Posted by Nikolai
on 15:52 7/31/02
In reply to: One-word sentences posted by Jonathana Tegire on 12:24 7/2/02
You don't even need markers to show their usage within one one-word
sentences, as the Uto-Aztec language, Classical Nahuatl (spoken by the Aztecs),
shows. Instead, it relies on order of infixes, similar to word order.
Firstly, I should describe the verb
in more detail. It is a word that will always end with a vowel in its
present, singular tense. The standard dictionary display is in third person
singular (no subject prefix). /miki/ (spelt miqui,
btw) means, 'he dies.' To say, 'they die,' we pluralise the verb. Which is
done with a glottal stop at the final point of the verb, represented by h, or as
I like to represent /'/: he dies, miqui /miki/ they
die miquih /miki/ (which also coincides pluraling nouns,
confer: Mexicatl, Mexicah--the x is like the English
The compulsory perfect prefix is the first thing we find, used only in
prefect tenses. (though there's also the negative and optative markers). He
died is omic /omik/. The second thing we find is the subject of a
noun, which is repesented by a prefix (plural prefixes must agree with
the plural ending).
I die: nimiqui (ni-)
You die: timiqui
He/she/it dies: miqui
They die: miquih
(note that the is dropped if any of the following infixes begins with a
However, 'to die' is intransitive,
so by giving it the causative marker, -tia, we make a transitive
verb 'to cause to die, kill' mictia /miktia/ The object pronouns
He kills me:
nechmictia (nech- /ne:ch/)
He kills you:
mitzmictia (mitz- /mits/)
He kills him: quimictia
(qui- /ki/ if followed by verb, c-, qu- /k-/ if followed by vowel. nb: qui
and que /ki/ and /ke/ respectivily).
He kills us: techmictia (tech- /te:ch/
He kills y'all: amechmictia
He kills them: quimmictia
Mind you this is not the extent: the actual object of the
verb can replace the object pronoun. o amocelomictihqueh
(ocelotl, ocelot) /o amoce:lo:mikt'ke'/, y'all killed the
Ocelot. tihuehxoloma (huehxolotl,
turkey) /anwe'sho:lo:ma/, you carry the turkey.
And after the object (pronoun or word) we find the
directional marker, either on /on/ or hual /wa:l/, thither and
hither, then and now.
ĄTocelohualmictia! /toce:lo:wa:lmiktia/ Now you
kill the ocelot!
/koma/, he carries it there. (Assimilation: n + m = m)
Finally, we get to
the last pre-verbal infix, the reflexive. Which is no/to for 1st person singular
and plural, and mo for all other persons. After the verb we find various tense
suffixes and alterations (in one of four tight groupings, like the perfect stem,
used for perfect, pluperfect, and the optative (also called the vetative and
admontative), which the verb remains unchanged in first group, the final vowel
is dropped in the 2nd, the final is dropped and replaced by a glottal stop in
the 3rd, and in the fourth group we take on a glottal stop
And finally, the
only other suffixes a verb can take are derivational, the irregular
passive, the causative, and the applicative (which allows the verb to take a
beneficial object, for something). And, using an applicative and
reflexive in conjuction (which really negate themselves) make a verb
momictilia /in notekw momiktilia/ My lord kills (for himself).
Mind you, there is one factor about the object I never stated. The object within
the verb can either be the direct, indirect, or benefactive. An order of
succession (based upon word order) shows which object finds itself in the
Direct Object -
Indirect Object - Benefecative Object.
The rightmost is used. Remember than a verb must an applicative
before it can take the third object.
This verbal system can make some obsenely long words, especially since most
of it is prefix-heavy:
toteuctzin /tla:camo:timopipilwa:momiktilili' in notekwtsin/ Let
it not be you to kill our lord for your children (in reverential form). Mind you
if we were to omit 'our lord' from the sentence, it would read, 'Let it not be
you him for your children.'
By the way, the word is stressed on the
2nd-to-last syllable. Yea, funny, isn't it? It's a good idea to study highly
polysynthetic languages, there are worse languages than Nahuatl here, and I bet
one can make worse (to think, try to place all three objects in a verb. Now
that'll be a tax on phonetics).
Mind you, the modern
Nahuatl dialects have created a simplistic rule: replace the object with a
pronoun that agrees with it. Such as, "I kill the lord," because Nikimiktia
notekw, sometimes the subject/object is written as a seperate word: Niki miktia
notekw. (Some linguistics gloat happily that Spanish has affected Nahuatl word
order, using SOV with pronouns--sadly they don't bother to look at Classical
Neat. Perhaps you could give a morpheme breakdown for that 'obscenely long word'?
Quechua-- and Klingon-- incorporate object pronouns into the verb,
but not actual nouns.
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