]Ang yomāy, surpareng, kong sayanya.
      ang yoma-ay.Ø surpa-reng kong sayan-ya
      AT be-1SG.TOP seem-3SG.A.INAN inside cave-LOC[/gloss]
      ‘I am, it seems, inside a cave.’
    2. [gloss]Ang yomāy kong, suprareng, sayanya.
      ang yoma-ay.Ø kong surpa-reng sayan-ya
      AT be-1SG.TOP inside seem-3SG.A.INAN cave-LOC[/gloss]
      ‘I am inside, it seems, a cave.’
    1. [gloss]Ang misya   Amān, surpareng, ku-depangas.
      ang mis-ya Ø Amān surpa-reng ku-depang-as
      AT act-3SG.M TOP Amān seem-3SG.A.INAN like-fool-P[/gloss]
      ‘Amān acts, it seems, like a fool.’
    2. * [gloss]Ang misya   Amān ku, surpareng, depangas.
      ang mis-ya Ø Amān ku surpa-reng depang-as
      AT act-3SG.M TOP Amān like seem-3SG.A.INAN fool-P[/gloss]
      ‘Amān acts like a, it seems, fool.’

Examples (30ab) show that similar to the deictic prefixes, ku- precedes its target of modification and can have wide scope with coordinated NPs. As (30c) shows, narrow scope is possible as well, and in this case, again, each conjunct is to be interpreted separately instead of ku- modifying both conjuncts collectively. If combined with ada- as a deictic prefix, for instance, ku- even precedes that (30d), and changing the order of the prefixes is not possible, as is shown in (30f). As (30e) shows, ku- may also have scope over two individuating noun phrase conjuncts. Ku- is also applicable to pronouns, so (33) is possible, for example.

    1. [gloss]Ang silvye   Pada ku-yes.
      ang silv-ye Ø Pada ku-yes
      AT look-3SG.F TOP Pada like-3SG.F.P[/gloss]
      ‘Pada looks like her.’

    2. [gloss]Sa silvye ang Pada ku-ye.
      sa silv-ye ang Pada ku-ye
      PT look-3SG.F A Pada like-3SG.F.TOP[/gloss]
      ‘Like her Pada looks.’

With proper nouns, we get the same distributional properties as with generic nouns, except that ku- appears (rather idiosyncratically) as a suffix at the right edge of an NP—or at the right edge of the first NP conjunct—if the NP is preceded by a case marker, as shown in (34). Admittedly, I hadn’t considered the behavior of ku- with names before and felt adventurous in introducing this little twist. I hope it’s viable.

    1. [gloss]Ang lentava sa Tagāti diyan-ku.
      ang lenta-va sa Tagāti diyan-ku
      AT sound-2.TOP P Tagāti worthy-like[/gloss]
      ‘You sound like Mr. Tagāti.’
    2. [gloss]Ang lentava sa Tagāti diyan-ku nay diranas yana.
      ang lenta-va sa Tagāti diyan-ku nay diran-as yana
      AT sound-2.TOP P Tagāti worthy-like and uncle-P 3SG.M.GEN[/gloss]
      ‘You sound like Mr. Tagāti and his uncle.’
    3. [gloss]Sa lentavāng ku-​Tagāti diyan.
      sa lenta-vāng ku-​Tagāti diyan
      PT sound-2.A like-​Tagāti worthy[/gloss]
      ‘Like Mr. Tagāti you sound.’

With adjectives, however, there are no idiosyncrasies to this degree; ku- appears only as a prefix here, as with generic nouns:

    1. [gloss]Surpya ku-suta ang Maran.
      surp-ya ku-suta ang Maran
      seem-3SG.M like-busy A Maran[/gloss]
      ‘Maran seems like he’s busy.’
    2. [gloss]Surpya ku-suta nay baras ang Maran.
      surp-ya ku-suta nay baras ang Maran
      seem-3SG.M like-busy and gruff A Maran[/gloss]
      ‘Maran seems like he’s busy and gruff.’

As (35b) shows, ku- again can have wide scope over conjuncts. What further distinguishes ku- from a prefix here is that it doesn’t undergo crasis if the adjective begins with an /u/, hence ku-ubo /kuˈubo/ ‘like bitter’, not * kūbo /ˈkuːbo/.[1. The phonology chapter of the new grammar has so far read in a footnote that this would be permissible, though given ku-‘s behavior elsewhere it doesn’t make sense to keep this rule, in retrospect.] Again, the position ku- appears in is special in that whatever modifies adjectives usually trails after them.

Another case I hadn’t considered before is that ku- should be able to subordinate infinite CPs. Since ku- leans on a whole phrase in (35), which affixes can’t do, its status as a clitic should be unmistakable in this context.

  1. [gloss]Silvyeng ku-tahayam misungas.
    silv-yeng ku-taha-yam misung-as
    look-3SG.F.A like-have-PTCP secret-P[/gloss]
    ‘She looks as though having a secret.’

2. Suffixes

I hope that I could shed some light on the prefixes and particles occuring before lexical heads so far, however, Ayeri also has a number of morphemes trailing lexical heads as suffixes which do not seem quite like typical inflection. These are, for one, person suffixes on the verb, which I already tried to come to terms with in a previous blog article. In this article, I had assumed a priori that the case- and topic-marked suffixes on the verb are clitics. However, what I didn’t do is to test whether they actually fulfill formal criteria of clitics. Especially tricky in this regard is maybe that “a pronominal affix or incorporated pronominal is effectively a clitic masquerading as an affix. Therefore, if there are pronominal affixes then they should behave exactly like clitics with respect to crucial aspects of morphosyntax” (Spencer and Luís 2012: 144). Spencer and Luís (2012) then proceed to give examples from Breton and Irish where the person marking on the verb is in complementary distribution with full NPs:

    1. [Breton]
    2. [gloss]Bremañ e lennont al levrioù
      now PRT read.PRES.3PL the books[/gloss]
      ‘Now they are reading the books’ (145, from Borsley et al. 2007)
    3. [gloss]Bremañ e lenn ar vugale al levrioù
      now PRT read.PRES.3SG the children the books[/gloss]
      ‘Now the children are reading the books’ (ibid.)
    4. * [gloss]Bremañ e lennont ar vugale al levrioù
      now PRT read.PRES.3PL the children the books[/gloss]
    1. [Irish]
    2. [gloss]Chuirfinn (*mé) isteach ar an phost sin
      put.COND.1SG (​I​) in on the job that[/gloss]
      ‘I would apply for that job’ (145, from McCloskey and Hale 1984)
    3. [gloss]Chuirfeadh sibh isteach ar an phost sin
      put.COND.3SG you in on the job that[/gloss]
      ‘You would apply for that job’ (ibid.)
    4. [gloss]Chuirfeadh Eoghan isteach ar an phost sin
      put.COND.3SG Owen in on the job that[/gloss]
      ‘Owen would apply for that job’ (ibid.)

What we can see in (37) is that, according to Spencer and Luís (2012), the verb shows no number marking, defaulting to the singular form, in non-negative clauses if the subject of the verb is overt as either a full noun or a pronoun: plural marking on the verb and a full subject can’t coincide in this case, which is why (37c) is marked ungrammatical. In (38a) we can see that there is no need for an explicit first-person pronoun, since that function is already expressed by person marking on the verb—person inflection on the verb seems to be in complementary distribution with full subject pronouns at least for some parts of the paradigm. In (38b) we have an overt 2nd-person subject pronoun, but in this case, the verb does not agree with it and instead defaults to the 3rd-person form, a clear case of which is given in (38c).

While in Ayeri, there is no defaulting to a certain person in the presence of an overt subject NP as such, there is still the effect of complementary distribution between a pronominal suffix in the absence of an overt subject NP and a functionally impoverished as well as phonologically reduced form in its presence:

    1. [gloss]Suta ang Niyas.
      suta ang Niyas
      busy A Niyas[/gloss]
      ‘Niyas is busy.’
    2. [gloss]Yāng suta.
      yāng suta
      3SG.M.A busy[/gloss]
      ‘He is busy.’
    1. [gloss]Lampya ang Niyas.
      lamp-ya ang Niyas
      walk-3SG.M A Niyas[/gloss]
      ‘Niyas is walking.’
    2. [gloss]Lampyāng.
      ‘He is walking’
    1. * [gloss]Lampyāng ang Niyas.
      lamp-yang ang Niyas
      walk-3SG.M.A A Niyas[/gloss]
    2. * [gloss]Lampya yāng.
      lamp-ya yāng
      walk-3SG.M 3SG.M.A[/gloss]

Example (39b) shows the free form of the third singular masculine agent pronoun, yāng. This is in complementary distribution with a full NP, which in (39a) is ang Niyas. In (40a) we can see that the verb agrees with the subject NP in person, gender and number in that it exhibits the suffix -ya. If the overt subject NP is missing, the verb is marked with the same form as the free pronoun, -yāng, which feeds the verb as a syntactic argument. That is, the person suffix itself fills the SUBJ relation of the verb’s subcategorization frame. (42) lists the constituent parts of lampyāng and their associated grammatical features.

  1. lamp- Vstem (↑ PRED) = ‘walk ⟨(↑ SUBJ)⟩’
    -yāng Vinfl (↑ SUBJ PRED) = ‘pro’
    (↑ SUBJ PERS) = 3
    (↑ SUBJ NUM) = SG
    (↑ SUBJ GEND) = M
    (↑ SUBJ ANIM) = +
    (↑ SUBJ CASE) = A
  2. PRED ‘walk ⟨(↑ SUBJ)⟩’
    PRED ‘pro’
    PERS 3
    NUM SG
    GEND M
    ANIM +
    CASE A

Since (43) shows that functionally, the inflection takes the role of the subject relation, (41a) is ungrammatical in that the pronominal suffix -yāng on the verb is redundant in the presence of a full NP which expresses the same features except that the subject NP’s [PRED] value is ‘Niyas’, not ‘pro’. Example (44) shows the annotations for lampya as agreeing with an overt NP. Here, the suffix does not have a [PRED] feature—it is not available for predication. The agreement suffix -ya defines that the subject NP has a certain set of person features. The NP which controls verb agreement (in canonical cases the agent NP) needs to match up with these features in order to establish an agreement relationship. I suppose that by constraining (=c) the subject’s predicator not to be a pro-form in (44) it should also be possible to rule out cases like in (41b), where person agreement is triggered by a pronominal NP, which is ungrammatical, since Ayeri basically supplants person agreement with a pronominal suffix in those cases. If -yāng were a simple inflectional affix, one of the two examples in (41) should be grammatical.

  1. -ya₁ Vinfl (↑ SUBJ PRED) =c ¬ ’pro’
    (↑ SUBJ PERS) = 3
    (↑ SUBJ NUM) = SG
    (↑ SUBJ GEND) = M
    (↑ SUBJ ANIM) = +

The behavior of the pronominal person marking on the verb is thus rather complex, and decidedly unlike inflection in that what looks like an affix on the verb is also an argument of it, like a pronoun, as displayed in (42). Another layer of complexity is added by the fact that such an incorporated pronoun is also eligible for topicalization. As we have seen above, topic marking on nouns is realized by suppressing the realization of the overt case marker, whether it is a proclitic or a suffix. The topic-marked forms of pronouns are also underspecified for case, and they happen to be the same as those of the person-agreement suffixes as exemplified by -ya in (40a). Thus, a topic-marked pronominal suffix on the verb will look exactly like ordinary agreement with a full NP, except that there is no full NP to agree with—hence the subscript numbers in (44) and (45) to distinguish between both kinds of -ya.[1. Assuming that the person suffix on the verb always co-indexes the topic and that one therefore doesn’t need to distinguish a person-agreement suffix from a homophonous topicalized pronominal suffix is a premature conclusion. In fact, the agreement suffix always agrees with the subject of the verb, which is most often the agent NP but may, in absence of an agent NP, also be the patient NP. The topic may consist of any NP, also oblique ones, which the verb then does not agree in person with.]

  1. -ya₂ Vinfl (↑ SUBJ PRED) = ‘pro’
    (↑ SUBJ PERS) = 3
    (↑ SUBJ NUM) = SG
    (↑ SUBJ GEND) = M
    (↑ SUBJ ANIM) = +
    (↑ SUBJ CASE) = Ø ⇒ (↑ TOP) = ↓

Comparing the feature list in (45) with that in (42) and (44), we see that (45) is basically the same as (42), except that either the [CASE] feature is not set, or that the suffix is underspecified for case. In absence of an NP to agree with, it follows from this definitional lack that the person marking on the verb itself is to be identified as constituting the topic, and the correspondent of the preverbal topic marker. In the following case, the preverbal topic marker defines that the topic is an animate agent:

  1. ang Cl (↑ TOP CASE) = A
    (↑ TOP ANIM) = +

Instances of other case-unmarked nouns can be ruled out as being also part of the topic relation on the grounds of cohesion: if the topic is defined as an agent and it can’t be assumed from context that the case-unmarked noun in question is also part of the agent NP, discard it as a candidate. Besides, every core θ-role (agent, patient, recipient) can only be assigned once, so if the role specified by the topic marker is already assigned, another NP in the same clause can’t also be assigned it. This gets more difficult with non-core roles, though I assume that oblique arguments are less likely to be topicalized.

What has led me to confusion about the status of the pronominal suffixes in the past is essentially that “a pronominal affix or incorporated pronominal is effectively a clitic masquerading as an affix” (Spencer and Luís 2012: 144). While the pronominal suffixes in Ayeri behave in a special way regarding syntax, they lack wide scope, which is typical of affixes (apart from the examples from Turkish quoted earlier). Unlike Breton or Irish, Ayeri’s pronominal affixes do not default to some form, and verbs cannot be unmarked either, that is, verbs always have to be inflected in some way, mostly for phonotactic reasons. Thus, in coordination, every conjunct has to be inflected for person features:

    1. [gloss]Nedrayāng nay layayāng.
      nedra-yāng nay laya-yāng
      sit-3SG.M.A and read-3SG.M.A[/gloss]
      ‘He is sitting and reading.’
    2. * [gloss]Nedrayāng nay laya.
      nedra-yāng nay laya
      sit-3SG.M.A and read[/gloss]
    3. * [gloss]Nedra nay layayāng.
      nedra nay laya-yāng
      sit and read-3SG.M.A[/gloss]

In the case of nedra- and laya- in (47), leaving off the person marking would theoretically work, since * nedra and * laya satisfy phonotactic constraints. However, Ayeri also has a great number of verb stems which end in a consonant cluster, such as anl- ‘bring’ or tapy- ‘set’, which don’t form valid words as bare stems. What would be possible instead is that one conjunct might carry the full pronominal suffix as a “strong” form and the other one might only partially co-index the required features by using the less specific corresponding agreement marker as a “weak” form. Differential marking of this kind, though, is simply not established.

After briefly delving into the realm of syntax, let’s return to morphology for the second group of suffixes which could use some clarification. While Ayeri has quantifiers which are independent words, there are also a number of very common ‘little’ quantifiers and degree adverbs which are customarily spelled as suffixes, for instance, -ikan ‘much, many; very’, -kay ‘few; a little’, -nama ‘almost’, -nyama ‘even’. All of these are adverbial in meaning and while they are comparatively light in their semantics compared to regular content words, I can’t say that they strike me as functional morphemes in particular. In the course of writing this article, an article which has come up in my searches a number of times is Bittner (1995) on quantification in West Greenlandic. According to her terminology, -ikan in Ayeri would be a D-quantifier, which “forms a constituent with, a projection of N” (Bittner 1995: 59), in contrast to A-quantifiers, which form “a constituent with some projection of V” (59). That is, A-quantifiers are adverbs like almost (-nama in Ayeri), mostly, or never, while D-quantifiers are words like most, some, or every. Ayeri makes no distinction between A- and D-quantifiers with regards to their being treated as suffixes, so one can find suffixed quantifiers in both groups. While my main interest here is in the morphosyntax of these quantifiers, Bittner’s is in their semantics, though the article gives evidence notwithstanding of a language in which suffixed quantifiers are attested, for example:

  1. [West Greenlandic]
    1. [gloss]qaatuur-tuaanna-ngajap-p-a-a
      ‘he almost always breaks it’ (adapted from Bittner 1995: 60)
    2. [gloss]qaqutigu-rujussuaq
      ‘very rarely’ (63)
    1. [gloss]ang adruya tadayen-ngas adaley
      ang adru-ya.Ø tadayen-ngas ada-ley
      AT break-3SG.M.TOP always-almost that-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘he almost always breaks it’
    2. [gloss]kora-ikan
      ‘very rarely’

As we can see in (48a), West Greenlandic incorporates the quantifier suffixes into the verb, while Ayeri—not a polysynthetic language—proceeds more freely in (49a) in that tadayen ‘always, every time’ is an adverb and as such a free morpheme which is, however, in turn modified by a suffixed quantifier. Since orthography may be treacherous, let’s first try to establish whether -ngas and -ikan and their like are free morphemes or not. As discussed initially regarding the preverbal particles, it is possible to reorder free morphemes, while clitics, as bound morphemes, can’t move around. Adverbs and adjectives are, if they optionally add additional information to a lexical head, adjuncts, and according to Carnie (2013) it is possible for adjuncts to switch places within the same syntactic domain. Adjuncts can also be coordinated with other adjuncts in the same syntactic domain. Furthermore, it is possible to replace X’ nodes with pro-forms, like one in English.

    1. [gloss]kipisānye-ikan bino kāryo
      kipisān-ye-ikan bino kāryo
      painting-PL-many colorful big[/gloss]
      ‘many big colorful paintings’
    2. kipisānye-ikan kāryo bino
      ‘many big colorful paintings’
    3. ! kipisānye bino-ikan kāryo
      ‘very colorful big paintings’
    4. ! kipisānye bino kāryo-ikan
      ‘very big colorful paintings’
    1. [gloss]kipisānye-ikan bino nay kāryo
      kipisān-ye-ikan bino nay kāryo
      painting-PL-many colorful and big[/gloss]
      ‘many big and colorful paintings’
    2. * kipisānye-ikan nay bino kāryo
      ‘many and colorful big paintings’
    3. ! kipisānye bino-ikan nay kāryo
      ‘big and very colorful paintings’

As (50cd) shows, moving -ikan ‘many, much, very’ into different positions results not necessarily in ungrammatical expressions, but in ones with meanings different from what was intended, since -ikan‘s scope changes from the noun to the adjective it is appended to. On the other hand, comparing (50a) and (b), it is possible for kāryo ‘big’ and bino ‘colorful’ to switch places with no adversary effects. Example (51b) demonstrates that placing a coordinating conjunction between -ikan and bino ‘colorful’ doesn’t work. The coordination in (51c), on the other hand, is not a problem—not because it is possible to coordinate -ikan and kāryo, but because bino-ikan ‘very colorful’ is considered one syntactic unit which is coordinated with kāryo. Thus, in (50b), we have actually been trying to coordinate kipisānye-ikan ‘many paintings’ with bino ‘colorful’, which does not work, since it is not possible to coordinate a lexical head with an adjunct supposed to modify it, since they are of different syntactic categories. In this regard it is worth mentioning that Ayeri’s quantifier suffixes are rather not complements either, since they are not required in order to satisfy their head’s argument structure.

One might argue that in (50) and (51) we tried to compare apples to oranges in that -ikan and bino are of different categories, since -ikan and bino don’t appear to operate on the same levels. So instead, let’s look at possibilities of word order change and coordination between different quantifiers to ensure that we actually stay on the same level. With this there is the problem, however, that it seems strange to modify the same lexical head with multiple different quantifiers, so this test does not really seem feasible to produce grammatical results. Also, with regards to coordination of quantifiers, it is maybe more natural to oppose them with soyang ‘or’ than to coordinate them; the grammatical structure of two categorially identical elements connected by a grammatical conjunction (even if the meaning is disjunctive) remains the same in either case.

    1. * [gloss]keynam-ikan-kay
      ‘few many people’
    2. ? [gloss]keynam-ikan soyang -kay
      keynam-ikan soyang -kay
      people-many or few[/gloss]
      ‘few or many people’

In example (52a) we see that it is indeed not possible to combine multiple quantifiers to jointly modify a head in the way it is possible for multiple adjectives to modify the same head as in (50a), for instance. The example of quantifier disjunction in (52b) is also odd unless we permit a reading where keynam ‘people’ has been suppressed in the second disjunct to avoid repetition, although in the corresponding case of (53b) below, da-kay would be preferable.

    1. ? keynam[-ikan soyang kay]
      ‘[few or many] people’
    2. [keynami-ikan] soyang [_i-kay]
      ‘[few _i] or [many peoplei]’

Both tests, moving -ikan into other positions and coordination, have failed so far, and we have evidence that -ikan forms a syntactic unit with its head, which points to it being a bound morpheme similar to an affix in spite of its adverb-like meaning. As with free words, it is also possible to replace a quantifier’s head with a pro-form, as mentioned above in the comment on (53b), and shown in more detail in (54). With quantifier suffixes there seems to be an overlap between word-like and affix-like properties, which is typical of clitics.

    1. [gloss]Ang vacyan keynam-ikan seygoley.
      ang vac-yan keynam-Ø-ikan seygo-ley.
      AT like-3PL.M people-TOP-many apple-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘Many people like apples.’
    2. [gloss]Ang vacyan danya-ikan seygoley.
      ang vac-yan danya-Ø-ikan seygo-ley.
      AT like-3PL.M such.one-TOP-many apple-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘Many of them like apples.’
    3. [gloss]Ang vacyan da-ikan seygoley.
      ang vac-yan da-ikan-Ø seygo-ley.
      AT like-3PL.M one-many-TOP apple-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘Many (of them) like apples.’

Somewhat untypical of affixes, it seems to be possible to modify suffixed quantifier with adverbs like ekeng ‘too’ and kagan ‘far too’, as (55) shows. This suggests that at least in this context, -ikan may actually be the lexical head of an adverbial phrase, which is at odds with its status as a bound morpheme.

  1. [gloss]Ang vacyan keynam-ikan kagan disuley.
    ang vac-yan keynam-Ø-ikan kagan disu-ley.
    AT like-3PL.M people-TOP-many far.too disu-P.INAN[/gloss]
    ‘Far too many people like bananas.’

I previously tried to insert parenthetical word material in between morphemes, and this test may be especially interesting in face of (55), since here it is not entirely clear whether keynam-ikan kagan ‘too many people’ forms a single unit. Since signs point to the status of quantifier suffixes as clitics, chances are good that it does, in fact, constitute a clitic cluster similar to the preverbal one. Example (56), therefore, lists examples which try to split up the expression at every relevant point. According to this test, it looks indeed as though keynam-ikan kagan forms a syntactic unit, in that -ikan kagan ‘too many’ cannot be split up internally and also cannot be divided from -ikan‘s head, keynam ‘people’.

    1. [gloss]Ang vacyan, narayang, keynam-ikan kagan disuley.
      ang vac-yan nara-yang keynam-Ø-ikan kagan disu-ley
      AT like-3PL.M say-1SG.A people-TOP-many far.too disu-P.INAN[/gloss]
      ‘Far too many people, I say, like bananas.’
    2. * Ang vacyan keynam, narayang, ikan kagan disuley.
    3. * Ang vacyan keynam-ikan, narayang, kagan disuley.
    4. Ang vacyan keynam-ikan kagan, narayang, disuley.

Another interesting distributional property of suffixed quantifiers in Ayeri is that in spite of their being suffixed, to verbs for instance, they can form arguments of the verb, similar to pronominal suffixes. Thus, with verbs like kond- ‘eat’, -ma ‘enough’ appears suffixed to the verb instead of as a predicative adverb. Incidentally, the examples in (56) also show that a quantifier attaches after pronominal suffixes, which we have already established as being clitics. An inflectional affix would not normally appear in post-clitic position, which is further evidence to the hypothesis that quantifier suffixes in Ayeri are clitics.

    1. [gloss]Kondanang-ma.
      ‘We ate enough.’
    2. [gloss]Ang tangay-ikan vana.
      ang tang-ay.Ø-ikan vana
      AT hear-1SG.TOP-much 2.GEN[/gloss]
      ‘I’ve heard much about you.’

Since Ayeri possesses a zero copula, equative phrases which treat quantifier suffixes as predicative adverbs pose a difficulty in that quantifier suffixes cannot stand alone like predicatives normally would. Thus, in a similar fashion to -ma‘s behavior in (57a), the predicative -ma in (58b) cliticizes to the only available word: the subject, adareng ‘that’.

    1. [gloss]Adareng edaya.
      ada-reng edaya
      that-A.INAN here[/gloss]
      ‘It is here.’
    2. [gloss]Adareng-ma.
      ‘That/It is enough.’

If quantifier suffixes are clitics, they should also have wide scope over conjuncts. Here as well, quantifier suffixes behave typically of clitics, though, in that they can have scope over a conjunct as a whole, although not totally unambiguously so.

    1. [gloss]Ang tahisayan koyās nay kihasley-ikan.
      ang tahisa-yan.Ø koya-as nay kihas-ley-ikan
      AT own-3PL.M.TOP book-P and map-P.INAN-many[/gloss]
      ‘They own many books and maps.’
    2. [gloss]Yeng alingo nay para-ven.
      yeng alingo nay para-ven
      3SG.F.A clever and quick-pretty[/gloss]
      ‘She’s pretty clever and quick.’

Thus, in (59a), while koyās nay kihasley-ikan is translated as ‘many books and maps’ (nouns do not mark plural if modified by a quantifier which indicates plurality), another possible reading is ‘a book and many maps’. Ways to force the latter reading explicitly are, for one, to use koyās men ‘one/a single book’, or alternatively, to reduplicate the coordinator nay ‘and’ to naynay ‘and also’. Context should be sufficient to indicate the correct reading of (59a) under normal circustances, however. The same applies to (59b), where the non-distributive reading can be made explicit by using naynay instead of simple nay. In both (59a) and (b), if the first conjunct is modified by an adjective, the distribution of the quantifier over both conjuncts is also blocked. Thus, in (60a), there is ‘a big book and many maps’, and in (60b) ‘she’ is ‘surprisingly clever and pretty quick’.

    1. [gloss]Ang tahisayan koyās kāryo nay kihasley-ikan.
      ang tahisa-yan.Ø koya-as kāryo nay kihas-ley-ikan
      AT own-3PL.M.TOP book-P big and map-P.INAN-many[/gloss]
      ‘They own a big book and many maps.’
      Not: ‘They own many big books and maps.’
    2. [gloss]Yeng alingo patu nay para-ven.
      yeng alingo patu nay para-ven
      3SG.F.A clever surprisingly and quick-pretty[/gloss]
      ‘She’s surprisingly clever and pretty quick.’
      Not: ‘She is surprisingly pretty clever and quick.’

The false interpretations in (60) can be correctly achieved by ordinarily placing the adjective after the compounds so that the adjective itself has scope over both conjuncts. This is demonstrated in (61) and (62). Again, an unambiguous and individuating interpretation can be achieved by placing the quantifier suffix on each conjunct.

    1. [gloss]Ang tahisayan koyajas nay kihasyeley kāryo.
      ang tahisa-yan.Ø koya-ye-as nay kihas-ye-ley kāryo
      AT own-3PL.M.TOP book-PL-P and map-PL-P.INAN big[/gloss]
      ‘They own big books and maps.’
    2. [gloss]Ang tahisayan koyās nay kihasley-ikan kāryo.
      ang tahisa-yan.Ø koya-as nay kihas-ley-ikan kāryo
      AT own-3PL.M.TOP book-PL-P and map-P.INAN-many big[/gloss]
      ‘They own many big books and maps.’
    1. [gloss]Yeng alingo nay para patu.
      yeng alingo nay para patu
      3SG.F.A clever and quick surprisingly[/gloss]
      ‘She’s surprisingly clever and quick.’
    2. [gloss]Yeng alingo nay para-ven patu.
      yeng alingo nay para-ven patu
      3SG.F.A clever and quick-pretty surprisingly[/gloss]
      ‘She’s surprisingly pretty clever and quick.’

3. Conclusive remarks

I have applied various tests, mostly of morphosyntactic nature, to particles occurring in front of verbs, nouns, and adjectives, as well as to suffixes indicating person features on verbs, and to quantifier suffixes on a variety of parts of speech in order test whether these particles, prefixes, and suffixes behave like clitics in spite of appearing like function words, adverbs, prefixes, or suffixes. By testing morphosyntactic properties of the various morphemes evidence was presented to argue that (1) the preverbal particles form a clitic cluster together with the verb; (2) da- and sitang- on verbs are likely clitics; (3) da- on nouns, adjectives and possessive pronouns are clitics; (4) the preposed case markers of names are likely clitics; (5) deictic prefixes on the noun are likely clitics; (6) pronominal suffixes on verbs are clitics for their special syntax and in spite of the suffixes’ narrow scope, which is at least in part due to phonotactic requirements; and (7), suffixed quantifiers are clitics in spite of their adverbial meaning.

  • Bittner, Maria. “Quantification in Eskimo: A Challenge for Compositional Semantics.” Quantification in Natural Languages. Ed. by Emmon Bach et al. Dordrecht: Springer, 1995. 59–80. Print. Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy 54. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-2817-1_4.
  • Borsley, Robert D., Maggie Tallerman, and David Willis. The Syntax of Welsh. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. Print.
  • Bresnan, Joan et al. Lexical-Functional Syntax. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2016. Print. Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics 16.
  • Butt, Miriam and Tracy Holloway King. “Lexical-Functional Grammar.” Syntax—Theory and Analysis: An International Handbook. Vol. 2. Ed. by Tibor Kiss and Artemis Alexiadou. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2015. 839–74. Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 42. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. DOI: 10.1515/9783110363708-002.
  • Carnie, Andrew. Syntax: A Generative Introduction. 3rd ed. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2013. Print. Introducing Linguistics 4.
  • Halpern, Aaron. “Clitics.” The Handbook of Morphology. Ed. by Andrew Spencer and Arnold M. Zwicky. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. 101–22. Print.
  • Hammarström, Harald et al. “Language: Kwak’wala.” Glottolog. Version 3.0. Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017. ‹http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/kwak1269›.
  • Klavans, Judith L. “The Independence of Syntax and Phonology in Cliticization.” Language 61.1 (1985): 95–120. Web. 20 Jul. 2016. ‹http://www.jstor.org/stable/413422›.
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Unclogging the Sink: Avoiding Center-Embedding with Subordinating Verbs

While working on the chapter on verb morphology in the revised Ayeri grammar I’ve been working on all the way since July, I had to stop the other day and consider how to deal with participles. With regards to Ayeri, these are the infinite subordinated verbs which appear together with verbs that may take another verb – or even a whole phrase headed by such an infinite verb – as a complement:

    1. [gloss]Cunyo makayam perinang.
      Cun-yo maka-yam perin-ang
      begin-3SG.N shine-PTCP sun-A[/gloss]
      ‘The sun began to shine.’
    2. [gloss]Manangyeng pengalyam badanas saha yena.
      Manang=yeng pengal-yam badan-as saha yena
      avoid=3SG.F.A meet-PTCP father-P in.law 3SG.F.GEN[/gloss]
      ‘She avoids to meet her father-in-law.’

Example (1a) shows two intransitive verbs being combined, cun- ‘begin’ (subordinating) and maka- ‘shine’ (complement); example (1b) illustrates an intransitive verb which takes a transitive verb as a complement, manang- ‘avoid’ (subordinating) and pengal- ‘meet’ (complement). We can also observe word order differences in that the agent NP in (1a) follows the initial verb complex while the agent NP is an enclitic pronoun directly following its governing verb in (1b), which is not surprising, since agent pronouns take verbs as clitic hosts. That is, the agent pronoun -yeng ‘she’ (3SG.F.A) bundles together with its governing verb manang- ‘avoid’ rather than cliticizing to the whole verb phrase,[1. If Ayeri has such a thing, which is kind of a problem for me right now. I need to read up on VSO-language syntax before I can make conclusive claims.] i.e. appending -yeng ‘she’ (3SG.F.A) to pengalyam ‘meeting’. As far as describing the morphology of participles goes, we are basically done here, and this is also where I stopped thinking previously.

However, if we actually continue from here and take a morphosyntactic point of view, an interesting question arises: what happens to the constituents’ linearization if we (a) use full NPs instead of cliticized agent pronouns, and (b) not only combine an intransitive verb with a transitive one, but try all possible combinations–intransitive, transitive, ditransitive, and any of these with adverbial adjuncts? I think that for the sake of sketching out my thoughts here, it won’t be necessessary to give examples of all 18 possible combinations, since the more complex cases should all be treated alike anyway.

Assuming that she in (1b) is Maha, who just doesn’t get along with her husband’s father, where does the agent NP go? As noted above, the position of the agent clitic is somewhat special, so I take it that (1a) should be the basic word order. Thus, for (1b), we get:

  1. [gloss]Manangye pengalyam badanas saha yena ang Maha.
    Manang-ye pengal-yam badan-as saha yena ang= Maha
    avoid-3SG.F meet-PTCP father-P in.law 3SG.F.GEN A= Maha[/gloss]
    ‘Maha avoids to meet her father-in-law.’

Besides the fact that the agent winds up at the very end of the clause instead of at its otherwise preferred position after the verb, this still seems to be comprehensible. What happens, however, if we use a transitive subordinating verb? The dictionary, for instance, lists pinya- ‘ask (s.o. to do sth.)’ as a candidate. With regards to the normal constituent order of Ayeri, we can assume that the patient NP will follow the agent one:

  1. [gloss]Ang pinyaya sahayam   Yan sa Pila.
    Ang pinya-ya saha-yam Ø= Yan sa= Pila
    AT ask-3SG.M go-PTCP TOP= Yan P= Pila[/gloss]
    ‘Yan asks Pila to go.’

This also still looks very harmless with regards to parsability. However, things become more complicated if we increase the complexity of the embedded phrase by making the subordinate verb transitive (4a) or even ditransitive (4b):

    1. [gloss]Ang pinyaya konjam inunas   Yan sa Pila.
      Ang pinya-ya kond-yam inun-as Ø= Yan sa= Pila
      AT ask-3SG.M eat-PTCP fish-P TOP= Yan P= Pila[/gloss]
      ‘Yan asks Pila to eat the fish.’
    2. [gloss]Ang pinyaya ilyam koyaley ledanyam yana   Yan sa Pila.
      Ang pinya-ya il-yam koya-ley ledan-yam yana Ø= Yan sa= Pila
      AT ask-3SG.M give-PTCP book-P.INAN friend-DAT 3SG.M.GEN TOP= Yan P= Pila[/gloss]
      ‘Yan asks Pila to give the book to his friend.’

The distance between the subordinating verb and its arguments grows by the increasing number of constituents in the embedded phrase, which in turn becomes increasingly “deep” in terms of underlying syntactic structure or “heavy” with regards to syntactic weight. The parser in both the speaker’s and the listener’s brain thus has to keep track of more and more relations in parallel. In terms of information flow, this does not strike me as beneficial or intuitive either to a speaker constructing the phrase, or to a listener having to decode the utterance. For the same reason, there is already a rule that relative clauses constitute “heavy” elements which pull their referent NP all the way to the back of the clause to keep the upper right field free of clutter. While (4a) is a little awkward since there are two patients to keep track of at the same time and at the time the first patient NP occurs we don’t know yet whether -ya is just for agreement or a cliticized agent-topic pronoun, example (4b) seems even more impenetrable with its three referents in the embedded clause and two in the matrix clause, placed at the end. Putting less important information before important information also goes against information-flow intuition.[1. Hat-tip to Oliver Schallert (blog article in German).] Restructuring seems advisable here, thus, and there are two possibilities:

    1. [gloss]Ang pinyaya _i   Yan sa Pila [ilyam koyaley ledanyam yana]i.
      Ang pinya-ya   Ø= Yan sa= Pila il-yam koya-ley ledan-yam yana
      AT ask-3SG.M   TOP= Yan P= Pila give-PTCP book-P.INAN friend-DAT 3SG.M.GEN[/gloss]
      ‘Yan asks Pila to give the book to his friend.’
    2. [gloss]Ang (dai-)pinyaya   Yan sa Pila [, ang ilye koyaley ledanyam yana]i.
      Ang (da=)pinya-ya Ø= Yan sa= Pila ang il=ye.Ø koya-ley ledan-yam yana
      AT (so=)ask-3SG.M TOP= Yan P= Pila AT give=3SG.F.TOP book-P.INAN friend-DAT 3SG.M.GEN[/gloss]
      ‘Yan asks Pila to give the book to his friend.’

In the past I might have preferred (5a) as a solution, but since the analogy to relative clauses suggests itself and complement clauses are useful, I find that I tend towards the sentence in (5b) currently. To indicate that the sentence structure has been remodeled and information will be following, it might also be useful to add the da- particle to the verb: a more literal translation of (5b) could be ‘Yan asks Pila such that she give the book to his friend.’ Either way, however, the normal VSO word order is restored this way, important information is present early on, and the heavy constituent is banned to the back. Information should now be able to flow easily again.

Verb Agreement in Ayeri: Bound, Clitic, or Both?

I read Agreement by Corbett earlier this year and of course it contains a chapter on person clitics as compared to person inflection as an agreement strategy (Corbett 99–112). You may have noticed before that Ayeri behaves a little oddly with regards to person marking on verbs, insofar as verbs for the most part agree with agents in person and number, whether they are the topic of the clause or not.[1. “Topic” is not to be understood strictly in terms of topic/comment sentence structure (Li and Thompson 1976) here in the way e.g. Japanese or Chinese uses it, but in terms of the “Austronesian alignment.” For an analysis of how Ayeri treats topics vs. subjects, see the article “Flicking Switches: Ayeri and the Austronesian Alignment” (2012-06-27) on this blog.] Sometimes, this person marking even involves case (as a nominal category governed by the verb!), as we will see below. For a start, however, consider these two examples:[1. Some of the Ayeri examples used here come from a list of samples I provided for a bachelor’s thesis at the University of Kent in March 2016, in private conversation, on request. I don’t know what the author made of them – the questionnaire I filled out initially indicated that the thesis was probably on the syntactic typology of fictional languages regarding typical word-order correlations (VO correlating with head-first order etc.). I hope that my reflections here don’t preempt or invalidate the author’s analyses should they still be in the process of writing or their submitted thesis be in the process of evaluation and grading. I would certainly like to learn about their analysis of my examples.]

    1. Ang manya Ajān sa Pila.
      [gloss]Ang man-ya Ø=​Ajān sa=​Pila
      AT greet-3SG.M TOP=​Ajān[3SG.M] P=​Pila[3SG.F][/gloss]
      ‘Ajān greets Pila.’
    2. Ang manya sa Pila.
      [gloss]Ang man-ya.Ø sa=​Pila
      AT greet-3SG.M.TOP P=​Pila[3SG.F][/gloss]
      ‘He greets Pila.’

I think it is uncontroversial to analyze -ya in (1a) as person agreement: Ajān is a male name in Ayeri while Pila is a feminine one; the verb inflects for a masculine 3rd person, which tells us that it agrees with the one doing the greeting, Ajān. Ajān is also who this is about, which is shown on the verb by marking for an agent topic. In the second case, there is only anaphoric reference to Ajān, so you might say that the agent NP is left out, so very broadly, the verb marking here seems to be like in Spanish, where you can drop the subject pronoun:[1. However, we will see that it is probably more complicated than this.]

    1. Juan saluda a María.
      [gloss]Juan salud-a a María
      John greet-3SG ACC Mary[/gloss]
      ‘John greets Mary.’
    2. Saluda a María
      [gloss]Salud-a a María.
      greet-3SG ACC Mary[/gloss]
      ‘He greets Mary.’

Example (1b) probably won’t raise many eyebrows either, except that there is also topic marking for an agent there, the controller of which I have so far assumed to be the person inflection on the verb, in analogy with examples like:

  1. Lampyāng.
    ‘He walks.’

This raises the question whether in Ayeri there is dropping of an agent pronoun involved at all, which is why I glossed the person suffix in (1b) as -ya.Ø (-3SG.M.TOP) rather than just as -ya (-3SG.M).

This leads us to consider another characteristic of Ayeri, namely that the topic morpheme on noun phrases is zero. That is, the absence of overt case marking on a nominal element indicates that it is a topic; the verb in turn marks the case of the topicalized NP with a (case) particle preceding it. Pronouns as well show up in their unmarked form when topicalized, which is why I am hesitant to analyze the pronoun in (4b) as a clitic on the VP rather than an independent morpheme:[1. Also, perhaps a little untypically, topic NPs in Ayeri are not usually pulled to the front of the phrase (at least not in the written language; cf. Lehmann 120–122), so topic-marked pronouns stay in-situ; which NP constitutes the topic of the phrase is marked on the verb right at the head of the clause. How and whether this can be justified in terms of grammatical weight (see, e.g., Wasow 95–98) remains to be seen.]

    1. Sa manya ang Ajān Pila.
      [gloss]Sa man-ya ang=​Ajān Ø=​Pila
      PT greet-3SG.M A=​Ajān TOP=​Pila[/gloss]
      ‘It’s Pila that Ajān greets.’
    2. Sa manyāng ye.
      [gloss]Sa man-yāng ye.Ø
      PT greet-3SG.M.A 3SG.F.TOP[/gloss]
      ‘It’s her that he greets.’

What is remarkable, then, is that ye3SG.F.TOP‘ is the very same form that appears as an agreement morpheme on the verb, just like -ya in various examples above:

  1. Ang purivaye yāy.
    [gloss]Ang puriva-ye.Ø yāy
    AT smile-3SG.F.TOP 3SG.M.LOC[/gloss]
    ‘She smiles at him.’

This also holds for all other personal pronouns. Moreover, -yāng as seen in examples (3) and (4b) may as well be used as a free pronoun, as well as other such case-marked personal forms:

    1. Yeng mino.
      [gloss]Yeng mino
      3SG.F.A happy[/gloss]
      ‘She is happy.’
    2. Yāng naynay.
      [gloss]Yāng naynay.
      3SG.M.A too[/gloss]
      ‘He is, too.’

As for case-marked person suffixes on verbs, I have so far assumed that they are essentially clitics, especially since the following marking strategy is the grammatical one in absence of an agent NP:

    1. Manye sa Pila.
      [gloss]Man-ye sa=​Pila
      greet-3SG.F P=​Pila[/gloss]
      ‘Pila is being greeted.’
    2. Manyes.
      ‘She is being greeted.’

The verb here agrees with the patient – or is it that person agreement suffixes on verbs are generally clitics in Ayeri, even where they don’t involve case marking? There seems to be a gradient here between what looks like regular verb agreement with the agent on the one hand, and agent or patient pronouns just stacked onto the verb stem on the other hand:

Table 1: Verb inflection types in Ayeri
I. Clitic pronouns II. Transitional III. Verb agreement
Inflectional categories Person
Examples (itr.) …-yāng
…-ya₁ …-ang₁
…-3SG.M …-A
Examples (tr.) sa₁ …-yāng …-Ø₁
PT …-3SG.M.A …-TOP
ang₁ …-ya.Ø₁ …-as
AT …-3SG.M.TOP …-P
  1. ang₁ …-ya₁ …-Ø₁ …-as
    AT …-3SG.M …-TOP …-P[1. The question here is, though, whether this shouldn’t better be analyzed as AT …-3SG.M.TOP …-TOP …-P, with co-indexing of the topic on the person inflection of the verb, making it structurally closer to type (2). What is certain is that the VP in Ayeri is rather complex syntactically and that it should be investigated further in the future.]
  2. sa₁ …-ya₂ …-ang₂ …-Ø₁
    PT …-3SG.M …-A …-TOP

Especially the middle, transitional category is interesting in that what looks like verb agreement superficially can still govern topicalization marking, which is indicated in column II by an index “1”. Note that this behavior only occurs in transitive contexts; there is no topic marking on the verb if the verb only has a single NP dependent.

As for personal pronouns fused with the verb stem like in the first column, Corbett points out that

In terms of syntax, pronominal affixes are arguments of the verb; a verb with its pronominal affixes constitutes a full sentence, and additional noun phrases are optional. If pronominal affixes are the primary arguments, then they agree in the way that anaphoric pronouns agree […] In terms of morphology, pronominal affixes are bound to the verb; typically they are obligatory […]. (99–100)

This seems to be exactly what is going on for instance in (3) and (7b), where the verb forms a complete sentence. It needs to be pointed out that Corbett includes an example from Tuscarora, a native American polysynthetic language, in relation to the above quotation. Ayeri should not be considered polysynthetic, however, since its verbs generally do not exhibit relations with multiple NPs, at least as far as person and number agreement is involved.

Taking everything written above so far into account, it looks much as though Ayeri is in the process of grammaticalizing personal pronouns into person agreement (Lehmann 42–45, van Gelderen 493–497). Corbett illustrates an early stage of such a process:

  1. Skou (Corbett 76–77):
    1. [gloss]Ke móe ke=fue. {(*​Ke móe fue.)}
      3SG.M fish 3SG.M=​see.3SG.M { }[/gloss]
      ‘He saw a fish.’
    2. [gloss]Pe móe pe=fu. {(*​Pe móe fu.)}
      3SG.F fish 3SG.F=​see.3SG.F { }[/gloss]
      ‘She saw a fish.’

What van Gelderen calls the subject cycle, the “oft-noted cline expressing that pronouns can be reanalyzed as clitics and agreement markers” (van Gelderen 493) applies here, and as well in Ayeri. However, while she continues to say that in “many languages, the agreement affix resembles the emphatic pronoun and derives from it” (494), Ayeri does at least in part the opposite and uses the case-unmarked, unstressed form of personal pronouns for what resembles verb agreement most closely. This, however, should not be too controversial either, considering that e.g. semantic bleaching and phonetic erosion go hand in hand with grammaticalization (Lehmann 136–137, van Gelderen 497).

As pointed out above (see example (7)), Ayeri usually exhibits verbs as agreeing with agents and occasionally patients, not topics as such. This may be a little counterintuitive since the relation between topics and subjects is close, but is possibly due to the fact that the unmarked word order is VAP. This means that agent NPs usually follow the verb, and it strikes me as not too unnatural to have an agreement relation between the verb and the closest NP also when non-conjoined NPs are involved (Corbett 180). This conveniently explains why verbs can agree with patients as well if the agent NP is absent. Taking into account that the grammaticalization process is still ongoing so that there is still some relative freedom in how morphemes may be used if a paradigm has not yet fully settled (Lehmann 148–150) also makes this seem less strange. Verbs simply become agreement targets of the closest semantically plausible nominal constituent. Ayeri seems to be shifting from topics to subjects, and as a consequence the bond between agents and verbs is strengthened due to their usual adjacency; developing verb agreement with agents may be seen as symptomatic of this change.

Up to here signs point towards Ayeri’s person agreement in fact being more likely enclitic pronominal affixes, even what I had been thinking of as person agreement before (i.e. suffixes on the verb that only encode person and number, but not case), but can we somehow corrobate this? Corbett offers a typology here:

Table 2: The syntax and morphology of pronominal affixes (Corbett 101)
syntax: non-argument argument
linguistic element: ‘pure’ agreement marker pronominal affix free pronoun
morphology: inflectional form free form

A pronominal affix, then, is syntactically an argument of the verb but has the morphology of an inflectional form. If we compare this to the gradient given in table 1 above, it becomes evident that I definitely fulfills these criteria, and II does so as well, in fact, in that there is no agent NP that could serve as a controller if the verb inflection in II were ‘merely’ a agreement target. The inflection in III, on the other hand, appears to have all hallmarks of agreement in that there is a controller NP that triggers it, with the verb serving as an agreement target. Moreover, the person marking on the verb is not a syntactic argument of the verb. As example (7a) shows, however, marking of type III permits the verb to mark more than one case role, which makes it slightly atypical, although verbs can only carry a single instance of person marking (Corbett 103). Regarding referentiality, the person suffixes on the verb in table 1, columns I and II are independent means of referring to discourse participants mentioned earlier, whereas the person suffix in III needs support from an NP in the same clause as a source of morphological features to share:

    1. Ajān … Ang manya sa Pila.
      [gloss]Ajān … Ang man-ya.Ø sa=​Pila
      Ajān … AT greet-3SG.M.TOP P=​Pila[/gloss]
      ‘Ajān … He greets Pila.’
    2. Ajān … Sa manyāng Pila.
      [gloss]Ajān … Sa man-yāng Ø=​Pila
      Ajān … PT greet-3SG.M.A TOP=​Pila[/gloss]
      ‘Ajān … It’s Pila that he greets.’

    3. *Ajān … Manya sa Pila.
      [gloss]Ajān … Man-ya sa=​Pila
      Ajān … greet-3SG.M P=​Pila[/gloss]

Since person marking of the type I and II is referential, as shown in example (9a) and (b), it can be counted as a cliticized pronoun (103). Pronouns in Ayeri can also refer to non-people – there are both a ‘neuter’ gender for non-people considered living (or being closely associated with living things), and an ‘inanimate’ gender for the whole rest of things; however, since mere agreement as in type III needs support from an NP within the verb’s scope, it does not have descriptive/lexical content of its own, i.e. it only serves a grammatical function (104). As for Corbett’s balance of information criterion, table 1 also highlights differences in what information is provided by the person marking. Nouns in Ayeri inherently bear information on person, number, and gender, and all three types of person inflection on verbs share these features. However, there are no extra grammatical features indicated by the first two inflection types that are not expressed by noun phrases, although under a very close understanding of Corbett, the following example (10) may still qualify as person-marking on the verb realizing a grammatical feature shared with an NP that is not openly expressed by the NP. He writes that in the world’s languages, this frequently is number (105). This, however, does not apply to Ayeri because the only time that verbs display number not expressed overtly by inflection on a noun is in agreement like in type (3a):

  1. Ang sahayan ayon kay kong nangginoya.
    [gloss]Ang saha-yan ayon-Ø kay kong nanggino-ya
    AT come-3PL.M man-TOP three into tavern-LOC[/gloss]
    ‘Three men come into a pub.’

As shown above, verb marking of the types I and II is independent as a reference, so there is unirepresentation of the marked NP. In contrast, verb marking of type III requires a controlling NP in the same clause to share grammatical features with, so that there is multirepresentation typical of canonical agreement (106). Note that unirepresentation as outlined here is probably different from pro-drop, as in this case I would expect sentences like (9c) to be grammatical (107). A further property that hinges on types I and II being independent pronouns tacked onto verbs as clitics is that they are not coreferential with another NP of the same grammatical relation, but in complementary distribution, as commonly assumed with pronominals (108). Hence, you can’t say something like either of these two:

    1. *Lampyāng ang Ajān.
      [gloss]Lamp-yāng ang=​Ajān
      walk-3SG.M.A A=Ajān[/gloss]
    2. *Ang lampyāng Ajān.
      [gloss]Ang lamp-yāng Ø=​Ajān
      AT walk-3SG.M.A A=​Ajān[/gloss]

However, verb agreement with a pronoun is also not possible even though it would be expectable according to Corbett (109):

    1. Lampyāng.
      ‘He walks.’
    2. *Lampya yāng.
      [gloss]Lamp-ya yāng
      walk-3SG.M 3SG.M.A[/gloss]

In conclusion, we may assert that Ayeri appears to be in the process of grammaticalizing pronouns as verb infletions, however, how far this grammaticalization process has progressed is dependent on syntactic context. Ayeri displays a full gamut from personal pronouns (usually agents) tacked on verbs as clitics to agreement with coreferential NPs that is transparently derived from these personal pronouns. With the latter, there is the complication that coreferential pronoun NPs are not allowed as one might expect, but only properly nominal ones. Slight oddities with regards to Austronesian alignment – Ayeri’s actors bear more similarities to subjects than expected, but still without fully conflating the two notions – can possibly be explained by a strengthening of the verb-agent relationship pointed out as a grammaticalization process in this article as well. What was not discussed here, and consequently saved up for later, are more detailed questions of verb agreement such as resolution and mismatches.

  • Corbett, Greville G. Agreement. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006. Print. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics 52.
  • Gelderen, Elly van. “The Grammaticalization of Agreement.” The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization. Ed. Heiko Narrog and Bernd Heine. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. 491–501. Print. Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics 7.
  • Lehmann, Christian. Thoughts on Grammaticalization. 3rd ed. Berlin: Language Science Press, 2015. Print. Classics in Linguistics 1. ‹http://langsci-press.org/catalog/book/88›.
  • Li, Charles N. and Sandra A. Thompson. “Subject and Topic: A New Typology of Language.” Subject and Topic. Ed. Charles N. Li. New York: Academic P, 1976. 457–485. Print.
  • Wasow, Thomas. “Remarks on Grammatical Weight.” Language Variation and Change 9 (1997): 81–105. Print.
  • Added a reference to Wasow 1997 in a nod to the question of plausibility of in-situ topic marking and grammatical weight.
  • When translating things in Ayeri, I find myself very often using agent topics, which may be because I’m used to subjects proper. Supposing that this is also what Ayeri prefers in-universe, it would make sense to assume the usual grammaticalization path by which topics become subjects, thereby also leading to subject-verb agreement by means of resumptive pronouns referring back to left-dislocated topics (Lehmann 121–122; van Gelderen 499–500). Lehmann (120) gives colloquial French Jean, je l’ai vu hier ‘John, I saw him yesterday’ as an example here: the object clitic l’ (← le3SG.M‘) may well develop into an agreement affix (also see van Gelderen 498 on a Spanish dialect).
  • Specifying the claim that Ayeri is not polysynthetic: the topic NP marked on the verb may be a different from the one with which it agrees in person and number, so technically, Ayeri verbs may agree with more than one NP in a very limited way. Still, I would not analyze this as polypersonal agreement, since there is only canonical verb agreement with one constituent. Topic marking should in my opinion be viewed as a separate agreement relation.

The North Wind and the Sun, Revisited

For the past few days, I have been retranslating the story by Aesop, “The North Wind and the Sun.” While translating, two things came up to consider:

  • How does Ayeri deal with gender resolution (Corbett 243–253)?
  • How does Ayeri handle “the … the …” and “as … as …” constructions? Does it have them at all, or will rephrasing be necessary when translating from e.g. English?

Regarding the latter question, there is a blog article, “Correlative Conjunctions” (2012-12-10), but it fails to account for the two combinations mentioned above.

  • Aesop. “The North Wind and the Sun.” Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Ed. International Phonetic Association. 9th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. 39. Print.
  • Corbett, Greville G. Agreement. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics 52. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006. Print.

‘Locational’ Instrumental with Prepositions

I was making up a bunch of words tonight and also some example sentences to go along with them and came across something like this:

[gloss]Ang pukay manga eyrarya lahanya.
AT jump-1SG.TOP MOT over fence-LOC[/gloss]
‘I jump over a fence.’

Now, I’ve long kind of disliked eyrarya ‘over, above’ as a word itself and should maybe replace it with a word I like better sometime.[1. The issue I take with it is that it’s a rather basic lexical item but it’s derived from eyra ‘below, under’ with the negative suffix -arya, so basically ‘un-under’, which I personally find very confusing and which has led me to confusion in the past, in fact.] However, in relation to an earlier blog entry, “‘Locational’ Dative and Genitive with Prepositions” (Apr 2, 2013), I was thinking about why not making use of a device I came up with to express lative (moving to) and ablative (moving from) motion and extending it to perlative motion (moving through, across, along) with the instrumental, since that also already covers the meaning “by means of”. So another possible way to express the above may well be:

[gloss]{​Ang pukay} (manga) luga lahaneri.
… (MOT) top fence-INS[/gloss]
‘I jump over a fence.’

The motion particle manga may not even be necessary since ‘by means of the top’ in conjunction with the dynamic action ‘jump’ in my opinion already reasonably conveys that the person jumping won’t get stuck straddling the fence. Besides, ‘jump onto’ would normally be expressed like this, since the simple locative conveys a static meaning, i.e. one of resting in a place:

[gloss]{​Ang pukay} manga luga savaya.
… MOT top wagon-LOC[/gloss]
‘I jump onto a wagon.’

Whatever eyrarya may end up as in the future, just describing something resting over a thing would still use that word to make clear that the thing is not sitting on top of something but hovering over it. Alternatively, there would be an opportunity here to get rid of dedicated words for ‘over’ and ‘under’ completely (at least in transitive contexts) and just have them be ling ‘top’ and avan ‘bottom’ plus instrumental, and manga would after all indicate that motion along that point is involved.

Natlang Attestation of Ayeri’s Strategy of Forming Ordinals

I was actually reading one of the papers I was intending to read tonight and came across this, on (Classical) Tibetan:

The suffix -pa forms a noun from another noun, meaning ‘associated with N’ (e.g. rta ‘horse,’ rta-pa ‘horseman,’ yi-ge ‘letter,’ yi-ge-pa ‘one who holds a letter of office,’ cf. Beyer 1992: 117). When suffixed to cardinal numbers this suffix forms ordinals (e.g. gsum ‘three,’ gsum-pa ‘third’; bcu ‘ten,’ bcu-pa ‘tenth’). — Chung et al. 626

Ayeri does basically the same thing with -an, cf. First, at First, Once, First Time:

    1. rig- ‘draw’
    2. rigan ‘drawing’
    1. avan ‘soil, bottom’
    2. avanan ‘foundation, base’
    1. men ‘one’
    2. menan ‘first’
    1. ito ‘seven’
    2. itan ‘seventh’

Chung et al. don’t say whether Tibetan treats these derived forms as nouns or as numerals or whether it makes that distinction at all, unfortunately. In Ayeri, however, ordinals are basically nouns due to the derivational suffix -an forming nouns, typically from verbs and adjectives, but also from other nouns.

  • Beyer, S. The Classical Tibetan Language. New York: State U of New York P, 1992. Print.
  • Chung, Karen Steffen, Nathan W. Hill and Jackson T.-S. Sun. “Sino-Tibetan.” The Oxford Handbook of Derivational Morphology. Eds. Rochelle Lieber and Pavol Štekauer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014. 609–650. Print.

Reduplication issues

Ayeri uses reduplication for a number of things, because reduplication is a nice feature. Says the Grammar on this topic (§ 3.2.3):

It is used for hortatives, to indicate that something is done again, and it is used to form diminutives of nouns.

There are two patterns listed for verbs, one with complete reduplication of the imperative verb form for hortative statements, and one with partial reduplication as a way to express that an action takes place again, i.e. some kind of frequentative – like this:

nara- ‘speak’ naru-naru ‘let’s speak’ na-naru ‘let’s speak again’
narayeng ‘she speaks’ na-narayeng ‘she speaks again’

Nouns use complete reduplication to derive diminutive forms, for example veney-veney ‘doggie’ < veney ‘dog’. Sometimes, this is also lexicalized, though:

agu ‘chicken’ agu-agu ‘chick’
gan ‘child’ gan-gan ‘grandchild’
kusang ‘double’ kusang-kusang ‘model’
veh- ‘build, construct’ veha-veha ‘tinkering’

As you can see from the above examples, the outcome of lexicalized reduplication of nouns is not always what one would expect from a strict interpretation: sometimes the result simply adds a more endearing shade of meaning to the original word than strictly signifying a smaller version of the thing.

Last year, however, I also began applying (lexicalized) reduplication to adjectives as a means of derivation:

apan ‘wide’ apan-apan ‘extensive’
ikan ‘complete, whole’ ikan-ikan ‘entire; completely, totally’
pisu ‘tired, exhausted’ pisu-pisu ‘tiresome, exhausting’

This is all fair enough, but when I was translating something very recently, I even found myself using this reduplication of adjectives productively:

[gloss]Nay yanoyam ada-reng voy sano talingaya-as nay kayvomaya-j-as kayvan-ya nā, ang paron-ay gamar-yam – kebay~kebay – sidegan-ley kopo=ikan.
and because that-A.INAN NEG both mechanic-P and passenger-PL-P company-LOC 1SG.GEN, AT prepare-1SG.T manage-PTCP – EMPH~alone – repair-P.INAN difficult=very.[/gloss]
‘And because there were neither a mechanic nor passengers in my company, I prepared to manage – all alone – a very difficult repair.’ (cf. De Saint-Exupéry 13)

What I did here is reduplicating kebay ‘alone’ to kebay-kebay ‘all alone’. The question is then, whether I should regularize this reduplication process, too, as a means to emphasize the large extent of the quality described by the adjective. This is, essentially, an augmentative function.

Now, in languages like German or French, adjectives are noun-like in that they agree with their noun heads in categories of the noun – in German and French this would be number and case. In Ayeri, on the other hand, adjectives aren’t inflected for either the noun’s or the verb’s categories, but they are still nouny in that uninflected nouns may serve as adjectives easily, for example:

anang ‘charm’ anang ‘charming’
dipakan ‘pity’ dipakan ‘pathetic, wretched, pitiable’
gino ‘drink’ gino ‘drunk’
ijan ‘silver; coin’ ijan ‘rich’
karon ‘water; sea’ karon ‘liquid’
mihan ‘wood’ mihan ‘wooden’

This is also relevant regarding case-inflected noun compounds, for example kihas ‘map’ in this passage:

[gloss][​N​]ara-tang, ang mya pasy-ong-ay=eng sungkoran-as kihas[.]
say-3PL.M.A AT be.supposed.to be.interested.in-IRR-1SG.T=rather science-P map[/gloss]
‘[T]hey told me, I should rather be interested in geography[.]’ (cf. De Saint-Exupéry 12)

The question then is, if adjectives are essentially nouny in Ayeri, should there be a reduplicating derivative method that basically does the opposite of what it does for nouns? It doesn’t necessarily strike me as counter-intuitive given the range of things that reduplication is already used for in Ayeri, but systematically it seems confusing. Also, consider that although nouns are rather consistently case-marked in Ayeri, they appear zero-marked (that is, superficially unmarked) when they carry the topic morpheme. Thus, a topic-marked diminutive noun that also exists as a zero-derived adjective could at least potentially clash with a reduplicated adjective at least in its identical surface form.

  • De Saint-Exupéry, Antoine. Le Petit Prince. Ed. Rudolf Strauch. 11th ed. Paderborn: Schöningh, 1991. 12–13. Print.
  • I replaced *bata-bata ‘grandchild’ with the regularly formed gan-gan in the dictionary already a while ago but didn’t change it here. I did that now. I think my coining *bata-bata was due to mixing up bata ‘short’ with gan ‘child’ for some reason.