One-word sentences

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 sh).
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 (ti-)
He/she/it dies: miqui (-)
We die: timiquih (ti-...-h)
Y'all die: ammiquih (am-...-h)
They die: miquih (-h)
(note that the is dropped if any of the following infixes begins with a vowel)
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 thus follow:
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 (amech- /ame:ch-/)
He kills them: quimmictia (quim- /kim-/)
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!
Coma /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 final.)
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 'reverential.'
in noteuc 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 verb:
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:
Tlacamotimopipilhuamomictililih in 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 Nahuatl).

Mark responds:

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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