Questions on Kebreni verbs

Posted by Philip Newton on 12:46 7/12/01

In reply to: (none)

I have some questions on Kebreni verbs. A couple of difficulties already arose which I mentioned in my posting Comments on love. For example, it was not clear what happens in verbs with more than one vowel in the root. (For the purposes of this, I'll call the basic letters the "root" rather than the "stem", since the grammar talks about a "stem vowel" while a root may potentially have several vowels, only one of which presumably is "the (one) stem vowel".)

By the paradigmatic verb pabadu "laugh", the stem vowel in a two-vowel root is the second one, since it is the second a in pabadu that is fronted to form the benefactive pabedi, and backed to form the antibenefactive pabona. (It's not clear to me, however, why the root consonants changed from p-b-d to p-b-n in the forms of the antibenefactive. Typo?)

Another problem involves volition, which involves voicing the initial consonant. This rule doesn't say what happens when the verb begins with a vowel. Presumably, that vowel is the beginning of the root. There are a several verbs beginning with a vowel listed in the lexicon. They are:

to add
spend money
scrounge up cash, get a little money
touch or feel (with the hands)
to leave off working, take a holiday
to leave, avoid
to not be

(No verbs are listed that begin with o, u, or y, but there may be such.)

Since Kebreni phonology does not include a glottal stop, I can't just say that, say, avunu has the root consonants ?-v-n. (Which wouldn't help, since what's a voiced glottal stop?) Interestingly, there are not only verbs with one root vowel such as ebu and some with two such as impuz'u, but there's even one with three root vowels: alamatu. Is the "stem vowel" here the second a or the third? It's not clear whether the second a in pabadu changed because it was the second vowel of the root or because it was the last vowel of the root. Depending on this, I would expect either *alemati or *alameti as the benefactive.

But back to the volitional. I've seen that a voiced consonant does not change further, so I suppose the absence of a consonant to be voiced is not spectacular, either. So does the verb change like this?

While there are a number of verbs with two root vowels, verbs with three or more root vowels are very rare indeed. The only ones I was able to find were the aforementioned alamatu and nuitukanu "imagine" <-- "mind-see". The latter has four root vowels! I wonder which one changes in the benefactive? My guess is the a and that the stem vowel is the last vowel in the root; the benefactive would then be *nuitukeni, the volitional *uneitukanu, and the volitional benefactive *uneitukeni, with the middle -ituk- completely untouched.


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