A Grammar of Prinmi: Based on the Central Dialect of Northwest Yunnan, China 900427782X, 9789004277823

A Grammar of Prinmi represents the first in-depth description of a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by the Pǔmǐ Nationality

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A Grammar of Prinmi: Based on the Central Dialect of Northwest Yunnan, China
 900427782X, 9789004277823

Table of contents :
A Grammar of Prinmi
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Chapter One: Introduction
1.1. The Pǔmǐ people: a brief ethnography
1.1.1. Origin and history of migration
1.1.2. Religion
1.1.3. Relations with other minority nationalities
1.1.4. Multilingualism and language attitude
1.2. Overview of the Prinmi language
1.2.1. Previous work
1.2.2. Genetic affiliation and varieties of the language
1.2.3. Typological profile
1.3. Fieldwork settings
1.3.1. The community
1.3.2. Consultants and data
1.4. Presentation of data and examples
Chapter Two: Segmental Phonology
2.1. Consonants
2.1.1. Plain plosives
2.1.2. Fricatives
2.1.3. Nasals, laterals and rhotics
2.1.4. Affricates
2.1.5. Rhoticized plosives
2.2. Glides
2.3. Vowels
2.3.1. Monophthongs Front vowels Central vowels Back vowels
2.3.2. Complex vowels: diphthong and triphthong Rising diphthongs with /j/ Rising diphthongs with /ɥ/ Rising diphthongs with /w/ Falling diphthongs and triphthong
2.3.3. Vowel lowering
2.4. The syllable
2.4.1. Syllable structure
2.4.2. Phonotactics
2.5. Segmental changes
2.5.1. Changes in vowels Centralization of vowels Vowel fusion Nasalization Glide epenthesis Trill substitution
2.5.2. Changes in consonants Voicing/Aspiration change Glottaling Change of voiceless nasals
Chapter Three: The Suprasegmentals
3.1. Surface tones on monosyllabic words
3.2. Tones of polysyllabic words
3.2.1. Disyllabic words
3.2.2. Trisyllabic words
3.2.3. Tetrasyllabic words
3.3. The phonological system of tone
3.3.1. The melody-tone system
3.3.2. Extra-prosodicality
3.4. Suprasegmental changes
3.4.1. Regular tone change in clitic groups
3.4.2. Tone change in prefixed verbs
3.4.3. Tone change in reduplication
3.4.4. Tone change in compounds
3.4.5. Tone change in numeral-classifier compounds
3.4.6. Tone change under the influence of intonation
Chapter Four: Lexical Categories
4.1. Relation between lexical categories: an overlapping approach
4.2. Open lexical categories
4.2.1. Verbs
4.2.2. Nouns
4.2.3. Adjectives
4.2.4. Overlap among open lexical categories
4.3. Closed lexical categories
4.3.1. Auxiliary verbs
4.3.2. Demonstratives
4.3.3. Pronouns
4.3.4. Numerals
4.3.5. Classifiers
4.3.6. Ideophones
4.3.7. Adverbs
4.3.8. Onomatopes and Interjections
4.3.9. Postpositions Locational postpositions: khʉ, po, wu, lo, and dʒe Non-locational postpositions: ni, bo, õ, and ki Versatile postpositions: be ‘at/to/from’ and to ‘on/than’
Chapter Five: Morphology
5.1. Nominal affixation
5.2. Verb morphology
5.2.1. Directional prefixes
5.2.2. Derivation with affixes From verbs to nouns/nominals: -dĩ, -mi, and -ji From verbs to verbs: -ʒɑw Deriving antonyms: mɑ-
5.2.3. Derivation of controllable verbs
5.2.4. Inflection for agreement
5.3. Reduplication
5.4. Compounding
5.4.1. Lexical categories of compounds
5.4.2. Modifier-modified compounds
5.4.3. Noun-adjective compounds and Verb-complement compounds
5.4.4. Co-ordinate compounds
5.4.5. Reduplicated compounds
5.4.6. Structure of compounds
Chapter Six: Grammatical Functions of Noun Phrase
6.1. Semantic roles
6.1.1. Agent-marking and Instrumental-marking
6.2. Core versus oblique functions
6.2.1. The core functions: S, A, P, and R
6.2.2. Types of oblique function: complement and adjunct
6.3. Grammatical relations
6.3.1. The issue of ‘subject’
6.3.2. The system of grammatical relations
6.4. Pragmatic functions
6.4.1. Topic and Frame-setter
6.4.2. Focus marker
Chapter Seven: Structure of Noun Phrases
7.1. The modificator
7.1.1. The modificatory clitic
7.1.2. The genitive expression
7.1.3. The restrictive expression/relative clause Basic properties of relative clauses A brief comparison to English relative clauses Modificatory marking and nominalization
7.1.4. Relational and temporal expressions
7.2. Nominal clitics
7.2.1. Number clitics: ɹə and dzɑ̃
7.2.2. Discourse clitics ne and njɑ nõ
7.3. Structure of noun phrase: a layered analysis
Chapter Eight: Grammatical Categories of Verbs
8.1. Aspect and Modality
8.1.1. Aspect Experiential tʉ Perfective: si/sjɛ̃/sĩ Imperfective: ɹõ/ɹu/ɹĩ and ɹju Durative nõ Perfectivity and directional prefixes
8.1.2. Modality: hortative ɡi, volitive kɜj, and optative ʃo
8.1.3. Temporal implication from aspect and modality
8.2. Negation and Interrogativity
8.2.1. Negative clitics: general mɑ, perfective me, and deontic tjɑ
8.2.2. Interrogative clitic: ɑ
8.3. Evidentiality and Mirativity
8.3.1. Quotative evidential: tʃɨ
8.3.2. Mirative: tʃɨ/tʃjɑ
8.4. Attitudinal clitics
8.4.1. The surprisive ɡjɑ
8.4.2. The suggestive mɑ
8.4.3. The speculative pɑR
8.4.4. The assumptive mə
Chapter Nine: The Copula, Existentials and Auxiliary Verbs
9.1. The copula and existentials
9.1.1. The copula dzɨF The obligational construction -ji dzɨ The focus-presupposition construction -mi dzɨ
9.1.2. Existentials The potentive construction -ji ʃiR
9.2. Deontic modals
9.2.1. The admonitive mɑR=xɑL
9.2.2. The obligative kʰuR
9.2.3. The abilitive/permissive ʒjɛ̃R
9.3. Epistemic modals
9.3.1. The skillitive/assertive jõF
9.3.2. The successitive tʰõR
9.4. The verbs-to-do
9.4.1. Functions of pɑF As an ordinary verb Heading an adverbial clause of manner Marking ad hoc control Signifying a realis resultant state Expressing emphasis
9.4.2. Functions of tʃʰɨR: a comparison with pɑF
9.4.3. The semelfactive ti pɑ/ti tʃhɨ
9.5. Aspectual auxiliaries: the terminative tɑF and the inchoative tʃhjõR
9.6. Other auxiliary verbs
9.6.1. The purposives ʃɨH & ʒɨR
9.6.2. The desiderative ɹ̥õHɹ̥ĩL and the venturive waF
Chapter Ten: Clauses and Sentences
10.1. The clause
10.1.1. The clause structure
10.1.2. Dependent clauses
10.1.3. Nominal clauses
10.1.4. Verbless clauses
10.2. The sentence
10.2.1. Structure of simplex sentences
10.2.2. Sentence as the smallest information unit
10.3. Clause-chaining sentences
10.3.1. The semantic role of shared arguments in clause-chaining sentences
10.3.2. Clause-chaining sentences without shared core argument
Chapter Eleven: Complex Predicates
11.1. The Double-verb Predicate
11.1.1. Types of double-verb predicate
11.1.2. Constraint on the number of verbs
11.1.3. Semantic characteristics of the double-verb predicate
11.2. Causatives
11.2.1. The periphrastic causative construction The causative auxiliary verb The core arguments The causative complement
11.2.2. Other causative constructions
11.3. Complementation
11.3.1. The comparative complement & the comparative construction
11.3.2. Clausal complements Complement clause to auxiliary verbs Complement clause to verbs of cognition
Chapter Twelve: Information Structure
12.1. Types of focus structure
12.1.1. NP focus
12.1.2. Predicate focus
12.1.3. Sentence focus
12.1.4. Counter-presupposition focus
12.1.5. Sentence types and focus domains
12.2. The focus-presupposition construction -mi dzɨ
12.3. The topic-comment construction
12.3.1. Basic structure of Topic-Comment Construction
12.3.2. Double Topic Construction
12.3.3. Chained Comment Construction
12.3.4. Embedded Topic-Comment Construction
APPENDIX ONE: Sample Texts
Text I: The Fortune God Zzonbbaf Lha
Text II: Cuckoo and Golden Pheasant
APPENDIX TWO: Word list and Glossary
Part A: Proper nouns
Part B: Swadesh-100 list
Part C: English-Prinmi glossary
Part D: Prinmi-English glossary
1.1: zero-onset
1.2: j w ɥ
2.1: b p ph
2.2: d t th
2.3: g k kh
3.1: s z
3.2: ʃ ʒ
3.3: ʂ ʐ
3.4: x ɣ
4.1: m m̥
4.2: n n̥
4.3: l l̥
4.4: ɹ ɹ̥
5.1: dz ts tsh
5.2: dʒ tʃ tʃh
5.3: ɖʐ ʈʂ ʈʂh
6.1: bɹ pɹ phɹ
6.2: ɡɹ kɹ khɹ
Index to Languages
General Index

Citation preview

A Grammar of Prinmi

Brill’s Tibetan Studies Library Edited by

Henk Blezer Alex McKay Charles Ramble

Languages of the Greater Himalayan Region Edited by

George L. Van Driem


The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/btsl

A Grammar of Prinmi Based on the Central Dialect of Northwest Yunnan, China


Picus Sizhi Ding


Cover illustration: Ddaaddee, Lucky Pentacolored Flag (adapted from a photograph taken by Hu Geshan). Library of Congress Control Number: 2014941256

ISSN 1568-6183 ISBN 978 90 04 27782 3 (hardback) ISBN 978 90 04 27977 3 (e-book) Copyright 2014 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Nijhoff, Global Oriental and Hotei Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-free paper.

CONTENTS List of Illustrations ............................................................................. xii List of Tables ..................................................................................... xiii Preface ................................................................................................ xv Abbreviations ................................................................................... xvii Maps ................................................................................................ xviii Photographs ........................................................................................ xx Chapter One: Introduction .................................................................... 1 1.1. The Pǔmǐ people: a brief ethnography .................................. 1 1.1.1. Origin and history of migration ............................................ 3 1.1.2. Religion ................................................................................. 3 1.1.3. Relations with other minority nationalities ........................... 4 1.1.4. Multilingualism and language attitude .................................. 5 1.2. Overview of the Prinmi language ......................................... 6 1.2.1. Previous work ....................................................................... 6 1.2.2. Genetic affiliation and varieties of the language................... 7 1.2.3. Typological profile.............................................................. 10 1.3. Fieldwork settings ............................................................... 11 1.3.1. The community ................................................................... 12 1.3.2. Consultants and data ........................................................... 13 1.4. Presentation of data and examples ...................................... 15 Chapter Two: Segmental Phonology .................................................. 17 2.1. Consonants .......................................................................... 17 2.1.1. Plain plosives ...................................................................... 18 2.1.2. Fricatives ............................................................................. 18 2.1.3. Nasals, laterals and rhotics .................................................. 19 2.1.4. Affricates............................................................................. 20 2.1.5. Rhoticized plosives ............................................................. 21 2.2. Glides .................................................................................. 22 2.3. Vowels ................................................................................ 23 2.3.1. Monophthongs .................................................................... 23 Front vowels..................................................................... 24 Central vowels ................................................................. 25 Back vowels ..................................................................... 26 2.3.2. Complex vowels: diphthongs and triphthongs .................... 26 Rising diphthongs with /j/ ................................................ 27


TABLE OF CONTENTS Rising diphthongs with /ɥ/ ............................................... 27 Rising diphthongs with /w/ .............................................. 28 Falling diphthongs and triphthong ................................... 28 2.3.3. Vowel lowering ................................................................... 29 2.4. The syllable ......................................................................... 32 2.4.1. Syllable structure ................................................................ 32 2.4.2. Phonotactics ........................................................................ 35 2.5. Segmental changes .............................................................. 38 2.5.1. Changes in vowels .............................................................. 38 Centralization of vowels .................................................. 38 Vowel fusion .................................................................... 41 Nasalization...................................................................... 43 Glide epenthesis ............................................................... 44 Trill substitution ............................................................... 44 2.5.2. Changes in consonants ........................................................ 45 Voicing/Aspiration change .............................................. 45 Glottaling ......................................................................... 47 Change of voiceless nasals............................................... 47 Chapter Three: The Suprasegmentals................................................. 49 3.1. Surface tones on monosyllabic words ................................. 49 3.2. Tones of polysyllabic words ............................................... 53 3.2.1. Disyllabic words ................................................................. 54 3.2.2. Trisyllabic words ................................................................ 54 3.2.3. Tetrasyllabic words ............................................................. 56 3.3. The phonological system of tone ........................................ 57 3.3.1. The melody-tone system ..................................................... 57 3.3.2. Extra-prosodicality .............................................................. 60 3.4. Suprasegmental changes ..................................................... 61 3.4.1. Regular tone change in clitic groups ................................... 61 3.4.2. Tone change in prefixed verbs ............................................ 62 3.4.3. Tone change in reduplication .............................................. 64 3.4.4. Tone change in compounds................................................. 65 3.4.5. Tone change in numeral-classifier compounds ................... 67 3.4.6. Tone change under the influence of intonation ................... 69 Chapter Four: Lexical Categories....................................................... 72 4.1. Relation between lexical categories: an overlapping approach .............................................................................. 72 4.2. Open lexical categories ....................................................... 75 4.2.1. Verbs ................................................................................... 75



4.2.2. Nouns .................................................................................. 78 4.2.3. Adjectives ........................................................................... 80 4.2.4. Overlap among open lexical categories .............................. 85 4.3. Closed lexical categories..................................................... 87 4.3.1. Auxiliary verbs.................................................................... 88 4.3.2. Demonstratives ................................................................... 88 4.3.3. Pronouns ............................................................................. 89 4.3.4. Numerals ............................................................................. 91 4.3.5. Classifiers............................................................................ 92 4.3.6. Ideophones .......................................................................... 94 4.3.7. Adverbs ............................................................................... 96 4.3.8. Onomatopes and Interjections ............................................. 99 4.3.9. Postpositions ..................................................................... 100 Locational postpositions: kʰʉ, po, wu, lo, and dʒe ......... 100 Non-locational postpositions: ni, bo, õ, and ki ............... 102 Versatile postpositions: be ‘at/to/from’ and to ‘on/than’ 104 Chapter Five: Morphology ............................................................... 107 5.1. Nominal affixation ............................................................ 107 5.2. Verb morphology .............................................................. 109 5.2.1. Directional prefixes ........................................................... 109 5.2.2. Derivation with affixes...................................................... 114 From verbs to nouns/nominals: -dĩ, -mi, and -ji ............. 114 From verbs to verbs: -ʒɑw.............................................. 116 Deriving antonyms: mɑ- ................................................ 117 5.2.3. Derivation of controllable verbs ....................................... 117 5.2.4. Inflection for agreement .................................................... 119 5.3. Reduplication .................................................................... 122 5.4. Compounding .................................................................... 126 5.4.1. Lexical categories of compounds ...................................... 128 5.4.2. Modifier-modified compounds ......................................... 129 5.4.3. Noun-adjective compounds and Verb-complement compounds ........................................................................ 130 5.4.4. Co-ordinate compounds .................................................... 132 5.4.5. Reduplicated compounds .................................................. 133 5.4.6. Structure of compounds .................................................... 134 Chapter Six: Grammatical Functions of Noun Phrase...................... 138 6.1. Semantic roles ................................................................... 138 6.1.1. Agent-marking and Instrumental-marking ........................ 139 6.2. Core versus oblique functions ........................................... 142


6.2.1. 6.2.2. 6.3. 6.3.1. 6.3.2. 6.4. 6.4.1. 6.4.2.


The core functions: S, A, P, and R .................................... 142 Types of oblique function: complement and adjunct ........ 145 Grammatical relations ....................................................... 146 The issue of ‘subject’ ........................................................ 146 The system of grammatical relations ................................ 150 Pragmatic functions .......................................................... 155 Topic and Frame-setter ..................................................... 155 Focus marker ..................................................................... 160

Chapter Seven: Structure of Noun Phrases ...................................... 162 7.1. The modificator ................................................................. 162 7.1.1. The modificatory clitic ...................................................... 163 7.1.2. The genitive expression .................................................... 164 7.1.3. The restrictive expression/relative clause ......................... 168 Basic properties of relative clauses ................................ 168 A brief comparison to English relative clauses .............. 171 Modificatory marking and nominalization .................... 173 7.1.4. Relational and temporal expressions................................. 175 7.2. Nominal clitics .................................................................. 177 7.2.1. Number clitics: ɹə and dzɑ̃ ................................................ 177 7.2.2. Discourse clitics ................................................................ 180 ne and njɑ ....................................................................... 180 nõ ................................................................................... 181 7.3. Structure of noun phrase: a layered analysis ..................... 182 Chapter Eight: Grammatical Categories of Verbs ............................ 188 8.1. Aspect and Modality ......................................................... 188 8.1.1. Aspect ............................................................................... 188 Experiential tʉ ................................................................ 189 Perfective: si/sjɛ̃/sĩ ......................................................... 190 Imperfective: ɹõ/ɹu/ɹĩ and ɹju......................................... 192 Durative nõ..................................................................... 197 Perfectivity and directional prefixes .............................. 199 8.1.2. Modality: hortative ɡi, volitive kɜj, and optative ʃo .......... 201 8.1.3. Temporal implication from aspect and modality .............. 203 8.2. Negation and Interrogativity ............................................. 204 8.2.1. Negative clitics: general mɑ, perfective me, and deontic tjɑ.......................................................................... 206 8.2.2. Interrogative clitic: ɑ ......................................................... 208 8.3. Evidentiality and Mirativity .............................................. 210 8.3.1. Quotative evidential: tʃɨ..................................................... 210


8.3.2. 8.4. 8.4.1. 8.4.2. 8.4.3. 8.4.4.


Mirative: tʃɨ/tʃjɑ ................................................................. 211 Attitudinal clitics ............................................................... 213 The surprisive ɡjɑ ............................................................. 214 The suggestive mɑ............................................................. 214 The speculative pɑR ........................................................... 215 The assumptive mə ............................................................ 215

Chapter Nine: The Copula, Existentials and Auxiliary Verbs.......... 217 9.1. The copula and existentials ............................................... 218 9.1.1. The copula dzɨF ................................................................. 218 The obligational construction -ji dzɨ .............................. 220 The focus-presupposition construction -mi dzɨ .............. 223 9.1.2. Existentials ........................................................................ 225 The potentive construction -ji ʃiR ................................... 227 9.2. Deontic modals ................................................................. 229 9.2.1. The admonitive mɑR=xɑL .................................................. 230 9.2.2. The obligative kʰuR ............................................................ 231 9.2.3. The abilitive/permissive ʒjɛ̃R ............................................. 233 9.3. Epistemic modals .............................................................. 235 9.3.1. The skillitive/assertive jõF................................................. 235 9.3.2. The successitive tʰõR ......................................................... 237 9.4. The verbs-to-do ................................................................. 238 9.4.1. Functions of pɑF ................................................................ 238 As an ordinary verb ........................................................ 239 Heading an adverbial clause of manner ......................... 240 Marking ad hoc control .................................................. 240 Signifying a realis resultant state ................................... 241 Expressing emphasis ...................................................... 242 9.4.2. Functions of tʃʰɨR: a comparison with pɑF ......................... 242 9.4.3. The semelfactive ti pɑ/ti tʃʰɨ .............................................. 245 9.5. Aspectual auxiliaries: the terminative tɑF and the inchoative tʃʰjõR ................................................................. 248 9.6. Other auxiliary verbs......................................................... 249 9.6.1. The purposives ʃɨH & ʒɨR ................................................... 249 9.6.2. The desiderative ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL and the venturive waF .................. 251 Chapter Ten: Clauses and Sentences ................................................ 253 10.1. The clause ......................................................................... 253 10.1.1. The clause structure .......................................................... 253 10.1.2. Dependent clauses ............................................................. 254 10.1.3. Nominal clauses ................................................................ 257



10.1.4. 10.2. 10.2.1. 10.2.2. 10.3. 10.3.1.

Verbless clauses ................................................................ 260 The sentence...................................................................... 262 Structure of simplex sentences.......................................... 262 Sentence as the smallest information unit ......................... 263 Clause-chaining sentences ................................................ 266 The semantic role of shared arguments in clause-chaining sentences ................................................. 267 10.3.2. Clause-chaining sentences without shared core argument.................................................................... 269

Chapter Eleven: Complex Predicates ............................................... 271 11.1. The Double-verb Predicate ............................................... 271 11.1.1. Types of double-verb predicate...................................... 273 11.1.2. Constraint on the number of verbs ................................. 276 11.1.3. Semantic characteristics of the double-verb predicate ... 278 11.2. Causatives ......................................................................... 280 11.2.1. The periphrastic causative construction ............................ 281 The causative auxiliary verb .......................................... 281 The core arguments ........................................................ 282 The causative complement ............................................. 286 11.2.2. Other causative constructions ........................................... 287 11.3. Complementation .............................................................. 288 11.3.1. The comparative complement & the comparative construction ....................................................................... 288 11.3.2. Clausal complements ........................................................ 291 Complement clause to auxiliary verbs ........................... 291 Complement clause to verbs of cognition ...................... 294 Chapter Twelve: Information Structure............................................ 297 12.1. Types of focus structure .................................................... 297 12.1.1. NP focus ............................................................................ 298 12.1.2. Predicate focus .................................................................. 299 12.1.3. Sentence focus .................................................................. 300 12.1.4. Counter-presupposition focus ........................................... 300 12.1.5. Sentence types and focus domains .................................... 301 12.2. The focus-presupposition construction -mi dzɨ ................. 302 12.3. The Topic-Comment construction .................................... 306 12.3.1. Basic structure of Topic-Comment Construction ............. 306 12.3.2. Double Topic Construction ............................................... 309 12.3.3. Chained Comment Construction ....................................... 311 12.3.4. Embedded Topic-Comment Construction ........................ 313



Appendix One: Sample Texts........................................................... 318 Text I: The Fortune God Zzonbbaf Lha......................................... 318 Text II: Cuckoo and Golden Pheasant ........................................... 328 Appendix Two: Word List and Glossary.......................................... 333 Part A: Proper nouns ..................................................................... 333 Part B: Swadesh-100 list ............................................................... 334 Part C: English-Prinmi glossary .................................................... 336 A–B ..................................................................................... 336 C–D ..................................................................................... 337 E–F ..................................................................................... 339 G–H ..................................................................................... 341 I–L ..................................................................................... 342 M–O ..................................................................................... 344 P–R ..................................................................................... 345 S–T ..................................................................................... 347 U–Y ..................................................................................... 350 Part D: Prinmi-English glossary .................................................... 352 1.1: zero-onset ..................................................................... 352 1.2: j w ɥ ....................................................................... 352 2.1: b p pʰ ...................................................................... 353 2.2: d t tʰ ........................................................................ 354 2.3: ɡ k kʰ ...................................................................... 356 3.1: s z .............................................................................. 358 3.2: ʃ ʒ .............................................................................. 359 3.3: ʂ ʐ .............................................................................. 360 3.4: x ɣ ............................................................................. 360 4.1: m m̥ ............................................................................ 360 4.2: n n̥ ............................................................................... 361 4.3: l l̥ ................................................................................. 362 4.4: ɹ ɹ̥ ............................................................................... 363 5.1: dz ts tsʰ ................................................................... 364 5.2: dʒ tʃ tʃʰ.................................................................... 365 5.3: ɖʐ ʈʂ ʈʂʰ ................................................................... 366 6.1: bʴ pʴ pʰʴ.................................................................... 367 6.2: ɡʴ kʴ kʰʴ.................................................................... 367 Bibliography ..................................................................................... 368 Index to Languages .......................................................................... 377 General Index ................................................................................... 378


Location of Nínglàng and Lánpíng in Yunnan province ......................................................................... xviii Map 2: Distribution of varieties of Prinmi in Yunnan and Sichuan ....................................................................... xix Photograph 1: Zzonbbaf Lha, the Fortune God ............................... xx Photograph 2: A piece of freshly made zavggion, whole-body dried pork ................................................................ xxi Figure 2-1: Monophthongs in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi ........................... 23 Figure 2-2: Configuration of Prinmi syllables .................................. 33 Figure 2-3: Distribution of vowels in terms of centralness............... 38 Figure 3-1: Pitch tracks of high versus falling tones ........................ 51 Figure 4-1: Overlap between the Adjective, Noun, and Verb .......... 74 Figure 4-2: Multifunctionality of Prinmi words ............................... 86 Figure 5-1: Analysis of the complex compound ‘fibula’ ................ 135 Figure 7-1: Ranking of the order of occurrence for clitics and postpositions ................................................................ 182 Figure 7-2: A layered structure of the noun phrase ........................ 183 Figure 9-1: Semantic features of existentials in Prinmi .................. 226 Figure 10-1: The structure of nominal clause in Prinmi .................. 258 Figure 10-2: The structure of simplex sentences ............................. 262 Figure 11-1: A non-linear analysis of double-verb predicate .......... 276 Figure 11-2: Semantic roles in the periphrastic causative construction................................................................. 285 Figure 12-1: The basic structure of topic-comment construction .... 307 Figure 12-2: The structure of double topic construction ................. 310 Figure 12-3: The structure of chained comment construction ......... 311 Figure 12-4: The structure of embedded topic-comment construction................................................................. 313 Figure 12-5: Illustrated analysis of embedded topic-comment constructions ............................................................... 315

LIST OF TABLES Table 1-1: Table 1-2: Table 1-3: Table 1-4: Table 2-1: Table 2-2: Table 2-3: Table 2-4: Table 3-1: Table 3-2: Table 3-3: Table 3-4: Table 3-5: Table 3-6: Table 3-7: Table 3-8: Table 3-9: Table 4-1: Table 4-2: Table 4-3: Table 4-4: Table 4-5: Table 5-1: Table 5-2: Table 5-3: Table 5-4: Table 5-5: Table 5-6:

Comparison of phonological features in different Prinmi varieties ............................................................................ 9 From Proto-Tibeto-Burman to Prinmi dialects .............. 10 A brief overview of Niúwōzǐ corpus.............................. 14 Prinmi data contributed by the main consultant............. 15 The inventory of consonants in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi ...... 17 Complex vowels of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi ........................ 27 Permissible diphthongs in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi .............. 33 Phonotactics of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi ............................... 36 Tonal patterns with prosodic domain extended to the right ................................................................................ 52 Tonal patterns of disyllabic words ................................. 54 Tonal patterns of trisyllabic words ................................ 55 Tonal patterns of tetrasyllabic words ............................. 56 The basic tonal patterns of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi ............. 58 The seven tonal categories and their realization on monosyllables ................................................................ 59 Tonal categories of monosyllabic verbs with a rising tone................................................................................. 64 Compounds with unpredictable tonal patterns ............... 67 Tonal patterns of numeral-classifier compounds ........... 68 Valence of verbs of different semantic types ................. 77 Comparison of adjectives with DESCRIPTIVE verbs .. 81 A classification of Prinmi adjectives ............................. 84 The personal pronouns in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi ............... 90 Subtypes of classifier in Prinmi ..................................... 93 The directional prefixes in Prinmi ............................... 109 Verbs and their primary directional prefix................... 111 Derivation of controllable verbs through voicing alternation .................................................................... 118 The inflection paradigm of tʰjɛ̃R ‘to drink’ ................... 119 A classification of verb paradigms in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi........................................................................... 121 Lexical categories of formatives in compounding ....... 128


Table 6-1: Table 6-2: Table 6-3: Table 8-1: Table 8-2: Table 8-3: Table 8-4: Table 9-1: Table 9-2: Table 9-3: Table 10-1: Table 11-1: Table 12-1: Table 12-2:


Major semantic roles and their morphosyntactic markings....................................................................... 139 Basic systems of grammatical relations ....................... 151 Marking of explicit core arguments in three Prinmi texts .............................................................................. 151 Paradigm of imperfective clitics .................................. 192 Temporal implications by modality and aspect ........... 204 Attaching patterns of interrogative and negative clitics ............................................................................ 205 Complex clitics for the interrogative and the general negator ......................................................................... 205 The paradigm of the copula ......................................... 218 The paradigm of the verb-to-do pɑF............................. 239 Functional distribution of the two verbs-to-do ............ 245 A passage extracted from the Deluge Myth ................ 264 Major properties of complements in Prinmi ............... 288 Focus domains in different focus structures ............... 297 Focus types found in various constructions ................ 302

PREFACE This grammar results from two decades of research on the Prinmi language. It started in mid-1994 when I first stepped on the land of the Prinmi-speaking area as a doctoral student from Australian National University. A decade later I had the opportunity to conduct further fieldwork on Prinmi extensively between 2004 and 2005 under a typological project on information structure launched by Sonderforschungsbereich 632 at the University of Potsdam. Besides these two major fieldwork periods, I have taken a number of short field trips to Yunnan and Sichuan to collect Prinmi data. Over these years I have accumulated an enormous debt to my Prinmi/Pǔmǐ friends, some of whom have treated me like their family. When I returned to the Pǔmǐ village, I felt like returning home. Numerous Pǔmǐ from various places have helped me in many ways. While it is impossible for me to name them individually here, I must thank the following for their invaluable assistance: Ma Hongsheng (马 红升), Hu Jingming (胡镜明), Hu Zhonglin (胡忠林), He Shukai (和 树开), Guo Xinhong (郭新红), Hu Shaohan (胡绍寒), Ma Donghua (马冬花), Hu Zhongming (胡忠明), Hu Shaohua (胡绍华), Hu Mimi (胡咪咪), Hu Wenming (胡文明) and He Shunming (和顺明). Without their contribution of data and consultation, I would never be able to study and present their mother tongue in such detail. I am particularly grateful to Ma Hongsheng, who has continued to answer my questions about Prinmi in spite of suffering a stroke in recent years. I would also like to express my gratitude to David Bradley, Bernard Comrie, and George van Driem, who read an earlier version of this grammar. This book has been greatly benefited from their comments and suggestions. During the initial stage of my study, David had encouraged me tremendously. I still remember our brief meeting in Kunming amid my fieldwork difficulties in 1994 and those years in the incipient age of internet, our monthly exchange of drafts of my dissertation chapters. I am grateful to David for his constant support and encouragement over all these years. Thanks are also extended to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful remarks made on the revised grammar. I thank Henriette Daudey for pointing out typographical errors and inaccuracies in a near final draft of this book. I take this opportunity to congratulate her



on completing her dissertation about a Prinmi dialect of northwestern Nínglàng, close to Lúgū Lake. Finally, I owe a special debt to Roselle Dobbs for her meticulous proof-reading of three quarters of the chapters. I consider myself to be fortunate to have met Roselle, an expert working on Narua. Although both Prinmi and Narua are spoken in the Greater Lúgū Lake area, they belong to different branches of the Tibeto-Burman family. I find it extremely enjoyable to have exchanged with Roselle our knowledge about some areal features shared by these two languages. Of course, I take sole responsibility for any errors and mistakes found in the book. I regard my 1998 dissertation to be my first step towards the understanding of Prinmi grammar. This book adds a few more steps to appreciation of this language, but it is, by no means, a definite treatment on Prinmi grammar. There are two reasons for this. Prinmi has a rich variety of dialects, some of which may be argued for the status of language on the grounds of mutual unintelligibility, but the present description is based on only one variety. Even within this variety, I have collected much more data than what is presented in this book. The publication of this grammar, therefore, will mark the end of a phase, but not the conclusion, of my study on Prinmi. On a more personal side, I came to understand with my own experience from doing linguistic fieldwork about ‘help’ — Help is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly. So it is that we seldom help anybody. Either we don’t know what part to give or maybe we don’t like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed.

—Norman Maclean A River Runs Through It and other stories Once again, I thank those people who have helped.

Picus Ding University of Hong Kong


First person singular OPT Second person plural PF.N Third person dual PFV ASR Assertive PL ATT Attitudinal clitic PL.EX BEN Benefactive PL.IN BNY Beneficiary PUR CAUS Causative Q CLC Cislocative SCC CLF Classifier TLC COM Comitative TOP COP Copula TRM DS.N Desiderative negator VL.PFV DSC Discourse clitic VLT DUR Durative clitic EXP Experiential EXT.AN Existential for animate nouns EXT.IAN Existential for stationary/inanimate nouns EXT.IN Existential for locating inside something EXT.ON Existential for locating on something FOC Focus FRM Frame setter HRT Hortative IDE Ideophone INC Inchoative INS Instrumental INT Interjection IPFV Imperfective M Modificatory N (general) Negator NMLC Nominal Clause marker NMLZ Nominalizer ONM Onomatope

Optative Perfective negator Perfective Plural clitic Plural exclusive Plural inclusive Purposive Question Successitive Translocative Topic Terminative Volitional perfective Volitive



Map 1: Location of Nínglàng and Lánpíng inYunnan province

Yunnan in China

(source: Wikimedia Commons, Joowwww)

Nínglàng Lánpíng

100 km 50 mi

(source: Google Maps, AutoNavi)



Map 2: Distribution of varieties of Prinmi in Yunnan and Sichuan

Mùlǐ Yányuán Nínglàng


(based on Baidu Maps)

Lu’s (2001) scheme:  Southern Pumi  Northern Pumi 1=Qīnghuā, Lánpíng 2=Lǔdiān, Yùlóng 3=Xīnyíngpán, Nínglàng 4= Táobā, Mùlǐ 5=Tuōqī, Nínglàng 6=Zuŏsuŏ, Yányuán 7= Sānyǎnlóng, Jiǔlóng Current grouping:  Western Prinmi  Central Prinmi  Northern Prinmi A=Xīnyíngpán, Nínglàng B=Xīchuān, Nínglàng C= Rénhé, Yùlóng D= Lābó, Nínglàng



[Taken by the author in 1997] Photograph 1: Zzonbbaf Lha, the Fortune God (see the narrative in Text I of Appendix I for details).



[Taken by the author in 1997] Photograph 2: A piece of freshly made zavggion, whole-body dried pork. Well-preserved ones can be stored for more than 10 years. Traditionally, it represents symbolic wealth in Pǔmǐ culture.


INTRODUCTION The goal of this book is to present a description of Prinmi, a TibetoBurman language spoken across northwest Yunnan province and southwest Sichuan province in southwest China. In this vast area a great number of Prinmi varieties exist with varying degrees of difficulty in mutual intelligibility between them. This description is based on a dialect spoken near the county seat of Nínglàng Yí Autonomous County in Yunnan. 1 It covers core aspects of Prinmi, including phonology (both segmental and suprasegmental), morphology, syntax (noun phrase, structure of the clause, complex sentences, etc.) and information structure. A detailed study of the grammar is presented in eleven chapters, followed by sample texts and an extensive glossary in appendices. Language lives in people. Before proceeding to the description of Prinmi, a brief ethnography of the Pǔmǐ, speakers of the language under investigation, is presented. 1.1. The Pǔmǐ people: a brief ethnography The Pǔmǐ (普米) nationality is one of the 55 officially recognized minority nationalities in mainland China. The term Pǔmǐ is a sinicized transliteration of the autonym Prinmi [phɹĩH miH], and has been in use since the official recognition of this people in 1960. In the past the Pǔmǐ, along with several closely related ethnic groups, were known as Hsifan/Sifan (西蕃), or Xīfān in current romanization of Mandarin (cf. Rock 1947; Harrell 2001). The term, literally meaning ‘foreigners of the west’, is found in Chinese documentary literature as early as the third century (Yan & Wong 1988: 9-10). It refers to a Tibeto-Burman people to the west of Chinese territory in the past, but the precise ethnicity is obscure. The Pǔmǐ are traditionally known as [bɑH] by the 1

Chinese toponyms and names of minority nationalities are provided in romanization with diacritics marking tones, but better-known places such as Yunnan and names of minority languages are spelled without diacritics.



Tibetans, and as [bɤH] by the Moso and the Nàxī, the other major ethnic minorities who have inhabited this region for many centuries. People who identify themselves officially (e.g. in a census) as Pǔmǐ reside almost exclusively in Yunnan, the southwestern province of China neighboring Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. The two areas with a relatively large Pǔmǐ population are Lánpíng Pǔmǐ and Baí Autonomous County in Nùjiāng Lìsǔ Autonomous Prefecture and Nínglàng Yí Autonomous County in Lìjiāng City (see Map 1). Even in Lánpíng County, where the Pǔmǐ have been granted co-autonomous status, their population (7.78%) is far below the Baí (47.3%) and the Lìsǔ (34.78%) (percentage as of 1991, Chen 1996). In Nínglàng County the Pǔmǐ (4.84%) also rank third among the ethnic minority populations, behind the Yí (62.99%) and the Moso (6.23%). 2 According to the fifth nationwide census in 2000, the total population of Pǔmǐ was 33,600. This figure does not indicate the number of speakers of the language, as information on spoken languages is not included in the census data. At least one third of the Pǔmǐ population is estimated to have shifted their first language and this is on the rise under the great social and economic changes of recent years (Ding 2007b). On one hand, the younger Pǔmǐ population is increasingly monolingual in the Yunnan dialect of Mandarin as well as Standard Chinese through education. The use of their native language is undoubtedly in decline among Pǔmǐ living in urban areas. On the other hand, in southwest Sichuan, adjacent to Nínglàng County, there is a larger group of Prinmi speakers, known as Xīfān in the past, who have identified themselves officially as Tibetans since the establishment of Mùlǐ Tibetan Autonomous Zone (later changed to Mùlǐ Tibetan Autonomous County) in 1953. These Xīfān in Yunnan and Sichuan are of the same ancestral origin and it is an undisputable fact that they all speak Prinmi (cf. Harrell 2001: 195-197), but most of them hold the opinion that the current split of their identity under the official classification of minority nationalities should be respected. The Tibetans of Mùlǐ numbered 42,572, or 32.8% of the total population in 2004; 3 most, but not all, of them speak Prinmi as their mother tongue. Moreover, Yányuán County of Sichuan, adjoining Mùlǐ County and Nínglàng County, also has a number of Prinmi speakers. Further north, speakers of Prinmi are found in Jiǔlóng County (adjacent to 2

This percentage is based on the latest census of 2010, available at . 3 See .



Mùlǐ County) in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province (Lu 1983: 90; Huang et al 1992: 637). In this book the term Pǔmǐ will be restricted to the official name of the nationality, while the term Prinmi will be used to refer to the common language spoken by the Pǔmǐ in Yunnan and the ‘Tibetans’, or ‘Pǔmǐ Tibetans’ (as suggested by some Pǔmǐ) in southwest Sichuan. 1.1.1. Origin and history of migration Although the precise origin of the Pǔmǐ people is obscure, it is certain that they are not indigenous to Yunnan (Yan & Wong 1988). According to traditional folklore, the Pǔmǐ originated in the north, probably in an area bordering the provinces of Qinghai and Gansu in modern China. Their ancestors led a nomadic life and traveled south until they reached the present-day region between southwest Sichuan and northwest Yunnan. This region can be roughly referred to as the Greater Lúgū Lake area. Except for those in Lánpíng, the Pǔmǐ practice cremation and believe that the spirit of the elderly deceased will be taken back to their original homeland by sheep. As part of the traditional funeral, a recitation is performed to instruct the sacrificed sheep of the correct direction. The routes in the recitation are incomplete and vary considerably, but they agree in pointing to a certain destination in the north. One theory for the distribution of Pǔmǐ farther southwest from the Greater Lúgū Lake area is associated with the emergence of the Mongolian Empire in the 13th century. It is said that many Pǔmǐ were recruited by the Mongols on their way to conquering Yunnan (Yan & Wong 1988: 68-69). These Pǔmǐ soldiers and officers eventually settled down in Lánpíng. This is probably one of the major migrations of the Pǔmǐ in relatively recent history. 1.1.2. Religion The Pǔmǐ and ‘Pǔmǐ Tibetans’ have two religious traditions (Harrell 2001: 198): Lamaism and Bönism. In Mùlǐ County the great majority of them believe in Lamaist Buddhism, which is also practiced among Moso and some Pǔmǐ close to Lúgū Lake in northern Nínglàng. According to Samuel (2012: 232), Bönism has long been incorporated within Lamaism and represents an important branch of Tibetan Buddhism. To the Pǔmǐ, however, the two are kept distinct. The bönist



priest is called [xãLkɥiH] or [wãLkwiH] (among other dialectal variations) in Prinmi and the lama is called [jɜLmɑH], a loan from Tibetan. Bönism antedates Lamaism, but the two have co-existed, at least in modern times, without any conflict in the Prinmi-speaking region. When the last practicing xãLkɥiH passed away in Niúwōzǐ (the Pǔmǐ village in which I stayed) in 1995, lamas were invited to conduct the funeral and perform religious service for the deceased bönist priest. According to Pǔmǐ tradition, bönism is usually passed on from father to son. Partly because of this restricted fashion of training and transmission, bönism has been in steady decline. In response to this plight, a respected bönist priest from a remote village across the provincial border in Mùlǐ was invited to run intensive training programs in Niúwōzǐ around the turn of the millennium. As a result, a few Pǔmǐ villages have seen some renaissance of bönism in recent years. All bönist holy books are written in Tibetan. In the past (before the 1950s) young Pǔmǐ would be selected for lama training in local temples. Some would be sent to as far as Lhasa for more advanced study of Lamaism. With status similar to those in Tibet, Pǔmǐ lamas formed an elite class. In Mùlǐ, Lamaism has enjoyed prestige status under the official designation of Tibetan Autonomous County. Its influence in Nínglàng is relatively tenuous, but there are several Lamaist temples, including one built jointly by the Pǔmǐ and the Moso in 1995. Lamaism is not practiced among the Pǔmǐ in Lánpíng; neither is cremation. 4 1.1.3. Relations with other minority nationalities The Greater Lúgū Lake area has, for centuries, come under profound Tibetan religious, cultural and linguistic influence. In the former Mùlǐ Kingdom documents were written in Tibetan, although Prinmi was used widely as a lingua franca. Depending on ethnic distribution in different regions, the Pǔmǐ have developed close relations with other ethnic minorities. This is generally reflected in the acceptability and practice of intermarriage between ethnic groups. In Nínglàng County the ethnic group most closely intertwined with the Pǔmǐ is the Moso. Although the Moso are officially subsumed under the Nàxī nationality in Yunnan province, the traditional practice 4

I met a Tibetan teacher from Garzê, Sichuan in 2004 and was told that a tulku was hoping to introduce Lamaism to the Pǔmǐ in Lánpíng.



of differentiating the two will be followed here. The Pǔmǐ share Lamaism with the Moso, a fact which probably underpins the cultural tie between these two groups. In spite of difference in language (both are Tibeto-Burman, but from separate branches) and family organization (matrilineality being the norm in some Moso villages), intermarriage between the Pǔmǐ and the Moso has been well accepted. The Yí (another group of Tibeto-Burman speakers) represented almost 63% of the population of Nínglàng in 2004, outnumbering by almost six times the combined population of the Moso and the Pǔmǐ (the second and third largest ethnic groups in the county). The Yí people started to migrate to Nínglàng from Liángshān in southwestern Sichuan in the early 18th century (Wu 1985: 2). Until the Chinese liberation in 1949, the Yí had practiced slavery and abducted children from other ethnic groups. Nowadays conciliation has been made between the Yí and other nationalities. Ethnic relations are basically harmonious, but intermarriage between the Pǔmǐ and the Yí is rare. In Lánpíng the Pǔmǐ have a bond with the Baí, the dominant group of the county. Their relations with the Lìsǔ, the biggest nationality in the prefecture, are not as close as with Han Chinese. 1.1.4. Multilingualism and language attitude Older Pǔmǐ men often speak several languages, including Prinmi, Yunnan Mandarin, and another language of the dominant ethnic group. The additional languages are acquired through social interaction with speakers of these languages. Pǔmǐ men are more likely than Pǔmǐ women to be multilingual because women tend to take charge of household duties and seldom interact socially with other peoples. Communication-driven multilingualism, however, is rapidly disappearing under the current trend of social development. Although rights for the use and promotion of minority languages are embraced in the Chinese constitution, Prinmi — as a spoken language for hundreds of years — does not even have the basic resources to maintain its continuance (for details, see Ding 2007b). All educated Pǔmǐ are now literate in Chinese, which is increasingly seen as a key to success in society. In both Nínglàng and Lánpíng, some families have deliberately chosen Mandarin as the first language for their children even though both parents speak Prinmi fluently. This situation resembles the decline of migrants’ languages in the U.S.A. or Australia, cf. Anderson’s (2014) discussion of similarities in language education between minority languages and immigrant



languages. After one or two bilingual generations, future generations simply shift to the dominant language. In the case of Pǔmǐ communities, more and more Pǔmǐ are shifting their language from Prinmi to Mandarin. The Pǔmǐ are generally not conscious of the endangerment of their language, or simply regard it as a natural and unavoidable consequence of modernization. 1.2. Overview of the Prinmi language This section presents an overview of the Prinmi language, starting from a review of publications on Prinmi. The language is then viewed diachronically in terms of genetic relation and dialectal development. A brief typological profile is also outlined. 1.2.1. Previous work In order to understand the great diversity of ethnic minorities in China, the Chinese government launched a nationwide pilot study of minority languages in the late 1950s. Based on fieldwork conducted in 1956-57, 1964 and 1980, the research group led by Lu Shaozun published two important monographs on Prinmi: Pumiyu Jianzhi (A Brief Account of the Pǔmǐ Language) in 1983 and Pumiyu Fangyan Yanjiu (A Dialectal Study of the Pǔmǐ Language) in 2001. The former was the first and for almost two decades the only published book about Prinmi. The latter provides information on seven dialects, including Lánpíng Prinmi, which was first presented in Lu (1983). Like other monographs which resulted from the large scale linguistic survey, these books follow a uniform format in outlining the phonology, vocabulary, grammar, and dialects of the language. Lu (1983) is based on the variety spoken in Qīnghuā, Lánpíng County, Yunnan. It also covers in brief Táobā Prinmi, spoken in Mùlǐ County, Liángshān Prefecture, Sichuan. These books provide a large number of lexical items in Prinmi (including alien concepts such as ‘telephone’ and ‘communism’). Judging by the content, example sentences appear to be elicited mainly through translation from Chinese. Lu (2001) can be regarded as an expansion of Lu (1983). Both works are based on the pilot survey of Prinmi, using the same format and approach. The expansion includes phonology and vocabulary (but no grammatical description) from five more villages in addition to Qīnghuā and Táobā, namely: Lǔdiān (Yùlóng, Yunnan), Xīnyíngpán



(central Nínglàng, Yunnan), Tuōqī (northern Nínglàng, Yunnan), Zuŏsuŏ (Yányuán, Sichuan) and Sānyǎnlóng (Jiǔlóng, Sichuan). These dialects are grouped into Southern Prinmi and Northern Prinmi (see Map 2), as first noted in Lu (1983). Simple dialectal comparison is given mainly for phonology. Finally, four pieces of narrative text are provided, two in Qīnghuā Prinmi and two in Táobā Prinmi. Lu’s data, especially the lexicon, have also appeared in other works on Tibeto-Burman languages of China, e.g. Sun et al. (1991), TibetoBurman Phonology and Lexicon, and Huang et al. (1992), A TibetoBurman Lexicon. Working with a few young Prinmi speakers in Beijing, Fu (1998) is the first monograph devoted to the study of verbs in Lánpíng Prinmi. Jiang (2008, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2012) has continued to work on Lánpíng Prinmi. All these publications are written in Chinese. Using first-hand fieldwork data, three Tibeto-Burmanists have published their work on Prinmi in English: (a) Matisoff’s (1997) phonological description of a dialect of Lánpíng Prinmi; (b) Ding’s (2001) analysis of Prinmi tonal system, a concise outline of Prinmi grammar, based on a dialect of central Nínglàng (Ding 2003), dialectal investigation of Prinmi tones (Ding 2007a), sociolinguistic challenge to Prinmi (Ding 2007b), and rhoticization of consonants in Prinmi (Ding 2009); and (c) Jacques’s (2011a; 2011b) phonological study on two Prinmi dialects: Mùdǐqīng (spoken in northern Nínglàng) and Shuǐluò (spoken in western Mùlǐ). 1.2.2. Genetic affiliation and varieties of the language Prinmi is a Tibeto-Burman language found exclusively in China. Sun (1982) proposes a Qiangic branch under the Tibeto-Burman family and Prinmi is classified under this new branch. Bradley (1997: 35-37) considers Prinmi to be a member of core Qiangic under the NorthEastern Tibeto-Burman group. The core status of Prinmi in Qiangic is also recognized in Thurgood (2003). The most well-known member of the Qiangic group is the now extinct Tangut (Xixia) language. Lexical comparison shows that Prinmi is closer to Tangut than Qiang is, and that Prinmi is among the closest linguistic relatives of Tangut (Li 2004: 341). Another wellobserved linguistic feature concerning lexical tone also suggests a comparatively close distance between Tangut and Prinmi, be it by virtue of genetic relation or language contact. Tangut had two tonal categories: level and rising (Gong 2003: 605), and all dialects of



Prinmi are tonal, pointing to the development of lexical tone in ProtoPrinmi (Ding 2007a). On the other hand, phonemic tone is unknown to Proto-Qiang. Such dialects as Qǔgǔ Qiang (Huang & Zhou 2006), Yǎdū Qiang (LaPolla with Huang 2003), and Máwō Qiang (Liu 1998a), all of Northern Qiang, as well as Púxī Qiang (Huang 2004), of Southern Qiang, exploit stress instead of tone for lexical contrast. Emergence of lexical tone in some dialects of Southern Qiang is regarded to be a consequence of language contact with Mandarin in recent decades (Liu 1998b; Evans 2001). The inhabitation of the Pǔmǐ is widespread over a large area of rugged mountains, which is shared with many minority nationalities speaking distinct Tibeto-Burman languages. As such, varieties of Prinmi are not uniform in all linguistic aspects. Within the Prinmispeaking territory, a continuum of dialects lies between Lánpíng in the southwest and Sānyǎnlóng in the northeast. According to my main consultant, two primary dialectal groups exist. A simple distinctive feature between them concerns lenition of the plosive to affricate in the copula /dəF/~/dzɨF/ ‘to be’: [dz] in his own dialect and [d] in the other. He further comments that the two dialectal groups could coexist with mutual influence on each other in places such as Lánpíng, which has received Pǔmǐ migrants speaking a variety of Prinmi dialects. Lu (1983; 2001) also proposes a binary classification, with a dividing line drawn in central Nínglàng, Yunnan: all varieties in Yunnan to the south of the line belong to Southern Prinmi, all others (i.e. northern Nínglàng and Sichuan) belong to Northern Prinmi. No criteria for this division nor distinctive dialectal features are explicitly discussed, however. A certain degree of difficulty in intelligibility is said to exist between Northern Prinmi and Southern Prinmi. Although Lu’s (1983; 2001) geographically-based grouping provides a convenient way to classify Prinmi dialects, it reveals little about linguistic characteristics or relationship between these dialects. A few noteworthy phonological features across some varieties of Prinmi are provided in Table 1-1 (most of their geographical distribution is shown on Map 2). The dashed line divides the table into two parts, which correspond to Lu’s scheme of Southern Prinmi, at the top, and Northern Prinmi, at the bottom. Dialectal data in the comparison are heavily drawn from Lu (2001), which has certain discrepancies



from my own field notes, especially concerning the Xīnyíngpán data. 5 For instance, the onset of the copula in all seven dialects is transcribed as the voiced plosive (Lu 2001: 432-433). This rules out the criterion suggested in the folk theory of dialect grouping. Table 1-1: Comparison of phonological features in different Prinmi varieties

Western Dàyáng, LP Prinmi Qīnghuā, LP Rénhé, YL Central Prinmi Xīnyíngpán, NL Xīchuān, NL Mùdǐqīng, NL Lābó, NL Tuōqī, NL Northern Jīsū, ML Prinmi Zuŏsuŏ, YY Táobā, ML Sānyǎnlóng, JL

‘be’ ddddzdzdzdddddd-

*kr ʈ ʈʂ kɹ kɹ kɹ ʈ ʈ ʈʂ ʈ ʈʂ ʈʂ ʈʂ

ɹ̥ /ʂ ʂ ʂ ɹ̥ ɹ̥ ɹ̥ ɹ̥ ɹ̥ ʂ ʂ ʂ ʂ ʂ

*ɸp ɸp ɸp p/f p p / ɸp p ɸp p p p p p / ɸp

*xk ʃtʃ xk k/x k k k xk k k x x x / xk

*phr phʂ phʐ phɹ phɹ phɹ ʈh phɹ phɹ phɹ phʐ phʐ phɹ

JL: Jiǔlóng County (Garzê Prefecture, Sichuan), LP: Lánpíng County (Yunnan), ML: Mùlǐ County (Sichuan), NL: Nínglàng County (Yunnan), YL: Yùlóng County (Yunnan), YY: Yányuán County (Sichuan). Sources: Dàyáng from Matisoff (1997); Rénhé, Xīnyíngpán, Xīchuān, Lābó, Mùdǐqīng, Jīsū and Sānyǎnlóng from my own field data; the remainder from Lu (2001).

Based on shared sound innovations and retention of salient phonological features, Prinmi dialects can be grouped into Western Prinmi (spoken in Lánpíng, Yunnan), Central Prinmi (spoken in southern Nínglàng and Yùlóng, Yunnan), and Northern Prinmi (spoken in northern Nínglàng, Yunnan; Mùlǐ, Yányuán, and Jiǔlóng, Sichuan). The most significant feature of Central Prinmi is retention of the antique clusters *kr and *gr reconstructed for Proto-Tibeto-Burman by Matisoff (2003); see Table 1-2, which provides a brief comparison of 5

As will be noted in §1.3.1, the Pǔmǐ living in Xīnyíngpán came from various villages. The informant working with Lu in the mid-1950s clearly spoke a variety different from present-day Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, as represented by Niúwōzǐ in the decade between 1995 and 2005.



cognates between selected Prinmi dialects (with reconstruction adapted from Matisoff 2003: 22-23). Western Prinmi shows the least internal divergence, as the area in which it is spoken is the most compact and speakers of subdialects are able to contact one another with relative ease. It is remarkable that this dialectal group has preserved the pre-stop homorganic fricatives of Proto-Prinmi, which are also found in certain subdialects of other groups, but only sporadically in the careful speech of some elderly speakers. This proposal provides a finer classification of Southern Prinmi into Western Prinmi and Central Prinmi, but the grouping of Northern Prinmi is tentative, as this umbrella term covers the remainder of the vast Prinmi-speaking territory with more than half of the total number of speakers of the language. Further division will be necessary when detailed studies of more dialects of Mùlǐ and Yányuán are available. Table 1-2: From Proto-Tibeto-Burman to Prinmi dialects

Central Prinmi Proto-TibetoBurman

‘foot’ *krəy ‘gall’ *m-kris ‘eagle’ *glaŋ ‘star’ *ʔ-grəy† †

Western Prinmi Northern Prinmi

XīnyíngXīchuān Dàyáng Qīnghuā pán

khɹəH kɹəH kɹaR ɡɹəR

khɹəH kɹəH kɹaR ɡɹəR/ ɖʐɨR


ʈhɨ55 ʈɨ55 ʈɑ13

ʈhʂə55 ʈʂə55 ʈʂa13

ʈhʂə53 ʈʂə55 ʈʂɛ35





ʈhʂɨH ʈʂɨR ʈʂɨR ɖʐɨR

This is a Proto-Lolo-Burmese form.

Although there are no precise figures for the numbers of speakers of Prinmi, it is certain that Central Prinmi has the smallest population among the three groups. This number has been in decline as some Pǔmǐ villages have shifted their native language to Naxi or Nosu (the language spoken by the Yí in Nínglàng) in the past decades. 1.2.3. Typological profile Prinmi employs aspiration and voicing as distinctive features to generate a large number of phonemic consonants: all sonorants have voiceless counterparts and a three-way contrast exists among plosives and affricates (see Chapter 2). Prinmi is tonal, but its tonal system differs from the well-known system found in Mandarin. Instead, it is



similar in essence to the suprasegmental system of Japanese (details in Chapter 3). Major word classes in Prinmi show a high degree of overlap, rendering many nouns, verbs and adjectives multifunctional (described in Chapter 4). Prinmi morphology (see Chapter 5) behaves more like isolating languages than agglutinative languages, with grammatical function signaled by a variety of clitics and postpositions. While nominal clitics take the form of enclitic only, verbal clitics can appear as proclitic, enclitic, mesoclitic or endoclitic. Inflection is marginally observed in a small number of verbs, but prefixation on verbs is common. Verbal reduplication expresses pluractionality among other meanings. Featuring some ergativity, Prinmi often marks the Agent, irrespective of transitivity, with the instrumental postposition (an issue of discussion in Chapter 6). Prinmi is a verb-final language. Adjective follows the head noun, but noun and clause, when serving as modifiers, precede the head noun (details in Chapter 7). Tense is not a grammatical category; there are a number of aspectual and modal clitics, with evidential and mirative markings also available (see Chapter 8). Prinmi has as many as six existential verbs, with five of them in active use (presented in Chapter 9). Under the fluid grammatical system, sentences tend to combine several clauses into a complex one, where coreferential arguments (typically with an explicit referring expression and several instances of zero anaphor) can switch freely between different semantic roles (discussed in Chapter 10). In terms of causation, three types of encoding are possible on the Causee, corresponding to direct, indirect and sociative causation (examined in Chapter 11). As a topic-prominent language, Prinmi has developed various types of topic-comment construction. Information structure (the theme of Chapter 12) can build up complexity with multiple topics, chained comments and/or — subject to some semantic conditions — topic-comment embedding. With frequent use of topiccomment construction, the word order of core arguments gives the impression of considerable flexibility in sentences. 1.3. Fieldwork settings The description of Prinmi presented in this book is largely based on fieldwork conducted in Yunnan in August 1994–May 1995 and



February 1997–March 1997. The fieldwork was carried out in various places, including Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, Lánpíng County (with a short visit to Qīnghuā) and Nínglàng County. The majority of the fieldwork period was spent in Nínglàng County. Subsequent field trips to northwest Yunnan were taken in 2003, 2004–2005, 2006, 2008, and 2013–2014, plus a short field trip to Sichuan in 2010. Under a typological project for information structure, additional data were collected in 2004–2005 using visual prompts to a number of native speakers of Niúwōzǐ who did not work as my consultants during earlier field trips. 1.3.1. The community Prinmi communities exist only in villages. While an increasing number of Pǔmǐ have moved to bigger towns such as county seats, their concentration, if any, in the new place is too small to form a local community. The major Pǔmǐ community in which I stayed for my fieldwork is called Niúwōzǐ [牛窝子] in Mandarin, literally ‘cattle den’. It is one of the largest Pǔmǐ communities in Nínglàng, with more than 1,000 speakers of Prinmi as of the end of 2008. 6 It belongs to the Xīnyíngpán Administrative Village, and is approximately 20 kilometers south of the county seat of Nínglàng. The travel distance between Niúwōzǐ and the county seat is about 40 minutes by car. Xīnyíngpán, as an administrative village, is dominated by the Yí. Near the turn of the millennium, the population of Niúwōzǐ was considerably augmented on account of an intake of Pǔmǐ families from another village, Paómǎpíng, under the government’s relocation plan. Prior to the relocation there had been frequent exchange of population between Niúwōzǐ and Paómǎpíng, largely through exogamous marriage. The two represented the closest variety of Prinmi to each other and can be regarded as a single variety. Situated in a valley, Niúwōzǐ differs from traditional Pǔmǐ settlements which usually sit on the sides of hills with adequate elevation. According to the elders of Niúwōzǐ, the village was only founded in 1930 after an upheaval during which the Yí had burned and demolished villages of Pǔmǐ and other ethnic groups in the area. From the outset Niúwōzǐ has been inhabited by Pǔmǐ from different villages and this trend continues. Niúwōzǐ is considered to be a well-off Pǔmǐ 6

This estimation is based on the figure of Pǔmǐ population of Xīnyíngpán, available at .



community in Nínglàng, attracting Pǔmǐ women to marry and move there from as far north as Yányuán County across the Yunnan-Sichuan border and as far south as Yǒngshèng County in Lìjiāng City. Niúwōzǐ is essentially a Prinmi-speaking village, although Pǔtōnghuà (Standard Mandarin) can be heard in many households through television broadcasts. Most villagers, including middle-aged women, also speak Nínglàng Mandarin fluently. Since the early 2000s more and more Pǔmǐ youth have followed the trend of leaving villages for low-skilled jobs in cities. It has become necessary to hire some Yí to help with farm work in the village. Consequently, the use of Nosu by the Pǔmǐ has also increased in recent years. 1.3.2. Consultants and data My corpus of Prinmi data comprises two phases of collection: the first phase spans two field trips taken in 1994–1995 and in 1997, and the second phase took place in 2004–2005 and in early 2006. The overall Niúwōzǐ corpus is summarized in Table 1-3, showing approximate age (at the time of recording) and the gender of speakers, types of data, methods of elicitation, and year of collection. Details of contribution from the main consultant Lujin (LJ) are provided in Table 1-4. Serving as the main consultant, he contributed a great deal of Prinmi vocabulary, a few stories, some narratives, proverbs and riddles to the corpus. He also helped with translating a number of stories, passages and sentences from Standard Chinese into Prinmi. Table 1-4 represents the core of recorded data that form the basis of the corpus for this study. Not included are materials gathered from working sessions and from other speakers of Niúwōzǐ. The longest text is ‘The Deluge Myth’, about 15 minutes long on tape. Another important text is ‘The Zzonbba God’, pertaining to the most respected god in the culture of Pǔmǐ. The latter can be found in Appendix I. The Pǔmǐ I encountered during my field trips came from a variety of places in Yunnan and Sichuan. Prinmi data, of varying amounts, were recorded from speakers in Yunnan from Dàyáng, Qīnghuā, Sānjiè and Luógǔqīng (all in Lánpíng County) as well as Rénhé (Yùlóng County), etc.; in addition to Niúwōzǐ Prinmi, varieties of Xīchuān, Mùdǐqīng and Lābó (all in Nínglàng County) as well as Jīsū and Sānyǎnlóng (in different counties in Sichuan) were also collected. The present description is devoted to Niúwōzǐ Prinmi; data from other dialects are used for general comparison occasionally.



Table 1-3: A brief overview of Niúwōzǐ corpus

Age Sex Type




60s 20s





Folk story Sentences, short stories Sentences Word list Sentences

No prompts Visual prompts Language game By translation By translation

1994 2005 2005 1995 1997





Language game






Language game



70s 50s


Sentences, short stories Word list Folk story, exposition Vocabulary, expositions Folklore Short stories, exposition Sentences

Visual prompts By translation No prompts No prompts No prompts By translation By translation

2005 1994 1994 1995 1995 1995 1997


20s 30s








Sentences Sentences, short stories Dialogues Sentences Sentences Dialogues Sentences, short stories Dialogues Sentences

By translation Visual prompts Video clips Language game Visual prompts Video clips Visual prompts Video clips Language game

2004 2005 2005 2005 2005 2005 2005 2005 2005





Visual prompts






Language game






Visual prompts



Language game


Two important consultants from Niúwōzǐ are Lujin and Echii, both male, with native command of Prinmi and also fluency in Mandarin and Nosu. In addition, Lujin speaks Narua and has a good knowledge of Lhasa Tibetan, Lisu and Naxi, some of which were learned during



extensive travel throughout the region. He lived and grew up in Paómǎpíng until his family settled in Niúwōzǐ around 1958. Lujin was in his late 50’s and Echii in his mid 20’s at the time of my first field trip in mid 1990s. The age difference naturally puts them in two generations. In general, Lujin’s Prinmi is more conservative; he successfully avoided using Mandarin words in recorded texts whenever possible. Like other young Pǔmǐ, Echii felt rather at home absorbing linguistic elements from Chinese into Prinmi. Table 1-4: Prinmi data contributed by the main consultant 7




Lexeme Folklore Folklore Exposition Exposition Exposition Folklore Story

Word lists based on semantic groupings The Deluge Myth The Cuckoo and the Golden Pheasant The Zzonbba God Zavggion: the whole-body dried pork Short expository texts about cultural terms Proverbs and riddles Stories translated from Standard Chinese Short narratives/dialogues translated from Standard Chinese 310 sentences translated from Standard Chinese

c. 1360 c. 2230 c. 460 c. 850 c. 400 c. 2570 c. 370 c. 1400

Passage Sentence

c. 1200 c. 4300

1.4. Presentation of data and examples All Prinmi data are presented using the latest IPA (2005). A major departure from the standard notation is the use of abbreviations (rather than diacritics, tone characters or digits) in transcribing the suprasegmentals. The four tones found in Prinmi are represented at the end of the syllable, using the initial of tone names as follows: High tone toH ‘up’ 7

Falling tone toF ‘look’

Rising tone toR ‘to bark’

The number of words shown in the table is based on a computer count of data represented in pinyin-based Prinmi orthography.



In examples taken from connected speech, transcription of suprasegmentals is usually based on surface tones as they were recorded, even if the lexical tones were affected by intonation or tone sandhi. Most Prinmi words in the examples are listed in the glossary in Appendix II, with lexical tones provided in citation form. When the IPA is rendered in italic in texts, the symbol [a] changes to [a]. The reader is reminded of this technical annoyance, and should consult the form given in the regular font style when in doubt. A three-line format, with interlinear gloss, is adopted for longer examples. No punctuation is supplied on the first line for Prinmi data, but capitalization and regular punctuation applies in free translation on the third line. If the free translation does not end with a period, as in (1.1), it means that the cited example represents a non-terminating part in the original sentence. In contrast, the free translation given in (1.2) indicates that the cited clause is extracted from the ending part of a sentence. 1.1

təLboR təH miF=ɡeL təH=ɹəH tʰɜL-tʃɥɛH̃ kʰeH=boL then this person=TOP this=PL TLC-see;3 time=FRM ‘Then when this guy saw all these, …’


məLdzuF tʰɜL-dʒʉR ɡəL-ʒɨF=siL TLC-hatch out-come=PFV all ‘…, all (the chicks) hatched and came out.’

Capitalization used in English free translations also provides a good hint to the part of sentence. The first word in (1.1) is capitalized, as the example is taken from the beginning of the sentence. However, capitalization is not applied to the first word in (1.2) and (1.3), with or without a leading ellipsis mark, since the example represents a noninitial part in the original sentence. 1.3

məLdzuF tʰɜL-dʒʉR ɡəL-ʒɨF=siL TLC-hatch out-come=PFV all ‘all (the chicks) hatched and came out.’


SEGMENTAL PHONOLOGY This chapter presents a general description of the segmental phonology of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. The phonemic system is built upon the dialect spoken by the main consultant. The chapter starts with the basic segments: consonants, glides, and vowels, and then proceeds to syllable structure as well as phonotactics of the language. It closes with a discussion on some segmental phonological processes. 2.1. Consonants There are forty consonants in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi: nine plain plosives, eight fricatives, four nasals, two laterals, two rhotics, nine affricates and six rhoticized plosives. The utilization of the voicing feature for contrast is a salient characteristic of Prinmi consonants; all consonants contrast voiced with voiceless. Furthermore, the oral stops (including affricates) show a three-way distinction in terms of voicing and aspiration. The total inventory of phonemic consonants is provided below in IPA: Table 2-1: The inventory of consonants in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi

Bilabial b


m m̥

Dental d



t tʰ z




dz ts tsʰ bʴ


Velar ɡ k kʰ



tʃ tʃʰ








ʈʂ ʈʂʰ ɡʴ kʴ


Depending on whether or not a consonant can be followed immediately by the unrounded palatal glide /j/, Prinmi consonants are divided into two groups: the ‘J-group’ and the ‘non-J-group’. The former is



compatible with the glide, whereas the latter incompatible. The palatal glide is phonetically silent when it is adjacent to a consonant of the non-J-group. This group, having eighteen members, is smaller in number than the J-group, and is placed in boxes in Table 2-1. The bifurcation of the consonants into these two phonological groups is useful for the study of Prinmi vowels. 2.1.1. Plain plosives The plain plosives use three places of articulation: bilabial, dental, and velar, as shown in (2.1)–(2.3) respectively. Uvular plosives exist as allophones of the velar set in a syllable rhymed with the low back vowel /ɑ/, as in (2.4). The three-way contrast among a set of plosives is achieved with voiced vs. voiceless unaspirated vs. voiceless aspirated. For instance (phonemic form is usually unmarked in notation, and phonetic representation placed within brackets): 2.1 a b

biF ‘to expand’ bjɛR̃ ‘to fly’

piR ‘belly’ pjɛR̃ ‘woodland’

2.2 a b

diH ‘to cast’ djɛR̃ ‘earth’

tiR ‘to put’ tjɛH̃ ‘to get rich’

2.3 a b

ɡiF ‘debt’ ɡjɛF̃ ‘to cut’

kiR ‘to sell’ kjɛR̃ ‘to estrange’

2.4 a b c

ɡõLɡɑH kɑR kʰɑR

pʰiR ‘to slant’ pʰjɛR̃ ‘to flee’ tʰiL uH ‘the far-away’ tʰjɛR̃ ‘to drink’ kʰiF ‘lock’ kʰjɛR̃ ‘to give’

‘to lick’ [ɡõLɢɑH] ‘to bite’ [qɑR] ‘king’ [qʰɑR] 2.1.2. Fricatives

The eight fricatives are articulated at four places: dental, post-alveolar, retroflex and velar. At each place a pair contrasts in terms of voicing. The voiced post-alveolar fricative, but not the voiceless one, is palatalized when it precedes a high front vowel or a palatal glide, e.g. (2.6b). The voiceless velar fricative has the allophone [ɸ] before the high back vowel /u/, e.g. /xuF/ [ɸuF] ‘south’. These four pairs of fricatives are exemplified in the following (near) minimal pairs: 2.5 a b

zʉR ‘face’ zɑR ‘pangolin’

sʉR sɑF

‘fruit’ ‘(of lake) to dry up’



2.6 a b

ʒɨH ‘many’ ʒjɛH̃ [ʝjɛH̃ ] ‘tobacco’

ʃɨH ʃjɛH̃

2.7 a b

ʐõH ‘sheep’ ʐwɑF ‘carry (3SG/PL)’

ʂõH ‘clean’ ʂwɑR ‘fur of plant’

2.8 a b

ɣoR ‘tiger’ ɣɑ̃R ‘yellow’

xoH xɑ̃R

‘the Dragon King’ ‘iron’

‘to be well’ ‘parrot’

2.1.3. Nasals, laterals and rhotics The nasals have two places of articulation: bilabial and dental. A contrast between voiced and voiceless aspirated is found at both positions. Below are some of the (near) minimal pairs: 2.9 a b

mjɑR ‘soldier’ muR ‘corpse’

m̥jɑR ‘gadfly’ m̥uR ‘to suffocate’

2.10 a b

nɥɛR̃ ‘winnowing tray’ n̥ɥɛH̃ ‘sister (of a male)’ noF ‘opposite’ n̥oR ‘difficult to understand’

The dental nasals may be palatalized when they precede the palatal glide /j/, showing free variation: 2.11 a b

njɛF̃ ‘copper’ n̥jɛR̃ ‘ear of grain’

[njɛF̃ ] or [ȵɛF̃ ] [n̥jɛR̃ ] or [ȵ̊ɛR̃ ]

Like other sonorants, the pair of laterals differs in respect to voicing. (Near) minimal pairs for these are shown in (2.12). A marginal allophone is found in a few words, as exemplified in (2.13). The retroflex lateral in (2.13a) appears to have resulted from onset assimilation, which is not applicable in (2.13b). 2.12 a b

lõH ‘(year of) the Ox’ ljɑHljɑH ‘youngest paternal uncle’

2.13 a b

ʈʂʰɑLlaR ‘idea’ pʰɑHlɑH ‘butterfly’

l̥ õH ‘to shrink’ l̥ jɑLl̥ jɑR ‘firethorn’

[ʈʂʰɑLlaR] or [ʈʂʰɑLɭaR] [pʰɑHlɑH] but ??[pʰɑHɭɑH]

The rhotic consonant in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi is realized as an approximant rather similar to that in English. In some Prinmi dialects, however, the plain rhotic is produced as a trill (see Matisoff 1997). A



phonemic contrast exists between the voiced and voiceless aspirated rhotics in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, e.g.: 2.14 a b c d

ɹəR ɹiF ɹuH ɹaF

ɹ̥ əR ɹ̥ iF ɹ̥ uH ɹ̥ aR

‘sickle’ ‘to shave’ ‘stem’ ‘to get stuck’

‘dew’ ‘to sweat’ ‘chirrup’ ‘to laugh’

Unlike the voiceless nasals, which are found in most of the known Prinmi dialects, the voiceless rhotic occurs mainly in Central Prinmi. There is a rather regular correspondence between the voiceless rhotic in Xīnyíngpán and a voiceless fricative — either post-alveolar or retroflex — in other dialects that lack it (see §1.2.2). 1 On occasions, the main consultant produced the voiceless rhotic with sibilant friction, virtually rendering it as a fricative allophone. For instance: 2.15

ɡəL-ɹ̥ ʉLɹ̥ ɥeH ‘to clean up by wiping’


On repetition in a careful manner, however, the allophonic fricative does not arise; the consonant remains an approximant. There exists no minimal pair of words for the two consonants, but they do contrast in similar environment, e.g.: 2.16

ɹ̥ ɑ̃H ‘long’

ɡəLʂɑ̃R ‘chopstick’ 2.1.4. Affricates

Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has three sets of affricates, produced at dental, post-alveolar and retroflex, respectively. Each set shows a three-way contrast in terms of voicing and aspiration, as exemplified below: 2.17 a b

dzʉF ‘itchy’ dzjɛH̃ ‘eat (1SG)’

2.18 a b

dʒjɛH̃ ‘true’ dʒɥaH ‘not tall’

2.19 a b

ɖʐõR ‘to become’ ɖʐjɛF̃ ‘bastard’


tsʉF ‘son’ tsʰʉR ‘lung’ H tsjɛ̃ ‘to hit the target’ tsʰjɛR̃ ‘center’ tʃjɛR̃ ‘child’ tʃɥaH ‘gluttonous’ ʈʂõH ‘privacy’ ʈʂjɛR̃ ‘to recall’

tʃʰjɛR̃ ‘to dry by sun’ tʃʰɥaR ‘pig’ ʈʂʰõH ‘hasty’ ʈʂʰjɛR̃ ‘otter’

Okell (1995: 12-13) observes a similar variation between ɹ̥ and ʃ in modern Burmese dialects between Arakanese and Standard Burmese. Bradley (1985: 197) also notes a variation between ɹ̥ and ɕ in Arakanese.



When a retroflex affricate occurs before the high front vowel /i/, it is fortified to a plosive, e.g.: 2.20 a b c

mɜHɖʐiL ‘charcoal’ məHʈʂiL ‘village’ tɜL-ʈʂʰiF ‘to wake’

[mɜHɖiL] [məHʈiL] [tɜL-ʈʰiF]

2.1.5. Rhoticized plosives Two sets of rhoticized plosives occur in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi: bilabial and velar, exemplified respectively in (2.21) and (2.22). Unlike clusters such as /bɹ/, /pɹ/, or /ɡɹ/, /kɹ/ in English, the rhoticized plosives in Prinmi are argued on the acoustic ground that the rhotic element is not an independent segment; instead, it represents secondary articulation in production of the plosives (Ding 2009). In addition to the primary place of articulation, rhoticized plosives are produced with a simultaneous articulatory gesture of the tongue bent backward. 2.21 a b c

bʴəF ‘foe’ pʴəF ‘hedgehog’ pʰʴəF ‘kernel’

bʴõLbʴõR ‘roasted barley flour’ pʴiHuH ‘Year of Monkey’ pʰʴiF ‘opaque beer’

2.22 a b c

ɡʴɥɛH̃ ‘break (3SG/PL)’ kʴiR ‘to sing’ kʰʴaR ‘to shoot’

ɡʴəR ‘star’ kʴəF ‘gall’ kʰʴəH ‘foot’

The following examples show a contrast between rhoticized plosives and plain plosives: 2.23 a b c

bʴõLbʴõR ‘roasted barley flour’ pʴiHuH ‘Year of Monkey’ pʰʴiF ‘opaque beer’

2.24 a b c

ɡʴɥɛH̃ ‘break (3SG/PL)’ kʴiR ‘to sing’ kʰʴaR ‘to shoot’

bõR ‘cold’ piR ‘belly’ pʰiR ‘to slant’ ɡɥɛH̃ ‘tall / high’ kiR ‘to sell’ kʰaR ‘bitter’

Despite the existence of (near) minimal pairs, as seen in (2.23) and (2.24), the phonemic status of rhoticized plosives is unstable. They are frequently simplified to plain plosives, especially in the speech of younger speakers:


2.25 a b c


kʰʴaR ‘to shoot’ bʴɑ̃R ‘root’ bʴjɛR̃ ‘rope’

[kʰʴaR] [bʴɑ̃R] [bʴjɛR̃ ]

or or or

[kʰaR] [bɑ̃R] [bjɛR̃ ]

Notice that /kʰʴaR/ ‘to shoot’ loses its contrast with /kʰaR/ ‘bitter’ when the rhoticized plosive is simplified. In addition to the seemingly free variation with plain consonants shown in (2.25), the rhoticized velar plosives sometimes trigger another kind of variation: between a rhoticized central vowel and a plain central vowel. This is feasible through a ‘transfer’ of the rhoticity from the consonant to the vowel within the syllable. Consider the different realizations of the rhoticity feature in the following words: 2.26 a b

kʰʴəH ‘foot’ ɡʴəR ‘star’

[kʰʴəH] or [kʰɚH] [ɡʴəF] or [ɡɚF]

It should be stressed that the variations related to rhoticized plosives cannot be accounted for by generational difference, since they exist in the speech of the older generation too. However, there is a stronger tendency for simplification by younger speakers. 2.2. Glides Xīnyíngpán Prinmi distinguishes three glides: the unrounded palatal /j/, the rounded palatal /ɥ/, and the rounded labiovelar /w/. The two rounded glides are almost in complementary distribution: /ɥ/ does not occur with back vowels, whereas /w/ tends to associate with non-front vowels. The two are considered to be separate phonemes, however, on account of the (near) minimal pairs of words shown in (2.27); elsewhere no solid contrast is found between them. It is quite certain that these two glides are historically related to each other. The palatal glide /ɥ/ is most likely to have arisen from co-occurrence with front vowels, observed also in Jiarong (Lin 1993: 21). 2.27 a b

ɥaR ‘tile’ ɡɥaF ‘to be injured by accident’

waF ‘to dare’ ɡwaF ‘to ruin’

In regard to alignment in a syllable, the glide is treated as part of the rhyme rather than an element in a complex consonant. There are two reasons for this treatment. The first is based on economy. If the glide were subsumed under the consonant, there would be as many as



twenty-two complex consonants (for those in the J-group) with the palatal glide /j/ alone. This greatly exceeds the sum of the diphthongs to be formed by the three glides. The other reason is out of consideration for verb inflection. As will be discussed in §5.2.4, verb agreement is achieved through vowel change on the verb root in Prinmi. In some verbs the paradigm involves generation of a diphthong. For a brief illustration, consider the following: 2.28

Root pɑ ‘to do’ F

1 singular pjɛF̃

2 singular puF

1/2 plural pĩF

If the palatal glide in the diphthong were aligned to the consonant, it would not be possible to make a simple generalization in terms of rhyme change for the verb paradigm. 2.3. Vowels Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has an inventory of thirty-one vowels: eleven oral monophthongs, four nasal monophthongs, eleven oral diphthongs, four nasal diphthongs, and one oral triphthong. The complexity of vowels rivals that of consonants. This section first describes monophthongs. After a general description of complex vowels, the issue of height variation is discussed. Figure 2-1: Monophthongs in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi



ɨ ʉ







ɜ a


ɑ̃ 2.3.1. Monophthongs

The fifteen monophthongs of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi are charted in Figure 2-1, with oral vowels on the left and nasal vowels on the right. The vowels are organized according to their height (high, mid, low), backness (front, central, back), and roundedness (unround, round). Phonologically, nasal monophthongs in Prinmi are restricted to pe-



ripheral vowels, i.e. /ĩ/, /ỹ/, /ũ/ and /ɑ̃/. The high back nasal is always realized as [õ], and, therefore, this phoneme is represented as /õ/. Its original height is revealed in alternations such as those in (2.29) and (2.30). 2.29 a b

sõR ‘three’ nuLsjɛH̃ ‘morning’

suLkoH ‘thirty’ [nuLsɛH̃ ] ~ [nõLsɛH̃ ]

In (2.29a), when nasality on the vowel of /sõR/ ‘three’ is lost in /suLkoH/ ‘thirty’, denasalization results in [u] instead of [o]. On the other hand, (2.29b) shows free variation between [õ] and [u], depending on whether or not nasal assimilation by the onset applies. 2.30 a b

kʰjɛR̃ ‘to give’ jĩR ‘to listen’

kʰjõR ‘(you) give’ jõR ‘(you) listen’

Another piece of evidence is found in the inflectional pattern of verbal paradigm. As shown in (2.28) above, inflection for the secondperson singular is derived through the change of vowel to /u/. In verbs with a nasal vowel, e.g. (2.30), nasality of the verb is generally not affected in the derivation process. Thus the underlying form for the second-person singular inflection of these verbs should be: /khjũR/ ‘(you) give’ and /jũR/ ‘(you) listen’. However, this back nasal vowel is realized as [õ] in the surface form. Front vowels Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has four high front vowels. They are distinguished in terms of roundedness and nasality. The vowel /y/ is phonetically a diphthong [ɥi]. It is produced with a clear change of lip posture from round to spread. Its nasal counterpart, however, is a true monophthong. Some examples of words containing the high front vowels are: 2.31 a b c d

/i/ /y/ /ĩ/ /ỹ/

miF tʃʰyH ʃĩR ʃỹR

‘person’ ‘good’ ‘sneeze’ ‘to mold’

diH ɡyH dĩH tʃỹH

‘float’ ‘rain’ ‘cloud’ ‘container’

The mid-high front vowel /e/ has a diphthong allophone [je], which occurs when the vowel follows a consonant from the J-group (i.e. those compatible with a palatal glide), as shown in (2.32). After a member of the non-J-group, no diphthongization occurs, e.g. (2.33).



2.32 a b

pʰeR [pʰjeR] ‘to patch’ meF [mjeF] ‘what’

leLleR [ljeLljeR] ‘folk song’ dʒeR [dʒjeR] ‘tea’


ɹeH [ɹeH] ‘to dip’

seR [seR] ‘Sichuan pepper’

There is only one low front vowel. It contrasts with the back low vowel /ɑ/, e.g.: 2.34 a b

/a/ /ɑ/

kʰaR ‘bitter’ kʰɑR ‘king’

tsʰaR ‘to rob’ tsʰɑR ‘(of hair) unkempt’ Central vowels Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has as many as four central vowels. These contrast in terms of height, occupying three levels: high, mid, and mid-low. The pair of high vowels in (2.35), /ɨ/ and /ʉ/, is distinguished by roundedness. Synchronically, the opposition between /ə/ and /ɜ/ is phonemic in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, as attested by the minimal pairs in (2.36). Variation between this pair of central vowels is discussed in § 2.35 a b

/ɨ/ /ʉ/

tʰɨR ‘sweet’ tʰʉF ‘cottage cheese’

2.36 a b

/ə/ /ɜ/

məF ‘sky’ mɜF ‘bamboo’

bɨH ‘sun’ bʉH ‘(of grain) heap’ pʴəF ‘hedgehog’ pʴɜF ‘antelope’

The high central vowel /ɨ/ is noteworthy in that it has three different allophones in the form of fricative vowels. These are homorganic with the preceding fricative or affricate. For instance: 2.37

sɨR [sz̩R] ‘to die’

dzɨH [dzz̩H] ‘to eat’

tsʰɨF [tsʰz̩F] ‘goat’


ʃɨH [ʃʒ̍H] ‘to go’

ʒɨR [ʒʒ̍R] ‘to come’

tʃɨH [tʃʒ̍H] ‘water’


ʂɨF [ʂʐ̍F] ‘meat’

ʐɨR [ʐʐ̍R] ‘right’

ʈʂɨF [ʈʂʐ̍F] ‘muntjac’

The central vowel /ʉ/ is sometimes pronounced with a lesser degree of roundedness and farther back in certain words, e.g.: 2.40 a b

mʉR [mʉ̜R] ‘(of a female) brother’ kʰʴʉH [kʰʴʉ̜H] ‘horn’

The reduction on roundedness is somewhat arbitrary. Not only is there no phonological condition for its occurrence, but the same morpheme



may contain a variant with a less rounded vowel in one word, and a more rounded vowel in another. Compare the central vowel in the pairs of words below: 2.41 a b

ɡʉLtõH [ɡʉ̜LtõH] but ?[ɡʉLtõH] ‘stone’ ɡʉLtsiH [ɡʉLtsiH] but ?[ɡʉ̜LtsiH] ‘lifespan of a stone’ (i.e. a lengthy period) Back vowels Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has five back vowels, including two nasal ones. The high and mid-high vowels are represented by /u/ and /o/ respectively. Roundedness of these vowels, as well as /õ/, is subject to reduction. The low vowels, on the other hand, are always unrounded and they are not produced as far back as the others. Representative examples of these vowels are given as follows: 2.42 a b c d e

/u/ /o/ /õ/ /ɑ/ /ɑ̃/

buF boF bõH mɑF mɑ̃ F

‘insect’ ‘feed trough’ ‘to have’ ‘mother’ ‘hair’

tsuF tsoF tsõF tsʰɑR tsʰɑ̃R

‘thorn’ ‘wedge’ ‘wool’ ‘(of hair) unkempt’ ‘to block’

It should also be mentioned that the mid-high oral vowel /o/ is sometimes rendered as [wo], especially before a velar consonant. This free variation is not found on its nasal counterpart /õ/, however. The optional glide, if present, enhances the roundedness of the vowel. For instance: 2.43 a b

kʰoF ɣoR

[kʰwoF] ‘to extinguish’ [ɣwoR] ‘tiger’

2.3.2. Complex vowels: diphthong and triphthong Sixteen complex vowels are identified for Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, including eleven oral diphthongs, four nasal diphthongs and a triphthong. They are provided in Table 2-2. Note that some diphthongs contain non-phonemic vowels, i.e. [ɛ] and [ɛ]̃ . The front nasal vowel [ɛ]̃ does appear alone as an allophone after a consonant of the non-J-group, in complementary distribution to [jɛ̃]. The allophonic diphthong is chosen for the phonemic representation because it co-occurs with more consonants than the allophonic monophthong does.



Table 2-2: Complex vowels of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi

Oral diphthong


ju jɜ jɑ ɥe ɥɛ ɥa wɜ wa wɑ


Nasal diphthong





jõ ɥɛ̃ wɑ̃

wɜj Rising diphthongs with /j/ Rising diphthongs are predominant in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. Five of them start with the on-glide /j/: three oral diphthongs, given in (2.44) and two nasal diphthongs, in (2.45). As indicated in (2.45b), the diphthong /jɛ/̃ is realized phonetically as a monophthong, since the onset of the syllable belongs to the non-J-group. 2.44 a b c

/ju/ /jɜ/ /jɑ/

njuR ‘leather bag’ tjɜF ‘blue sheep’ tjɑR ‘now’

n̥juR ‘mouth, beak’ ʃjɜR ‘Han Chinese’ kʰjɑR ‘pack basket’

2.45 a b c

/jɛ/̃ /jɛ/̃ /jõ/

tʰjɛR̃ ‘to drink’ sjɛR̃ [sɛR̃ ] ‘firewood’ tʰjõR ‘to build’

ljɛH̃ ‘to be firm’ ʈʂʰjɛR̃ [ʈʂʰɛR̃ ] ‘otter’ njõR ‘breast milk’

The diphthong /ju/ has a non-phonetically conditioned variant [ɨ̯ u] in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. The glide is consistently centralized in some words, e.g.: 2.46

/ljuR/ [lɨ̯ uR] ‘craw’

/tjuH/ [tɨ̯ uH] ‘stomach’ Rising diphthongs with /ɥ/ The on-glides /ɥ/ and /w/ are almost in complementary distribution, but they come to (near) minimal contrast in the following words: 2.47 a b

/ɥa/ /wa/

ɥaR ‘tile’ waF ‘to dare’

kɥaH ‘melon’ kwaH ‘(of eye) to open’

Diphthongs starting with /ɥ/ all comprise a front vowel; its combination with a back vowel is not found in Prinmi. A height contrast between the mid and mid-high positions exists exclusively in this type of diphthong, shown in (2.48). Examples of other diphthongs from this group are given in (2.49):



2.48 a b

/ɥe/ /ɥɛ/

ɡɥeF ‘yeast’ ɡɥɛF ‘fox’

tʃʰɥeF ‘direction’ tʃʰɥɛF ‘raw rice’

2.49 a b

/ɥɛ/̃ /ɥa/

ɡɥɛR̃ ‘horse’ ɡɥaF ‘to get wounded’

ʃɥɛF̃ ‘to castrate’ H tʃʰɥa ‘to hire’ Rising diphthongs with /w/ Rising diphthongs with /w/ tend to co-occur with a low vowel. Xīnyíngpán Prinmi sees direct contrast among the three oral diphthongs in this group, as exemplified in (2.50). Examples of the nasal diphthong are provided in (2.51). 2.50 a b c

/wɜ/ /wa/ /wɑ/

kwɜH ‘cattle’ ʈʂwɜF ‘to analyze’ kwaH ‘(of eye) to open’ ʈʂwaF ‘to benchmark’ kwɑH ‘hoof’ ʈʂwɑF ‘nest’



kwɑ̃H ‘flatland’

swɑ̃F ‘father’

Phonetically it is possible for the labiovelar glide to form a diphthong with a front vowel, as shown in (2.52) and (2.53). Such diphthongs are clearly not phonemic. They do not contrast with /ɥ/-initial diphthongs, and instances of their occurrence are few. 2.52

a b c


/ɥe/ realized as [we] dɑLdɥeR [dɑLdweR] ‘leftover meal’ tʰɥeF [tʰweF] ‘fist’ tɥeHliH [tweHliH] ‘yarn’ /ɥɛ/ realized as [wɛ] ɹɥɛR [ɹwɛR] ‘millet’ Falling diphthongs and triphthong The two falling diphthongs and the singleton triphthong comprise a low central vowel, represented by /ɑ/. Before the palatal glide, this vowel is consistently produced at a higher point. To reflect this, the mid-low vowel /ɜ/ is used for /ɜj/. Examples of falling diphthongs are provided in (2.54) and triphthong in (2.55). 2.54 a b

/ɜj/ /ɑw/

tsɜjF ‘to wash’ tsɑwH ‘to hit’

l̥ ɜjF ‘flea’ R ɡʴɑw ‘knee pit’




kwɜjH ‘to cry’


dzwɜjF ‘pickaxe’

The diphthong /ɑw/ has an important allophone [jɑw], which normally appears after consonants from the J-group, with the exception of the verb in (2.56d). 2.56 a b c d

ɡɑwR [ɡjɑwR] ‘glad’ ʃɑwH [ʃjɑwH] ‘go (2SG)’ seLlɑwH [seLljɑwH] ‘pear’ mɑwR [mɑwR] ‘get up (2SG)’ 2.3.3. Vowel lowering

Xīnyíngpán Prinmi shows variation in vowel height for high and midhigh vowels. Similar phenomena have been observed in a number of Tibeto-Burman languages. For instance, Hope (1971: 63-66) discusses the [i]~[e] alternation in Lisu, and Matisoff (1973: 10-13) describes the alternations [i]~[e] and [u]~[o] in Lahu in terms of raising. Besides these two Loloish languages of Southeast Asia, van Driem (1993: 50) also observes alternations such as [e]~[ɛ] and [o]~[ɔ] in Dumi, a Kiranti language of eastern Nepal. Although vowel height variation appears to be quite common in Tibeto-Burman languages, this topic has been studied only in Hope (1971) for Lisu and in Michaud & Vaissière’s (2009) recent paper on the high front vowel in Yongning Na (a.k.a. Narua). As this is a complex issue involving sociolinguistic and historical factors, a full length discussion is beyond the scope of this description; the following merely provides a general picture of the variation observed in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. Opposite directions regarding height change have been taken by different linguists for individual languages. Roop (1970: 16-17), cited in Hope (1971), considers it as lowering in Lisu, while Matisoff speaks of raising in Lahu. The direction speculated for the case of Prinmi vowels is lowering rather than raising. This is based on the observation that the main consultant tends to use the higher variant in formal settings such as recording of individual words, and that the higher variant is more likely to be found in the speech of older people. Except for /y/, /ỹ/, and /ĩ/, all other high vowels are prone to lowering to the region of the mid-high level. In parallel, the mid-high vowels can also be lowered to mid vowels. This height variation in vowels is found not only comparing the speech of different people, but also in



the utterances of a single speaker on separate occasions. The following are some instances of vowel lowering in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi: 2.57 a b c d e f g 2.58 a b c d

l̥ iH siF ɡɨF ɡʉR lʉF wuH m̥uR pʰeR xeH toH koF

‘moon’ ‘to press’ ‘nine’ ‘money’ ‘musk deer’ ‘inside’ ‘to blow’ ‘patch’ ‘god’ ‘above’ ‘air’

[l̥ iH]~[l̥ i̞ H] [siF]~[si̞ F] [ɡɨF]~[ɡɨ̞ F] [ɡʉR]~[ɡʉ̞R] [lʉF]~[lʉ̞F] [wuH]~[wu̞H] [m̥uR]~[m̥u̞R]

[pʰjeR]~[pʰje̞R] [xjeH]~[xje̞H] [toH]~[to̞H] [koF]~[ko̞F]

Just how pervasive vowel height variation may be is hard to estimate. When the main consultant was asked about the variation, he was at a loss and simply denied its existence. However, from observation of some frequently used words (especially those on recorded tape), it is certain that the height of the high and mid-high vowels is variable in Prinmi. It should be pointed out that the alternation is not free variation. The vowels are rather stable in some words. That is, they have not been observed to be lowered in spite of the repeated occurrence of the words in daily use. For instance, /miF/ ‘person’, /ʃiR/ ‘to exist’, and /loH/ ‘work’ appear in both recorded texts and unrecorded natural speech much more frequently than /l̥ iH/ ‘moon’, but of these only /l̥ iH/ ‘moon’ shows the alternation of vowel lowering. On the other hand, some words seem to have a consistent height in favor of the lowered variant, e.g. /kʰʉR/ ‘head’ is realized as [kʰʉ̞R] and /koLjiR/ ‘crow’ as [ko̞LjiR]. 2 A phonetic trait suggesting vowel lowering in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi is the correspondence of centering diphthongs with high vowels between Prinmi dialects. Gǔlúdiàn Prinmi, a dialect of northern Nínglàng, and Jīsū Prinmi, spoken farther north in adjacent Mùlǐ across the province border, show the following vowel variations in comparison with Xīnyíngpán Prinmi: 2

The vowel in /kʰʉR/ ‘head’ tends to remain at a higher position in compounds.



2.59 a b c

Gǔlúdiàn ‘inside’ [wuəH] ‘head’ [kʰuəR] ‘waist’

Xīnyíngpán [wuH]~[wu̞H] [kʰʉ̞R] [dʒiR]~[dʒi̞ R]


[dʒiR]~[ dʒiəR]

There appears to be an intrinsic relationship between vowel lowering and diphthongization of high vowels to centering diphthongs in Prinmi. The variation of vowel height as described above opens up the question of whether a pair of mid vowels might exist in the vowel system of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. While non-low peripheral vowels can be phonetically articulated at three levels, such a distinction is difficult to translate into the phonemic vowel system. There is no phonemic contrast between [i], [e], and [ɛ] on the one hand, and [u], [o], and [ɔ] on the other. Native speakers simply do not distinguish the mid vowels from the mid-high vowels, except with the pair of diphthongs /ɥɛ/ and /ɥe/ (see (2.48) above). Since vowel lowering is not applicable to glides, height variation is possible only in the vowel of these diphthongs: /ɥe/, /ju/ and /jõ/. Consider the following: 2.60 a b c

ʃɥeH ‘night’ [ʃɥeH] ~ [ʃɥe̞H] ljuR ‘craw’ [lɨ̯ uR] ~ [lɨ̯ u̞R] ɡjõR ‘grass’ [ɡjõR] but ??[ɡjo̞ ̃R]

As pointed out in §2.3.1, the nasal diphthong /jõ/ involves a high back vowel in the underlying form: /ũ/ → [õ]. The lowering effect has already been at work for the phonetic realization of the nasal vowel. Thus the nasal vowel in the diphthong /jõ/ is not subject to lowering. Both /ɥe/ and /ɥɛ/ are phonemic diphthongs; yet the former can be lowered and rendered much like the latter, as seen in (2.60b). In spite of the potential confusion, the minimal pair is effectively kept distinct by reducing the mid vowel to a schwa in response to the lowering of the mid-high vowel. For instance: 2.61 a b

tʃʰɥeF ‘direction’ tʃʰɥɛF ‘raw rice’

[tʃʰɥeF] [tʃʰɥɛF]

or [tʃʰɥe̞F] or [tʃʰɥəF]

Note that the allophonic forms in (2.61) per se do not preclude potential confusion between the pair of words. In careful articulation, the words in the minimal pair contrast between the mid-high vowel and



the mid vowel. In ordinary speech, the other forms tend to occur, shifting the contrast to that between an [ɛ]-like vowel and the schwa. In some words such as the imperfective clitic /ɹju/, which is also homophonous with ‘cubit’ (distance between one’s elbow and the tip of the middle finger), the vowel in /ju/ is consistently produced at a lower height with much reduced roundedness. For instance: 2.62 a b

kjuH ɹjuF

‘year’ ‘cubit’

[kɨ̯ ɯ̞H] but ??[kɨ̯ ɯH] [ɹɨ̯ ɯ̞F] but ??[ɹɨ̯ ɯF]

The actual phonetic form [ɨ̯ ɤ] could have been employed directly for the words in (2.62). By so doing, however, it would give rise to a superfluous diphthong that neither contrasts with /ju/ nor occurs with other consonants in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. Under this phonemic consideration, the vowel in (2.62) is postulated as high, but lowered constantly. 2.4. The syllable This section considers how segments are organized into syllables in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. The syllable structure is discussed and details of phonotactics are then presented in terms of collocation between the consonants and vowels (disregarding the suprasegmentals). 2.4.1. Syllable structure It has been pointed out in §2.2 that a glide is affiliated with a vowel rather than a consonant in Prinmi. Figure 2-2 depicts the structure of syllable under this analysis. In principle, the onset can be any of the 40 consonants, including the complex ones. The on-glide is limited to /j/, /ɥ/ and /w/, while the off-glide must be /j/ or /w/. The slot for vowels may be filled by any of the fifteen monophthongs when there is no glide in the syllable; otherwise the restrictions indicated in Table 2-3 apply.



Table 2-3: Permissible diphthongs in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi

On-Glide /u/ /j-/ /ɥ-/ /w-/




 

 



  



 

[ɑ̃] Off-Glide

 /-j/ /-w/

 Figure 2-2: Configuration of Prinmi syllables


Syllable Onset

Rhyme Nucleus




Coda (Off-glide)

As illustrated in Figure 2-2, the syllable structure of Prinmi comprises four slots, three of which, placed in parentheses, are optional. The following provide examples of all possibilities of syllable structures in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. The simplest case is shown in (2.63), where the monophthongs occur without any consonant. Similarly the onset slot is not filled in (2.64) and (2.65), but these diphthongs and triphthong contain an on-glide and, in (2.65), as well as an off-glide. 2.63 a b c d e

ỹH ‘will (as a modal)’ ɜH ‘I’ eLɹəF ‘we (inclusive)’ əHniL ‘like that’ ɑLɹəH ‘we (exclusive)’


2.64 a b c d e f g h i j 2.65


jɑHmuH ‘to pay attention’ jɜLmɑH ‘lama’ jɛR̃ ‘to plow’ jõH ‘silver’ ɥɛR ‘fetch (3SG/PL)’ ɥɛH̃ ‘bear’ ɥaR ‘tile’ wɜF ‘five’ waF ‘to dare’ ɹəLwɑH ‘hope’ wɜjLtʃʰɥeH ‘left-side’

The majority of syllables in Prinmi consist of a consonant and a vowel, e.g.: 2.66 a b c

mɜF ‘bamboo’ kʰʴaR ‘to shoot’ ɖʐɑ̃R ‘nail; claw’

The vowel may be preceded by an on-glide, forming a rising diphthong, as in (2.67), or followed by an off-glide, yielding a falling diphthong, as in (2.68). The former is more common than the latter, as Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has only two falling diphthongs. 2.67 a b

lɥɛH̃ ‘black muntjac’ ɹwɜF ‘yak’

2.68 a b c

tɜjH ‘big’ zɑwF ‘appearance’ kʰɑwR [kʰjɑwR ] ‘smoke’

In the rare case, all the four slots are filled. This is seen in (2.69), where a consonant co-occurs with a triphthong. 2.69

ɡwɜjR ‘tusk’



2.4.2. Phonotactics With its wealth of consonants and vowels, even without taking suprasegmentals into account, the number of potential distinct syllables in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi is well over one thousand (40 consonants multiplied by 31 vowels). However, attested syllables only amount to 633. While these are possibly not exhaustive, the number of accidental gaps is unlikely to diminish significantly from approximately half of the possible syllables. Details of actually occurring syllables and accidental gaps are provided as a matrix chart in Table 2-4. An attested syllable is marked by the sign ‘’. A box containing a parenthesized segment indicates allophonic realization— thus this combination has no phonemic status. Such syllables are not counted in the total number of syllables. The total number of consonants that a vowel may combine with, including zero consonant, is given in the bottom row of the table, and the total number of vowels that a consonant co-occurs with is given in the rightmost column of the table. Given the possibility that some existent syllables may have eluded conscious elicitation, the information in Table 2-4 cannot be claimed to be complete. Nonetheless, great efforts have been made to ensure that it is as accurate as possible. Some of the gaps in the table can be confidently identified as not permitted by Prinmi phonotactics. These are indicated by shaded cells. As in Dàyáng Prinmi (Matisoff 1997), Xīnyíngpán Prinmi allows no bilabial consonants to precede a rounded glide. The set of postalveolars (fricatives and affricates) also exhibit certain constraints. They are incompatible with the labiovelar glide. Furthermore, they do not combine with low vowels or mid vowels, unless a palatal glide intervenes. Finally, the non-J-group of consonants, rendered in grey background in the table, does not co-occur with the palatal glide /j/. When these consonants are combined with the diphthong /jɛ/̃ , the palatal glide is simply deleted (see §



Table 2-4: Phonotactics of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi i e ɜ ə ɨ ʉ u o y a zero       p         pʰ       b         m         m̥        t          tʰ (e)       d          n        n̥        k          kʰ         ɡ         x      ɣ    tʃ      tʃʰ       dʒ      ʃ       ʒ    ʈʂ          ʈʂʰ         ɖʐ         ʂ      ʐ      ts          tsʰ        dz         s          z       pʴ      pʰʴ  (pʰ)     bʴ     ɹ         ɹ̥        kʴ    (k)  kʰʴ     ɡʴ  (i)  l         l̥     Sum 34 36 27 25 22 28 28 31 10 23




    

   

   

   

  

    

   

         (ɥɛ)̃

  

       

     

   (ɡ)  

        

 

ɑ̃ wɜj     (a)        

 

                    (kʰ)  

        

 

(b) 

 

28 30 32 4 21 7


(continued from the left) zero p pʰ b m m̥ t tʰ d n n̥ k kʰ ɡ x ɣ tʃ tʃʰ dʒ ʃ ʒ ʈʂ ʈʂʰ ɖʐ ʂ ʐ ts tsʰ dz s z pʴ pʰʴ bʴ ɹ ɹ̥ kʴ kʰʴ ɡʴ l l̥ Sum

jõ jɛ̃ ɥɛ̃ wɑ̃ ju jɑ jɜ ɥe ɥɛ ɥa wa wɑ wɜ ɜj ɑw Sum            22     16      15     16    12   9          22          18            24       16       15                29            22             25        16  6          16          17           16           18         12         21       18      16   10    10       21       17      18        20  11   8 7    9       17      15    9 5   5          21       13 20 33 22 3 14 17 20 19 11 9 5 18 10 21 25 633




2.5. Segmental changes This section presents eight segmental changes found in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, five for vowels and three for consonants. These changes do not include those leading to allophonic forms of phonemes, as these have already been discussed in the relevant places. 2.5.1. Changes in vowels Vowels are more prone to modification than consonants. The most significant phonological processes undertaken by vowels in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi are centralization and fusion. Other phonological processes discussed here include nasalization, glide epenthesis and trill substitution. Centralization of vowels Centralization of vowels can be construed in two senses. Phonologically, it refers to the process of changing a vowel to a mid central vowel, i.e. vowel reduction. Morpholexically, it refers to vowel alternation from peripheral to central in certain environments such as compounds. If all the eleven oral monophthongs of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi are allocated into different layers, /ə/ and /ɜ/ will occupy the core and represent the targets of centralization. The next layer contains the two high central vowels, and the third the low back vowel. The remainder are distributed in the outer layer, as depicted in Figure 2-3. Figure 2-3: Distribution of vowels in terms of centralness

ɨ ʉ

iy e a

ə ɜ

u o ɑ

Vowel reduction is very common in the casual speech of speakers of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. The resulting schwa is often further reduced to zero in rapid tempo. This deletion may be more of a phonetic nature, since it is correlated with the time available for articulation. The shorter the time that is available, the more likely deletion is to occur. Positionally, reduction tends to occur on the first syllable of a word,



e.g. (2.70a)–(2.70d). This applies also to monosyllabic words in a longer phonological word, such as (2.70e), which typically takes a postposition or clitic after it. Nevertheless, vowel reduction is not impossible in the second syllable (observed mostly in compounds), e.g. (2.71c). Moreover, vowels within diphthongs are also subject to reduction, as shown in (2.71). 2.70 a b c d e 2.71 a b c

Careful speech ‘thirty’ suLkoH ‘smile friendly’ ɹ̥ aLtsɨHtsɨL ‘very’ lɜLljɛR̃ ‘today’ pɨHniL ‘he / she / it’ niF ‘heart’ ‘road’ ‘scold’

kʰɥɛH ɹwɜF mɑ̃HɹɜjH

Casual speech səLkoH ɹ̥ əLtsɨHtsɨL ləLljɛR̃ pəHniL nəF kʰɥəH ɹwəF mɑ̃HɹəjH

Sometimes a vowel may be reduced to either of the two central vowels in the core layer, e.g. (2.72). The variation seems dependent on performing factors rather than linguistic conditions. 2.72 a b

Careful speech ‘uncongenial’ mɑLtʰjɜHtʰjõL ‘not know (3SG/PL)’ mɑ̃RmɑLsʉH

Casual speech mɜLtʰjɜHtʰjõL mɑ̃RməLsʉH

Morphological processes such as compounding and reduplication often involve vowel centralization. Centralization, if found in a morphologically complex word, always affects the first syllable of a bisyllabic word, as exemplified by the compounds in (2.73), and by the reduplicated verbs in (2.74). The morpholexical change results in two central vowels: [ɜ] in (2.73a)–(2.73b), and [ə] in (2.73c)–(2.73e) and (2.74). Nasality is lost when a nasal vowel is reduced, as shown in (2.74b) and (2.74c). 2.73 a b c d e

Simplex word tiR ‘one’ ɹoF ‘chicken’ piH ‘custom’ pɨF ‘axe’ piR ‘belly’

Compound word tɜHn̥iL ‘one day’ ɹɜLpuF ‘rooster’ pəHjõH ‘custom and culture’ pəHʒɑwL ‘axe handle’ pəHtʃɑwH ‘navel’




Base form noF ‘to oppose’ bĩF ‘radially thick’ ɹ̥ ɑ̃H ‘long’

a b c

Reduplicated form nəHnoL ‘to turn over’ bəHbĩL ‘very thick’ ɹ̥ əHɹ̥ ɑ̃L ‘very long’

The choice of central vowel—[ə] or [ɜ]—is probably lexically deter-mined in compounds. In reduplication that derives reciprocal verbs, the rhyme of the first syllable is more often centralized to [ɜ], as shown in (2.75a)–(2.75d): 2.75 a b c d e f

Base form tsɑwH ‘to hit’ ɖʐõR ‘to kick’ toF ‘to look’ bɑR ‘to hurl’ kuF ‘to help’ ɡeR ‘to divorce’

Reciprocal form tsɜHtsɑwL ‘to fight’ ɖʐɜHɖʐõL ‘to kick each other’ tɜHtoL ‘to look at each other’ bɜHbɑL ‘to hurl (sth.) at each other’ kwɜHkuL ‘to help each other’ ɡjɜHɡeL ‘to break off a relation’

If the rhyme of the base verb is a diphthong, e.g. (2.75a), or a nasal vowel, (2.75b), centralization will lead to rhyme substitution. A slight deviance is seen in (2.75e) and (2.75f). In the former the centralized vowel is further diphthongized to /wɜ/. No diphthongization takes place in the latter, since the phonetic form of the base is [ɡjeR] (taking the allophonic dithphthong, as noted in § As in casual speech, morpholexical centralization may also affect individual vowels in diphthongs and engender new diphthongs with no phonemic status. For instance: 2.76

Simplex word tʃʰɥaR ‘pig’

Compound word tʃʰɥɜLnjɛH̃ ‘pig epidemic’


Base form ɡɥɛH̃ ‘tall’ lɜjF ‘heavy’

Reduplicated form ɡɥəLɡɥɛH̃ ‘tall (plural)’ ləjLlɜjH ‘heavy (plural)’

a b

Unlike vowel reduction which occurs in casual speech, a centralized vowel in a compound or reduplication cannot be restored to a full vowel even in slow and careful speech. Its original vowel is revealed only when the relevant morpheme appears in a different morphological environment.


SEGMENTAL PHONOLOGY Vowel fusion In Xīnyíngpán Prinmi vowel fusion lead to either diphthongization or substitution. Diphthongization is primarily observed with the modificatory clitic /ɑ/ (cf. §7.1.1) and occasionally with the interrogative clitic /ɑ/ (cf. §8.2.2). The two are homophones and both fuse with the vowel of the preceding syllable. The following demonstrates fusion by the interrogative clitic: ɡə- + ɑ + dzɑwH=si → ɡjɑL-dzɑwH=siL out eat:2SG=PFV out:Q-eat:2SG=PFV Q ‘Did you eat?’


Fusion with the interrogative clitic is not frequent. The only environment that warrants the clitic to fuse into the rhyme of a syllable is when a directional prefix precedes it, as in (2.78). The process results in a diphthong for the prefix. On the other hand, diphthongization by the modificatory clitic can yield varying results, as shown in (2.79)–(2.81). Fusion takes place as the clitic occupies the vowel slot of the preceding syllable and the original vowel is rendered as an on-glide. In addition to /j/ and /w/ in (2.79a) and (2.79b), the high central vowels /ɨ/ and /ʉ/ can also serve as on-glides under this kind of fusion, as shown in (2.79c) and (2.79d). If the preceding syllable has a mid-high monophthong, as in (2.80), the vowel changes to the on-glide /j/ or /w/, depending on its backness. Note that in (2.80c), nasality disappears when the vowel shifts to the on-glide position in the syllable. 2.79 a

əHniL + ɑ ɡɥɛLtsiR → əHnjɑL ɡɥɛLtsiR like:that M bird like:that;M bird ‘birds like that’


tʃĩH wuL + ɑ xeH → tʃĩH wɑL house in house in;M M god ‘household god’

xeH god


pʰeL tʃʰɨH + ɑ kʰeL → pʰeL tʃʰɨ̯ ɑH kʰeL spew do spew do;M time M time ‘when coughing up’


ʒjɑHpʉL + ɑ uLʃiR → ʒjɑHpʉ̯ɑL uLʃiR last:year M new:year last:year;M new:year ‘last New Year’



2.80 a

neR + ɑ 2SG


‘your foot’

kʰʴəH foot

njɑH 2SG;M

kʰʴəH foot


məF toL + ɑ xeH → məF twɑL xeH heaven on M god heaven on;M god ‘heavenly god’


→ bwɑR tɜHn̥iL bõR + ɑ tɜHn̥iL cold one:day cold;M one:day M ‘a cold day’

2.81 a

duL kɥɛH + ɑ sjɛL̃ bõH → duL kɥɑH sjɛL̃ bõH toxin EXT.IN M tree toxin EXT.IN;M tree ‘a poisonous tree’


[ljɛH̃ ɡjɑwH] + ɑ djɛL̃ uH → ljɛH̃ ɡjɑH djɛL̃ uH Nínglàng Nínglàng;M place in M place in ‘in Nínglàng area’

If the clitic is attached to a syllable with a (phonetic) on-glide, the original on-glide is retained but vowel in the rhyme of the host is replaced, as exemplified in (2.81). The host word in (2.81b) has been given here in a narrow transcription to show the presence of a phonetic on-glide before the fusion. When the modificatory clitic /ɑ/ is fused with another clitic, it replaces the entire rhyme of the preceding clitic, resulting in vowel substitution. For instance, in (2.82) the original diphthong of the imperfective clitic has been lost. 2.82

tʃɨL=ɹjuH + ɑ + kʰeH → say=IPFV time M ‘when (it is) said’

tʃɨL=ɹɑH say=IPFV;M

kʰeH time

Similar substitution is found with the instrumental clitic /õ/. In the process of fusion, /õ/ often replaces the vowel of the preceding syllable, where this syllable is a bound morpheme, e.g. (2.83c). 2.83 a

mɜR= ɡe + õ → mɜL=ɡõH fire= TOP fire=TOP;INS INS ‘with / by the fire’



ɜLɹəH + õ → ɜLɹõH 1PL.EX 1PL.EX;INS INS ‘by us (exclusive)’


ʃjɜLbɑH + õ → ʃjɜLbõH Han:family INS Han:family;INS ‘by the Han Chinese’


Diphthongization is possible in several cases: direct attachment of the clitic /õ/ to the second person singular pronoun, as in (2.84a), fusion with the dummy-like discourse clitic /ne/, as in (2.84b), or fusion with the numeral /tiR/ ‘one’, as in (2.84c): 2.84 a


neR + õ

→ njõH 2SG;INS 2SG INS ‘by you (singular)’ ɜH=ne 1SG=DSC

‘by me’ c

+õ INS

→ ɜH=njõH


ɡyH pʰɜjH tiL + õ → ɡyH pʰɜjH tjõL rain CLF one rain CLF one;INS INS ‘by a period of rainfall’ Nasalization Nasal consonants, both voiced and voiceless, can trigger nasalization of certain monophthongs in a syllable. There is no indication of a higher frequency of nasalization in correlation to voicing of the nasals. The progressive nasal spreading is optional, and seems to affect mainly high peripheral vowels. For instance: 2.85 a b c d e f g h

miF m̥iF nuR n̥iF mɜF məF mjɑF njɑR

‘person’ ‘daughter’ ‘to hear’ ‘day’ ‘bamboo’ ‘sky’ ‘eye’ ‘black’

[miF] [m̥iF] [nuR] [n̥iF] [mɜF] [məF] [mjɑF] [njɑR]

~ [mĩF] ~ [m̥ĩF] ~ [nõR] ~ [n̥ĩF] also [mɜF̃ ] but ?[məF̃ ] but ?[mȷɑ̃ ̃ F] but ?[nȷɑ̃ ̃ R]



As discussed earlier, the vowel /u/ in (2.85c) is realized as [õ] after nasalization. While nasalization of high peripheral vowels is common, it is seldom observed on other vowels, particularly diphthongs. 3 Thus, for words in (2.85f)–(2.85h), nasalization of their vowels is not likely. On the other hand, nasalization features in some words with such a high frequency that a phonemic oral vowel could be analyzed as a nasal one, e.g.: 2.86 a b c

nɑF ‘to harm’ niH ‘blue / green’ n̥iH ‘near’

[nɑF] or [nɑ̃F] [niH] or [nĩH] [n̥iH] or [n̥ĩH]

The true phonemic vowels of these words are revealed only on occasion when they are not affected by nasalization from the consonants. In other words, the optional progressive nasalization has given rise to free variation between an oral vowel and its nasalized counterpart. Glide epenthesis Some monophthongs may occur on their own in the syllable without any consonant in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. However, for high and mid-high vowels, a glide epenthesis is generally required before the vowels. The inserted glide is either /j/ or /w/. The former is used for front vowels only, and the latter exclusively for back vowels, e.g.: 2.87 a b

/iHtsɨL/ ===> [jiHtsɨL] ‘grandchild’ /ĩH/ ===> [jĩH] ‘(of clothes) warm’

2.88 a b

/uH/ ===> [(w)uH] ‘(of rooster) to call’ /õF/ ===> [wõF] ‘dare (1SG)’

While the glide epenthesis is obligatory in (2.87) for the front vowels, the insertion of /w/ before /u/ in (2.88) is optional. Trill substitution Perhaps under the influence of Nosu (a Yi language spoken by the largest nationality in Nínglàng), speakers of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi tend to substitute the vowel /u/ with a syllabic bilabial trill [ʙ̩] after an 3

Bradley (1985: 185-186) observes a similar phenomenon in Arakanese, where nasality spreading from nasal initial is found only on the high front vowel /i/.



unaspirated dental plosive in certain words, as exemplified in (2.89). 4 While some speakers prefer the trill substitution to such a degree that a pronunciation without the trill is judged to be inauthentic, there are no minimal pairs for /u/ vs. /ʙ̩/ or /ʉ/ vs. /ʙ̩/. 2.89 a b c

/duR/ ===> [dʙ̩R] ‘poison’ /tʉF/ ===> [tʙ̩F] ‘to thread’ /tuHtuL/ ===> [tʙ̩Htʙ̩L] ‘cap’

Note that trill substitution has not been observed with an aspirated dental plosive. According to the main consultant, the word for ‘cap’ in (2.89c) is a loan from Narua, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by the Moso, who share a close religious and cultural bond with the Pǔmǐ (cf. §1.1.3). Unlike other phonological changes, the trill substitution is observed in utterances of both the young and the old generations. Therefore, age is not a factor for this innovation, but it remains to be investigated whether the substitution also occurs in the speech of female speakers. This sound change appears to have undergone morpholexicalization, as the phonological environment alone is not sufficient to predict its occurrence. For instance, the change does not take place in the following words: 2.90 a b

duH tuF

===> ??[dʙ̩H] ‘to strike’ ===> ??[tʙ̩F] ‘grease’ 2.5.2. Changes in consonants

Phonological changes in Prinmi consonants are relatively few, and tend to demonstrate cross-dialectal variation rather than dialectinternal differences. Of the three changes addressed below, alternation at syllable juncture is morpholexically determined. Glottaling involves some variation between ‘clanlects’, while instability of voiceless nasals is mainly associated with younger speakers. Voicing/Aspiration change Perhaps due to the careful speaking manner of the main consultant, optional phonological processes induced by rapid tempo are seldom 4

A similar but not identical phenomenon has been observed in Nosu. Chen et al. (1985) describe a trill occurring after a dental/anterior plosive in syllables with the vowel /u/.



observed in his speech. Consequently, voicing or aspiration change of consonants at syllable junctures rarely occur in my recorded texts. However, there is evidence for this sort of phonological process, e.g.: 2.91

uLʃiH /tʃʰɨH/ ===> uLʃiH [tʃɨH] new:year do new:year do ‘to celebrate New Year’

Another instance of consonant alternation at syllable juncture can be construed as a morpholexical change. Consider the following ordinal expressions: 2.92 a b c d e f

n̥iF pɨHniL ʒjɑHniL ɹ̥ əHniL ɹ̥ əLɡiHn̥iH ɹ̥ əHlaLn̥iL

‘day’ ‘today’ ‘yesterday’ ‘two days ago’ ‘three days ago’ ‘four days ago’

The examples in (2.92) show consonant alternation between [n̥] and [n] at syllable juncture. While voicing assimilation can explain the change in (2.92b)–(2.92d), it fails to account for the unchanged consonant in (2.92e)–(2.92f). The main consultant rejected the words when voiced nasals were changed to voiceless nasals and vice versa, e.g. *[ʒjɑHn̥iL] ‘yesterday’. Although the voiceless nasal in (2.92) tends to appear with a high tone, the suprasegmental is not a condition for the voicing involved. This is evinced in (2.92f), where the voiceless nasal occurs with the low tone. Additional examples are also available in numeral-noun compounds such as [tɜHn̥iL] ‘one day’. A similar consonant alternation is found in ordinal expressions of years, shown in (2.93). The velar plosive varies between an unaspirated one in (2.93a) and an aspirated one in (2.93b)– (2.93e). A difference is also seen in the rhymes here. 2.93 a b c d e

kjuH [kɨ̯ ɯ̞H] ʒjɑLkʰɑwH [kʰjɑwH] sjɛH̃ kʰɑwL kʰuLsjɛL̃ kʰɑwH kʰuLdiHkʰɑwH

‘year’ ‘next year’ ‘the third year ahead’ ‘the fourth year ahead’ ‘the fifth year ahead’



This kind of juncture alternation is not common in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. Synchronically, the phenomenon is best treated as morpholexical. Glottaling Glottaling weakens a voiced velar consonant to the glottal stop in Prinmi. While this process is rather consistent in the speech of the main consultant, it is not found in the speech of a younger consultant of the same village but from a different clan. 5 It suggests a clan-based variation: clanlect (cf. Stanford 2009). The main consultant is a descendant of the Vase clan, and the younger consultant belongs to the Tiger clan. Compare their pronunciation of the following words: 2.94 a b


ɡwɑ ‘to discuss’ ɣɑR ‘to be thick’

Vase clan [ʔwɑR] [ɣɑR] or [ʔɑR]

Tiger clan [ɡwɑR] [ɣɑR] Change of voiceless nasals Voiceless nasals in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi are disappearing in the speech of the younger generation. The labial one either becomes voiced, as in (2.95a), or it is changed to the nasal cavity fricative, as in (2.95b). 2.95 a b

/m̥ɜHtsiH/ O===>Y [mɜHtsiH] ‘cousin’ /m̥jɛH̃ /


===>Y [h̃jɛH̃ ]


Similarly, the voiceless dental nasal is changed to the nasal cavity fricative and leaves its trace of erstwhile presence with vowel nasalization, e.g.: 2.96

/n̥iF/ O===>Y [h̃ĩF] ‘day’

The realization of /n̥/ as [h̃] also represents a dialectal variation, albeit a relatively recent one. Based on fieldwork conducted in the 1960s, Lu (1983; 2001) note that the voiceless nasal /n̥/ is a phoneme in Lánpíng Prinmi. However, my field data of Luógǔqīng (a dialect of Lánpíng Prinmi) recorded in 2003 shows that the young consultant recommended by the villagers has [h̃] in lieu of /n̥/ in some commonly 5

Based on four mountains, the primal clans of Prinmi bear the following meanings respectively: Vase, Leopard, Tiger, and Yellow-flower (Yan & Wong 1988: 16).



used words. This observed sound change corroborates the lack of /n̥/ (which is weakened to /h/ followed by a nasal vowel in cognate words) in Matisoff’s (1997) description of Dàyáng, another dialect of Lánpíng Prinmi. It may be regarded that present-day Western Prinmi has, at large, undergone the sound change from /n̥/ to [h̃], which is still on-going in other varieties of Prinmi such as Xīnyíngpán.


THE SUPRASEGMENTALS Prinmi employs suprasegmentals as an important means for lexical contrast. Unlike the better known syllable-tone languages of East and Southeast Asia, Prinmi has developed a melody-tone system similar to the tonal system of Japanese (Ding 2006). Its suprasegmental contrast is achieved fundamentally through the variable placement of high tone on a prosodic domain and potential spreading of the high tone. It also differs from the word-tone system in some Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal described in Glover (1971), Hari (1971), and Mazaudon (1973, 1977). This chapter describes in detail the tonal system of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, starting with surface tones on individual syllables in monosyllabic words (§3.1) and polysyllabic words (§3.2). Then the overall tonal system is discussed in §3.3. Finally a number of suprasegmental changes are dealt with, including regular tone changes occurring in clitic groups (§3.4.1), as well as tonal modifications sensitive to domain extension, associated with such morphological processes as prefixation (§3.4.2), reduplication (§3.4.3), and compounding (§3.4.4), particularly formation of numeral-classifier compounds (§3.4.5). Finally, §3.4.6 looks at how intonation may trigger pragmatically-motivated tone changes.

3.1. Surface tones on monosyllabic words Despite pervasive use of compounds in the language, Prinmi words are predominantly monosyllabic. In Prinmi a three-way tonal opposition is found in citation form of monosyllabic words (Lu 2001; Ding 2007a). The contrast can be described in terms of three different tones: a high level tone, a high falling tone, and a rising tone. They are abbreviated as high (H), falling (F), and rising (R) tones in notation. Minimal contrast between these three tonal categories is exemplified in (3.1).



3.1 a b c d e f g

High ʃiH ‘hundred’ neH ‘red’ ɹəH ‘to pile up’ pʰʴəH ‘to untie’ bjɛH̃ ‘busy’ lɜjH ‘to invite’ ɹwɑH ‘to grope’

Falling ʃiF ‘louse’ neF ‘soy bean’ ɹəF ‘skin’ pʰʴəF ‘pair’ bjɛF̃ ‘urine’ lɜjF ‘heavy’ ɹwɑF ‘willing to give’

Rising ʃiR ‘new’ neR ‘you (sg.)’ ɹəR ‘sickle’ pʰʴəR ‘to mediate’ bjɛR̃ ‘to fly’ lɜjR ‘to sow’ ɹwɑR ‘to owe’

The suprasegmental contrast between the high tone and the falling tone is almost neutralized on monosyllabic words when they occur in isolation, as this environment is not ideal for signifying the distinction between them (see §3.3.1). Different linguists have described the contrast between these two in terms of tones (the present approach), suspected laryngealization of vowels (Lu 1983), or optional insertion of glottal stop at the syllable coda (Matisoff 1997). The suprasegmental contrast between the pairs in (3.2) is attested in Prinmi dialects from Central Prinmi, Western Prinmi and Northern Prinmi (see Ding 2007a for details). The opposition is unambiguous when the words are followed by clitics (which lack a lexical tone of their own) such as the topic marker /ɡe/. 3.2 a b c d

High ʃiH (ɡeH) dzɑ̃H (ɡeH) bɨH (ɡeH) mɑ̃H (ɡeH)

‘hundred’ ‘drum’ ‘sun’ ‘name; 10,000’

Falling ʃiF (ɡeL) dzɑ̃F (ɡeL) bɨF (ɡeL) mɑ̃F (ɡeL)

‘louse’ ‘wet’ ‘honey; thin’ ‘hair; lower part’

The examples in (3.2d) contain four different words and show two pairs of homophones which contrast minimally via lexical tones. Results of a perception test reveal that the tonal difference between these (and other minimal pairs of words involving the same tones) is perceptually subtle when they occur alone as one syllable, even to native speakers of the same village. Nonetheless, they are produced with an intended contrast. Figure 3-1 presents an extraction of the fundamental frequency of the minimal pair, ʃiH ‘hundred’ versus ʃiF ‘louse’, from an old man who speaks Lijiang Prinmi, a different variety of Central Prinmi. The tokens used in the diagrams are taken



from a word list of basic vocabulary recorded in 2003. 1 The speaker included the numeral one in elicitation of hundred. The numeral can be safely ignored. Figure 3-1: Pitch tracks of high versus falling tones

192.7 Hz

tɜL ‘one’

ʃiH ‘hundred’

100 Hz

192.7 Hz


ʃi ‘louse’

100 Hz

Similar to those discussed in Ding (2001; 2007a), the pitch tracks in Figure 3-1 reveal a subtle difference in pitch movement between the two tones. The first spectrogram for ʃiH ‘hundred’ shows a slight falling tail (about 35 Hz); it represents a general downstep effect caused by anticipation of the end of an utterance. On the other hand, the pitch track of ʃiF ‘louse’ starts to fall from 195 Hz to 135 Hz in the second half of the vowel portion. This relative short and gentle decrease of pitch frequency clearly does not utilize a full range of pitch available to the syllable, which partially explains the difficulty in perceiving the falling tone uttered in monosyllabic words. This char1

The spectrograms and pitch tracks were generated using Praat 5.3.42 (Boersma & Weenink 2013).



acteristic of the falling tone is maintained in the speech of older Prinmi speakers, but has been lost in the speech of some younger speakers who tend to apply the falling tone pattern of Standard Mandarin to Prinmi. When monosyllabic words appear in connected speech, the three tonal categories presented in (3.1) above effectively contrast in terms of two pitches: high versus low. In a bisyllabic domain, the falling and rising tones are realized respectively as H-L and L-H, whereas the high tone gives rise to a H-H sequence. These tone patterns are obligatory in a clitic group when a word is followed by such clitics as ɡe (topic marker), ɡja (modificatory marker), ɹə (plural marker), nõ (durative marker), si (perfective marker) and so forth. Table 3-1 demonstrates how the tone of clitics is conditioned by the lexical tone of their host. Table 3-1: Tonal patterns with prosodic domain extended to the right

Citation form H

H-H pattern

H-L pattern

L-H pattern

mɑ̃ ‘name’ bjɛH̃ ‘be busy’ bɑLlɜjH ‘snake’ tʰɜL-ɡɥaH ‘to mix well’ mɑ̃F ‘hair’ bjɛF̃ ‘urine’ pɜjLkɥɛF̃ ‘brothers’ tʰɜL-lɜjF ‘to be too heavy’ piR ‘belly’ ɡɑwR ‘deep’ l̥ ɑLtsɨR ‘finger’ nɜL-ʒɨR ‘to sleep’

Connected speech mɑ̃H=ɡeH (TOP) bjɛH̃ =nõH (DUR) bɑLlɜjH=ɡeH (TOP) tʰɜL-ɡɥaH=siH (PFV) mɑ̃H=ɡeL (TOP) bjɛH̃ =ɡeL (TOP) pɜjLkɥɛH̃ =ɡeL (TOP) tʰɜL-lɜjH=siL (PFV) piL=ɡeH (TOP) ɡɑwL=nõH (DUR) l̥ ɑLtsɨL=ɡeH (TOP) nɜL-ʒɨL=siH (PFV)

The tonal patterns of these words in a prosodic domain extended by toneless clitics are largely predictable. When a minimal pair of words taking the high and the falling tones are situated in a bisyllabic domain, their distinct tonal patterns are readily observable. This suggests that the tonal system of Prinmi is essentially based on a polysyllabic domain and it also explains the failure of native speakers in recognizing certain minimal pairs of monosyllabic words in citation form.



3.2. Tones of polysyllabic words Prinmi morphemes are predominantly monosyllabic, but a large number of polysyllabic words are generated through compounding. This means that tone interaction may be involved in deriving the tonal pattern of polysyllabic compounds (cf. §3.4.4). Decomposable polysyllabic words are almost all bisyllabic. For instance: 3.3

a b c

mɜHl̥ eL ‘wind’ nɜLtʃĩR ‘wasp’ kʰɑLʃuH ‘corn’

pʰɑHlɑH ‘butterfly’ tõLpuH ‘donkey’ tʃɜLʒĩR ‘oat’

Notable exceptions are names of some animals and toponyms, e.g.: 3.4

a b c d

lõHbuLtʃʰiL ‘elephant (a loan word from Tibetan)’ dʒɨLpuHduH ‘a kind of migrating bird (named after its calling sound)’ H H L li ʒjɑ tsu ‘a village name in Mùli (Sichuan)’ lɑLtʰɑLdjɛH̃ ‘Zuǒsuǒ (in Yányuán, Sichuan)’

Since the number of simplex polysyllabic words is few in Prinmi, the following discussion mainly deals with the suprasegmentals of compounds. The falling tone, which, as a surface tone, has been shown to be opposed to the high tone in some minimal pairs of monosyllabic words, is of no phonemic significance in polysyllabic words. There is no such underlying suprasegmental contrast as H-H-H vs. H-H-L, or L-H-H vs. L-H-L, which would suggest their corresponding surface tone in citation to be H-H vs. H-F, or L-H vs. L-F. Instead, the majority of bisyllabic minimal pairs with a suprasegmental contrast have different tones on both syllables. For instance: 3.5

a b c d e

ɡuLʒĩH wɜLmiF mɜLtsiH sɜLsɜR ɡjɜLɡeR




ɡuHʒĩL ‘(of birth order) middle’ wɜHmiL ‘cow’ mɜHtsiL ‘sparkle’ sɜHsɜL ‘quarrel’ ɡjɜHɡeL ‘to estrange’

‘middle’ ‘guest’ ‘pincers’ ‘war’ ‘to help each other’ ‘bird’


ɡɥɛLtsiH ‘backbone of house’



The minimal pair in (3.6) differs from the others in that the contrast is realized on the second syllable. 2 In this pair, as well as the two in (3.5d) and (3.5e), a rising tone appears on the second syllable in one of the words.

3.2.1. Disyllabic words The high and low tones occur freely on either syllable of a disyllabic word. The rising tone, however, is often restricted to the second syllable. Table 3-2 displays the five tonal patterns attested for disyllabic words (where ‘_’ separates formatives). Table 3-2: Tonal patterns of disyllabic words

Pattern 1.




3a. 3b.


Citation H

wɜ _mi

Followed by a clitic




mjɑ _sʉ L

wɜ _mi




n̥i _tʃʰjõ L




bu _mɜ




‘cow’ ‘eyeball’










It should be noted that the pattern shown in Type 5, with an initial rising tone, is marginal. 3 It is found chiefly in a few words ending with the morpheme poR ‘part’. This pattern may be altered to L-H, which, as a suggested pattern, is not rejected by the main consultant, but the alternation has not been observed in his spontaneous speech. As shown in the final column of the table, an enclitic following the L-H pattern may acquire a high or a low tone. The alternation between L-H-H and L-H-L does not give rise to any change in lexical meaning.

3.2.2. Trisyllabic words Trisyllabic words are generally formed by compounding. A great number of them are verb-ideophone compounds, exemplified in the 2

The second syllable in (3.6a) can be analyzed as a diminutive suffix (cf. §5.1), but the bisyllabic word in (3.6b) is not analyzable. 3 The simplest way to account for this tonal pattern is to treat poR ‘part’ as extra-prosodic (see §3.3.2 for details).



first four patterns in Table 3-3. Note that ideophones always appear in reduplication (see §4.3.6), inevitably giving rise to trisyllabic compounds. The ideophones have lost their original tone and they simply extend the prosodic domain of the head morpheme. Even for those few ideophones which can be used independently as verbs, they behave suprasegmentally like other ideophones when forming a verbideophone compound. Shown in Table 3-3 are the nine tonal patterns that have been found with trisyllabic words. A trisyllabic word may contain two prosodic domains, as in the final two patterns (‘+’ indicating domain boundary, and bracketing embedded compounds). Table 3-3: Tonal patterns of trisyllabic words


Example H





pʰʴĩ _tʃjɑ tʃjɑ

‘really white’



bɨH_l̥ jɑLl̥ jɑL

‘really thin’

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.



R + L-H


H + H-H



dʒɥa _zĩ zĩ L


‘really glossy’


njɑ _tɑw tɑw L







‘really lonely’ ‘roasted barley flour with oil’

tu _bʴõ bʴõ


tʃɨ _tʰo tʰo R


[tʰõ _po ]_ʃɨ R



‘to climb mountain’ H

ʒjɑ _[kʰʴə _mɑ̃ ] ‘body hair’ ‘the first half of a month’ ɹəH_[ʒiH_pʰɑH]

Words with more than one prosodic domain in Prinmi are always morphologically complex, e.g. involving compounding. The reverse is not necessarily true. A complex word can have one domain, as shown by the first seven examples in Table 3-3. The dual-domain treatment of the final two patterns in the table is based on the observation that they are found only with complex compounds and the domain boundary always coincides with the compound boundary. To take the final example in Table 3-3 as an illustration: although the pattern consists of three high tones, the first two cannot be grouped into one domain (i.e. H-H + H), because the first two components in the compound do not form a morphological unit. There is no such word as *ɹəH_ʒiH, but ʒiH_pʰɑH ‘half a month’ exists.



3.2.3. Tetrasyllabic words All Prinmi tetrasyllabic words are generated through compounding. Quite often, these compounds are modeled on a pattern which involves the repetition of a particular component (cf. §5.4.5). However, suprasegmentals do not form part of a specific pattern; no known pattern stipulates any condition to the suprasegmentals. Since tetrasyllabic compounds are complex in structure, they are more likely to consist of dual prosodic domains. In fact, dual-domain patterns outnumber those with one domain among the known patterns from the collected data. For reasons of simplicity, the examples in Table 3-4 only indicate the major boundaries in compounds, although prefixes are normally indicated by ‘-’ in Prinmi words. Table 3-4: Tonal patterns of tetrasyllabic words







mɑ̃HʈʂʰoH_ɹɜLkɑL ʒjɑHpɑL_ɹɜLkɑL

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

L-H-H-L L-H-L-L L-L-H-H L-L-H-L L-L-L-H H-H + H-L H-H + L-H

10. H-L + L-H




ɡu ʒĩ _l̥ ɑ tsɨ L






jõ dzɨ _pɑ pɑ L

‘pelvis’ ‘middle finger’





‘chicken pox’

kʰɨ bõ _tʃʰɥa bõ L



dʒi tsʰĩ _ɹɜ kɑ L



l̥ ɑ tsɨ _ɹɜ kɑ H



‘lumbar vertebra’


‘finger bone’



‘uncle as a polite term’

m̥ɜ tsi _põ põ H





tsi kɥɛ _kʰõ kɥɛ L

wɜ mi _kʰe pɑ H





‘all live beings’ ‘milk cow’


12. H-L + H-H

tsʰõ tsʰõ _bjɜ bjɜ ‘all kinds and sorts’ sɜHsɜL_tɑwHtɑwH ‘quarrels and rows’

13. L-H + H-H


11. H-L + H-L

14. L-H + L-H 15. L-R + L-R 16. L-R + H-H 17. L-R + L-H

‘duodecimal animals’









ɡə -ʈʂe _ɜ -ʈʂe ɡə -pʰi _ɜ -pʰi L



‘to pull in all manners’ ‘to sway’ H

sɜ sɜ _m̥jɑ m̥jɑ L R


ɡĩ l̥ i _ɡĩ ʃɑw


‘fights and wars’ ‘to lead a nomadic life’



Tonal domains of tetrasyllabic words are analyzed by considering whether or not they can be broken down into shorter existing domains. The binary structure of compounding in the language (see §5.4.6) suggests a possible domain boundary between the second and the third syllable of a tetrasyllabic word, thereby dividing the tonal pattern into two domains. When this is applied to the first seven tonal patterns in Table 3-4, except for the third pattern, a domain emerges with the L-L pattern which is unattested for bisyllabic domains. Thus these six patterns with two or more L in adjacency are analyzed as representing one domain. Although the third pattern can be broken down to L-H and H-L, it actually involves spreading of H from the second syllable to the third syllable in the particular compound exemplified. The tonal pattern for citation form of /l̥ ɑtsɨ/ ‘finger’ is L-R. The tones, H-L, for ‘finger’ in the compound are attributed to tone spreading, which is not permitted to occur across two domains. Therefore the tonal pattern in question has one domain. The two prosodic domains in dual-domain words are independent of each other. Among the ten dual-domain patterns in Table 3-4, only those shown in lines 8 and 13 might involve high spreading across the compound boundary. However, comparison with the original tonal patterns of the bisyllabic formatives in the compound examples indicates that they are identical, cf. m̥ɜHtsiH ‘cousin’, põHpõL ‘paternal uncle’, uR ‘lunar year’ giving rise to uLkʰʉH, and koHniH ‘twelve’. It is apparent that the tones of these words are not affected by the tones of the first formative in the compounds. Hence, these tonal patterns are analyzed as containing two independent domains.

3.3. The phonological system of tone The description of Prinmi tone above shows that contrast of lexical tones in the language is achieved in terms of tonal pattern in a domain larger than one syllable. This section presents a system of underlying tones to account for the relationship between these tonal patterns. The issue of extra-prosodicality is also addressed.

3.3.1. The melody-tone system Excluding combinatory cases with dual domains, the basic tonal patterns of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi can be summarized as follows:



Table 3-5: The basic tonal patterns of Xīnyíngpán Prinmi








HL(=falling) H LH(=rising)

The tonal system of Prinmi displays the following characteristics: (a) (b) (c) (d)

There is only a marked tone H, with the low tone L serving as the default tone; The two tones, H and L, do not contrast directly in monosyllabic words; Each tonal category specifies the locus of the marked tone (rendered as bold in Table 3-5), which may spread to the next syllable (shown in the alternate rows); Across different tonal categories, the occurrence of the marked tone H is found on all possible positions within the domain, from the first to the fourth, with no accidental gap.

Based on these characteristics, Ding (2007a) proposes the following definition of melody-tone system, to replace the rubric term pitchaccent used in Ding (2001; 2006): A language possesses a MELODY-TONE SYSTEM if, and only if, its lexical tonal patterns are generated by placing a marked tone on the first, the second, the third, ... , and the nth positions, respectively (or in the opposite order), in the underlying domain of melody, independent of the word and the syllable, of n moras/syllables (where n ≥ 2), irrespective of the syllable weight.

Examining the overall tonal patterns of Prinmi in Table 3-5, it is not difficult to observe that two factors are at work. The first one concerns the placement of the marked tone and the second one specifies whether it spreads to the next syllable. The basic organizational rules are spelled out as follows:



Tone Placement Rule: The marked tone H may appear on any syllable to create a tonal category, exhausting all available positions in the underlying domain. H-spreading Rule: Within one domain, the marked tone H may, or may not, spread; if it spreads, only the immediately following syllable will bear a H tone. The underlying domain relevant to generation of tonal patterns in Prinmi appears to contain a maximum of four syllables. In the tetrasyllabic domains, four distinct tonal categories emerge according to the Tone Placement Rule. The number of tonal categories is doubled under the optional H-spreading Rule. When the H tone is placed on the fourth syllable, its spreading is underspecified. Therefore seven basic tonal categories are identified based on these tonal patterns. These two rules can be notated as [nth; ±spread], which reads ‘the H tone is placed on the nth syllable with spreading [+spread] or without spreading [‒spread] to the next syllable in the domain’. Using this notation, the seven tonal categories can be specified as in Table 36, where realization of the underlying tonal patterns on monosyllabic words is also indicated. Table 3-6: The seven tonal categories and their realization on monosyllables

Category Specification

Underlying pattern

On monosyllable



F (Falling) H (High) R (Rising) ? R (Rising) n/a n/a

[1st; –spread] [1st; +spread] [2nd; –spread] [2nd; +spread] [3rd; –spread] [3rd; +spread] [4th; ±spread]

As pointed out above, tonal patterns of polysyllabic words can generally be expressed using ‘H’ and ‘L’; ‘R’ is largely restricted to the final syllable to indicate a surface rising tone. On the other hand, to convey the minimal contrast between tone I and tone II on monosyllabic words, it is necessary to mark tone I as ‘F’, which, however, is realized as a high tone in a longer domain. The notation of ‘F’ is used in polysyllabic words only if citation form of a monosyllabic



morpheme is known to bear the falling tone. Generally speaking, ‘F’ is rendered as ‘H’ in marking tones of compounds. The H tone on the final syllable of a polysyllabic word can be regarded as underspecified for spreading. A monosyllabic verb bearing a rising tone may belong to either tone III or tone V (but not both), which can be determined when its underlying tonal pattern is revealed in an extended prosodic domain (see §3.4.2 below). The basic pattern of a tonal category is not affected by the number of syllables of the domain, although the tones on the right may not be realized when the number of syllables in the domain decreases. Each prosodic domain requires at least one high tone; if there are not sufficient syllables in the word domain, the H tone is ‘squeezed’ onto the final syllable, rendering a rising tone. For instance, all the words in (3.7) contain the morpheme ‘buffalo’ and share the same lexical tone. However, the realization of surface tones on individual syllables may vary. The occurrence of a rising tone on the final syllable of the bisyllabic word is expected from the tonal pattern of Tone V, [3rd; – spread]. 3.7

Tone V realized in words of different lengths a dʒjõLdʒɨL mɜHl̥ eL ‘buffalo-tail’ (cf. mɜHl̥ eL ‘tail’) b dʒjõLdʒɨL kʰʉH ‘buffalo-head’ (cf. kʰʉR ‘head’) c dʒjõLdʒɨR ‘buffalo’

3.3.2. Extra-prosodicality Parallel to extrametricality, extra-prosodicality refers to syllables which are invisible in the prosodic domain. That is, extra-prosodic syllables are not matched to the underlying tones of a tonal category. Assigned with the default tone, they always occur in a low tone. To a large extent, extra-prosodicality complicates tone sandhi in Prinmi. Three major classes of extra-prosodic syllables are found in Prinmi: (a) directional prefixes, (b) postpositions, and (c) numerals. Within each class of these, it is not necessary that all members are extraprosodic. Furthermore, the extra-prosodic behavior may be restricted to certain environments. The majority of directional prefixes are extra-prosodic, but they return to normal prosodic behavior when prefixed to a monosyllabic verb which bears a surface rising tone (see §3.4.2 for details). Postpositions, barring the highly cliticized instrumental õ and the comitative



ni, are extra-prosodic in Prinmi. However, the extra-prosodicality is lost when a postposition enters the prosodic domain of a personal pronoun. For instance, in (3.8a) the postposition be carries a H tone which is specified to appear on the second syllable of the prosodic domain. However, in (3.8b) the postposition acts extra-prosodically when it follows a noun, without any effect on the surface tones of the noun. 3.8

a b

neR ‘you singular’ koLjiR ‘crow’

neL beH ‘to you’ koLjiR beL ‘to the crow’

Smaller numbers, those with a meaning less than ‘six’, often occur extra-prosodically in numeral-classifier expressions. The numeral ɡɨF ‘nine’ is also extra-prosodic in this type of expression (for details see §3.4.5). The fact that some numerals can be extra-prosodic suggests that extra-prosodicality is not confined to affixes and postpositions in Prinmi. Contented words such as /po/ ‘part’ is also observed to behave extra-prosodically. When this bound morpheme appears in compounds, it fails to match to the H tone on the underlying tonal pattern, e.g. piRpoL ‘abdomen’ and tʰõRpoL ‘upward slope’.

3.4. Suprasegmental changes Change of surface tones is common in Prinmi. Two major types of tone change can be distinguished: regular tone change versus tone sandhi. The former is entirely predictable, and it affects only surface tones/ tonal patterns. The latter is unpredictable, and involves more than one tonal category. Such tone sandhi may shift the locus of the H tone, but only to an adjacent syllable, resulting in a change of tonal category. ‘Domain merger’ is also possible in tone sandhi: two prosodic domains are merged into one after the marked tone in the other domain is deleted.

3.4.1. Regular tone change in clitic groups Tonal variation, if any, in clitic groups is predicted by normal distribution of tones as specified in a tonal category. In (3.9) and (3.10) a clitic group is provided after citation form of the host word to show the underlying tonal pattern of the tonal category. The obvious tone change is found solely in words with a rising tone, e.g. (3.10). Enclit-



ics such as si are inherently toneless, whose surface tone is determined by the tonal category of the host word. 3.9

a b

3.10 a b c

Tone I [1; –spread] bjɛF̃ ‘urine’ Tone II [1; +spread] bjɛH̃ ‘be busy’ Tone III [2; –spread] bjɛR̃ ‘fly’ Tone IV [2; +spread] seLlɐwH ‘pear’ Tone V [3; –spread] tʃ�R̃ ‘to say’

bjɛH̃ =ɡeL ‘as for urine’ bjɛH̃ =nõH ‘being busy’ ɡəL-bjɛH̃ =siL ‘flew’ seLlɐwH=ɡeH ‘pear tree’ ɡəL-tʃɨL=siH


Certain tone changes on affixed stems are also predictable by the tonal category of the stem. After the prosodic domain in (3.11) is extended with the vocative prefix, realization of surface tones appears in accordance to the underlying tone. 3.11 a [1; –spread] põF ‘father’ b [2; +spread] kɑwR ‘maternal uncle’

ɑH-põL ‘Dad’ ɑL-kɑwH ‘Uncle’

3.4.2. Tone change in prefixed verbs Prinmi verbs often take a directional prefix (details in §5.2.1), which leads to leftward domain extension. Directional prefixes are toneless, with the exception of tɜH. The high tone of this prefix always spreads to the stem, regardless of the original tone of the verb. On the other hand, other directional prefixes typically acquire the default low tone, unless they are under the influence of intonation. For instance: 3.12

Prefixation on toF ‘to look’ a tɜH-toH ‘to look upwards’ b nɜL-toF ‘to look downwards’ c dəL-toF ‘to look towards the speaker’ d tʰɜL-toF ‘to look away’ e ɡəL-toF ‘to look outwards’ f ɜL-toF ‘to look’



Prefixation on tɑR ‘to arrive’ a tɜH-tɑH ‘to arrive at a higher place’ b nɜL-tɑR ‘to arrive at a lower place’ c dəL-tɑR ‘to arrive here’ d tʰɜL-tɑR ‘to arrive there’ e ɡəL-tɑR ‘to arrive’ f ɜL-tɑR ‘to arrive inside’


Prefixation on ʒiR ‘to come’ a tɜH-ʒɨH ‘to come up’ b nɜL-ʒɨF ‘to come down’ c dəL-ʒɨF ‘to come here’ d ɡəL-ʒɨF ‘to come’ e ɜL-ʒɨF ‘to come in’


The tonal patterns in (3.12) suggest that the five toneless prefixes are extra-prosodic, invisible in the prosodic domain, and hence there is no effect on the tonal setting of the verb stem. However, the tone change on monosyllabic verbs that bear a rising tone in citation is more complicated, as shown in (3.13) and (3.14). Some, such as tɑR ‘to arrive’, maintain the rising tone after prefixation (except after the prefix tɜH), while others, such as ʒɨR ‘to come’, display a change in surface tone from rising to high. 4 In (3.13) the rising tone on the verb stem splits into L-H, giving rise to the overall pattern L-L-H: ɡəLtɑL=siH ‘arrived’. On the other hand, there is no further tone change on the verb stem in which the rising tone is split upon prefixation, as seen in (3.14), and the perfective clitic simply takes a low tone, i.e. L-H-L: ɡəL-ʒɨH=siL ‘came’. In order to indicate the low tone after the verb stem, the prefixed verb is suprasegmentally notated with ‘F’. The simplest way to distinguish these two groups of verbs with the rising surface tone is to assign to them different tonal categories: Tone III and Tone V. These two tones are associated with the underlying patterns of L-H-L and L-L-H, respectively. Under this treatment, the toneless directional prefix on monosyllabic verbs behaves differently when it appears in the domain of the verb stem: the prefix is no longer 4

Such tonal behavior of verbs bearing the rising tone is also observed in other Prinmi dialects; see Jacques (2011b).



invisible, i.e. the extra-prosodicality is lost; instead, it forms part of the prosodic domain with a leftward extension. Consequently, a prefixed verb carrying Tone III has the H tone on the verb stem, but a prefixed verb bearing Tone V needs to ‘squeeze’ the H tone to the verb stem when no clitic follows it, with the original rising tone on the verb retained. Table 3-7: Tonal categories of monosyllabic verbs with a rising tone

Tone III [2; –spread] Citation R

Prefixed form

ʒɨ ‘to come’ kiR ‘to sell’ bjɛR̃ ‘to fly’ tʰjɛR̃ ‘to drink’ kʰjɛR̃ ‘to give’



ɡə -ʒɨ tʰɜL-kiF ɡəL-bjɛF̃ ɡəL-tʰjɛF̃ tʰɜL-kʰjɛF̃

Tone V [3; –spread] Citation R

ʒɨ ‘to sleep’ sɨR ‘to die’ nuR ‘to hear’ kɑR ‘to bite’ kjɛR̃ ‘to estrange’

Prefixed form

nɜL-ʒɨR nɜL-sɨR tʰɜL-nuR ɜL-kɑR nɜL-kjɛR̃

Table 3-7 provides additional examples of verbs with Tone III and Tone V. Note that, in citation form, some of these verbs may be neutralized and become homophones, not distinguishable even by a native speaker. Note also that the surface tone on the verb stem from the Tone III group is notated as ‘F’ to indicate anticipation of a low tone in the next syllable.

3.4.3. Tone change in reduplication Since morphological reduplication in Prinmi does not duplicate suprasegmentals, the surface tone of the reduplicated syllable is often different from the original one. The only case where the reduplication can hold two identical tones is possible only with tone I, as in (3.15b) and (3.16b). 3.15 a b c

Base form [1; –spr] mɑF ‘mother’ [1; +spr] tɜjH ‘big’ [2; –spr] pɜjR ‘elder sibling’

Reduplicated noun mɑHmɑL ‘maternal aunt’ tɜjHtɜjH ‘big paternal uncle’ pɜjLpɜjH ‘elder brother’


3.16 a b c

Base form [1; –spr] tsɜjF ‘to wash’ [1; +spr] ɹ̥ uH ‘to chirp’ [2; –spr] pʴjɛR̃ ‘to drop’


Reduplicated noun tsɜjHtsaL ‘to wash continuously’ ɹ̥ wɜHɹ̥ uH ‘(of bird) to sing’ pʴjõLpʴjɛH̃ ‘to scatter’

While changes of surface tone can be handled easily in some reduplications, others require processes at an abstract level, i.e. modification of tonal specification. The result of modification is largely unpredictable. For instance, a rightward H-shift changes the tone specification from [1; –spread] to [2; –spread] in (3.17a), whereas a leftward H-shift in (3.17b) changes [2; spread] to [1; –spread]. Although the final syllable in the base form bears a rising tone in (3.17b)–(3.17d), the direction of H-shift in the reduplications varies. H is shifted rightward in (3.17c) and (3.17d). Consequently, the final syllable in the derived form retains the rising tone on the surface. Such tonal processes are independent of the morphological process of reduplication, and there is no correlation between vowel change and tone shift. 3.17 a b c d

Base form ɹ̥ ʉF ‘to be pained’ swɑR ‘to count’ ɖʐuR ‘mate’ kʴʰəLlɥɛR ‘turtledove’

Reduplication ɹ̥ wɜLɹ̥ ʉH ‘to suffer’ swɑHswɑL ‘to count continuously’ ɖʐwɜLɖʐuR ‘friend’ kʴʰəLlɥɛLlɥɛR ‘turtledoves’

3.4.4. Tone change in compounds To investigate tonal patterns of compounds, twenty-nine animal terms and twenty-two nouns (mostly body-part terms) were used to form compounds such as those exemplified in (3.18). From this small scale study, it has been found that tone change in compounding is largely regular in Prinmi. Discounting 131 instances of nonsense results, a total of 507 compounds have been generated. Of these, 417 (82%) show predictable tone changes, while 46 compounds (9%) do not, involving use of archaic animal terms (3%) and dual domains in the compound (6%). This supports the anticipation that a highly productive morphological process should be regulated by linguistic rules. The most common tone process observed in Prinmi compounding is merger of prosodic domains, resulting from deletion of lexical tone on the second formative. When the prosodic domain is enlarged after the



domain merger, realization of the tonal category of the initial formative may lead to changes of surface tones of some syllables in the compound. Compounds with regular tone changes are exemplified in (3.18)–(3.20): 3.18 a

baH + ʂɨF = baHʂɨH ‘duck meat’ [1; +spr] [1; –spr] [1; +spr] (duck+meat)


bɑLlɜjH + kʰʉR = bɑLlɜjHkʰʉH ‘snake head’ [2; +spr] [2; –spr] [2; +spr] (snake+head)

3.19 a

ʂɨF + tʃyH = ʂɨHtʃyL ‘sausage’ [1; –spr] [1; +spr] [1; –spr] (meat+intestine)

b 3.20 a b

tsɜHʒiL + mɑ̃F = tsɜHʒiLmɑ̃L ‘monkey hair’ [1; –spr] [1; –spr] [1; –spr] (monkey+hair) kʰʉR + njɛH̃ = kʰʉLnjɛH̃ ‘headache’ [2; spr] [1; +spr] [2; spr] (head+ache) dʒjõLʒɨR + ɹəF = dʒjõLʒɨLɹəH ‘buffalo skin’ [3; spr] [1; –spr] [3; spr] (buffalo+skin)

All the compounds in (3.18)–(3.20) are of the modifier-head type, with the first formative qualifying the second one. However, the structural relation between the two components is irrelevant to domain merger. In compounds where the modifying element follows the head, the same tonal process described above also applies, e.g.: 3.21 a

kɥɛH + pʰʴĩH = kɥɛHpʰʴĩH ‘male twins’ [1; +sp] [1; +sp] [1; +sp] (twin+white)


kɥɛH + njɑR = kɥɛHnjɑH ‘female twins’ [1; +sp] [2; –sp] [1; +sp] (twin+black)


tsɜH + mɑF = tsɜHmɑH ‘female red deer’ [1; +sp] [1; –sp] [1; +sp] (red deer+female)

On the other hand, some Prinmi compounds take tonal patterns that are irregular, i.e. unpredictable by the tonal category. Some irregular cases, focusing on disyllabic compounds, are provided in Table 3-8. The tonal categories of the formatives are indicated on the leftmost column for the first formative and at the top row for the second one, whereas the new tonal categories of the compounds are represented by circled numbers.



Table 3-8: Compounds with unpredictable tonal patterns 2nd σ

1st σ

Tone I [1; –spr] Tone II [1;+spr] Tone III [2;spr]

Tone I [1; –spr] Tone II [1; +spr] Tone III [2; –spr] ɖʐɜHmɑH  ‘single mother’ ɹɜLmɑH  ‘hen’ tʃyHbĩL  ‘large intestine’ kwɜLmɑ̃H  ‘ox hair’ kʰʉHmɑ̃L  ‘of head hair’ njɑLmiR  ‘Moso’

tsɥɛL̃ njɛH̃  ‘liver disease’ kwɜHkwɑL  ‘ox hoof’ kwɜLpʰʴĩH  ‘white ox’ sõHʒiL  ‘March’ tʃʰɥaLkʰʴəR  ‘pork leg’

tsʰɨLnɑ̃R  ‘goat milk’ ɹwɜLnɑ̃H  ‘yak milk’ ɥɛL̃ deR  ‘old bear’ kwɜLnɑ̃H  ‘cow milk’ tʃʰɥaHnjɑL  ‘black pig’ tʃʰɨLkʰʉR  ‘dog head’

The problem with irregular tones of Prinmi compounds lies in the difficulty in determining what conditions need to be taken into consideration for processes other than the domain merger. Potential factors such as syllable weight, semantic or morphological structure of compounds do not appear to condition details of the new tonal category. Thus, the tonal category of some Prinmi compounds needs to be registered in the lexicon.

3.4.5. Tone change in numeral-classifier compounds Prinmi has a small set of classifiers which are used when counting certain nouns (see §4.3.5). The classifier always combines with the preceding numeral to form a compound and tone changes frequently occur in the disyllabic domain. Tonal patterns of numeral-classifier compounds are generally regulated by these two rules: (i) domain extension by the classifier, or (ii) extra-prosodicality of the numeral after a loss of tone. The meaning of the numeral plays an important role in the tonal process: only numerals smaller than ‘six’ and the numeral ‘nine’ are subject to tone loss; others maintain their tonal category in the compound. Prinmi numerals with the meaning from ‘one’ to ‘twenty’ fall into one of the following three tonal categories:




Tone I [1; –sp]: ‘four’, ‘five’, ‘nine’, ‘ten’; Tone II [1; +sp]: from ‘eleven’ to ‘nineteen’; Tone III [2; –sp]: ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’, ‘six’, ‘seven’, ‘eight’, ‘twenty’.

Table 3-9 provides representative examples of tonal patterns found in numeral-classifier compounds. The boxed ones are regarded as atypical, since they do not follow the rules introduced above; nonetheless, the longer boxes are regular in the sense of being consistent. In the case of kɜHtjɛ̃L ‘ten’, it is apparent that both specifications of the original tonal category are changed after the numeral enters the compound: the rightward shift of the H tone is accompanied by Hspreading. Among higher numbers, the pattern of L-L-H occurs when a classifier follows the numerals ‘twenty’, ‘thirty’, ‘forty’, ‘fifty’ and ‘ninety’, whereas the tonal pattern, L-H-L, is conditioned by the numerals for ‘sixty’, ‘seventy’, and ‘eighty’. Table 3-9: Tonal patterns of numeral-classifier compounds

tsɨ (used with bõF (used kɜjH ‘cup tsoR (used with trees) of’ with rooms) people) tiR ‘1’ niR ‘2’ sõR ‘3’ wɜF ‘5’ ʈʂʰuR ‘6’ ɡɨF ‘9’ kɜHtjɛL̃ ‘10’ koHniF ‘12’ kɜHsõF ‘13’ nɜLkoH ‘20’ n̥ʉLkoH ‘70’





Of the four classifiers in the table, tsɨ (counting persons) is the only toneless one and tonal patterns are determined by the numeral. Tone-I classifiers, such as bõF (counting trees) and xɜjF (counting times of



action), differ from Tone-II ones only in the pattern used with numeral ‘three’. These examples demonstrate that tonal patterns of numeralclassifier compounds are rule-governed, yet not utterly predictable from the tones of the two formatives, as other factors beyond phonology are at work.

3.4.6. Tone change under the influence of intonation Prinmi intonation may affect the surface pattern of lexical tones through removal of the underlying high tone and/or introduction of a high boundary tone. The intonation unit, indicated by ‘|’ below, typically consists of more than one morphological word. Sometimes intonation has no effect on the lexical tone, e.g. (3.23), a clause extracted from a larger sentence. The tonal pattern of every phonological word (whose boundary is marked by ‘∧’) remains intact in the clause. A phonological word may contain more than one underlying high tone, if there is a dual-domain compound. 3.23

| djɛR̃ toL ∧ koHkɥeL sɜjLkɥeF=ɹəL | bɨHtsjɛH̃ ∧ mɑL=tʃjɛH̃ | earth on living.being=PL sunlight N=see ‘All living beings on earth see no sunlight’

More often, intonation plays a crucial role in the realization of surface tones in utterances. Under the influence of intonation, the underlying H tone of a phonological word is readily removable when it is situated in the final intonation unit of the clause, e.g. (3.24). When this happens, the phonological word is merged with the other prosodic domain (removal of the original boundary of phonological word due to a loss of H tone in a following word is indicated by ‘∧’ in the examples). Deletion of H tone in the final phonological word undoubtedly paves the way to the general falling intonation pattern found in Prinmi. Sometimes, a series of low tones may appear in the ending syllables of an utterance after the boundary of phonological word is eliminated, as in (3.24c). In a longer sentence, interaction between intonation and lexical tones may affect more than one intonation unit. For example, in (3.24d) removal of H tone is observed with both of the clauses in the sentence. 3.24 a

| mɑ̃LtoH kʰeH=boL | boR | ɹɜLpuF=ɡeL ∧ nɜL-diL | final time=FRM DSC cock=TOP down-cast ‘Finally, the rooster (you) throw (it) down’




| ʐõH toL=boL | tʃɨH=ɡeH ∧ lɜjL | sheep on=FRM water=TOP heavy ‘On the sheep, water is heavy.’


| xɜH=ɡõL ∧ tʰɜL-ɹ̥ ʉL-miL dzɨL | who=INS TLC-buy-NMLZ COP ‘(Such a stallion), what I’m saying is: who bought (it)?’


| ʒjɑLn̥jɛR̃ | m̥əLɡjɛF̃ tiL ∧ ʒeL | ancient old.man one EXT.AN F H L L tsʉ ∧ nɜ tsɨ ∧ bõ | son two:CLF have ‘Once upon a time, there was an old man, (and he) had two sons.’

In other intonation patterns, it is possible to retain the original lexical tone on the very final syllable of an utterance. As shown in (3.25), the lexical tone of the first word in the utterance-final intonation unit is affected by intonation (indicated by ‘∧’): a low tone is assigned to all the syllables in the words koLjiR ‘crow’ and pɜLtsɨR ‘flower’ after removing the high tone, whereas the second word in this intonation unit is left intact. 3.25 a


| təLboR | tɜHn̥iL=boL | koLjiL=ɡeL ∧ ɡəL-tʃʰjõF | then one:day=FRM crow=TOP CLC-appear ‘Then one day Crow came over.’ | sɜLpɑH=ɡjɑH ∧ toH=boL | pɜLtsɨL=ɡeL ∧ ɡəL-xĩR | leaf M on=FRM flower=TOP out-grow ‘Above the leaves grow the flowers.’

One of the important functions of intonation is to highlight a particular part of an utterance for full attention in discourse. Prinmi can achieve such pragmatic emphasis through placement of a high boundary tone. The process involves two steps: (a) substitute of the marked tone by the default low tone in a phonological word, and (b) attachment of the boundary tone H to a syllable, in addition to a low tone already borne by it. This ultimately renders a rising surface tone on the emphasized morpheme. Consider the following examples, where placement of the boundary tone is indicated by ‘%’: 3.26 a

| tʃɨR % ∧ ɡəL-ʐɑH | (tʃɨH: H→ L→L+H→R) water out-carry ‘the water washed (him) away.’




boH | njɑH=ɡjɑH ∧ dzɨR % ∧ mɑL=tʉF | (cf. dzɨF) 1SG DSP 2SG;M=M eat N=EXP ‘as for me, I haven’t eaten yours.’


| neLɹəH ∧ sõLpɜjLkɥɛF̃ =ɡeL=boL | 2PL three:brothers=TOP=FRM L R pʰjɛ̃ kʰu %=kɜjL | (kʰuR: LH→L→L+H→R) flee need=VLT ‘Well, the three of you need to run away.’

| ɜH

In (3.26a) and (3.26b), the highlighted word forms a phonological word by itself, and the insertion of the boundary tone only causes a change of the surface tone. The situation in (3.26c) is different in several regards. The highlighted syllable kʰuR ‘need’ appears in the middle of a phonological word. Its lexical tone is Tone III, which surfaces with a rising contour in citation form. The word is left with a low tone under the effect of intonation. The placement of the boundary tone has led not only to recurrence of the rising tone on kʰu, but also to a new boundary after the syllable. In other words, the original phonological word has been divided into two smaller prosodic domains: pʰjɛ̃L kʰuR plus kɜjL. The latter is a defective domain without any H tone. A final illustration of pragmatic emphasis through intonation is provided in (3.27). This example is remarkable in two regards. First, it shows that a grammatical meaning such as the perfective can also receive highlighting in Prinmi, if warranted by discourse need. Secondly, in this particular case the boundary tone is attached to the end of an intonation unit, resulting in final rising for the intonation of the utterance. However, this rising intonation does not change the mood of the sentence to a question. 3.27

sõLtsɨH=boL | əHwuL ∧ tʰɜL-pʰɜL=siR % | 1PL.EX three:CLF=FRM there TLC-abandon=PFV ‘(He) has abandoned the three of us over there.’ | ɑHɹəL


LEXICAL CATEGORIES Because of the cognitive nature of human language, words are organized in groups, 1 although significant differences may be found among languages in regard to what is grouped together and how the groupings are related to one another. The delicate organization of lexicon is an important aspect of language. This chapter will address this issue before proceeding to the description of individual lexical categories in Prinmi. 4.1. Relation between lexical categories: an overlapping approach The traditional concept of ‘part of speech’ assumes that the vocabulary of a language can be classified into a small number of nonoverlapping classes. This concept is based on intuitions about the highly inflectional classical languages of Ancient Greek and Latin.2 While this assumption is more or less applicable to languages with an extensive morphology, problems arise in languages such as English and Prinmi, where some words may serve different functions without any morphological change. 3 In English, for example, the word ‘narrow’ has the following functions: 4.1

a b c

The street is so narrow. Narrow the topic. The narrows are impassable.

While the antonym ‘wide’ can replace ‘narrow’ in (4.1a), it cannot be used in either (4.1b) or (4.1c). For the opposite meaning in (4.1b), ‘widen’ is called for, which can replace neither (4.1a) or (4.1c). 1

This statement does not imply any universal system for word classes or parts of speech, cf. the observation by Anward, Moravcsik & Stassen (1997). 2 For example, the Roman grammarians recognize eight partes orationis for Latin (Matthews 1967: 153). 3 Crystal (1967) provides a critical discussion of the major problems found in English when applying the traditional concept of part of speech.



The kind of overlapping phenomenon exemplified with ‘narrow’ is well-observed, but there does not seem to be any standard approach to dealing with it. Some may simply treat the different uses of the word as resulting from three homonyms (cf. the discussion in Crystal 1967: 47-48); others (e.g. Dixon 1991: 50-52) propose zero affixes that would derive an appropriate form (with zero marking) for each of the functions of the word outside its basic word class. English affixes can be divided into two types: ‘derivational affixes’ and ‘conversional affixes’. 4 The former always involves semantic enrichment and often changes part of speech of the derived words, e.g. -er (as in writ-er), -able (as in collect-able) and -est (as in whit-est). In contrast, conversional affixes simply convert part of speech of the stem, e.g. -ion (as in collect-ion) or -en (as in whit-en). Prinmi has a small number of derivational affixes, such as -ji (also used as a nominalizer) and -dĩ (cf. §, which derive nouns from certain verbs after enriching the meaning of the stem. For instance: 4.2 a b

tʰjɛR̃ ‘to drink’ toF ‘to look’

tʰjɛL̃ -jiH ‘beverage’ dzɑHtoL-dĩL ‘mirror’ (lit. something for looking at shadows)

However, Prinmi lacks conversional affixes for the sole purpose of changing a word from one category to another. Multifunctionality is the norm in the language, and many words may be used as a noun, verb, or adjective. To deal with multifunctionality in Prinmi, the concept of set overlap is adopted here to explore the organization of the lexicon in the language. The major lexical categories are verb {V}, noun {N}, and adjective {A}, each with a range of grammatical functions and a few morphological peculiarities which will be discussed in the course of the description. The set diagram is shown in Figure 4-1, yielding a total of seven word groups with each of the three sets containing four groups, namely: Verb = {V}: Noun = {N}: Adjective = {A}: 4

V, V/N, V/A, V/N/A N, V/N, N/A, V/N/A A, V/A, N/A, V/N/A

Although few linguists make this kind of distinction, it has been observed that simplification or loss of morphology in pidgins and creoles typically affects conversional affixes — ‘affixes which did not convey independent semantic information’, e.g. the suffix -ness as in ill-ness (Voorhoeve 1981: 25).



Note that the labels for the overlapping groups are meant to be read neutrally; they do not imply any basic membership. That is, ‘V/A’ does not suggest that a word is basically a verb with an additional function of adjective. Figure 4-1: Overlap between the Adjective, Noun, and Verb

{V} V V/N






Adopting the overlapping approach, traditional terminology such as ‘part of speech’ or ‘word class’ is not used here to avoid potential confusion. Instead, the terms ‘lexical category’ (signifying a complete category) and ‘word group’ (for the finer distinct grouping) are employed, connected by the relation of set overlap. Notationally, names of word groups are always referred to with abbreviated capital letters, whereas names of lexical categories are fully spelled or rendered as {N}, {V}, and {A} in shorthand. The word groups N, V, and A, resemble ‘word classes’ in that their members exhibit morphosyntactic properties unique to a particular category. These three word groups may be regarded as representing the archetypes of the corresponding lexical categories. In contrast, members of a multifunctional word group such as V/N/A have all the functions and some of the morphosyntactic features of the categories. These depend on the specific use of the word in a phrase/clause; the features are essentially inherent to the relevant lexical category. For example, when a word from the V/N/A group is used as a verb, it has properties common to verbs such as hosting a negative or interrogative clitic, but when the same word functions as a noun, these verbal features no longer associate with it. It must be stressed that the major lexical categories of Prinmi, which are identified below, are based on morphosyntactic criteria rather than syntactic functions, following guidelines proposed in works such as Schachter (1985), Sasse (1993), and Mühlhäusler



(1994). The overlapping approach motivated by multifunctionality does not imply any emphasis or bias towards functional criteria. These criteria are considered only when a lexical category does not have any morphological properties. 4.2. Open lexical categories The open lexical categories in Prinmi are the verb, noun, and adjective. A lexical category is considered to be open if it is readily expandable and has a large number of members, irrespective of their potential multiple functions. Although the adjective significantly overlaps with the verb, the category (including the members A, V/A, N/A, and V/N/A) as a whole is expandable. Thus it is qualified to be an open lexical category. Grammatical functions are associated to lexical categories, not to word groups. It is assumed that each of the three open lexical categories has its own unique function not shared with other open categories (although it is possible for a closed lexical category to have a similar or identical function to an open lexical category). The associations are: verbs and only verbs can function as predicates; nouns and only nouns may serve as the argument of a verb at word level; adjectives and only adjectives can modify nouns directly at post-nominal position. Under this assumption, a prototypic verb from the V group cannot qualify a noun. Its ability to modify a noun through some grammatical means is another matter.5 On the other hand, if a word exhibits more than one of the above functions, it follows that the word must belong to more than one lexical category. Both simplex and compound words can have multiple functions. This chapter focuses on simplex words. (For discussion of the issue on compounds, see §5.4.1). 4.2.1. Verbs Verbs are the only lexical category in Prinmi with significant morphology, including prefixation of directionals, suffixation for a few derivations, inflection on some verbs, and quite productive reduplication. These will be discussed in §5.2 and §5.3. Morphological identifi5

When a verb modifies a noun through a relative clause, the modifying relation holds only between the relative clause and the noun, not between the verb and the noun. See §7.1.3.



cation for this lexical category is rather straightforward. Words that can be prefixed with any of the directional prefixes belong to the lexical category of verb, e.g. ɡəL-tʃɨR ‘to speak’, tʰɜL-kʰjɛ̃F ‘to give’, and nɜL-jiF ‘(for second-person singular) come down’. Directional prefixes, although reliable indicators of verbal membership, are not always found on verbs. Other useful verbal properties include the ability to host the negative clitic mɑ and the interrogative clitic ɑ. These clitics are usually attached in front of the final syllable of a verb (see §8.2), e.g. mɑ̃R=mɑL=sjɛ̃H ‘(first-person singular) don’t know’, ɑH=ʒeL ‘exist?’. Some secondary grammatical criteria for verbs include the ability to occur with the intensifier lɜLljɛ̃R ‘very’ and to host aspectual clitics. These are sufficient but not necessary for identifying a verb, as their use is sensitive to the meaning of the verb. Prinmi verbs can be classified on the basis of valence — the smallest number of arguments required by the meaning of a verb. Given that ellipsis is prevalent in Prinmi, it is necessary to distinguish between a covert argument and a non-existent argument. The former type is recognized as a zero anaphor whose grammatical status is equivalent to an explicit pronoun and whose use is subject to specific pragmatic conditions. Zero anaphor, as proposed here, does not include ellipsis of generic arguments. Three groups of Prinmi verbs emerge in terms of valence, ranging from valence of one to three. Representative examples are provided in the following: 4.3

Monovalent sɨR ‘to die’ dʒjɛH̃ ‘to be true’ bõR ‘to be cold’

Bivalent sɜR ‘to assault’ ʐɑH ‘to carry’ tsɜHtsɑwL ‘to fight’

Trivalent ʈʂʰeR ‘to feed’ kʰjɛR̃ ‘to give’ tʃɨR ‘to say’

Alternatively, the three types of verb may be called intransitive, transitive, and ditransitive respectively. However, sometimes there can be a discrepancy between the valence and the transitivity of a verb, with the number of explicit arguments one less than that specified in the valence. When the monovalent verb bõR ‘to be cold’ is used for the weather, for instance, the core argument is always suppressed and cannot be rendered explicit. Likewise, although tsɜHtsɑwL ‘to fight’, which is derived as a reciprocal from the bivalent verb tsɑwH ‘to beat’, is understood to involve two participants, syntactically it can only occur with one argument which has a plural meaning. When tʃɨR ‘to say’ is used in the sense ‘to utter’, it cannot take an addressee. Unless



the latter is considered to be a separate homophonous verb, the arguments of the trivalent verb in this instance are restricted to two only. 6 None of these cases can be accounted for with a zero anaphor, since it is impossible to syntactically restore the missing argument. While some of them appear to be ‘ambitransitive’ (usable as either a transitive or intransitive verb), there is no evidence or need for establishing this type of verb. Contrast such as English to break (transitive) versus to break (intransitive) is distinguished formally in Prinmi, as will be seen in Table 4-1 (cf. §5.2.3 for more examples). When verbs denote general activities, they may decrease the number of arguments, as in the English sentences I teach (for a living) or I kill (for a living). Inasmuch as the decrease in transitivity does not affect the essential meaning of a verb or the grammatical relation of the argument, it is not necessary to set up special groups of Prinmi verbs on the ground of this semantically-conditioned discrepancy between transitivity and valence (cf. Panevová 1994: 247 for a similar observation). Under Chafe’s (1970) scheme of verb classification, Prinmi verbs can be divided into three semantic types: ACTION, PROCESS, and STATE. In brief, ACTION verbs refer to those which cannot be performed without energy input; PROCESS verbs are events that result in a change of state, characteristically due to an internal cause; and STATE verbs cover those conveying a general non-gradient state. The three are exemplified in Table 4-1 with verbs of varied valence. Table 4-1: Valence of verbs of different semantic types






ɹ̥ a ‘to laugh’ kʴjɛ̃ ‘to break (vt)’ kʰjɛR̃ ‘to give’ ɡʴjɛH̃ ‘to break (vi)’ ----kʰɑwR ‘to fume’ njɛH̃ ‘to ache’ mɑ̃LsɨH ‘to know’ --kɜLtsɜjR ‘to be small’ bõH ‘to have’

The ACTION verb is the most diverse in terms of valence; only it can be trivalent in Prinmi. While verbs of different semantic types 6

Treating tʃɨR ‘to say’ as a trivalent verb is debatable, as the addressee can often be omitted. The crucial point is that the implicit addressee is recoverable, given the fact that an archetypal act of saying involves a message, a speaker and an addressee, even if the latter two sometimes have an identical referent.



behave dissimilarly in regard to certain syntactic properties, no correlation is observed between semantic types and valence. Except for the PROCESS verb, which is always monovalent, the valence of a verb is not predictable from its semantic type. Likewise, there is no one-toone correspondence between the semantic type and multi-membership of verbs (cf. §4.2.4). A generalization such as ‘STATE verbs all belong to the V/A group’ is simply untenable. For instance, njɛ̃H belongs to the V/N group, meaning ‘to ache, to be painful; ache, pain, illness’. 4.2.2. Nouns Apart from two affixes (cf. §5.1) and reduplication (§5.3) found in a small number of nouns, Prinmi nouns exhibit little morphology. The most useful criterion for identifying nouns is whether a word can form a constituent with a demonstrative. Nouns and only nouns can be modified by the demonstratives təH ‘this’ or əHtəL ‘that’ in Prinmi. Similarly, if a word immediately follows the modificatory clitic ɡjɑ, it must be a noun. Within the lexical category of nouns, it is feasible to have further semantic subdivisions. Different criteria naturally result in varied groupings. For instance, animacy can be used as a criterion for dividing Prinmi nouns. ANIMATE nouns include all types of living beings except plants. These generally take the ANIMATE existential ʒeF in existential sentences (cf. §9.1.2). Another way of grouping is to consider whether a noun is a PROPER noun or a COMMON noun. Within COMMON nouns, a subtype for KINSHIP terms may be recognized on morphological grounds (cf. §5.1). Four subtypes can be recognized within PROPER nouns: ETHNIC NAME, PERSONAL NAME, PLACE NAME, and DUODECIMAL ANIMAL. The following exemplify these subtypes: 4.4









ʃjɜR ‘the Han (Chinese)’

kɑLmiH ‘Tibetans’

əLtʃʰjɛH̃ ‘(a male name)’

ʈʂuLmɑF ‘(a female name)’

poRtoL ‘Xīnyíngpán’

məHləL ‘Mùlĭ’

lõH ‘(year of the) Ox’

pʰɜF ‘(year of the) Pig’



While the use of a calendar system based on a set of twelve animals is widespread in the Tibeto-Burman area, the Prinmi one is peculiar in that it involves many terms distinct from those referring to the actual animals. The two animals shown in (4.4d) are called kwɜH ‘ox’ and tʃʰɥaR ‘pig’ respectively outside the calendar system, for example. Therefore, the set of animal terms for the calendar system is separated as a group on its own. These subtypes of noun show certain grammatical features directly associated with their meanings. For example, none of the subtypes except ETHNIC NAME, can host the plural clitic ɹə, since their meaning cannot be expressed in plural. Turning from a semantics-based subgrouping of nouns to a functionally motivated one, the following word groups emerge: V/N, N/A, and V/N/A (the latter two are discussed in the next subsection). Every word in the V/N group can function as either a noun or a verb in sentences. Example (4.5) provides two instances of njɛ̃H ‘(to) ache’, the first one as a noun and the second as a verb. Similarly, the pairs of examples in (4.6) and (4.7) show the dual functions of ɹ̥ aR ‘(to) laugh’ and kʰɑwR ‘(to) fume’ on different occasions: ɜH njɛ̃H nɜL-tsjɛL̃ =siL kʰʉH=ɡeL lɜLljɛR̃ njɛ̃H=nõH 1SG ache down-hit=PFV head=TOP very ache=DUR ‘I’m stricken by an illness, (my) head is aching very much.’

4.5 4.6



ɹ̥ aL=ɡeH ʒɨL mɜHɖʐɜH=boL person:bad=FRM laugh=TOP many ‘A mediocre person wears many smiles.’ H







djɑ djɑ be ɹ̥ a =ɹu granny at laugh=IPFV;2SG ‘(you) are smiling at Granny.’ (said by the Granny)


kʰɑwL=ɡeH ʒɨL sjɛ̃LɖʐɜH=boL wood:bad=FRM smoke=TOP many ‘Bad wood burns with much smoke.’







ɖʐɜ =ɡe =bo tə =ɡjɑ this=M after=TOP=DSC ‘Afterwards, (it) fumed.’




tɜ -kʰɑw up-fume

The different surface tones (if found) borne by the exemplified words are irrelevant to lexical categories.7 These are caused by regular tone change characterized by the tonal system of Prinmi (cf. §3.4.1). 7

Discounting postpositions, the only pair of words found to date which is distinguishable through tones is ɡuLʒĩH ‘middle (n.)’ versus ɡuHʒĩL ‘middle (adj.)’.



The dual membership of these words can be verified with the grammatical criteria introduced thus far. All the instances for the function of noun in (4.5) to (4.7) can be modified by the demonstrative təH ‘this’ and the topic marker ɡe: təH njɛ̃H ɡeH ‘this illness’, təH ɹ̥ aL ɡeH ‘this laughter’, and təH kʰɑwL ɡeH ‘this smoke’. The fact that they serve as arguments of verbs in the examples is further evidence that they are members of the noun category. When functioning as verbs, these words are attached with either verbal clitics, in (4.5) and (4.6), or a directional prefix, in (4.7). Therefore, these words are bifunctional, belonging to the V/N group. Prinmi nouns with multiple functions are probably fewer in number than the monofunctional N group. The permissible overlap between nouns and other lexical categories does not imply in any way that the majority of nouns has more than one potential function. Moreover, PROPER nouns and animal terms are prime examples of members of the N group — functionable only as nouns (see discussion in §4.2.4). 4.2.3. Adjectives The adjective is not a readily identifiable lexical category in Prinmi. This is in large part because many adjectives in the language overlap with DESCRIPTIVE verbs, subtype of STATE verbs, while a small number of adjectives can also function as nouns. This situation results in four subsets of adjectives: the mono-functional adjective A, the bifunctional V/A and N/A, and the tri-functional V/N/A. Given that Prinmi adjectives are often found in the V/A group, it is useful to compare grammatical properties between prototypic adjectives and DESCRIPTIVE verbs. Their similarities and differences are listed in Table 4-2. Similarities between adjectives and DESCRIPTIVE verbs lie with their invariable form and post-nominal position. The latter holds only when the noun is not followed by other morphemes. In a larger constituent, an adjective is still adjacent to its head noun but a verb inevitably sits at the final position in the clause. The strict adjacency requirement often paves the way to formation of a noun-adjective compound (cf. §5.4.3). The restriction that an adjective cannot host a verbal clitic is attributed to the fact that verbal clitics all function as predicate modifiers; it is only natural for them to attach themselves to verbs but not to adjectives.



Table 4-2: Comparison of adjectives with DESCRIPTIVE verbs



Invariable form, e.g.: kʰʴəH ɹ̥ ɑ̃H ‘long feet’ foot long

Invariable form, e.g.: kʰʴəH ɹ̥ ɑ̃H ‘(the) feet are long’ foot be.long

No intervening morphemes between the noun and adjective: təH kʰʴəH ɹ̥ ɑ̃H=ɡeL this foot long=TOP ‘as for this long foot’

Intervening morphemes possible between the noun and verb, e.g.: təH kʰʴəH=ɡeL ɹ̥ ɑ̃H this foot=TOP be.long ‘as for this foot, it is long’

Unable to host any verbal prefix or clitics, e.g.: *təH kʰʴəH tʰəL-ɹ̥ ɑ̃H=siH=ɡeL this foot TLC-long=PFV=TOP ‘as for this overly long foot’

Able to host a variety of verbal clitics, e.g.: təH kʰʴəH=ɡeH tʰəL-ɹ̥ ɑ̃H=siH this foot=TOP TLC-be.long=PFV ‘as for this foot, it is too long’

The opposite meaning of an adjective is usually expressed with a non-derived antonym, e.g. kʰʴəH tsʰõH ‘short foot’. However, some are formed with the negative prefix mɑ- (cf. §, involving a process of antonym derivation. This needs to be distinguished from predicate negation by the clitic mɑ. This negative clitic can generally appear before or after (as a complex clitic) its verb host (albeit with some subtle differences), but the negative prefix must always precede the adjective. Compare the derived negative adjective in (4.8) to the negated verb in (4.9): 4.8



tʃɨH mɑL-ʂõH (ɑH=kʰuL) water un-clean (Q=want) ‘(Want some) unclean water (?)’


*tʃɨH ʂõH-mɑL water clean-un


tʃɨH mɑL=ʂõH water N=be.clean ‘(The) water is not clean.’


ʂõH=mɑL=ɹjuH tʃɨH water be.clean=N=IPFV ‘(The) water is not clean.’

(ɑH=kʰuL) (Q=want)



In Prinmi a bare DESCRIPTIVE verb connotes a contrastive sense. (This is also observed in Mandarin). Notwithstanding the negator on the DESCRIPTIVE verb, a contrastive reading occurs in (4.9a). This connotation disappears when the verb takes an aspect clitic, as in (4.9b), or appears in a nominal clause, cf. (4.12) below. Based on these grammatical differences, a Prinmi adjective can be distinguished from a verb with the intervening test. Suppose that the functions of the word pʰʴĩH ‘white’ in (4.10) need to be determined. By inserting a word such as lɜLljɛ̃R ‘very’ before it, as in (4.11), different results emerge. Since no intervening elements are tolerated between an adjective and its head noun, the unacceptable result in (4.11a) indicates that the word functions as an adjective, and not a verb, in (4.10a). The acceptable result in the (4.11b) shows that the word takes a different function, that of a verb, in (4.10b). 4.10 a b 4.11

əHtəH=ɡeL dĩH pʰʴĩH dzɨL that=TOP cloud white COP;3 ‘That is a white cloud.’ pʰʴĩH əHtəH dĩH=ɡeH that cloud=TOP white ‘That cloud is white.’

Intervening test a *əHtəH=ɡeL dĩH lɜLljɛR̃ pʰʴĩH dzɨL that=TOP cloud very white COP;3 ‘That is a very white cloud.’ b

lɜLljɛR̃ pʰʴĩH əHtəH dĩH=ɡeH white that cloud=TOP very ‘That cloud is very white.’

(as an adjective) (as a verb)

Note that this test does not identify an adjective positively; rather, it distinguishes the function of an adjective from that of a verb. It is useful only when the possibility of functions is confined to either verb or adjective. Generally this can be achieved after it is certain that the word does not belong to the other open lexical category — noun. The case for pʰʴĩH ‘white’ is more complicated, as it does belong to the V/N/A. The triple membership of the word can be verified by prefixation, as in tʰɜL-pʰʴĩH ‘to become white’ for functioning as a verb and by its occurrence after a demonstrative as in təH pʰʴĩH ‘this white’ for functioning as a noun. Before its function as an adjective in (4.10a)



can be fully justified, the overlapping relation between adjective and noun needs to be investigated. It is possible for a noun to modify another noun in Prinmi (cf. Chapter 7), giving rise to two types of expression: ‘Head + A’ versus ‘N + Head’. In the former, the relation between the words is head noun and modifier, e.g. ɡwɜjL ɹ̥ ɑ̃H ‘long tusk (lit. tusk long)’. This is verifiable by the semantic weight of the first word, which expresses the basic meaning of the phrase/compound. 8 In contrast, the essential meaning of a ‘N + Head’ expression is conveyed by the second word, e.g. ɡwɜjL tʃjɛ̃H ‘(of animal classification) the tusk group (lit. tusk group)’. Using this grammatical property, it is easy to determine whether a word is an adjective (if it follows the head noun) or a noun (if it precedes the head noun). The words for ‘middle’ in Prinmi are illuminating for the distinction between these grammatical patterns. Extraordinarily, the prosodic contrast between ɡuHʒĩL ‘middle (adj.)’ and ɡuLʒĩH ‘middle (n.)’ corresponds to a categorical distinction which is otherwise unmarked in any overt manner in the language. These two words vary in regard to tone; native speakers maintain the distinction between the two when they occur in isolation. According to their explanation, the former (the adjective) is used for referring to the birth order of a person among siblings, whereas the latter (the noun) can be used more generally to mean the middle part of things. Only the noun form may appear after the modificatory clitic ɡjɑ: sjɛ̃LbõH ɡjɑH ɡuLʒĩH ‘the middle of a tree’. On the other hand, only the adjective can follow a noun, e.g. m̥iL ɡuHʒĩL ‘a daughter born in between her siblings’, pɜjL ɡuHʒĩL ‘a middle brother/sister’, but not *m̥iL ɡuLʒĩH or *pɜjL ɡuLʒĩH. Furthermore, the word for ‘middle finger’ in Prinmi is expressed with the modifier preceding the head noun. Consequently, the word is rendered as ɡuLʒĩH l̥ ɑHtsɨL (N + Head), but not *ɡuHʒĩL l̥ ɑHtsɨL (A + Head). From this, it is evident that the correlation between lexical category, word order and modifying relation as proposed above is valid and legitimate. The only caveat is that the word order associated with the modifying relation cannot be used to identify an adjective per se. Similar to the situation with the intervening test, the grammatical property relating a noun and its modifier is helpful only when the 8

Given an expression like English hog badger, the semantic weight can be determined easily by considering whether hog badger is a hog or a badger. Since it is a kind of badger, the semantic weight of the expression is on badger.



possible lexical categories of the modifier are limited to two: adjective and noun in this case. Returning to the three possible functions of pʰʴĩH ‘white’, the intervening test in (4.11a) has shown that the word, as used in dĩH pʰʴĩH ‘white cloud’, cannot be a verb. Thus its function is either a noun or an adjective. From the meaning of this expression, it is not difficult to see that the first word dĩH ‘cloud’ serves as the head noun, which prompts the relation of ‘Head + A’. The post-nominal position of the modifier pʰʴĩH ‘white’, therefore, points to its use as an adjective in this expression. Using the above procedures, Table 4-3 presents a classification of some commonly used Prinmi adjectives. Those belonging to the A group, i.e. with an exclusive function of adjective, are few in Prinmi.9 Of these, the monosyllabic ones tend to occur in compounds only. The majority of Prinmi adjectives belong to the V/A group. Most of the N/A words are KINSHIP terms, with a slight semantic extension from one function to another. Insofar as such semantic extension is transparent, their dual functions are duly recognized. Thus far, it is only color terms that are found capable of all three different functions. Hence the V/N/A group all concern colors. Table 4-3: A classification of Prinmi adjectives


tsɨR ‘little’, buLlɑH ‘plentiful’, ɡuHʒĩL ‘middle’, ʂɨLʂõH ‘pure’.


tɜjH ‘big’, kɜLtsɜjR ‘small’, ɹ̥ ɑ̃H ‘long’, ʃiR ‘new’, ɡuF ‘dry’, tʃʰjɑF ‘sharp’, bĩH ‘radially thick’, tsʰĩR ‘radially thin’.


puH ‘grandfather; male’, mɑF ‘mother; female’, pʰɑR ‘half’, diH ‘grandmother; old’, tsʉF ‘son; small’.


ɣɑ̃R ‘yellow’, njɑR ‘black’, pʰʴĩH ‘white’.

Semantically, the members of the V/A group in the table appear to correspond to English adjectives, but this is a pure coincidence. For instance, tʃʰyH ‘good’ and ʒɨH ‘many’ belong to the V/N, while (tɜL)ʃjɑH ‘to (grow) old’ is a DESCRIPTIVE verb. None of them functions as an adjective in Prinmi. 9

The known ones are all given here, although it is not claimed that they represent an exhaustive list.



It is noteworthy that two or more Prinmi adjectives, as free words, have not been found to share a single head noun in naturally spoken or narrated data. If two adjectives modify one noun, at least one of them will be situated in a compound (cf. §7.3). When an elicitation task using a series of pictures with animals in different colors and sizes was conducted for a typological project, the tendency to avoid multiple adjectives in a noun phrase was also observed. For instance, an elderly Prinmi speaker used a sentence rather than a phrase to describe the fourth picture in the series (hence, the occurrence of the adverb lɑ ‘also’), as shown in (4.12). While he used the adjective ʈʂɜF ‘big’ to describe the size, the color neH ‘red’ was expressed as a DESCRIPTIVE verb in a nominal clause (to remove a contrastive reading of the color). ɡɥɛLtsɨL ʈʂɜF=ɡeL lɑL mɑ̃F neH tiH bird big=TOP also feather red NMLC ‘The big bird too (its) feathers (are) red.’


In order to elicit noun phrases (which was the goal of the task), a younger speaker was explicitly instructed to produce phrases like ‘small yellow dog’. He was able to employ two adjectives in one noun phrase for the first ten pictures, e.g. (4.13a). However, in the final two pieces he unwittingly dropped an adjective from the noun phrase, as shown in (4.13b). Given that the picture elicitation task was quite simple and should not have prompted omission of adjectives, it is likely that this omission occurred due to the general tendency of avoiding multiple adjectives in Prinmi. 4.13 a b

tʃʰɨR ɣɑ̃LɡuHɡuL kɜLtsɜjL=ɡeH dog yellow: IDEOPHONE small=TOP ‘the small yellow dog’ ɡɥɛLtsɨL neHɡõHɡõL=ɡeL bird red:IDEOPHONE=TOP ‘the red bird’ 4.2.4. Overlap among open lexical categories

The preceding discussion has pointed out that Prinmi has a significant overlap among the open lexical categories. While it is not difficult to think of an unrelated language showing similar overlaps, it is unlikely that it would have an identical distribution of members in all the seven word groups as Prinmi. What is an adjective in one language may not



be an adjective in others. In the same vein, what functions as an overlapping word in one language may not behave identically in others. Lexical organization appears to be rather language specific. This is precisely the rationale for undertaking the investigation into the relation between Prinmi lexical categories. Figure 4-2 illustrates multifunctionality of Prinmi words with representative examples of nouns, adjectives and verbs. Figure 4-2: Multifunctionality of Prinmi words

{A} miF ‘person’

tsɨR ‘little’ ɡuHʒĩL ‘middle’ tsʉF ‘son; small’

ʃjɜR ‘Chinese’ {N}

ɣɑ̃R ‘yellow’

kɜLtsɜjR ‘small’

tʃʰyH ‘good’

dɑwH ‘be tired’

tʃĩH ‘house’ njɜH ‘ache’

ʒɨR ‘many’


While the multiple functions of a word are not predictable on semantic grounds, these functions are not arbitrary. Verbs most likely to have additional functions are those of the DESCRIPTIVE, subtype of L R STATE verbs. These can belong to the V/A word group, e.g. kɜ tsɜj R ‘small’, to the V/N/A group, e.g. ɣɑ̃ ‘yellow’, or to the V/N group, e.g. tʃʰyH ‘good’. However, not every DESCRIPTIVE verb has more than one function, e.g. ʒɨR ‘many’. Some PROCESS verbs may also function as nouns, e.g. njɜH ‘ache’. In terms of semantic types of noun, only some KINSHIP nouns, e.g. tsʉF ‘son; small’, are able to function as an adjective in compounds. For words such as pʰʴĩH ‘white’, which can assume one of the three possible functions—noun, verb, or adjective, the question is raised: does it have a primary membership? The answer is plausibly positive, but no easy means exists for identifying its basic membership. Any serious inquiry into this question would require some well-designed psycho-linguistic experiments and/or substantial empirical studies of the actual word functions in the language or different dialects of the language. Fortunately, the issue of basic membership is relevant only to the lexical organization but not essential to the grammatical system



of a language. When the word pʰʴĩH ‘white’ is encountered in a sentence, its function in the particular sentence can still be determined without knowing its basic membership. Likewise the triple membership of the word allows its use as a noun, a verb, or an adjective on different occasions without concern about its basic membership. Thus this unresolved issue should not impede our understanding of Prinmi grammar in any significant way. 4.3. Closed lexical categories A closed lexical category, as opposed to an open one, characteristically contains a small number of members and resists addition of new members from other languages. Ten closed lexical categories are recognized for Prinmi; these are: auxiliary verb, demonstrative, pronoun, numeral, classifier, ideophone, adverb, onomatope, interjection, and postposition. Conjunction is not recognized as an individual lexical category for Prinmi. While the postpositions/clitics ni ‘with/and’ (cf. and nõ ‘or’ (cf. can be regarded as quasi-conjunction when they connect two words together, only the latter may conjoin two clauses in questions. For instance: 4.14

ʐɜF-lɑL-mɑL-ʃjɑH-siH=boL təboH tsɜH ɑL=ʃjɑH red.deer Q=like four-also-N-like-PFV=FRM DSC ɑL=ʃjɑL nõR=boL dziH ɑL=ʃjɑH kwɜH ɑL=ʃjɑL ɡɥɛR̃ Q=like horse Q=like or=DSC camel Q=like ox ‘The Pere David’s deer, is it like a red deer, an ox, a horse, or a camel?’

In fact, conjunctions represent one of the major targets for borrowing from Mandarin to Prinmi in younger speakers’ speech. In spite of this, these conjunctions are not well integrated into the language. Most consultants avoided using them on their own initiative when recording texts and sentences. A few Mandarin loans were found in the recorded materials from the main consultant: mostly adverbs and no conjunctions. Furthermore, the use of these conjunctions strongly conforms to that in Mandarin — they do not occur clause-finally, as would be expected in a verb-final language.



4.3.1. Auxiliary verbs Fourteen auxiliary verbs are identified: the causative keF, the verbs-todo pɑF and tʃʰɨR, the purposives ʃɨF and ʒɨR, the terminative tɑF, the inchoative tʃʰjõR, the desiderative ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL, the venturive waF, and a number of modals: the obligative kʰuR, the admonitive mɑRxɑL, the permissive ʒjɛ̃R, the assertive jõ and the successitive tʰõR. Most, perhaps all, auxiliary verbs are grammaticalized from verbs. Some of them also function as a full verb conveying a more concrete meaning, e.g. kʰuR ‘to want (something)’ vs. kʰuR ‘need/must (do something)’. Morphosyntactically, auxiliary verbs tend to be prefixless. Clitics hosted by auxiliary verbs are generally restricted to the negative and the interrogative. The fundamental difference between full verbs and auxiliary verbs is that auxiliary verbs take an obligatory complement clause (expressible implicitly in few rare cases), whereas only a few verbs of cognition optionally take a complement clause (for details, see § Auxiliary verbs are described at length in Chapter 9. 4.3.2. Demonstratives Prinmi has two demonstratives: təH ‘this’ and əHtəH ‘that’. They contrast in terms of proximity (proximal vs. distal). The distal meaning is expressed with the prefix ə-, which is evinced in other distal deictics such as əHkʰeL ‘then’ and əLdʒeH ‘there’. In terms of word order, the demonstrative immediately precedes the noun it modifies: 4.15 a

əHtəH djɛL̃ bɑH that place ‘that place’


kɜLtsɜjR təH kɥɛR̃ this brother small ‘this young brother’


sõLtsɨH təH m̥iF this daughter three:CLF ‘these three daughters’

Note that the demonstrative itself does not distinguish number and can modify a plural head noun, as shown in (4.15c). There is evidence that a number clitic is attached to a demonstrative only when the head noun is rendered as a zero anaphor, i.e.:



4.16 a

təH ɑLleH=ɹəH → this child=PL ‘these (children)’

təH ø=ɹəL

→ təH=ɹəH this= PL

The following problematic expressions provide support for postulating a zero head noun between a demonstrative and a number clitic: 4.16 b c

*təH=ɹəH ɑLleH this=PL child ‘these children’ *təH=ɹəH ɑLleH=ɹəH this=PL child= PL ‘these children’

The potential use of zero anaphor after a demonstrative does not imply the existence of a zero head noun whenever a demonstrative occurs by itself. A zero anaphor must be restorable, i.e. being able to appear in an explicit form. According to the restorability condition, no zero anaphor should be posited, if it is not possible to supply an explicit word after a demonstrative. For examples: 4.17 a b

təL=ɡjɑR this=TOP;M ‘after this’

ɖʐɜF=ɡeL after=TOP

təL=ɡjɑR=ɡõH this=TOP;M=inside ‘inside this (thing)’ 4.3.3. Pronouns

Prinmi has two major types of pronoun: personal pronouns and interrogative pronouns. Functionally, pronouns resemble nouns in their ability to serve as arguments of verbs. Pronouns can be distinguished from nouns by a few properties. For instance, pronouns cannot be modified by demonstratives. In addition, the postposition be ‘at/to/from’ behaves like a regular clitic suprasegmentally when it follows a personal pronoun; after nouns, it behaves extra-prosodically, always bearing a low tone (see §3.3.2). The system of personal pronouns in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi is presented in Table 4-4. Note that the plural morpheme ɹə, which is cliticized elsewhere, is compounded with the pronouns and cannot be omitted in the plural form. While the dual forms can supply a finer specification for number, they are not obligatory to pronouns with a two-person



referent; the plural form can simply be employed. As can be seen from the table, Prinmi distinguishes inclusive forms from exclusive forms in the first-person. Table 4-4: The personal pronouns in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi

First-person Third-person Second-person Exclusive Inclusive Present Absent SG ɜH neR niF tsõH DU ɑLdzɑ̃H eLdzɑ̃H neLdzɑ̃H niHdzɑ̃L tsõHdzɑ̃H L H L H L H PL ɑ ɹə e ɹə ne ɹə niHɹəL tsõHɹəH Several dialectal variations are found with the personal pronouns in Prinmi: the vowel in the first-person singular varies between a central and a front vowel, i.e. [ɜ]~[ɛ]. This particular variation on the firstperson singular does not correspond to geographic distribution of Prinmi dialects (at least not in the modern times) and it occurs between villages in close proximity to each other or even within a village, suggesting some sort of ‘clanlect’. In addition to vowel height variation, some dialects have developed a nasal vowel for the inclusive pronouns. For example, Jīsū Prinmi (spoken in Mùlǐ, Sichuan just across the province border) has the following forms: jĩLzɑ̃H ‘we two (inclusive)’, jĩLɹəH ‘we (inclusive)’ and ɑLɹəH ‘we (exclusive)’. In Lánpíng Prinmi, the third-person pronoun is expressed as təHɡɯL, a lexicalized form consisting of təH ‘this’ and the discourse clitic ɡɯ. This form is also occasionally employed in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi in places where the third-person pronoun is expected. Deictics plays an important role in the choice of the third-person pronoun between niF and tsõH (and also between their derived forms) in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. When the third-person referent is present in the discourse setting, visible to the interlocutors, the appropriate pronoun form is that based on niF. On the other hand, tsõH or its derived form is used, if the referent is out of sight of the interlocutors. Interrogative pronouns include: meF ‘what’, xɜHkiL ‘where’, xɜHɡeL ‘who’/xɜLɡõR ‘who (agentive)’, tʃʰɨLkʰeH/nõHkʰeL ‘when’, tʃʰiLniH ‘how’, and tʃʰɨR ‘how many’. The final one is bound, and occurs in compounds only. The most frequently used interrogative pronoun is meF ‘what’. It can also occur in a compound, e.g. meHɖʐõL ‘how come (lit. what become); why’. Questions formed with interrogative pronouns do not contain the interrogative clitic ɑ. An information seeking



question is formed simply by placing the appropriate interrogative pronoun in situ, e.g.: 4.18 a b

neR xɜHkiL ʃɑwL=siL 2SG where go;2SG=PFV ‘Where have you been?’ təH=ɡeH meF dzɨL this=TOP what COP;3 ‘What is this?’ 4.3.4. Numerals

Prinmi has thirteen basic numerals: 4.19 a b c d e

tiR ‘one’ niR ‘two’ wɜF ‘five’ ʐəF ‘four’ ʃɥɛR ‘eight’ n̥ʉR ‘seven’ ʃiH ‘hundred’ kɜHtjɛL̃ ‘ten’ H mɑ̃ ‘ten-thousand’

sõR ‘three’ ʈʂʰuR ‘six’ ɡɨF ‘nine’ tĩH ‘thousand’

All other numerals are derived through affixation and/or compounding, as exemplified in (4.20) and (4.21). In derivation the word kɜHtjɛ̃L ‘ten’ is reduced to either of the two affixes: kɜ- and -ko. The prefix form is used for deriving numerals from ‘thirteen’ to ‘nineteen’, e.g. (4.20a). The other form ko is employed as a prefix only with ‘eleven’ and ‘twelve’, given in (4.20b); elsewhere it serves as a suffix in the sense of English ‘-ty’ as in ‘eighty’, e.g. (4.20c). 4.20 a b c

kɜH-sõF ‘thirteen’ kɜH-wɜF ‘fifteen’ kɜH-ɡɨF ‘nineteen’ koH-tĩF ‘eleven’ koH-niF ‘twelve’ ɡɨH-koH ‘ninety’ nɜL-koH ‘twenty’ suL-koH ‘thirty’


[tɜL_ʃiH]_tiR ‘one hundred and one’ nɜL_tĩH ‘two thousand’

Vowel change is also observed with tiR ‘one’, niR ‘two’, and sõR ‘three’. In (4.20c), the nasal vowel of sõR ‘three’ becomes an oral vowel /u/ when the numeral is suffixed with -ko. In (4.21) the vowels of tiR ‘one’ and niR ‘two’ are centralized when they are compounded with a morpheme following them. As a free word, a numeral can only follow the noun it modifies, as in (4.22).



ɹʉL tʃʰɨL=ʃoH=boL ʐõH niR tjɑL=tsɥɛ̃H tɜHn̥iL one:day well-being do=OPT=FRM sheep two DS.N=drag tʃʰɨL=ʃoL=boL ʈʂʰɨL niH mɜH=tjɑH=tʃeL tɜLtsiH ɹʉH one:life well-being do=OPT=FRM wife two DS.N=look.for ‘(If you) want one day’s well-being, don’t drag two sheep; (if you) want one life’s well-being, don’t look for two wives.’ [Proverb]


However, in a numeral-noun compound, a numeral always precedes the head noun, e.g. (4.23a). Note that no classifier occurs with the numeral-noun compound. In a noun phrase, however, the classifier tsɨ must be used for counting human beings, as in (4.24a). The structural difference between the pair is manifested with the deletion/insertion of the classifier in (4.24b) and (4.23b). 4.23


Compounds a sõL_pɜjLkɥɛH̃ three_brothers ‘three brothers’


*[sõL_tsɨH]_pɜjLkɥɛH̃ three_CLF_brothers

Noun phrases a pɜjLkɥɛH̃ sõL_tsɨH brothers three_CLF ‘three brothers’


*pɜjLkɥɛH̃ brothers

sõR three

4.3.5. Classifiers Prinmi classifiers are bound morphemes that generally compound with a numeral, e.g. (4.25). An exception is observed with the numeral tiR ‘one’, which may follow a classifier, as shown in (4.26). 4.25 a

tsʉF nɜH_tsɨL son two_CLF ‘two sons’


m̥iF sõL_tsɨH daughter three_CLF ‘three daughters’

4.26 a

bɑLlɜjH teH_tiL CLF_one snake ‘a snake’


pɜLtsɨL kwaH_tiL flower CLF_one ‘a flower’

Analysis of a numeral and a classifier as a compound rather than a phrase is evinced by the vowel change on niR ‘two’ in (4.25a). This kind of vowel centralization always takes place for the numerals tiR ‘one’ and niR ‘two’ when they serve as the first component in compounds, e.g. tɜHn̥iL ‘one day’.



The inventory of classifiers is quite small in Prinmi. According to their functional difference, they can be classified into four subtypes: (a) Nominal, (b) Verbal, (c) Quantitative, and (d) Mensural. The nominal represents the dominant subtype of classifier. Examples of each subtype are presented in Table 4-3. 10 Table 4-5: Subtypes of classifier in Prinmi

Nominal Verbal Quantitative Mensural

tsɨ ‘for counting persons’, ɡi ‘for counting round objects’, teH ‘for counting thin objects’, kwaH ‘for counting flowers’, pɑ ‘for counting flat objects’; pʰɜj ‘for counting shooting’ pʰʴəF ‘pair’, pĩR ‘group’ ʈʂɨR ‘one semi-kilogram’, ɹjuF ‘elbow-span’ (up to the middle finger’s tip).

Nominal classifiers are used for counting objects, while verbal ones count the number of occurrences of an act. Quantitative classifiers modify the head noun with a collective meaning (necessarily involving more than one entity) and the mensurals denote culturally established measuring units. All classifiers, except for the verbal ones, always appear at a post-head position in the phrase, as seen in the examples above. A verbal classifier, on the other hand, occurs in the middle of a clause, e.g.: 4.27

ʒɨF=ɡõL tɜH_pʰɜjL=ʃjɛL̃ koLjiL=ɡjɑH ljuR lɑL tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeR crop also TLC-tear bow=INS one_shot=FOC crow=M ‘(he) tore Crow’s crop with (his) bow in just one shot.’

While the numeral and the classifier often appear together, it is possible for a numeral to modify a noun without a classifier. For instance, the Prinmi translation of a Chinese sentence (which contained different classifiers after each animal term) in (4.28) employs no classifiers. The occurrence of nouns with numerals but without


Tones are left unmarked in classifiers whose citation form cannot be elicited.



classifiers is also found in (4.29) and (4.30a). 11 These instances show that the use of classifiers is sometimes optional in Prinmi. niR tʃʰɥaR sõR tsʰɨF ʐɜF njɑR tʃʰɨL tiH two pig three goat four COM;M dog one bĩL have;1PL have two oxen, three pigs, four goats, and also one


kwɜH ox lɑH also ‘(We) dog.’


ɑLleH tiR ɡɑ̃F toL=ɑL ɜL-ʒɨL=siH in-sleep=PFV child one bed on=M ‘A child is sleeping on bed.’

4.30 a b

ʐɜF bõL tsʰiHɹiF xīguā Ciri water.melon four have ‘Ciri has four water melons.’ ʐɜF_ɡiL əLtʃʰjɛF̃ =boL xīguā Eqien=FRM water.melon four_CLF sõL_ɡiH tsʰiHɹiF=boL xīguā water.melon three_CLF Ciri=FRM ‘Eqien, (he) has four water melons; water melons.’

bõL have bõL have Ciri, (he) has three

When tiR ‘one’ modifies a new referent in discourse, as in (4.29), the noun phrase typically takes the numeral alone without a classifier. Influence of pragmatic factors on the use of classifiers is also evinced by the pair of sentences in (4.30). In the thetic sentence in (4.30a), no classifier is used for the noun xīguā ‘water melon’. However, when the sentence occurs in contrast with another clause, showing a different information structure in (4.30b), the speaker chose to employ a classifier after the noun. 4.3.6. Ideophones Prinmi has a group of words which always occur in reduplication to portray a vivid state. This group of words is referred to as ‘ideophone’. Prinmi ideophones are image-oriented, vis-à-vis the soundoriented onomatopes in §4.3.8 below. Prinmi ideophones have the following grammatical properties which are not shared with ono11

Examples (4.29) and (4.30) were elicited with pictures in 2005. Loan words from Mandarin are rendered as italic in the examples.



matopes: (a) they are highly abstract with few clues as to their meaning from pronunciation and therefore require storage in the lexicon; (b) they lack tonal categories (i.e. they are toneless in the underlying form); (c) they are disyllabic, generated through reduplication without any change on the vowel (differing from general reduplication which often triggers vowel alternation); and (d) the great majority of ideophones are bound morphemes, always appearing as a second formative in compounds. Known exceptions to the final property include tʰaLtʰaF (for describing a dripping state), which can be used as a verb alone meaning ‘to drip’, and duHduL ‘to be in an empty state’. Ideophones combine with a monosyllabic word (prevailingly verbs) into a trisyllabic compound in the fashion of α+ββ (where ββ is the ideophone): 4.31 a b c d e f

dzaLlɑHlɑL ‘(of color) to be bright as a new pin’ njɑLkõHkõL ‘to be pitch dark’ (lit. black+IDEOPHONE) pɜLduHduL ‘to be completely bare’ ɡɑwLʒeHʒeH ‘to be proud’ (lit. happy+IDEOPHONE) zɨHɹəHɹəL ‘(of object) to be really elegant’ ɡuHsaLsaL ‘to be dry as a bone’

As can be seen in (4.31), Prinmi ideophones frequently modify verbs. Sometimes verb-ideophone compounds describe an act that occurs in a specific manner, e.g. (4.32). It is also possible, though infrequently, for ideophones to compound with a noun, as exemplified in (4.33). The instance in (4.33b) is less straightforward. The form ɖʐiF may be a variant of ɖʐaR, which is a V/N word meaning ‘saliva; to drop saliva’. However, bjɛ̃F ‘urine’ in (4.33a) only functions as a noun.


4.32 a b

diHjɑHjɑL ‘to drift aimlessly’ suLdjõHdjõL ‘to breathe difficultly’

4.33 a b

bjɛL̃ zeHzeH ‘to have frequent urination’ (lit. urine+IDE) ɖʐiHɹeLɹeL ‘(of saliva) to be running down’ (lit. ?saliva+IDE)

The choice for a particular ideophone is lexically determined. Expressions such as *dzaLkõHkõH and *njɑLlɑHlɑL, generated by swapping the ideophones between (4.31a) and (4.31b), are unacceptable. Furthermore, a few verbs can combine with different ideophones to express a subtle change in meaning. Compare the following:



4.34 a b

niHʈʂɑ̃Hʈʂɑ̃L ‘to be green as grass’ niHlɑHlɑL ‘to be peacock green’

The two verb-ideophone compounds in (4.34) are close in meaning, both conveying a kind of green color, but they are not interchangeable. The former is used for describing the greenness of a forest or a field, whereas the latter denotes a specific coloring of clothes. Despite being bound morphemes, ideophones are numerous in Prinmi, more so than classifiers or adverbs. There are two reasons for not treating ideophones as clitics or suffixes. Prinmi ideophones resemble clitics in having basically lost their own suprasegmentals, but they are less grammaticalized than clitics, sensitive to lexical selection. On the other hand, a clear distinction can be observed between ideophones and suffixes. Prinmi affixes cannot be reduplicated, while the ideophone is always reduplicated. Even though the number of ideophones in Prinmi is quite large, they belong to a closed lexical category; new members are not readily permitted (cf. Matisoff 1994: 119). 4.3.7. Adverbs Prinmi adverbs have no formal connection with adjectives. Except for inherently reduplicated adverbs, members of this category have no morphology, including derivation. Partly because adverbs are not derivable morphologically in the language, the number is very small. Identification of this lexical category is based on the functional criterion that adverbs modify a predicate. At least four semantic subtypes of adverb are distinguishable: DEICTIC adverb, MANNER adverb, DEGREE adverb, and CONTRASTIVE adverb. R H L L H DEICTIC adverbs include tjɑ ‘now’, ə kʰe ‘then’; and tə dʒe ‘here’, əLdʒeH ‘there’. The first pair is exemplified in (4.35) and the second pair in (4.36). 4.35 a

tjɑR kɥɛH̃ tʃɨH jĩR=mɑL=ɹõH 1SG now words listen=N=IPFV;1SG ‘Now I won’t listen to (your) words.’


dəL-ɹ̥ əH əHkʰeL dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL=ɡeL then Zzonbba god=TOP CLC-emerge ‘At that time the Zzonbba god emerged’




4.36 a b

nɜL-dzõH=siH təLdʒeH=nõL tiR one down-sit=PFV here=DSC ‘oh, one is sitting right here.’

ɡjɑH ATT

əLdʒeH nɜL-dzõL there down-sit ‘sit there.’

MANNER adverbs are used for expressing how an activity is carried out. With some verbs and ideophones also serving this purpose, MANNER adverbs in Prinmi are rather scant. The most commonly found ones are tiLtiH ‘slowly’ (more precisely, ‘in an easy manner, taking one’s time’) and zoHloHloL ‘with good care’ (morphologically consisting of a DESCRIPTIVE verb zoH ‘to be fine’ and an ideophone). MANNER adverbs tend to precede the head verb immediately.

4.37 a b 4.38 a b

tiLtiH ʃɑwH slowly go ‘Go slowly.’ tiLtiH dzõH slowly sit ‘Take your time sitting.’ zoHloHloL nɜL-tsɑwH ʈʂĩR mortar carefully down-beat ‘pound the mortar with good care.’ wuL=nõL neR bɑLlɜjH zoHloHloL nɥɛR̃ 2SG snake carefully winnowing.tray in=DSC ɜL-jĩH tʃʰeR meal in-rub ‘Snake, you rub the meal carefully in the winnowing pan.’

DEGREE adverbs are even rarer than MANNER adverbs in Prinmi, as the degree of a state is often expressed with other means such as reduplication (cf. §5.3). The only DEGREE adverb found thus far is lɜLljɛ̃R ‘very’ (said to be a dialectal term mainly used in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi). The adverb is probably derived through reduplication and semantic extension from ljɛ̃H ‘strong; solid’ to ‘very’. It qualifies DESCRIPTIVE verbs (but not adjectives), and it always precedes the target verb being modified, e.g.:


kɑLwuH tʃɨH=ɡeH lɜLljɛ̃R ɡɑwR deep beneath water=TOP very ‘The water below was very deep’



There are two CONTRASTIVE adverbs: tɑ ‘only’ and lɑ ‘also’. Their proper use implicates a proposition either contrastive or parallel in meaning to the one stated in the clause. Consider the following (for the sake of simplicity, the discourse context of (4.40b) is provided only in the sentence translation): 4.40 a b

tʃʰyH tɑL ɡəL-tʃɨL zoH tɑL ɡəL-tʃɨL good only out-say fine only out-say ‘speak only of good (things), only of smooth (things)’ ɜH=boH neL beH tɑL ʈʂʰeL only feed ls=FRM 2SG at ‘Only me feeding you. [You’re unwilling to feed me yours.]’

The use of tɑ ‘only’ in (4.40a) implies a contrast with ‘speaking of bad (things)’. In (4.40b), the intended contrast is ‘you haven’t fed me’, as reciprocity is presupposed in sharing of food between a couple. The implied contrast is often inferable and not stated explicitly in the sentence. Sometimes it is situated in nearby sentences, as in (4.40b), where the contrast is made clear in the next sentence. Sometimes the adverb can be used consecutively in juxtaposed clauses, as seen in (4.40a). A similar discourse characteristic is observed with lɑ ‘also’, e.g.: 4.41 a b

miF=ɡeL lɑL ʒɨR mʉLkuRsɥɛH̃ tʃjɛH̃ lɑL ʒɨR also many person=TOP also many animals ‘there were plenty of people, also plenty of animals’ beL ʈʂʰeL puLdiLmɑH=ɡõH lɑL tɜH-kjɛH̃ =nõL m̥əLɡjɛF̃ old.woman=INS also up-pick=DUR old.man at feed ‘The old woman also picked up (the dumplings) and feed (them) to the old man.’

In (4.41a), the two juxtaposed clauses, each containing one instance of lɑ ‘also’, mutually imply the proposition found in the parallel clauses. Quite often, the implied proposition does not occur in the same sentence, e.g. (4.41b). Apart from its basic meaning ‘also’, lɑ can also be construed as ‘even’ or ‘all’ under some circumstances: 4.42 a

təH miF=ɡeL tɜH-kjɜH=nõL koL l̥ jɜH lɑH this person=TOP up-fear=DUR breath release also meL=waL PF.N=dare ‘this person is so frightened that (he) daren’t even breathe.’




lɑL kʰɥɛHdʒeH ɜL-kʰõLn̥jɛH̃ pɑF sõLpɜjLkɥɛF̃ =ɡeL in-indignant do three:brothers=TOP also angry ‘All the three brothers are angry (and) indignant.’ 4.3.8. Onomatopes and Interjections

The onomatope and the interjection are two small lexical categories with considerable similarities; thus they are described together here. The two can be recognized easily by virtue of sound symbolism, although interjections are more subject to cultural determination. The essential difference between them is that interjections always involve some human emotion, whereas onomatopes typically mimic animals’ calls or other sounds by physical objects. The meaning of an onomatope and, to a lesser extent, an interjection can be so suggestive that it may be conjectured correctly by a non-native speaker upon hearing it. Members of both categories are invariable in form, including prosody. 4.43


a b c d

Onomatopes kʰõL·tʰõL ‘weighted object falling into deep water’ mjɑwL·uH ‘cat’s crying’ õL·õH·uL ‘rooster’s crowing’ ʃjõL·tʃʰwɑ̃H·tʃʰwɑ̃H ‘golden pheasant’s calling’

a b c d e f

Interjections oF ‘expressing disagreement’ L L o ·o ‘expressing discovery of truth’ eL ‘expressing agreement’ F wi ‘expressing surprise’ H L ɑ ·jɑ ‘expressing annoyance’ məFɡeL ‘expressing exclamation (lit. heaven)’

Another characteristic peculiar to the two categories is phonotactic innovation not permitted elsewhere in the language. For instance, the syllables mjɑw in (4.43b) and wi in (4.44d) both involve ‘syllable gaps’ not found in other words. Note that it is also exceptional to have a low tone for both syllables of a disyllabic word, as in the onomatope in (4.43a), and the interjection in (4.44b). The former is justifiable for mimicking the sound of a weighted object falling into deep water, since other prosody cannot achieve the same sounding. The latter has



the effect of lengthening the paralinguistic utterance, which is natural in conveying the speaker’s emotion upon realizing some new facts. Both of these categories utilize a very limited number of lexical items. The onomatope in (4.43d) may be analyzed as ʃjõF ‘golden pheasant’ plus tʃʰwɑ̃-tʃʰwɑ̃. The interjection in (4.44f) consists of məF ‘heaven, sky’ and the discourse clitic ɡe. Apart from these, the others are not decomposable. Prinmi onomatopes mainly function as the complement of a soundmaking verb, e.g.: 4.45

ʈʂĩLʈʂuL=ɡeH nɜL-dyL kʰeH=boH kʰõL·tʰõL tʃɨL pestle=TOP down-cast;3 time=FRM ONOMATOPE utter ‘when (the young fellow) threw the pestle down, it went “kong-tong”.’

The function of the interjection, on the other hand, contributes more to discourse settings than to the grammatical structure of an utterance. An interjection always occurs at the beginning of a discourse turn, as an immediate communicative response to others’ messages or to the circumstances the speaker finds himself/herself in. 4.3.9. Postpositions The status of Prinmi postpositions is intermediate between word and clitic, with one or two fully cliticized and most others able to appear as a noun (cf. the discussion of their suprasegmental peculiarity in §3.3.2). There are eleven postpositions, divided into three groups: locational, non-locational, and versatile. Locational postpositions: kʰʉ, po, wu, lo, and dʒe Prinmi has five postpositions that express only locational meanings: kʰʉ ‘on top of’, po ‘below’, wu ‘in’, lo ‘outside’, and dʒe ‘at one’s place’. Apart from their different domains of meaning, locational postpositions also diverge from non-locational ones in other ways. For instance, no clitic can be inserted between a head noun and a locational postposition, but this is possible with a non-locational postposition. The locational postpositions are extra-prosodic and, therefore, they receive the default low tone. All locational postpositions, except kʰʉ ‘on top of’, can be used as relational nouns (cf. §7.1.4). The postposition kʰʉ ‘on top of’ originates from the noun kʰʉR ‘head’. The most obvious distinction between the two lies in their different tones. The postposition always bears a low tone (which is the



default surface tone for toneless morphemes), while the noun can have a surface tone of rising or high. Sometimes the two are found in juxtaposition, e.g. (4.46a). The first instance of kʰʉ in (4.46) is a noun situated in a compound, whereas the second one is a postposition. The postposition po, shown in (4.46b), has the meaning of ‘underneath, below’. 4.46 a b

l̥ jɜLkʰʉR kʰʉL=boL=neL bɨF=ɡeL dɜL-ʐɑL tongue:head top=DSC=DSC honey=TOP CLC-carry poL=boL pɨF=ɡeL dɜL-ʐɑL l̥ jɜLbɑ̃R tongue:root below=DSC axe=TOP CLC-carry ‘Honey is brought to the tip of the tongue; an axe is hidden at the bottom of the tongue.’ [Proverb]

With a general meaning for denoting ‘a certain point inside the space (of something)’, wu is one of the most frequently used locational postpositions. Its antonym is lo ‘outside’. These are exemplified in (4.47) and (4.48), respectively. 4.47 a

tʃĩH wuL house in ‘in the house’


ɹwɜF wuL road in ‘on the road’

4.48 a

kjõR loL door outside ‘outside the door’


mɜLtsʰõR loL heel outside ‘around the heel’

The postposition dʒe has a similar meaning to French preposition chez. It usually denotes a particular location associated with the head which is often animate, as shown in (4.49a) and (4.49b): 4.49 a

dʒeL kʰəL-jiH 1SG at out-come;2SG ‘Come to my place.’ ɜH


məF toL=ɑL xeH dʒeL sky on=M god at ‘at the heavenly god’s place’


dʒeL mɜLkʰɑwL=ɡjɑH dzɨR vicinity at smoke=M ‘near the smoke’s place’



Note that in (4.49a), the postposition dʒe appears with a pronoun. While this is quite common with dʒe, it is rare for a pronoun to cooccur with other locational postpositions. Non-locational postpositions: ni, bo, õ, and ki Non-locational postpositions are generally used to indicate the specific semantic role of a noun phrase (see §6.1 for details). The Comitative, Benefactive, Beneficiary, and Instrumental are signaled respectively by ni ‘with/and’, bo ‘for’, ki ‘to’, and õ ‘with (an instrument)’. Given its comitative meaning, ni involves a vague spatial sense from being together. Perhaps because of this, ni sometimes behaves tonally like a locational postposition; it may act extra-prosodically, as in (4.50a): 4.50 a b

mɜLkʰɑwR niL dəL-ɹwɜHn̥ĩL dəL-ɹwɜHn̥ĩL=nõL ɡəL-tʃʰjõL smoke COM CLC-near CLC-near=DUR out-appear ‘(he) got closer and closer to the smoke.’ tʃʰiF=ɡeL niL sõHdʒeH Sakyamuni religion=TOP COM ‘with Sakyamuni’s religion’

However, unlike locational postpositions, ni allows the topic clitic ɡe to intervene, as shown in (4.50b). Sometimes the comitative postposition may be regarded as coordinating two explicit nouns: 4.51 a b

jiLtsʉF niL mɜLl̥ jɜL=ɡeH conch:son COM fire:tongue=TOP ‘the small conches and the flames’ bɑLlɜjH=ɡeH niL ɣoLdeL=ɡeH=boL snake=TOP COM tiger=TOP=DSC ‘the snake and the tiger’

This kind of coordination by ni is not attested with clauses, i.e. the postposition does not conjoin two clauses. When ni is employed to present a list of items, it can occur consecutively after each of the items to suggest an incomplete list, e.g. 4.52

mjɑF niL n̥iLdʒjõH niH nɜHdʒjuH niL kʰəHniL niL COM ear COM mouth COM eye COM nose ‘eyes, nose, ears, and mouth, ...’



The benefactive function of bo in Prinmi indicates that the noun thus marked receives a service or favor rather than a gift, e.g.: neL boH ʈʂĩL tsɑwH =mɑL=ɹõH 1SG 2SG for mortar beat=N=IPFV;1SG ‘I won’t pound the mortar for you.’

4.53 a




boH loF=boL tʃʰɨL kʰuH 1SG for work=DSC do need ‘(You) have to work for me.’

Its occurrence in stories and field notes is sporadic. On a few occasions, the consultants used be, which is the general marker for the Recipient (see below), to indicate the Benefactive, but replaced it with bo later in transcribing. As the Benefactive and Recipient are closely related notions, Prinmi speakers may try to negotiate the subtle difference between them: the former is characterized with a favor realized through an act, while the latter concerns favors in a more concrete sense with the receipt of physical objects. The Benefactive postposition is homophonous with the discourse clitic bo (see §6.4.1). Both of them appear in (4.53b). The instrumental õ is completely cliticized and often appears in a complex clitic form, most frequently as ɡõ (with the topic clitic ɡe, which is semantically vacuous in the combined form), e.g.: 4.54 a

tʃjɑLtʃiH ʐɜFtsʰõL=ɡõL tʰɜL-dzuL color four:kind=INS TLC-make ‘make with four kinds of colors’


ɡʉLbõH=ɡõH ɡoLdoH nɜL-kʴjɛH̃ walnut down-break stone=INS ‘cracked the walnuts with the stone’

As a clitic, the surface tone of ɡõ (and other variants) is subject to the suprasegmental setting of the host. Notice the tonal variation in (4.54). This clitic also fuses with the plural clitic ɹə into ɹõ, e.g.: 4.55

jõHɣɑ̃H dʒɥɛLpoH=ɹõH nɜL-ʒjuH jõF down-overfill ASR silver:gold chest=PL;INS ‘treasure will overfill the chest.’

The Beneficiary introduced by ki is almost identical in function to the Recipient marked by the versatile be (see below). The two differ merely in that the former is always associated with a positive or favorable situation, as can be seen in (4.56), but this is not necessarily



so for the latter. The Beneficiary can be interpreted as a special kind of Recipient. This subtle distinction has given rise to two types of causation: sociative versus indirect (see discussion in § 4.56 a b

təH pʰɜLtʰɜHmiL=ɡõL kʰyL pɑH təH bɑLlɜjH=ɡeH kiL pity do this snake=TOP BNY this youth=INS ‘The young man showed pity to the snake.’ məHdəL dzɨF lɑL ɜL kiH neR ɡeL-jiH 2SG help-NMLZ all COP also 1SG BNY L H L L nɜ -tɑ pu =si down-complete do;2SG=PFV ‘You’ve completed all (your) obligations in helping me (lit. completed all that you should help to me).’ Versatile postpositions: be ‘at/to/from’ and to ‘on/than’ Prinmi has two polysemous postpositions: be ‘at; to; from’ and to ‘on; than’. With versatile functions, these two postpositions exhibit some semantic and syntactic characteristics from both locational and nonlocational postpositions. Their varying properties such as the possibility of having the clitic ɡe between the postposition and its head are semantically predictable. When the postposition denotes a locational meaning, no intervening clitic is allowed and extra-prosodicality applies. However, when the same postposition is used to express a grammatical function, clitic insertion is allowed and it forms part of the prosodic domain of a personal pronoun, but not of a noun. Compare the order between ɡe and be in the locational expression in (4.57a) to the non-locational expression in (4.57b): 4.57 a

zʉR beL=ɡeL face at=TOP ‘on the face’


*zʉR=ɡeL beL

kɜLtsɜjL=ɡeH beL but *kɥɛR̃ kɜLtsɜjL beL=ɡeL kɥɛR̃ at y.brother little=TOP ‘to the little brother’ The locational meaning of be is rather broad, covering the senses of ‘at’, ‘to’, and ‘from’. They are exemplified in (4.58), (4.59), and (4.60) respectively. b



4.58 a

sjɛL̃ bõH beL tree at ‘in the tree’


wɜjLtʃʰɥeH beL leftside at ‘on the left’


beL tʰɜH-ʈʂɨH ɡəL-tʃʰjõL 3DU to TLC-jump out-appear ‘(A bear) appeared and dashed towards the two of them.’


pɑHtʃjɑL sjɛ̃LtɜjHbõL beL nɜL-tʃʰjõH təH miF=ɡeL wood:big:tree from down-appear this person=TOP Bajia ‘This guy came down from the Big Bajia Tree.’


On a few occasions be is found in temporal expressions such as those in (4.61). It is omissible in (4.61a), but not (4.61b). 4.61 a

ɹəF beL first at ‘at first’


tsõHl̥ eL beL winter at ‘in the winter’

On the other hand, be is frequently employed for marking a kind of core function (cf. §6.2.1). Related to the locational sense ‘at’, the postposition can pinpoint a specific part of a Theme upon which an act is enacted, e.g.: 4.62 a b

ɜH=ɡjɑH kʰʴəH beL tjɑL=kʰiL kʰuL 1SG=M foot at DS.N=grasp must ‘(You) mustn’t grasp my foot.’ n̥iLdʒjõH=ɡõH təH miF=ɡjɑL zʉH beL ɜL-n̥ʉHn̥ʉH this person=M face at in-smell nose=INS H L pɑ ti one do ‘(The bear) took a smell of this person’s face with its nose.’

Although a spatial sense is involved in the use of be in (4.62), its function is to relate a noun to a verb, rather than indicating a specific location for the existence of a being or an event. Thus be does not serve as a locational postposition in these instances. Frequently be signifies its head as a Recipient, as in (4.63); less commonly, it marks a Donor, as in (4.64): 4.63

njɑH=ɡjɑH tʃɥɛF̃ =ɡeL ɜL 2SG;M=M lunch=TOP 1SG ‘feed me your lunch’

beH to

dəH-ʈʂʰeL CLC-feed




ɜH niL beH dʒiLdʒiR dɜL-jĩH ʒjɑHniL CLC-borrow yesterday 1SG 3SG from book ‘Yesterday I borrowed a book from him’

The locative sense of to ‘on’ is antonymous to po ‘below’. For instance: 4.65 a

məF toL sky on ‘on the sky’


djɛR̃ toL earth on ‘on earth’

From this locative meaning, the function of to has been extended to two non-spatial senses: (i) to introduce the standard NP in a comparative construction (for details, see §11.3.1), and (ii) to mark an oblique argument of some verbs. These functions are exemplified respectively in (4.66) and (4.67). 4.66 a b

4.67 a b

ɣoR toL ʈʂɜL tiger than stronger ‘stronger than a tiger’ toH ɡɥɛH̃ 1SG than tall ‘taller than me’ ɜL

toH diHxeL 1SG on sulk:relieve ‘(he) vents (his anger) towards me’ ɜL

ʈʂõH toL=boL nɜL-loHtsʰeHtsʰeL hard on=DSC down-retreat tʃʰɨL pɨF toL=boL ɜL-dʒiH soft on=DSC in-advance do ‘Retreat from the tough, and advance towards the weak.’ [Proverb]


MORPHOLOGY Affixation, segmental alternation, reduplication, and compounding are four major morphological processes found in Prinmi. They are mainly applied to nouns and verbs. This chapter is organized along two themes: the first two sections describe nominal affixation and some verb morphology; the next two sections address reduplication and compounding in the language. 5.1. Nominal affixation Morphological changes such as affixation rarely occur with Prinmi nouns. However, some monosyllabic kin terms can take the vocative prefix ɑ-. For instance: 5.1

a b c d e

mɑF kɑwR puH diH ɖʐuR

‘mother’ ‘(materal) uncle’ ‘grandfather’ ‘grandmother’ ‘friend’

ɑL-mɑF ɑL-kɑwF ɑL-puH ɑL-diH ɑH-ɖʐuL

‘Mum’ ‘(materal) Uncle’ ‘Grandpa’ ‘Grandma’ ‘Pal’

This prefix conveys a sense of closeness in relationship. It is possible for this prefix to attach to a non-kinship term, as seen in (5.1e). 1 It is not, however, used with KINSHIP nouns of offspring and siblings. A special use of the prefix is found in the word ɑL-leH ‘child’, a dialectal term in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. The prefix is not attached to other types of nouns, nor does it occur with polysyllabic nouns. Prinmi has an unproductive conjunctive infix -mə-, which is inserted between two nouns in certain expressions.2 Unlike the conjunctive function of the postposition ni described in §, the infix -məalways operates within a word at the morphological level. The infix 1

The vocative form ɑH-ɖʐuL ‘Pal’ occurs in a translated story. The only known probable exception is l̥ jɜL-məL-l̥ jɜR ‘weasel’. This word might be related to l̥ jɜR ‘to release’. With the infixation, it refers to the kind of animal that habitually releases odious smell in danger. 2



generally introduces plurality through conjoining two, usually identical nouns, e.g.: 5.2

a b c d

n̥iF-məL-n̥iL ‘day after day’ [n̥iF ‘day’] ʃɥɛH-məL-ʃɥɛL ‘night after night’ [ʃɥɛH ‘night’] ɖʐəL-məL-ɖʐɜH ‘mishap after mishap’ [ɖʐɜR ‘mishap’] kʰʴəL-məL-ʒjɑR ‘(food) pork legs’ [kʰʴəH ‘foot’, ʒjɑR ‘hand’]

As well as these two affixes, Prinmi has some affix-like morphemes in compounds; they can be reanalyzed as suffixes with varying degrees of success. Consider the following: 5.3

l̥ ɑLtsɨR ‘finger’

pɜLtsɨF ‘flower’

l̥ juLtsɨR ‘hare’


pʰɑLliH ‘small basin’ n̥iLtʃʰjõHliH ‘boy’

kɜjHliH ‘cup’ < cup-small


ɹ̥ ʉHbõL ‘varnish tree’ seLlɑwHbõH ‘pear tree’



ʃjɜLbɑH ‘the Han (Chinese)’ tʃjɛL̃ ʈʂʰuH tsʰiLliL bɑL ‘Jianchu Cili’s family’

‘Chinese ash tree’

If we merely consider whether a morpheme is free or bound, there is little problem in analyzing tsɨ ‘little’ in (5.3) as a diminutive suffix, as it cannot appear alone as a free word. An exceptional case to its suffix-like usage is found in tsɨHtɜjL ‘size’, in which tsɨ ‘little’ is combined with its antonym tɜjH ‘big’ into a compound. The matter becomes complicated when analyzing the relation between the diminutive suffix and its putative stem in the examples. Except for pɜR ‘flower; to bloom’, none of the examples in (5.3) can occur without the suffix or with other affixes. This suggests that tsɨ has probably undergone morpholexicalization and become a frozen part of the words. The situation with li ‘small’ is similar. Neither of the first two examples in (5.4) can stand by itself without the diminutive morpheme. Thus Prinmi speakers always literally refer to small cups when they talk about cups. 3 This morpheme can be omitted in the final example with a slight change in meaning — referring to older boys. 3

Coincidently, the first syllable in kɜjHliH ‘cup’ is nearly homophonous with kɜj ‘excrement’. This might provide strong motivation for keeping the diminutive in the word ‘cup’ as a frozen form. F



On the other hand, compounding as the vehicle for developing suffixes is apparent in (5.5) and (5.6). As the bound morphemes bõH ‘(archaic) tree’ 4 and bɑR ‘family’ are highly productive in Prinmi, it is justifiable to regard them as derivational suffixes (cf. the discussion of the compounding/affixation cycle in Tibeto-Burman languages in Matisoff 1991a: 483-494). 5.2. Verb morphology Prinmi verbs may inflect in two ways: through affixation or by means of vowel change in the stem. The great majority of verbs can be attached with a set of directional prefixes, while a small number of verbs are inflected for agreement with the Agent argument. Furthermore, the negative prefix mɑ- and a few suffixes derive new words regularly from verbs. This section provides a description of these affixes and discusses segmental alternations in the verb stem. 5.2.1. Directional prefixes Prinmi has three pairs of directional prefixes, each with semantic opposition between the members, as presented in Table 5-1. Table 5-1: The directional prefixes in Prinmi







‘toward the CLC speaker’


ɡə-/kʰə- ‘outward’




‘downward’ down

Prefix Meaning tʰɜ-


‘away from TLC the speaker’

ɜ-/xɜ- ‘inward’





The first pair is PERSON-oriented, indicating whether an act is conducted toward the speaker or not; in linguistic terminology, these are referred to as ‘cislocative’ and ‘translocative’. The other two represent spatial deixis. SPACE is three-dimensional, concerning ‘in’ and ‘out’, whereas VERTICAL is one-dimensional, dealing with ‘up’ and ‘down’. Given their deictic nature, these prefixes denote relative positions rather than specific locations. They are used for signaling the direction 4

The archaic meaning of bõH as ‘tree’ is attested in a proverb; see (10.7a).



of an act. Deictic projection is also feasible with the PERSON prefixes. Compare the basic meaning of the directional prefix in (5.7a) with the projected meaning in (5.7b): 5.7



tʃɥɛF̃ =ɡeL ɜL 2SG;M=M lunch=TOP 1SG ‘feed me with your lunch’


ɑL dəL-jiH=siL CLC-come;2SG=PFV Q ‘You’ve come over?’

beH at

dəH-ʈʂʰeR CLC-feed

The sentence in (5.7b) is used for greeting visitors. Here the reference point of deixis has shifted from the speaker to the speaker’s home. Phonologically the directional prefixes are quite uniform, generally consisting of a stop and a central vowel. The vowel is subject to reduction in casual speech, especially for ɡə- ‘outward’ and, to a lesser extent, the cislocative də- ‘toward the speaker’. The contrast within each pair is signaled largely by voicing. Some deviations are found within the SPACE category due to historical sound changes. The original voiceless consonant of the prefix for ‘inward’ has probably undergone lenition, changing from a velar plosive to zero through the path: [k] > [x] > ø. The zero consonant is occasionally rendered as a velar fricative. On the other hand, the original voiced consonant in the prefix for ɡə- ‘outward’ sometimes changes to a voiceless aspirated one, i.e. [kʰ]. Thus the contrast between this pair has shifted away from the voicing distinction on the consonants. The collocation between a directional prefix and a verb is quite selective. When a directional prefix induces little change in meaning to a verb, it is regarded to be the primary prefix of the verb. Table 5-2 displays the primary directional prefixes for some verbs in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. Many verbs exemplified in the table can occur only with the particular prefix shown, or they can occur with no prefix at all. Tonal changes of the verb stem after prefixation are disregarded here; for details, see §3.4.2. The directional prefixes are used with all three major types of verb, e.g. ACTION verbs such as dəL-ɹ̥ ɜR ‘to fasten’, STATE verbs such as ɜLdʒyR ‘to be rotten’, and PROCESS verbs such as tɜH-kʰɑwH ‘to fume’. Except for semantic subtypes such as EMOTIONAL and DESCRIPTIVE, the great majority of verbs can appear with a directional prefix.



Table 5-2: Verbs and their primary directional prefix






ɹ̥ ɜR ‘fasten’, ɹiR ‘get’, ɹwɑH ‘grope’, ʐɑH ‘carry’, dʉF ‘heap’, ɹ̥ əɹ̥ ĩR ‘concentrate’; tʃjɛH̃ ‘see’, nuR ‘hear’, deR ‘die of old age’, kʴiR ‘sing’, ʃɥɛF̃ ‘castrate’, mɜHtʃeL ‘look for’. tʃɨR ‘say’, bjɛR̃ ‘fly’, ʒeR ‘cease’, dzɨH ‘eat’, ʈʂʰɨF ‘slaughter’, ɹ̥ ʉLɹ̥ ɥeH ‘clean up’; toF ‘look’, dʒyR ‘be rotten’, ʒɨR ‘lie down’, wɑR ‘cook’, puHɹuH ‘roast’, n̥ʉHn̥ʉH ‘smell’. dzĩH ‘sit’, ʒjuH ‘overfill’, teR ‘give birth’, mɜR ‘forget’, ʈʂʰɨF ‘stand’, jõHjɑ̃H ‘fall down’; kʰɑwR ‘fume’, kjɜH ‘fear’, wuH ‘(cock) crow’, ɹoH ‘thrive’, sʉR ‘fill up’, dziF ‘(of pig) fatten’.

While it may be possible to set up a number of verb classes according to their primary prefixes, it appears difficult to justify the grouping on other independent criteria. Semantic interaction between a verb and a directional prefix is at play in a rather subtle manner. For instance, it is quite natural for dzĩH ‘to sit’ to be affixed with nɜ- ‘downward’, but it would be puzzling to select the same prefix for the verb ʈʂʰɨF ‘to stand’. While this prefix occurs with two posture verbs, it is not used with others such as ɜL-ʒɨR ‘to lie down; to sleep’ and ɜL-ɡʴɑwR ‘to kneel down’. Moreover, the translocative prefix tʰɜ- is sometimes interchangeable with nɜ- ‘downward’, e.g. (5.8). This is probably related to dialectal (or clanlect) variation. tʰɜL-sɨR nɜL-sɨR ‘to die’ 5.8 a b c d e


nɜL-pʰɜR ‘to abandon’

tʰɜL-pɑF tʰɜL-n̥ɥeF tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeF

nɜL-pɑF ‘to do’ nɜL-n̥ɥeF ‘(of water) to be muddy’ nɜL-ʈʂʰeF ‘to tear’

The choice of primary prefix of a verb is not predictable, but it is found that verbs with negative meanings tend to take nɜ- ‘downward’, e.g. nɜL-tsʰaR ‘to rob’ and nɜL-loHtsʰeHtsʰeL ‘to retreat’. A more useful observation is that nɜ- ‘downward’ has been designated for verbs borrowed from Mandarin. The following loan words all take this



directional prefix, regardless of their meaning: 5 nɜL-guān ‘to switch off’, nɜL-kāi ‘to switch on’, nɜL-péiyăng ‘to train’, and nɜL-kuī ‘to lose (profit)’, etc. When the meaning of the final item is expressed by a native verb in Prinmi, however, the translocative prefix is used: tʰɜLniF ‘to lose (profit)’. Prinmi verbs vary in their ability to take directional prefixes, ranging from zero to six. The majority fall between the two extremes. A small number of verbs such as ɡjɑH ‘to love’, seH ‘to miss (someone)’ and kʰuR ‘to want’ do not take any directional prefix. At the other extreme, a small number of verbs may appear with any of the six directional prefixes for describing different viewpoints or directions involved in an act. For instance: 5.9

a b c d e f

Upward: Downward: Cislocative: Translocative: Outward: Inward:

tɜH-tɑH ‘to arrive at a higher place’ nɜL-tɑR ‘to arrive at a lower place’ dəL-tɑR ‘to arrive here’ tʰɜL-tɑR ‘to arrive there’ ɡəL-tɑR ‘to arrive’ ɜL-tɑR ‘to arrive inside’

Except for the primary prefix shown in (5.9e), the use of a particular prefix in (5.9) is decided by taking the destination into consideration. In talking about water rising to a certain point or people arriving from a place of lower altitude, the form in (5.9a) is chosen. 6 When talking about someone reaching the ground from up in a tree or arriving from a place of higher altitude, (5.9b) is employed. If the destination is at about the same altitude as the speech location, other forms are appropriate, depending on whether the speech location serves as terminating point, (5.9c), or beginning point, (5.9d), of the journey. If the motion involves entering a building or shelter, (5.9f) will be used. Directional prefixes generally do not enrich the basic meaning of the verb stem significantly. One noticeable exception is the prefix tʰə-, which can inject a sense of excessiveness to the stative meaning of a DESCRIPTIVE verb, e.g.:




Standard pīnyīn is used for Mandarin words, with tones marked by diacrit-

The Pǔmǐ people inhabit rugged mountain areas, and the relative altitudes of surrounding places are part of their common store of knowledge.


5.10 a b c

tɜjH ‘to be big’ tsʰõF ‘to be short’ tsɜR ‘to be hot’


tʰɜL-tɜjH ‘to be too big’ tʰɜL-tsʰõF ‘to be too short’ tʰɜL-tsɜR ‘to be too hot’

Less commonly, prefixation of different directionals on some verbs may bring about separate, but related, meanings beyond the deictic nature of the prefix. Consider the following: 5.11 a b c d

nɜL-sɨR ‘to die’ dəL-m̥jɛF̃ ‘to ripen’ dəL-dʒɥɛR̃ ‘to dawn’ tʰɜL-djɜH ‘to offend’

tɜH-sɨH ‘to revive’ tɜH-m̥jɛH̃ ‘to make edible’ tɜH-dʒɥɛH̃ ‘(of lamp) to shine’ ɜL-djɜH ‘to commit adultery’

The pair of verbs in each example above shares an identical morpheme, but with different meanings realized through the varied choice of directional prefix. Prefixation is also useful for differentiating homophonous verbs, since coincidence for a pair of homophonous verbs to select the same prefix is not likely. Upon prefixation on the verbs, two otherwise identical forms often become distinguishable. For instance: 5.12 a

ɡəL-ʈʂʰɨF nɜL-ʈʂʰɨF

‘to slaughter’ ‘to stand’


dəL-n̥ɥeF nɜL-n̥ɥeF

‘(of piglets) to die from suffocation’ ‘(of water) to be muddy’


tɜH-kʰjɛH̃ ‘to stand up’ tʰɜL-kʰjɛH̃ ‘to give’


tɜH-kjɛH̃ nɜL-kjɛR̃

‘to take up (espeically food)’ ‘to estrange’


tɜH-ɖʐɜH nɜL-ɖʐɜR

‘(of domestic animals in rut) to run around’ ‘to weaken; to become slim’

Prefixation does not always resolve the problem of ambiguity. For example, in (5.12c) it is possible to prefix kʰjɛ̃R ‘to give’ with tɜH‘upward’, rendering tɜH-kʰjɛ̃H ‘to give upward (e.g. to the heaven)’. This prefixed form remains homophonous with tɜH-kʰjɛ̃H ‘to stand up’. Finally, directional prefixes often provide clues to distinguishing some PROCESS verbs from DESCRIPTIVE verbs in Prinmi. Many



DESCRIPTIVE verbs are polysemous and can be used as a PROCESS verb or as a DESCRIPTIVE verb. However, DESCRIPTIVE verbs charac-

teristically occur in bare forms; they cannot be attached with affixes or clitics. When a DESCRIPTIVE verb is prefixed with a directional, it functions as a PROCESS verb, expressing an uncontrollable change of state rather than a qualitative state. For instance:

5.13 a b c

tɜjH ‘to be big’ kjõH ‘to be icy cold’ ɣɑ̃R ‘to be yellow’

ɡəL-tɜjH ‘to grow big’ ɜL-kjõH ‘to become frozen’ nɜL-ɣɑ̃R ‘to turn yellow’

At first sight, the function of the directional prefixes here may be regarded as one that derives a PROCESS verb from a DESCRIPTIVE verb. However, construal of DESCRIPTIVE verbs, or STATE verbs in general, as PROCESS verbs also arises when a bare DESCRIPTIVE verb is attached with such modifiers as the volitative clitic kɜj. In the light of this, no derivation process is postulated in the analysis. 5.2.2. Derivation with affixes Except for the negative prefix mɑ-, which derives an antonym, derivational affixes in Prinmi are mostly suffixes. These include -dĩ, -mi, -ji, and -ʒɑw. The first three suffixes derive a noun (a nominal form) from a verb, mainly through the additional meaning introduced by the suffix, while the final one derives a new verb. A verb which has been nominalized through suffixation loses the general ability to host verbal clitics, but a directional prefix may still be attached to it. This may be viewed as a sort of verbhood downgrading (cf. Sasse 1993: 657-660). From verbs to nouns/nominals: -dĩ, -mi, and -ji The suffix -dĩ is used to derive an implement from a verb. The etymology of the suffix is obscure; it is unlikely to be related to the word ɹ̥ ʉLtsiR ‘instrument, tool’. The suffix can be attached to both simplex or compound verbs. For instance: 5.14 a b c d

tsɑwH-dĩH ‘beating implement’ < hit-instrumental.suffix n̥ʉHn̥ʉH-dĩL ‘organ for smelling’ < smell-instr.suffix dzɑHtoL-dĩL ‘mirror’ < shade+see-instrumental.suffix dʒjɜHʒɨL-dĩL ‘knitting tool’ < texture+knit-instr.suffix

The most frequently seen suffix is -mi, grammaticalized from miF ‘person’. It is suffixable to a majority of verbs. A spectrum between



the lexical and grammatical meanings of the morpheme in terms of semantic features can be set up, from concrete to abstract, as follows: ‘person’: Agentive suffix: Nominalizer:

[+human] [-human] [-human]

[+animate] [+nominal] [+animate] [+nominal] [-animate] [+nominal]

Examples of these meanings are presented in (5.15)–(5.17). Used in its lexical sense ‘person’ in (5.15), miF is combined with verb (V or V/N or V/N/A) to derive nominal compounds: 5.15 a b c

njɛH̃ miH ‘patient’ < ill+person tsɜHmiL ‘patient with a fever’ < hot+person [ʃjɛH̃ tsɑwH]miL ‘blacksmith’ < [iron+hit]+person

The stem may be simplex, as in (5.15a) and (5.15b), or complex, as in (5.15c). Progressing through the channel of grammaticalization, the morpheme has lost the ‘human’ feature in (5.16), with a meaning similar to English agentive suffix -er ‘one who does V’, but it is not restricted to ACTION verbs. For example, in (5.16b) it is suffixed to an auxiliary verb. 5.16 a b

ʐeLʐeL tʃʰɨH-miL slide do-er ‘one that slides (e.g. snake)’ pjɛL̃ jõH-miL (fly know.how-er) ‘one that can fly’

The further grammaticalized form occurs in the focus-presupposition construction (cf. § & §12.2). In this case, the basic function of the suffix is to nominalize a predicate, e.g.: ʃjɛH̃ =ɡõH ɡəL-tsɑwH-miH dzɨL iron=INS out-hit-NMLZ COP ‘(The tool,) what I’m saying is, (it) is forged with iron.’


The function of the suffix -ji is similar to -mi in that it is also used in certain constructions for nominalizing a complement. For instance: 5.18 a


meH tʰɜL-tʃʰɨL-jiL dzɨL what TLC-do-NMLZ COP ‘What are (we) going to do?’ ɡəL-ʈʂeH ɜL-ʈʂeH lɑL ʈʂeH-jiH ʃiR=mɑL=ɹjuH out-pull in-pull also pull-NMLZ EXT=N=IPFV ‘no matter how hard (I) pull, (I) just can’t pull (it) out.’



In (5.18a), the suffix, together with the copula, denotes a kind of modal construction — the obligational construction (cf. § In (5.18b), -ji is essential to the potentive construction, headed by the existential verb ʃiR. Similar to the suffix -mi, -ji can derive a noun from a verb, e.g.: 5.19 a b c

dzɨH-jiH ‘food’ < eat-NMLZ tʰjɛL̃ -jiH ‘beverage’ < drink-NMLZ ɡwɜjL-jiH ‘clothing’ < wear-NMLZ

Although the derived forms in (5.19) are confined to those involved in basic substance for living, they can be regarded as independent nouns. When they occur in the potentive construction, a sort of synonymous ambiguity may arise, depending on how the function of the suffix is interpreted. Consider the following: 5.20

miFɹəL lɑL dzɨH-jiH ʃiL tʰjɛL̃ -jiH ʃiH tʰɜL-ɖʐõL people also eat-NMLZ exist drink-NMLZ exist TLC-become (i) ‘People also came to have the means for eating and drinking.’ (ii) ‘People also came to have food and beverage.’ From verbs to verbs: -ʒɑw Another morpheme analyzable as a verbal suffix is -ʒɑw. This suffix conveys the meaning ‘to be prone to, to be eager to’. In comparison with other verbal suffixes, the productivity of -ʒɑw is rather low. It is mainly suffixed to ACTION verbs. For instance: 5.21 a b c d

ɹ̥ aL-ʒɑwH ‘to be prone to smile’ kwɜjH-ʒɑwH ‘to be prone to cry’ pʰjɜL-ʒɑwR ‘to be prone to vomit’ ʒɨL-ʒɑwH ‘to be sleepy’

The suffix can also be attached to a small number of DESCRIPTIVE verbs, resulting in a different kind of derivation effect. With DESCRIPTIVE verbs, the suffix often derives a new meaning not necessarily transparent from the composition of the morphemes, e.g.: 5.22 a b

dʒjɛH̃ -ʒɑwH ‘to believe’ < true-prone dʒeL-ʒɑwH ‘to be anxious’ < angry-prone

A verb derived through suffixation of -ʒɑw can take the usual forms in negative and interrogative sentences. The negator mɑ and the



interrogative ɑ are inserted between the verb stem and the suffix, following the pattern of clitic attachment for disyllabic verbs. 7 Deriving antonyms: mɑA regular means to derive an antonym for a DESCRIPTIVE verb is by prefixing mɑ- to the verb stem: 5.23 a b c

mɑL-ɡjɑH ‘to be ugly’ < N-pretty mɑL-ʂõH ‘to be dirty’ < N-clean mɑL-ɖʐwɑH ‘to be inconvenient’ < N-comfortable

Oftentimes antonyms of DESCRIPTIVE verbs in Prinmi have their own distinct form, e.g. tsʰõF ‘to be short’ versus ɹ̥ ɑ̃H ‘to be long’. The negative morpheme mɑ is most often used as a clitic in the language. When it forms a complex enclitic with the imperfective ɹju (cf. §8.2.1), the precise function of mɑ is to negate the predicate. In contrast, when used as a prefix, mɑ remains in its preverbal position despite the presence of the imperfective clitic. Compare the following: 5.24


mɑ as a negative prefix a mɑL-ɡjɑH N-pretty ‘ugly’ mɑ as a negative clitic a mɑL=kʰuR N=want ‘not want (any)’



mɑL-ɡjɑH=ɹjuH N-pretty=IPFV ‘(becomes) ugly’ *mɑL=kʰuR=ɹjuL N=want=IPFV

5.2.3. Derivation of controllable verbs A small number of Prinmi verbs, presented in Table 5-3, alter voicing of the initial to signal a semantic contrast between an uncontrollable situation and a controllable one. 8 Those on the left-hand side are PROCESS verbs, which are inherently uncontrollable; most of them involve an internal cause for the change of state. Five pairs of the verbs, indicated by † in the table, were provided directly by the con7

Alternatively ʒɑw could be treated as a bound element in verbal compounds. Here it is regarded as a derivational suffix, along the same lines as treating bõH ‘tree’ and bɑR ‘family’ as derivational suffixes in §5.1. 8 All known instances from my field notes are provided here, but they are not claimed to be exhaustive.



sultant. The semantic contrast in these pairs is rather clear. The pair of disyllabic verbs in (j) is likely to be related to the pair in (i). The main morpheme in the group of uncontrollable verbs starts with a voiced consonant. When voicing of this consonant is changed to voiceless (either unaspirated or aspirated), an ACTION verb with a controllable external cause is typically derived.9 This morphological process is unproductive in modern Prinmi. Note that all the known instances of verbs derived in this manner contain a plosive or an affricate, i.e. consonants with a three-way contrast of voicing and aspiration. Table 5-3: Derivation of controllable verbs through voicing alternation

Uncontrollable verb (a)





ɡʴjɛ̃ ‘to break (vi.)’

ɡiR ‘to return home’ F


‘to die out’ F

ɖʐe ‘to get torn’

Controllable verb kʴjɛH̃ ‘to break (vt.)’ kiR


‘to walk sb. home’ F

‘to extinguish’


ʈʂʰe ‘to tear’



dze ‘to detach (from trees)’ tseR ‘to cut off’


beF ‘to collapse’

pʰeF ‘to demolish’


ɡʴəF ‘to fall (out of pocket)’

kʰʴəF ‘to shed’






(i) (j)


‘to wear out’ ‘to fall off’

pu ɡɑ


‘to crack (vi.)’

‘to dwindle’ F

kʰɑ ‘to remove’ puHkʰɑH ‘to crack (vt.)’

The semantic contrast in some of the pairs such as (e) and (h) is relatively less straightforward. Nonetheless, it is not too difficult to discern change of controllability in the meaning of the verbs. In (e), dzeR is used for expressing the falling of fruit from trees due to natural forces such as strong winds, which is certainly uncontrollable by one’s will. On the other hand, tseR bears the controllable meaning of detaching something, e.g. to cut off a finger. Unlike the other examples, the pair in (h) consists of two PROCESS verbs. tʰɨF ‘to dwindle’ denotes a 9

This kind of contrast is also found in other Tibeto-Burman languages such as Burmese (Okell 1969) and Lahu (Matisoff 1973). The derivation is similar but not identical. For example, in Burmese the consonant alternation is between unaspirated and aspirated ones.



decline in family wealth by a wastrel son or a downturn in power of a nation. Since this verb involves a process caused by external factors, as opposed to an uncontrollable process signified by dɨF ‘to wear out’, the two stand in contrast in terms of controllability, a contrast observed in all pairs of verbs in the table. The derived verb selects the same directional prefix as its counterpart does, e.g. nɜL-ɡʴjɛ̃H ‘to break (intransitive)’ versus nɜL-kʴjɛ̃H ‘to break (transitive)’, dəL-ɡiR ‘to return home’ versus dəL-kiR ‘to walk (animals/somebody) home’, and so forth. If the derived verb belongs to ACTION verbs, it is transitive. Semantically, the verbs seen in Table 5-3 tend to denote negative meanings. This is fathomable, as controllability over negative situations generally draw more attention from humans than positive ones. 5.2.4. Inflection for agreement Some Prinmi verbs are inflected through rhyme alternation for agreement with Agent in respect to person and number. To be precise, the agreement is conditioned by speech act participants, since the copula also displays a full paradigm of inflection (see Table 5-5) and use of kin terms for self-referent may trigger the same agreement with the first-person pronoun. For the sake of convenience, this kind of inflection is referred to as ‘Agent agreement’. Such agreement is observed on a small number of verbs, and is confined to certain aspect and mood, mainly the perfective and the imperative. Notable exceptions include the copula dzɨF ‘to be’ and the possessive bõH ‘to have’, whose inflections do not imply any perfective reading. To take an illustration, consider the conjugation of tʰjɛ̃R ‘to drink’ in the perfective: Table 5-4: The inflection paradigm of tʰjɛ̃R ‘to drink’

First person

Second person

Third person


1SG tʰõR

2SG tʰjõR

3 tʰɥɛR̃


1/2PL tʰĩR

The agreement involves four different categories. While the singular forms distinguish first-person, second-person, and third-person (1SG



vs. 2SG vs. 3), the plural forms only contrast non-third person with third person (1/2PL vs. 3). Number for third person is not distinguished. The forms for second person singular (2SG) and non-third person plural (1/2PL) also occur in the imperative. Morphological agreement found in imperative sentences is generally consistent and the consultant is well aware of the contrast. Agent agreement in Prinmi seems to have undergone various degrees of simplification in different dialects (cf. Lu 1983: 103-105). While a handful of frequently used verbs maintain their inflection in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, many other verbs tend to be used invariably. To a lesser extent, the gradual loss of verbal inflection is also witnessed in the speech of the main consultant. The verbal inflection in his speech is rather situational. On a few occasions he expressed his confusion about the variation between such forms as tʃjɛ̃H ‘to see’ (the root form) and tʃɥɛ̃H ‘see (for the third person)’, wondering whether the variation was due to dialectal differences or performance errors. When asked about the variant form of a verb heard in recordings, he would happily replace it with, presumably, a root form of the verb. Under these circumstances, attempts to elicit complete verbal paradigms (through sentences) become very difficult and often futile. For present-day Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, it seems more sensible to compile a list of verbs with full paradigms, some of which are shown in Table 5-5. According to the numbers of different inflections, the verbs in Table 5-5 are divided into three groups. Group I, with five different forms, has the highest degree of inflection. Group II shows four distinct forms, with a syncretism between the root form and typically the inflection for third-person, or, less often, between the root form and the first-person inflection, e.g. pʰjɛ̃R ‘to flee’. Group III displays more syncretism; only two of the four categories differ from the root form, reducing the distinct inflections to three, as in the case of the possessive verb bõH ‘to have’. The number of forms further decreases for dzĩH ‘to sit’, due to the coincidence between the root form and the inflection for ‘1/2PL’. For verbs in Group III, it is uncertain as to whether the neutralizations are accidental or attributable to ongoing leveling. The onset change seen in the copula dzɨF and ʒɨR ‘to come’ is independent of the conjugation. The alternation of consonants between the copula dzɨF and its inflections is caused by a lenition having occurred in the root form in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. In other dialects such as Lánpíng Prinmi, no lenition has taken place, and the onset is identi-



cal in all variants of the copula. As for the sound change found in the inflections of ʒɨR ‘to come’, this is the consequence of palatalization on the original fricative initial. Table 5-5:

A classification of verb paradigms in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi

Root L

mɑ sɨ I tʰjɛR̃ dzɨH dzɨF ʒɨR II ʃɨH pɑF pʰjɛR̃ bõH III ʈʂʰɨF jĩR dzĩH

1sg F


2sg F

mɑ sjɛ̃ tʰõR dzjɛH̃ djɛF̃ jɛR̃ ʃjɛH̃ pjɛF̃ pʰjɛR̃ bõH ʈʂʰɨF jĩR dzĩH


mɑ sɑw tʰjõR dzɑwH dɑwF jiR ʃɑwH puF pʰjõR buH ʈʂʰɑwF jõR dzõH

1/2PL F


3 F

mɑ sĩ tʰĩR dzĩH dĩF jĩR ʃĩH pĩF pʰĩR bĩH ʈʂʰĩF jĩR dzĩH

Meaning L

mɑ sʉ tʰɥɛR̃ dzʉH dzɨF ʒɨR ʃɨH pɑF pʰɑ̃R bõH ʈʂʰɨF jɥɛR̃ dzĩH


‘know’ ‘drink’ ‘eat’ ‘be’ ‘come’ ‘go’ ‘do’ ‘flee’ ‘have’ ‘stand’ ‘listen’ ‘sit’

Certain patterns can be observed from the available verbal conjugations. These are summarized as follows:  Inflection occurs in the final syllable.  Unless the third-person form is identical to the root form, it usually introduces the feature [+round] to the rhyme, which may be realized on the glide of a rising diphthong or on the vowel in monophthongs.  The ‘1/2PL form’ is usually expressed with the nasal vowel /ĩ/.  The ‘2SG form’ tends to contain the segment [u] as (part of) the rhyme, either as a monophthong or as an off-glide. If the root form is /ɨ/, the ‘2SG form’ is typically rhymed with /ɑw/. Other vowels in the root are often replaced with /u/ and the nasal feature, if found, is inheritable from the root form, realized as the phoneme /õ/ (cf. §2.3.1).  The ‘1SG form’ tends to have a nasal rhyme. If the rhyme of a root form is a nasal monophthong, syncretism may occur between the two forms. The most common rhyme found in the ‘1SG form’ is /jɛ/̃ .



Some Prinmi verbs necessarily lack a certain inflectional form by nature of their semantics. For example, it is impossible to inflect F PROCESS verbs such as bĩ ‘(of ripe fruit) to fall off tree by itself’ and F ɡo ‘to die out’, as their meanings do not allow them to take a nonthird person argument. Similarly DESCRIPTIVE verbs such as color terms and quantity terms are also susceptible to inflectional gaps. 5.3. Reduplication Morphological reduplication in Prinmi does not operate with exact copying of morphemes; the process typically involves modification of vowels and suprasegmentals, as noted in § and §3.4.3 respectively. Such changes are not completely predictable, but, by and large, they fall within a few observed outcomes such as tendency to centralize the vowel of the first syllable, occasional regular tone change, and possible emergence of a new tonal category. Morphological reduplication only targets the final syllable of a word. To turn disyllabic words into trisyllable through reduplication, a word in the form of A-B becomes A-B-B; such forms as *A-A-B or *A-B-A are impossible. For instance: 5.26 a b

kʰʴəLlɥɛR ‘turtle dove’ mɑLsɨF ‘to know’

kʰʴəLlɥɛLlɥɛR ‘turtle dove’ mɑLsɨHsɨL ‘to know each other’

Both nouns and verbs may be reduplicated, but reduplication on nouns is highly restricted and may be regarded as unproductive. Consider the following nominal reduplications: 5.27 a b c d e f g

Reduplicated form ɖʐəLɖʐuR ‘friend’ põHpõL ‘paternal uncle’ mɑHmɑL ‘maternal aunt’ pɜjLpɜjH ‘(vocative) elder brother’ L H ɡjõ ɡjõ ‘dumb person’ swɑLsʉH ‘fruit’ ɹɜHɹəL ‘furs and skins’

Base form ɖʐuR ‘mate’ põH ‘father/uncle’ mɑF ‘mother’ pɜjR ‘elder sibling of same sex as the speaker’ R ɡjõ ‘stupid’ sʉR ‘fruit’ ɹəF ‘skin’

The essential meaning of the noun is maintained after reduplication. There is a vague sense of plurality discernible from a few reduplicated



nouns, e.g. põHpõL ‘paternal uncle’ or ɹɜHɹəL ‘furs and skins’. Under the kinship system of Prinmi, põF denotes both ‘father’ and ‘paternal uncle’. If the reduplication introduces a plural reading to the noun, the reduplicated form naturally does not mean ‘father’ as one can only have one biological father. While cases like these seem to reveal the effect of reduplication on nouns, this is not applicable to many other reduplicated nouns, leaving the precise function of the reduplication unclear. In any event, the reduplicated forms in (5.27) are best understood as products of morpholexicalization rather than an active derivational process. Some Prinmi nouns appear in reduplicated form but lack a base form that can be used as a word. For example: 5.28 a b c d e f

djɑHdjɑL meHmeL dʒiLdʒiR leLleR nɜLnɜR bʴõLbʴõR

‘(vocative) grandma’ ‘elder sister-in-law’ ‘book’ ‘folk song’ ‘fermented rice’ ‘roasted barley flour’

The effect of reduplication on verbs can be construed as repetition of an act in some manner. Depending on the meaning of a verb, its reduplicated form may convey intensity, reciprocity, continuousness, or pluractionality. When a DESCRIPTIVE verb is reduplicated, the resulted form intensifies the degree of its stative meaning, e.g.: 5.29 a b c d e f

ɖʐɜR tsʰĩR tsʰõF njɛF̃ lɜjF ɡɥɛH̃

‘bad’ ‘radially thin’ ‘short’ ‘few/little’ ‘heavy’ ‘tall’

ɖʐɜLɖʐɜF tsʰĩLtsʰĩF tsʰõLtsʰõF njɛL̃ njɛR̃ ləLlɜjF ɡɥɛLɡɥɛH̃

‘very bad’ ‘radially slim’ ‘quite short’ ‘just a few/little’ ‘quite heavy’ ‘quite tall’

Generally when a bivalent ACTION verb is reduplicated, the verb acquires a reciprocal sense, e.g.:


5.30 a b c d e f


tsɑwH ‘to hit’ bɑR ‘to hurl’ ɖʐõR ‘to kick’ ʈʂʰuR ‘to butt’ toF ‘to look’ ɡeR ‘to help’

tsɜHtsɑwL ‘to fight with each other’ bɜHbɑL ‘to hurl sth. at each other’ ɖʐɜHɖʐõL ‘to kick each other’ ʈʂʰwɜHʈʂʰuL ‘to butt each other’ tɜHtoL ‘to look at each other’ L R ɡjɜ ɡe ‘to help each other’

The reciprocal meaning of these verbs arises when the repeated acts involve a change of direction (or the flow of effect) between the core arguments α and β, i.e. from α to β and then from β to α. A few reciprocal verbs are inherently reduplicated and do not have a corresponding non-reduplicated form. They denote events that require the participation of two parties, e.g.: 5.31 a b

ɡɥɛLɡɥɛH ‘to exchange’ sɜHsɜL ‘to quarrel’

Reduplication on a monovalent ACTION verb often signifies that an act is performed continuously. This continuousness is different from the aspectual sense of progressive. The reduplicated form expresses a consecutive recurrence of an act, as opposed to a single instance of the act in the base form. Thus in (5.32a) the simple form conveys one explosion, whereas the reduplicated form refers to a series of explosions. Likewise, the simple form in (5.32b) means ‘to move a step’ and the reduplicated form renders ‘to move step after step’. In this case, the meaning of the reduplicated verb is actually closer to the general notion of walking. The examples in (5.33) show other similar cases in which the reduplications denote a more natural situation. 5.32 a b

dʒɥeR ‘to explode’ dʒɥɜLdʒɥeR ‘to explode continuously’ ɖʐɑ̃H ‘to walk’ ɖʐɑ̃Lɖʐɑ̃H ‘to walk (and walk)’

5.33 a b c d e

ɹ̥ aR ‘to smile’ ɹ̥ uH ‘(of bird) to chirp’ ɹ̥ ʉF ‘to be pained’ kʴiR ‘to sing’ bjɛH̃ ‘to climb’

ɹ̥ ɜHɹ̥ aL ‘to laugh’ ɹ̥ wɜHɹ̥ uH ‘(of bird) to sing’ ɹ̥ wɜLɹ̥ ʉH ‘to suffer’ kʴõLkʴiH ‘to sing (and sing)’ bjõLbjɛH̃ ‘to climb (and climb)’



Notice that the reduplications in (5.33d) and (5.33e) involve another kind of rhyme change in the first syllable, which triggers backing and nasalization. Many acts are semantically quantifiable, i.e. they can be counted easily. Some of these countable acts often occur in continuation, and may become lexicalized in Prinmi, as exemplified in (5.34). 5.34 a b c d

tʃʰoLtʃʰoR ʃeLʃeR n̥ʉHn̥ʉH tʰaLtʰaH

‘to wipe’ ‘to fondle’ ‘to smell’ ‘to drip’

Finally, verbal reduplication may also convey pluractionality. In monovalent verbs, this means more than one agent engaging in the act. For example: 5.35 a b

dəL-ɹ̥ ĩR ‘to concentrate’ vs. dəL-ɹ̥ əLɹ̥ ĩR ‘(of many) to concentrate’ ɡəL-ɣɜjH ɜL-ɣɜjH ‘(a tree) to sway from side to side’ vs. ɡəL-ɣɜjHɣɜjL ɜL-ɣɜjHɣɜjL ‘(trees) to sway from side to side’

Note that the example in (5.35b) involves a complex reduplication. Before the verb stem is reduplicated for plural agents, the base form for the singular is itself a co-ordinate compound generated through a kind of reduplication pattern (see §5.4.4). The consultant was unable to supply other examples of reduplications with a distributive contrast between a single agent and a group of agents. The following are found in the collected corpus: 5.36 a b

tʰɜL-dzuH ‘to make’ tʰɜL-dzuHdzwɑL ‘(of many) to make’ kʉR ‘to dig’ kʉLkwɑH ‘(of many) to dig’

Unlike (5.35), the reduplications in (5.36) are based on bivalent verbs. From the context of its occurrence, it appears that (5.36a) may convey not only multiple agents (made up of a team of servants), but also multiple tasks, as the event referred to is making a meal, and different duties are assigned to individual servants. Thus it is also possible to have a multiple-event reading of the predicate. This kind of ambiguity is borne out in (5.36b). According to the consultant, the reduplicated verb in this instance may denote multiple agents (digging of a hole by several hares) or multiple events (digging of several holes by one



hare). Furthermore, it is also possible to construe the pluractional reduplication as having multiple agents for multiple events: digging of several holes by more than one hare. Thus the interpretation is open to all logical possibilities. It is noteworthy that the rhyme change in the reduplication takes place in the second syllable in (5.36). Some additional examples of such vowel change are provided in (5.37) and (5.38). In these instances, reduplication conveys a repeated and continuous act through consecutive performing of the act. 5.37 a b c

ɖʐiR ‘to sew’ tsɜjF ‘to wash’ ɹiF ‘to shave’

ɖʐiLɖʐaR ‘to sew continuously’ tsɜjHtsaL ‘to wash continuously’ ɹiHɹaL ‘to shave continuously’

5.38 a b

suR ‘to grind’ ɖʐʉR ‘to write’

suLswɑH ‘(of cat) to grind (claws)’ ɖʐʉLɖʐɥeH ‘to write continuously’

5.4. Compounding Compounding is extremely productive in Prinmi. As in many languages, however, there is no clear-cut distinction between compounds and phrases (cf. Lieber & Štekauer 2009; Vogel & Scalise 2010). 10 Given a complex expression, it is necessary to take semantic, phonological, and grammatical properties, where applicable, into account in order to determine whether or not it is a compound or a phrase. Rigid and absolute criteria for identifying compounds are simply unavailable. This is briefly illustrated with some examples below. Semantically, a phrase conveys a compositional meaning of the words within the constituent, while a compound is more likely to denote a new meaning other than the sum of its components. Nonetheless, pregnancy is expressed idiomatically in Prinmi as follows: 5.39


ɡjõR mɑL-ɖʐwɑH body N-comfortable ‘to be pregnant’

For example, in his momentous grammar of Mandarin Chinese, Chao (1968: 301-325) discusses the general properties of both verb-object compounds and verb-object phrases indiscriminately in terms of ‘verb-object constructions’. Although Chao (1968: 415) is able to distinguish the two with a set of conditions, he does not separate the compound-phrase continuum into a dichotomy.



In spite of its non-compositional meaning, the expression in (5.39) is a short phrase consisting of two words, not a compound. This is evinced by the possible insertion of a pause between the words. Generally speaking, the pause insertion test is useful for distinguishing a phrase from a simple compound, but less useful if the compound contains an embedded compound. On the other hand, tʃʰɥaLʂɨF ‘pork’ is unequivocally a compound, yet with a compositional meaning of ‘pig’ plus ‘meat’. This demonstrates that semantic factors alone are not sufficient for distinguishing compounds. Phonologically, both compounds and phrases (sometimes also between a bare argument and a bare verb in a short clause) show a similar tone change by virtue of domain merger (cf. §3.4.4). They differ in that compounds are more likely to merge the prosodic domain of a formative into that of the initial one and that lexicalized new tones are also possible in compounds, but not in phrases (unless under the influence of intonation). With regard to syntactic properties, clitics generally do not partake in compounding. When a verbal compound undergoes negation, clitics follow the compound as a whole, as in (5.40b). 5.40 a b

ʒjɛH̃ tʰjɛH̃ (compound) tobacco:drink ‘to smoke (as a habit, i.e. have the habit of smoking)’ ʒjɛH̃ tʰjɛH̃ =mɑL=ɹjuH (compound) tobacco:drink=N=IPFV ‘not smoke (as a habit, i.e. not have the habit of smoking)’

The compound in (5.40a) conveys ‘to smoke’ as a habit. This habitual meaning is available only from the verbal compound. No clitic can be inserted in the compound to negate the habitual meaning. If a clitic intervenes, the habitual meaning will be lost because the expression is no longer a compound. Compare (5.40b) with (5.40c): 5.40 c

ʒjɛH̃ mɑL=tʰjɛH̃ tobacco N=drink ‘doesn’t smoke’

(short clause)

In addition to clitics, affixes are also excluded from compounding unless they are permitted under specific patterns (cf. (5.50) and (5.52) below). In sum, Prinmi compounds must be identified on a case-by-case basis. Examples of compounds provided below have less controversial



status. The following subsections provide a brief discussion of lexical categories of compounds (§5.4.1) and a classification of Prinmi compounds, covering important types of compound in the language (§5.4.2–§5.4.5). The final subsection examines the complex structures of trisyllabic and tetrasyllabic compounds. 5.4.1. Lexical categories of compounds Prinmi compounds are largely nouns and verbs. Compounding in terms of lexical categories can be outlined as in Table 5-6. As can be seen from the table, the components of a compound are mainly drawn from nouns and verbs. Other possibilities for the formatives include adjectives, ideophones, numerals, and so on. Table 5-6: Lexical categories of formatives in compounding

Formatives {N} + {N} {N} + {V} {N} + {A} {V} + {V}

Compound > {N}

Formatives {V} + {V} {N} + {V} {V} + IDE {N} + IDE

Compound > {V}

While a large number of nouns and verbs can be derived through compounding, analyzable adjective compounds are rare in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. The known examples are all from the bi-functional N/A group: 5.41 a b c


‘male golden pheasant’ < golden pheasant+[chicken+male] H L L ʃjõ [ɹɜ mɑ ] ‘female golden pheasant’ < golden pheasant+[chicken+female] H H L ɹwɜ [wɜ mi ] ‘female yak’ < yak+[cow]

The attributive function of the compounds ɹɜLpuH ‘rooster’ and ɹɜLmɑF ‘hen’ in (5.41a) and (5.41b) is undoubtedly secondary. If such adjective compounds are to be avoided, the word ʃjõF ‘golden pheasant’ can be compounded directly with puH ‘(of animal) male’ and mɑF ‘(of animal) female’ to generate ʃjõHpuL ‘male golden pheasant’ and ʃjõHmɑF ‘female golden pheasant’. As for (5.41c), it is certain that the two morphemes in the word wɜHmiL ‘cow’ do not occur freely as *wɜH



‘(generic) ox’ and *mi ‘female’. They are likely to be related to other forms: wɜH < kwɜH ‘(generic) ox’ and mi < ma ‘female’. Having just discussed some bi-functional N/A compounds, it should be noted that, as in simplex words, bi-functionality is not unusual in Prinmi compounds, although compounds with more than two functions have not been found. The following is an instance of a V/N compound: 5.42 a


neL lɑH ɹ̥ ʉHnjɛ̃L ɑL 2SG also tooth:ache Q ‘You too have a toothache?’

(as a verb)

tʃʰɨLniH ɖʐõL=siL njɑH=ɡjɑH ɹ̥ ʉHnjɛ̃L 2SG;M=M tooth:ache how become=PFV ‘How’s your toothache?’

(as a noun)

The compound functions as a verb in (5.42a), while it is used as a noun in (5.42b). Such overlapping is less common in compounds than in simplex words. If a compound has a multiple function, one of its components must also be multifunctional. In this particular example, the second component of the compound njɛ̃H ‘ache’ belongs to V/N. Nonetheless, the overlapping membership of an input word does not necessarily entail similar multimembership for a compound. 5.4.2. Modifier-modified compounds In a modifier-modified compound, the first component supplies information to delimit the second one, as shown in (5.43). The specific function of a multifunctional formative used in a compound is rendered as italic in the examples. While some modifiers qualify the second component in their literal sense, e.g. (5.43b)–(5.43d), many do not. In order to understand the compounds in (5.43a) properly, some additional information is required: ‘a badger that resembles a dog’ for tʃʰɨLtʃʰyH and ‘a grandfather related to maternal uncles’ for ɑL-kɑwH ɑLpuH. Similarly in (5.43e) pʰʴĩHmiH refers to ‘people worshipping the color white’ and njɑLmiR ‘people worshipping the color black’. As can be seen from the examples, all the compounds in (5.43) are nouns. The modifier (the first component) can be a numeral or from any subset of the noun or the verb categories, whereas the head (the second component) is rather restricted. It must be a noun from either N or V/N, but not from N/A or V/N/A, as words from the latter groups always assume an adjective function, and hence act as modifier, when they follow a noun.



5.43 a


tʃʰɨLtʃʰyH ‘Eurasian badger’ < dog+badger ɑL-kɑwH ɑL-puH ‘maternal grandfather’ < maternal uncle+grandfather



dʒeLtʃʰɨF ‘hound’ < hunt+dog ɡjɑHɖʐuH ‘lover’ < love+friend


V/N + N

tʃʰyHpʰɜH ‘good news’ < good+message njɛH̃ miH ‘patient’ < illness+person


N/A + N

tsʉHtʃjuL ‘orphan boy’ < son+orphan m̥əHtʃjuL ‘orphan girl’ < daughter+orphan


V/N/A + N pʰʴĩHmiH ‘Prinmi’ < white+person njɑLmiR ‘Moso’ < black+person


N + V/N


V/N + V/N tsɜLnjɛH̃ ‘fever’ < heat+illness


Num + N

ʃjɜLnjɛH̃ ‘cholera’ < Han+illness 11 mɜLkʰɑwR ‘smoke’ < fire+smoke ʈʂʰuLʒiH

‘June’ < six+month

5.4.3. Noun-adjective compounds and Verb-complement compounds Mirroring the formative relation in modifier-modified compounds, Prinmi compounds can also be generated with the head preceding a modifier. The relation between the two is such that the omission of the second part (the modifier) does not affect the essential meaning of the first part (the head). According to the lexical categories of the formatives, two subtypes are identified: noun-adjective compounds and verb-complement compounds. As suggested by its name, a noun-adjective compound consists of a noun and an adjective in that order. This kind of compound is always a noun, as shown in (5.44). The meaning of a noun-adjective compound is basically compositional, with semantic shift to a certain extent on the adjective component. Sometimes, phonological clues are useful for distinguishing a compound from a phrase. In (5.44a), m̥iLɡuHʒĩL ‘middle daughter’ consists of m̥iF ‘daughter’ and ɡuHʒĩL ‘median’. The unexpected tonal pattern suggests that a new tonal category has been assigned to the compound. An archaic form for ‘dog’ occurs in (5.44c). This form survives only in compounds such as 11

Cholera is said to be a ‘foreign’ disease from the Han (Chinese).



kʰɨLnjɑH ‘black dog’ and kʰɨHmɑL ‘bitch’; elsewhere the form tʃʰɨR ‘dog’ is employed. 5.44 a


m̥iLɡuHʒĩL ‘middle daughter’ < daughter+median ɹoHtsɨL ‘chick’ < chicken+little


N + V/A pjɛL̃ tɜjH ‘woodland’ < grove+big tʃyHbĩL ‘large intestine’ < gut+thick.radially


N + N/A kʰɨLdiR ‘old dog’ < dog+old ɹwɜHmɑL ‘big road’ < road+mother


N + V/N/A kɥɛHpʰʴĩH ‘twin sons’ < twin+white kɥɛHnjɑH ‘twin daughters’ < twin+black

Occasionally a noun-adjective compound can contain two adjectives, as in (5.45c): 5.45 a b c

pjɛL̃ tɜjH ‘woodland’ < grove+big pjɛL̃ njɑR ‘forest’ < grove+dark pjɛL̃ njɑLtɜjH ‘primeval forest’ < grove+dark+big

The adjectives tɜjH ‘big’ and njɑR ‘black, dark’ can each form a compound with the noun pjɛ̃R ‘grove’, as shown in (5.45a) and (5.45b) respectively. The three morphemes can also be combined into a complex compound: (5.45c). The order of the adjectives in the complex compound is fixed; *[pjɛ̃LtɜjH]njɑR is unacceptable. Verb-complement compounds comprise the head and an ideophone, as in (5.46a) and (5.46b) (see §4.3.6 for more examples), or the head and another verb, e.g. (5.46c) and (5.46d): 5.46 a b c d

V/A + IDE V + IDE V+V V + V/N

bɨFl̥ jɑLl̥ jɑL ‘of thing to be really thin’ < thin+IDE ɹ̥ aLtsɨHtsɨL ‘to smile warmly’ < smile+IDE dzĩHɖʐwɑL ‘to be well-off’ < sit+comfortable kʴiLtʃʰyH ‘to sing well’ < sing+good

The head of verb-ideophone compounds is often a DESCRIPTIVE verb, while verb-complement compounds are typically composed of an ACTION verb and a DESCRIPTIVE verb. On the surface, it is difficult to distinguish a verb-complement compound from a ‘Double-verb Predicate’ (cf. §11.1). A well-attested verb-complement compound is the one given in (5.46d). Consider its occurrence in the following sentence:



lɜLljɛR̃ kʴiLtʃʰyH 3DU very sing:good ‘They both are very good at singing.’ niHdzɑ̃L


Note that the intensifier lɜLljɛ̃R ‘very’ does not directly modify its target tʃʰyH ‘to be good’. Since the two verbs kʴiR ‘to sing’ and tʃʰyH ‘to be good’ have formed a compound, the intensifier can only precede the verbal compound as a whole. 5.4.4. Co-ordinate compounds Co-ordinate compounds consist of two formatives from the same lexical category. The semantic relation between them is often that of antonym, e.g. (5.48). Even if they are not in opposition, the two always belong to an identical semantic category, e.g. (5.49). tsɨHtɜjL ‘size’ < small+big H H tsʰõ ɹ̥ ɑ̃ ‘length’ < short+long ɡɥɛH̃ dʒɥaH ‘rank’ < high+low

5.48 a b c

A + V/A V/A + V/A V/A + V/A

5.49 a b c

tʃʰɥaLɹoH ‘farm animals’ < pig+chicken dʒʉLɹaH ‘soul and spirit’ < soul+spirit mʉLn̥ɥɛH̃ ‘siblings’ < female’s male sibling+ male’s female sibling H H V + V dzɨ tʰjɛ̃ ‘food’ < eat+drink Num + Num tɜLnɜR ‘a few’ < one+two

d e


The order of a pair of antonyms is usually the lesser preceding the greater, as in (5.48a) and (5.48b), but an exception is found in (5.48c). Note that all the co-ordinate compounds in (5.48) and (5.49) are nouns, regardless of the lexical categories of the components. Co-ordinate tetrasyllabic verbal compounds are productively derived under the pattern α-V + β-V, where α and β are directional prefixes from the same deictic category, and V represents a repeated ACTION verb, e.g. (5.50a)–(5.50d). These may be regarded as a kind of reduplicated compound. Occasionally, two different verbs can appear in this kind of compound, but they must hold a semantic opposition, e.g. (5.50e).


5.50 a b c d e


ɡəL-pʰiR ɜL-pʰiR ‘to sway’ < out-lean+in-lean ɡəL-ʈʂeH ɜL-ʈʂeH ‘to pull by all means’ < out-pull+in-pull ɡəL-ɖʐɑ̃H ɜ-ɖʐɑ̃H ‘to walk around’ < out-walk+in-walk dəL-pʰeLljɑH tʰɜL-pʰeLljɑH ‘to slant’ < CLC-lean+TLC-lean dəL-ʃɨH tʰɜL-ɡiR ‘to recur’ < CLC-go+TLC-return

This kind of compound typically signifies that an act is performed many times. The use of directional prefixes in the compounds is obligatory and their order is unchangeable, beginning with the voicedconsonant prefix. This kind of verbal compound cannot host any verbal clitics. Thus, it does not occur in negative sentences or questions. 5.4.5. Reduplicated compounds Prinmi has two types of reduplicated compound, based on whether one or two formatives are reduplicated. Double reduplication always gives rise to the pattern AABB. This type of compound is not common in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. The known examples are: 5.51 a b c

tsʰõHtsʰõLbjɜHbjɜL ‘all kinds and sorts’ < kind+sort sɜLsɜRm̥jɑHm̥jɑH ‘fights and wars’ < assault+?soldier kɜLkɜLkaHkaH ‘to entice’

The corresponding non-reduplicated form AB does not necessarily exist, e.g. *tsʰõbjɜ and *sɜm̥jɑ. The word kɜLkaR ‘to entice’ does exist as the base form of (5.51c). The meaning of the second component in (5.51b) is unclear. (The main consultant speculated that m̥jɑH could be related to mjɑR ‘soldier’.) The second type of reduplicated compound involves reduplication of one formative only, e.g. those seen in (5.50a)–(5.50d) above. This type of compound typically consists of a verb. The reduplication can also take place on the directional prefix under the pattern ‘prefix-lɑ + prefix-V’, e.g.: 5.52 a b

ɜL-lɑHɜL-dĩH ‘to become definitely blunt’ < in-also+in-blunt tʰɜL-lɑHtʰɜL-dɑwH ‘to become definitely tired’ < TLC-also+TLC-tired



Such expressions intensify the basic meaning of the verb and have a colloquial flavor. This reduplication pattern is productive, but restricted to PROCESS verbs only. The negative morpheme mɑ can also occur in a reduplicated compound under the pattern ‘mɑ-α + mɑ-β’, where α and β may be nouns, as in (5.53a), or verbs, such as in (5.53b) and (5.53c). The vowel of the negative morpheme is centralized in this kind of compound, e.g.: 5.53 a b c

[mɜL-kõH][mɜH-ɹõL] ‘midland’ < [not+highland]+ [not+lowland] L H H L [mɜ -ky ][mɜ -ɖʐju ] ‘to be satisfied from eating’ < [not+sate]+[not+starve] L H H L [mɜ -tjɛ̃ ][mɜ -pʰu ] ‘to have mediocre wealth’ < [not+rich]+[not+poor] 5.4.6. Structure of compounds

Most compounds exemplified thus far have been disyllabic with simplex structure. While the smallest compound must, logically, have two syllables, i.e. two monosyllabic formatives, the maximum number of formatives in Prinmi compounds has not yet been determined. The largest one found to date, a reduplicated compound, contains eight syllables with six components: kʰʴəHɹuH ɹɜLkɑL loLtʃʰɥeH ɹɜLkɑL ‘fibula’. Despite its complexity, this expression is a compound rather than a noun phrase. Note that the second part of the compound is not a free word, although the first part is, i.e. kʰʴəHɹuH ɹɜLkɑL ‘lower-leg bone’, but *loLtʃʰɥeH ɹɜLkɑL ‘outside bone’. The word is built on five instances of compounding, with four embedded compounds. Its detailed structure is depicted in Figure 5-1. As illustrated in the diagram, the five instances of compounding take place at three levels. At the bottom level two compounds are generated independently. Each of these is then combined at the middle level with ɹɜLkɑH ‘bone’, which is repeated. Finally, the two are coordinated and compounded into one at the top level. This complex example also exhibits two characteristics of Prinmi compounds. First, the compounding process operates on a binary basis, involving exactly two components in each instance. The other characteristic is observed with the repeated use of formative for coordinate compounds. The recurrence of ɹɜLkɑH ‘bone’ is semantically redundant, but necessary for achieving the parallel structure of the co-



ordinate compound. Under this condition, Prinmi always renders coordinate compounds with syllables in an even number. Figure 5-1: Analysis of the complex compound ‘fibula’

[[kʰʴəH ɹuH] ɹɜLkɑL] [[loL tʃʰɥeH] ɹɜLkɑL] foot stem bone out side bone Top

[[kʰʴəHɹuH] ɹɜLkɑL]

Middle Bottom

[kʰʴəHɹuH] kʰʴəH



[[loLtʃʰɥeH] ɹɜLkɑL] [loLtʃʰɥeH] loL



The majority of trisyllabic verbal compounds consist of a verb and an ideophone, as seen in (5.46a) and (5.46b) above; trisyllabic nominal compounds tend to be of the modifier-modified type and they typically involve compound embedding. For instance: 5.54 a b c d

ɹəH+ [n̥iHpʰɑL] ‘morning’ < before+[day+half] bɨH+ [pjɜLljõL] ‘honey dumpling’ < honey+[flour+ball] [mjɑHkʉL] +njɛL̃ ‘conjunctivitis’ < [eye+blind]+illness [ʒjɑRkʰʴəL] +mɑ̃F ‘body hair’ < [hand+foot]+hair

As can be seen in these examples, an embedded compound may serve as the head, as in (5.54a) and (5.54b), or as a modifier, in (5.54c) and (5.54d). Some trisyllabic nominal compounds display simplex structure, if they consist of a disyllabic formative, e.g.: 5.55 a b

bɨH+bʴõLbʴõL ‘roasted barley flour with honey’ < honey+roasted.barley.flour L H H ɡo do +bõ ‘walnut tree’ < walnut+tree

Tetrasyllabic compounds are preponderantly complex in structure. They are mainly modifier-modified compounds, exemplified in (5.57), or co-ordinate compounds, as in (5.58). A small number of tetrasyllabic compounds have a head-modifier relation between the two major parts. For instance:



5.56 a b c

[wuLkʰʉH] +kõHniL ‘duodecimal animals’ < [year+head]+twelve L L H L dʒjõ ʒɨ +wɜ mi ‘female buffalo’ < buffalo+cow [n̥ɑLsɜLljõH] +neH ‘rhinophyma’ < [nose+tip]+red

In (5.56a), the modifier is a numeral. The compound refers to the duodenary calendar cycle of twelve animals. In (5.56b), wɜHmiL ‘cow’ is used as an adjective-like modifier. The compound in (5.56c) refers to an acne-like disease characterized by a red nose. These words all place the head at the beginning of the compound. The following tetrasyllabic compounds are of the type modifiermodified: 5.57 a b c

[ʒjɑLɹuL]+ɹɜHkɑL ‘forearm bones’ < [hand+stem]+bone [dɜjLtʃʰɥɛH]+məLʒjɑL ‘pastry made of glutinous rice’ < [sticky+rice]+pastry H H L L [bɨ l̥ i ]+[sɜ pɑ ] ‘sunflower leaf’ < [sun+moon]+ [wood+leaf]

The first two, (5.57a) and (5.57b), are structurally less complex, with a compound modifying a disyllabic head, whereas (5.57c) consists of two embedded compounds. Some tetrasyllabic compounds are formed in co-ordination with a repeated formative, e.g.: 5.58 a [tɜLtʃĩH]+[tɜHkɜL] ‘every household’ < [one+house]+[one+home] L H L b [ɹwɜ ɡɑ̃ ]+[ɹwɜ mɑ̃H] ‘(of relation) closeness’ < [road+up]+[road+down] c [ʈʂʰɑLʃiH]+[ʒiHʃiH] ‘new era’ < [history+new]+ [month+new] d [koHkɥeL]+[sɜjLkɥeH] ‘animal’ < [air+exist]+[blood+exist] e [ɡĩLl̥ iR]+[ɡĩLʃɑwH] ‘to lead a nomadic life’ < [stock+shepherd]+[stock+raise] f [mɜHkʰɜH]+[mɜLtsɥɛL̃ ] ‘to do people great harm’ < [person+push]+[person+pull] Except for (5.58e) and (5.58f), which are verbs, all the examples in (5.58) are nouns. Notice the symmetric pattern for the recurrence of formative in these co-ordinate compounds. If the first syllable is to be repeated, it will reappear as the third syllable, as shown in (5.58a) and



(5.58b). In the same vein, when the second syllable is repeated, it recurs as the fourth syllable, e.g. (5.58c) and (5.58d). This is in harmony with the parallel structure held between components of coordinate compounds. As can be seen from the bracketing, all the examples in (5.58) contain a pair of embedded compounds. Despite the fact that they can occur alone as disyllabic compounds, these embedded compounds always appear as a larger compound in the tetrasyllabic expression.


GRAMMATICAL FUNCTIONS OF NOUN PHRASE Following Andrews (1985: 65-66), the term ‘grammatical function’ is intended to differentiate from ‘grammatical relation’. The former, having a broader sense, covers whatever identifiable functions that a noun phrase may bear, whereas the latter is confined to functions that are significant for the operation of grammatical rules in a language. Grammatical relations such as ‘subject’ do not play a pivotal role in the grammar of Prinmi. This is a major departure of Prinmi from many better-known languages. It is, therefore, useful to discuss grammatical function of noun phrase in this chapter before analyzing its structure in Chapter 7. 1 This chapter starts with a discussion of semantic roles. Core and oblique functions are then addressed. In §6.3 the grammatical system of Prinmi is investigated to explore grammatical relations, if any, which are significant in the language. The final section studies pragmatic functions of noun phrase in Prinmi. 6.1. Semantic roles It is generally accepted that some semantic roles are found in the grammar of every language (cf. Foley 1993: 136; Palmer 1994: 2225). The major semantic roles crucial to the Prinmi grammar are tabulated in Table 6-1, where morphosyntactic marking of the semantic roles is also indicated. Terms of semantic roles is capitalized. The two most important semantic functions are Agent and Patient, which are abbreviated as A and P respectively (details in §6.2.1). Theme characterizes an argument to be ‘a participant as being in a state/position, or changing its state/position’ (Andrews 1985: 70). Prinmi distinguishes Beneficiary from Recipient, with the former, receiving only benefits, being a special type of Recipient (as pointed out in § Other semantic roles listed in the table are selfexplanatory. 1

Although the structure of a Prinmi noun phrase may be complex, noun phrases used in this chapter are generally rather simple.



Table 6-1: Major semantic roles and their morphosyntactic markings

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Semantic roles Agent Patient Theme Experiencer Recipient/Goal Donor/Source Beneficiary Benefactive Locative Temporal Comitative Instrumental

Morphosyntactic marking unmarked or by õ no marking no marking no marking mostly by be mostly by be by ki by bo unmarked or by be and others unmarked or by be by ni by õ

The morphosyntactic marking, where applicable, for semantic roles is usually carried out by clitic-like postpositions (see §4.3.9). At least one of them, the Instrumental õ, is fully cliticized; it often appears in a complex form with the topic clitic ɡe, i.e. ɡõ. Prinmi noun phrases, irrespective of morphosyntactic marking, often co-occur with discourse clitics (see §6.4 and §7.2.2). Agent and Recipient/Goal are typically marked overtly in Prinmi. The Agent marker õ (or ɡõ) is also employed for marking Instrumental, and the Recipient/Goal marker be bears additional functions for signifying Donor/Source, Locative, or Temporal. The multi-functions of the Instrumental and Recipient/Goal markers are not regarded as homophony, as these are observed cross-linguistically and their semantic extensions can be accounted for with an underlying generalization (cf. Blake 1977; Anderson 1985b). 6.1.1. Agent-marking and Instrumental-marking Owing to availability of zero anaphora in Prinmi, the main consultant can easily avoid using õ/ɡõ to mark Agent and Instrumental in a single clause. No instance of dual functions of the marker is found in the corpus collected on my first field trip. In a sentence that describes someone doing something with an instrument, the Agent is typically introduced in a clause, and then referred to by a zero anaphor in another clause where the Instrumental occurs. For example:



pɜjR ʈʂɜF=ɡõL=neL doL koHjiL tʰjɛL̃ koHjiL DSC brother big=INS=DSC damn crow damn crow H H F L L ii ɜ =ɡjɑ tʃɥɛ̃ lɑ ne beH ʈʂʰeL-jiH ʃiH ɡjɑL 1SG=M lunch also 2SG to feed-NMLZ EXT ATT H H iii ɜ lɑ =boL kyH=mɑL=ɹjuH tʃjɑL 1SG also=DSC full=N=IPFV say;M F L H L L L L iv ʒɨ =ɡõ tɜ pʰɜj =ʃjɛ̃ ko ji =ɡjɑH ljuR lɑL tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeR bow=INS one:shot=FOC crow=M crop also TLC-tear ‘Then, Big Brother, (having said) “Goddamn Crow, is my lunch for feeding you also?! Even I am not full.”, tore Crow’s crop with (his) bow in just one shot.’

6.1 i


The complex sentence in (6.1) consists of four clauses. The Instrumental marker ɡõ is used twice here: first in (6.1-i) to mark the Agent, and then in (6.1-iv) to mark the Instrumental. The two markings are distributed as far as possible from each other. Another way to avoid the use of õ/ɡõ for different markings within a clause is exemplified in (6.2), which is a translation from Standard Chinese, cf. (6.2'). niF=ɡjɑL wɜjLʒjɑL=ɡõH=neH=boL ɑLleH=ɡeH dɜL-tyL 3SG=M left:hand=INS=DSC=DSC child=TOP CLC-hold;3 L L H mɜLɡɑ̃H=ɡeL dɜL-ʐɑL ii ʐɨ ʒjɑ =ɡõ =neH=boL right:hand=INS=DSC=DSC torch=TOP CLC-carry L L F L H L L L iii ʈʂʰɑ mɑ ɹwɜ wu ɹĩ ɹĩ ɖʐɜ ɖʐɑ̃ pɑL=nõL ʃɨH=ɹjuH mud:road in suffer walk do=DUR go=IPFV ‘Holding the child with her left hand and carrying the torch with (her) right hand, (she) walked with difficulty on the muddy road.’

6.2 i


她左手抱着孩子、右手拿着火把艰难地在泥路上前行。 tā zuŏshŏu bàozhe háizi yòushŏu názhe 3SG lefthand holding child righthand carrying huŏbă jiānnánde zài nílù shang qiánxíng torch difficultly at mud:road on progress ‘She, holding the child in the left hand and carrying the torch with the right hand, walked with difficulty on the muddy road.’

In the original Chinese sentence, the Agent and the two Instrumentals are all expressed explicitly without any morphosyntactic marking. The Prinmi translation in (6.2) has rendered the three noun phrases explic-



it, with two instances of the instrumental marker each following the left hand and the right hand. However, the corresponding Agent is encoded as a Possessor. As such, the need for õ/ɡõ to mark an Agent does not arise. Sometimes the main consultant may produce a clause that contains an explicit Agent and Instrumental. In such cases, only the Instrumental is marked. For instance: 6.3


tʃiF=ɹəL=boL ɡɥɛ̃Lmɑ̃H=ɡõH ɜL-ʈʂʰɨL=nõH some=PL=FRM horse:hair=INS in-knot=DUR tʰɜL-kʰɑF jõL TLC-remove ASR ‘It’s certain that some will remove (the warts) with horse hair by running a knot around (them).’



ʒjɜLpʰeL=ɡõH=neH n̥ɑ̃L tʃʰoHtʃʰoL=ɹĩL 1PL.EX handkerchief=INS=DSC snivel wipe=IPFV;1PL ‘We use handkerchiefs to wipe our noses.’

The plural Agents in (6.3) would become tʃiFɹõL ‘some’ and ɑHɹõL ‘we’ respectively, if they were marked by õ. The sentence given in (6.4), with both the Agent and the Instrumental marked by ɡõ in a clause, was successfully elicited on a later field trip. It was translated from a complex Chinese sentence with a relative clause modifying the Instrumental. 2 6.4

m̥əLʈʂɑL=ɡõH=neH tʃjɛ̃L=ɡjɑH dɜL-kʰɥɛ̃L=siL=ɑH girl=INS=DSC child=M CLC-give;3=PFV=M L H H L tɜ tsɑ =ɡõ n̥i tʃʰjõHleH toL tɜHxɑL tʰɜL-kʰɥɛL̃ =siL stick=INS boy on one:CLF TLC-give;3=PFV ‘The girl gave the boy a tap with the stick that the child gave (her).’

However, the consultant later emphasized that it was not a good style to employ ɡõ to mark different semantic roles in a sentence.


Interestingly the Agent in the relative clause is marked as the Possessor in Prinmi (see §7.1.3 for further discussion).



6.2. Core versus oblique functions A distinction can be made between core and oblique functions in Prinmi. In spite of lacking a clear-cut drawing line, differences in their grammatical properties are sufficient to divide them into two groups. 6.2.1. The core functions: S, A, P, and R Dixon (e.g. 1994) considers three kinds of argument — S, A, and O — as primitives (cf. also Andrews 1985). The three represent different types of argument recurrently found in languages: S (single argument) for the core argument of an intransitive verb, whereas A (Agent) and P (Patient, equivalent to O) for the core arguments of a transitive verb. 3 As well as these three core functions, a fourth one — R (Recipient) — can be included for Prinmi. As noted earlier in Table 6-2, semantic roles in Prinmi are not encoded through morphosyntactic marking alone. Such marking provides no basis for distinguishing core and oblique functions either. Nouns with an identical morphosyntactic marking (or without any functional marking) may bear a core function or an oblique function. For instance, the topic-marked noun carries a core function, S, in (6.5a), but the topic in (6.5b) takes the role of Locative, an oblique function. Similarly, the bare noun in (6.6a) serves as P, while the bare noun in (6.6b) functions as Locative. 6.5




sʉL=ɡeH ɹəL=boL ɣɑ̃LkuHkuL fruit=TOP first=DSC yellow:IDE ‘The fruit is yellow at first, …’


duH kɥeF ɡuHsʉL=ɡeL Coriaria:fruit=TOP poison EXT.IN ‘the Coriaria fruit is poisonous, …’



ʈʂaF=ɹəL tʃɨLdĩH kʰəH-lɑ̃L soil=PL flood out-inundate ‘the land was inundated by the flood.’


ɡoL=ɹəH sjɛL̃ bõH mɑH=djõL hill=PL tree N=EXT.IAN ‘the mountains have no trees (left) on them, …’

The slight notational modification is adopted from Palmer (1994).



What is useful for separating core functions from oblique functions in Prinmi are the following properties: the varied possibility to be expressed by a zero anaphor and prototypicality of semantic roles associated with them. The zero anaphor is used on a par with explicit pronouns in Prinmi. While the use of zero anaphor is pervasive, it is chiefly for nouns bearing core functions and only in exceptional circumstances for nouns with oblique functions. A core function, such as A and P, is based on a prototypic semantic role (cf. Palmer 1994: 8-10; Andrews 1985: 98-99), and extendible to other semantic roles. For instance, A covers not only Agent but also Causer and Instrumental, and P not only Patient but also Causee and Theme. Likewise, S can be Agent, Theme, or Experiencer. Oblique functions, on the other hand, tend to be more specific for the semantic roles they express. Temporal and Locative do not overlap in their function, for example. The following examples demonstrate the one-to-many correspondence between a core function and various semantic roles in transitive and intransitive verbs. Transitive sentences are provided in (6.7) and intransitive ones in (6.8); semantic roles are indicated directly over core arguments. 6.7






A=Agent P=Patient djɑHdjɑL neR meH dzɨL=ɹuL grandma 2SG what eat=IPFV;2SG ‘ Granny, what are you eating?’ A=Causer P=Causee ɜH neL kiH sʉLdʉL tʃʰjõH keL=mɑL=ʃoH 1SG 2SG BNY think appear let=N=OPT ‘I don’t want you to worry.’ P=Theme A=Instrumental ʈʂɑLl̥ jɑL=ɡeH tsuF=ɡõL ɜL-kʴɑF=siL waistband=TOP thorn=INS in-get.hooked=PFV ‘The waistband got hooked by the thorn.’ S=Agent ɡɑ̃H ʃiL toL kɥɛ̃Lkɥɛ̃H kɜLtsɜjL=ɡõH nɜL-dzõH=siH bed new on brother little=INS down-sit=PFV ‘Little Brother sat on the new bed .’





S=Theme ʃjõHɹɜLpuL=ɡjɑL tsõLɡyH=ɡeH mɑL-ɡjɑH golden.pheasant=M attire=TOP un-pretty ‘Golden Pheasant’s clothing was ugly.’ S=Experiencer niHɹəL tʃeHɹõH tjɑR tʰɜL-dɑwH=siL 3PL hungry now TLC-tired=PFV ‘They are now hungry and exhausted.’

A fourth core function is identified as an archetypal Recipient, R. Like other core arguments, R can appear in the form of zero anaphor, as in (6.9b): 6.9



R=Recipient tʃɥɛF̃ =ɡeL ɜL beH dəH-ʈʂʰeR 2SG;M=M lunch=TOP 1SG at CLC-feed ‘feed your lunch to me, …’ njɑH=ɡjɑH

R=Recipient ø ʈʂʰeL=ʃoH tʃɥɛF̃ lunch feed=OPT ‘Will feed lunch (to you).’

Moreover, R is not restricted to the semantic role of Recipient/Goal. It may also express Donor/Source. For instance: 6.10

R=Source ʒjɑHniL ɜH niF beL dʒiLdʒiL dɜH-jĩL=nõL yesterday 1SG 3SG at book CLC-lend=DUR H L L R to -ji mɑ =ʃi look-NMLZ N=EXT ‘Yesterday I borrowed a book from him, but haven’t read (it).’

This treatment yields an advantage for dealing with a group of transitive verbs (mostly denoting feeling and emotion) which always take an A and a core argument that is morphosyntactically marked as a Recipient. For example: 6.11

beH 3SG 2SG at ‘S/he loves you.’ niF


ɡjɑH=ɹjuH love=IPFV

The core arguments of these transitive verbs can be described in terms of A and R.



6.2.2. Types of oblique function: complement and adjunct Grammatical functions other than the four core ones discussed above are regarded as obliques. Andrews’ (1985: 89) distinction between complement and adjunct for obliques is also useful to Prinmi. An oblique complement is similar to core functions in that it is generally indispensable from sentence structure, whereas an oblique adjunct can be added, or omitted, without any effect on the basic structure of sentence (although subject to semantic constraints). The comparative construction in Prinmi is expressed with the comparative complement marked with to (for details, see §11.3.1). Since the comparative complement is indispensable to the construction, it can be regarded as the most important oblique complement in the language. A typical comparative sentence is provided in (6.12), with the comparative complement rendered as italic. ɜLbɑR seLlɑwHbõH=ɡeL niHbɑL toL njɛL̃ njɛH̃ 1SG:family pear:tree=TOP 3SG:family on few ‘My family’s pear trees are less than his family’s, …’


Some Prinmi verbs also take oblique complements. For instance: 6.13 a


toH diHxeL 1SG on sulk:relieve ‘(He) vented (his anger) towards me.’


mɜLtsʰõR loL təH tʃʰɨL=ɡeH ɜH this dog=TOP 1SG heel out L H H L H H L ɡə -n̥ʉ n̥ʉ ɜ -n̥ʉ n̥ʉ tʃʰɨ =ɹjuL out-smell in-smell do=IPFV ‘The dog is smelling around my heels.’

6.14 a

tʃɨH=ɡeH njɑH kʰʴəH poL water=TOP 2SG;M foot below tɜH-tɑH=ɹɑL kʰeL=boL up-arrive=IPFV;M time=FRM ‘When the water reaches your feet, …’


dʒeL tɑL=ɹjuH kʰeH=boL mɜLkʰɑwL=ɡjɑH dzɨH smoke=M vicinity at arrive=IPFV time=FRM ‘when (he) arrived near the smoke, …’




dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL=ɡeL sõHdʒeH tʃʰiF=ɡeL niL Zzonbba god=TOP Shakyamuni faith=TOP COM ʃuLʃuH tʃʉLdjɛ̃H wuL kʰəL-tɑL-miH dzɨF together Buddhist:place in out-arrive-NMLZ COP ‘The Zzonbba god, what I’m saying is: (he) comes together with Sakyamuni’s religion to the Buddhist area.’

As can be seen from (6.14), tɑR ‘to arrive’ is a bivalent verb taking an oblique complement. The choice of postposition for the oblique complement is semantically determined by the sentence meaning. An oblique adjunct (rendered in boldface) is also found in (6.14c). This postpositional phrase, if omitted, would result in only a slight change in the meaning of the sentence. 6.3. Grammatical relations Given the various core functions discussed above, whether a grammatical relation based on these core functions should be recognized in Prinmi needs to be addressed. As will be seen in the course of the study, the grammatical system of Prinmi turns out to be rather fluid, and grammatical relation, such as ‘subject’, crucial to operation of syntactic rules does not exist. In this section, the issue of ‘subject’ in Prinmi is discussed at length and the grammatical system of Prinmi is investigated carefully. 6.3.1. The issue of ‘subject’ It is not impossible to argue for ‘subject’ as a grammatical function in Prinmi. A number of verbs often show a person-number agreement with A or S, and never with P. Consider the following: 6.15

Person-number agreement with A a ɜH tʃʰeR ɡəL-dzjɛ̃H=sjɛL̃ 1SG meal out-eat;1SG=VL.PFV ‘I’ve had a meal.’ b

ɑH=bĩL neLɹəH m̥jɛH̃ 2PL medicine Q=have;2PL ‘Do you have medicine?’


tsʉF=ɡeL neR tʰɜL-tʃɥɛ̃H=siH son=TOP 2SG TLC-see;3=PFV ‘The son saw you.’




Person-number agreement with S a niF lɑL pʰʴĩHmiH dzɨL 3SG also Pumi COP;3 ‘S/he is also a Pǔmǐ.’ neR ɡɑ̃H toL ʈʂɨH tjɑH=puL 2SG bed on jump DS.N=do;2SG ‘Don’t you jump on the bed.’


However, this evidence based on verb inflection is rather week, as verb agreement in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has been in the process of morphological leveling (noted in §5.2.4). 4 Only a few verbs maintain a full paradigm of inflections. Moreover, the agreement is inconsistent. For instance: 6.17


təLboR neL i =boH then 2SG=FRM A

dɜL-ʐuH CLC-take;2SG

ʈʂĩLʈʂuL=ɡeH pestle=TOP A

ø i mɜLtsɨL=ɡeH dɜL-ʐɑH ø i ɹɜLpuF=ɡeL dɜL-ʐuH cat=TOP CLC-take cock=TOP CLC-take;2SG ‘Then you take a pestle, a cat, and a rooster with you.’ The verb ʐɑH ‘to carry’ appears thrice in (6.17). The first time it agrees with the second-person singular A. However, the agreement does not apply in the second instance; instead, the root form is employed. Then in the final instance, the agreement is resumed. Note that all three clauses in the sentence have identical syntactic structure. The consultant was unable to explain the alternation. He claimed that they were the same and it would be fine to change all three of them to either form for the sake of consistency. The following are further examples of unstable verb agreement, all found in the Deluge Myth. Those verbs rendered as italic, appearing in the root form, do not agree with the Agent in the examples.


According to Lu (2001: 304-306), verbs are not inflected in Táobā Prinmi. This is probably true to all dialects spoken in Mùlǐ County in Sichuan.



6.18 a

neR bɑLlɜjH zoHloHloL nɥɛR̃ wuL=nõL 2SG snake carefully winnowing.tray in=DSC tʃʰeR ɜL-jĩH (expected inflection: jõH) meal in-rub ‘You, Snake, rub the dough carefully in the winnowing tray.’


(expected inflection: tʃɥɛH̃ ) təH bɑLlɜjH=ɡõL tʰɜL-tʃjɛ̃H this snake=INS TLC-see H H L L pɜ di =ɡõ tʰɜ -tʃjɛ̃H frog=INS TLC-see ‘Snake saw this, (and) Frog saw (it), …’


tʃʰɨLn̥iH tʃʰɨLʒjɑH=ɹəL tʃʰeR meL=dzɨH (cf. dzʉH) few:day few:night=PL meal PF.N=eat tʃɨH meL=tʰɥɛL̃ water PF.N=drink;3 ‘for how many days and nights (he) hasn’t eaten any meal (or) drunk any water, …’


(cf. ʃɥaR) koLjiL=ɡeH sjɛL̃ bõH kʰʉL ɜL-ʃjɑL crow=TOP tree top in-rest R H L H H tjɑ tɜ n̥i ɑ .ɑ tʃɨL now one:day ONOMATOPE utter ‘Crow rested at the top of trees, then calling “ah, ah” all day.’

Overall linguistic evidence available from Xīnyíngpán Prinmi does not support existence of ‘subject’ as a grammatical relation. No alignment of A with S, in opposition to P (and/or R), is observed in syntactic operations in the language. The scope of the present grammar does not allow a detailed discussion of putative ‘subject’ in Prinmi. 5 Word order and ‘subject’ ellipsis are two of the properties most relevant to examination of subjecthood. They are briefly dealt with in what follows. Andrews (1985: 108) notes that the most reliable guide to syntactic relations such as ‘subject’ is probably positional properties. The word order of core arguments in a canonical sentence (which is structurally 5

Unless one assumes the universality of ‘subject’ in languages, Prinmi is not alone in lacking a meaningful ‘subject’ (cf. Foley & Van Valin 1984, Foley 1993, Dryer 1997, among others).



a simple clause free of pragmatic influence) can distinguish A from P. However, as a verb-final language, the word order cannot be used to group A and S against P and/or R. Thus it is of no use to Prinmi. Ellipsis is widespread in Prinmi. When an argument takes the form of zero anaphor, it behaves like a pronoun in respect to co-reference. There is no syntactic condition in terms of grammatical functions of the argument. A zero anaphor and its antecedent may function as P and S respectively in the clauses of a complex sentence, e.g. (6.19). It is also possible to have a co-reference between A and P, as in (6.20), in which the co-referenced argument functions as A relative to the speaking verb (6.20i), and as P to the transitive verb in (6.20ii). P


pɑHleHi =boL bõH øi nɜL-ɡʉHɡʉH tiL ɖʐõL=siL down-old one become=PFV clothes=FRM have ‘Clothes, (we) have (some, but they) are a bit old.’


6.20 i


pɜjL brother tiLtiH slow

ɡuHʒĩLi =ɡõL=neL əLjɑL kɥɛR̃ kɜLtsɜjR neR INT brother small 2SG middle=INS=DSC H H H H L dzõ ɜ dzõ =ɹə ʃi =mɑL=kɜjH tiL sit 1SG sit=PL EXT=N=VLT NMLC

ʃɨH-jiH go-NMLZ ii

ɖʐõL=kɜjL tʃjɑL become=VLT say;M P

tjɑR tʃɨR øi ɡəL-ʐɑH now water out-carry ‘Middle Brother said, “Gosh! Little Brother, you stay alive. I won’t be able to live any longer, will be gone (soon).” (and) now the water carried (him) away.’

Further instances of free combination of core functions are provided in the following: 6.21 a


kiHtsʉLi ʃɑwL=nõL cuckoo:son raise=DUR P




ɹoF mɑL=ɖʐõL chicken N=become

ʃɑwL=nõL øi tʃʰɨL mɑH=ɖʐõL lɜHtsʉLi dog N=become wolf:son raise=DUR ‘A young cuckoo raised (at home) won’t become a chicken; a young wolf raised (at home) won’t become a dog.’ [Proverb]







tjɑR tʃɨLdĩH diH=nõL øi tʰɜL-dɑwH=siH 3PL now flood cast=DUR TLC-tired=PFV ‘Having started the flood, they are now tired.’



təLboH mɜLtsɨLi =ɡeH nɜL-dyL down-cast;3 well cat=TOP kʰeL=boL time=FRM ʈʂʰwɑH=ɡeH sound=TOP




nɜL-ʃɨH keH down-go let

mjɑwL·uH mjɑwL·uH tʃɨL=nõL ONOMATOPE utter=DUR A

tɑL just

nɜL-xɥɛR kɑLwuH tʃɨH=ɡõH down-cry.out;3 beneath water=INS


ɡəL-ʐɑH out-carry ‘Well, when (he) threw the cat down, (it) just cried out “miao, miao” at the top of its voice (and) the water below washed (it) away.’ øi

The complex sentence in (6.22) consists of four clauses. The function of the co-referenced argument alternates, back and forth, between P and A. These examples show that the functions of a core argument and its zero anaphor (which is interpretable as ellipsis) can be any of the three combination: P-S, A-S, or A-P; there is no syntactic constraint on the co-referencing. Since the notion of ‘subject’ does not exist in Prinmi, the morphological property of verb agreement with A and S can be stated simply as agreement with ‘agent’, which is construed as a macro-role for a variety of semantic roles such as Agent, Causer, Experiencer, Theme, and so forth (cf. Foley & Van Valin 1984: 28-30). 6.3.2. The system of grammatical relations Based on whether S may behave like A and/or P, Palmer (1994: 1114) proposes three types of basic system of grammatical relations. Since R is recognized as a core function in Prinmi, possibility of alignment of S and R needs to be mentioned for the sake of completeness. This kind of alignment is not observed in Prinmi. Thus R can be safely ignored in the following discussion. Palmer’s scheme is adapted as follows:


Table 6-2:


Basic systems of grammatical relations


Characteristics S=A≠P S=P≠A S =A≠P S< A SP = P ≠ A S P A

Notice that the agentive system is more complicated, with a split between two types of S: the A-like one SA and the P-like one SP. A fourth one, the ‘fluid’ system, is included in Table 6-2, as it is attested in some languages, e.g. Yimas, a Papuan language (cf. Foley 1993). In a fluid system the core functions behave independently; this does not imply an absolute distinction between them, however. The discussion in §6.3.1 has shown that S and A share little commonalty in Prinmi. Hence, the accusative system can be discounted. The distributional pattern of the Instrumental clitic õ suggests that Prinmi might have an ergative system. If Prinmi had a well-defined, consistent system of grammatical relations, the system would be identified as the agentive. Nonetheless, Prinmi is argued to possess a fluid grammatical system here. A kind of morphological ergativity appears to exist in Prinmi, where A is marked with the Instrumental õ. More specifically, split ergativity is discernible from the frequent use of õ with a third-person A. Consider the following statistics based on three major recorded stories and narration from the main consultant: 6 Table 6-3:

Marking of explicit core arguments in three Prinmi texts

S 48 32% + ɡe 4 3% + õ/ɡõ/njõ No marker 96 65% Total tokens 148


1/2 A 0 0% 4 12% 30 88% 34

3 A 11 47 12

P 16% 67% 17%


50 28% 0 0% 131 72% 181

These are: ‘The Deluge Myth’, ‘The Zzonbba god’, and ‘The Cuckoo and the Golden Pheasant’. Full texts of the latter two are provided in Appendix I.



Table 6-3 concerns merely explicit core arguments, as no marking can be observed with implicit ones. Four kinds of core functions are tabulated here: S, A1/2 (first- or second-person A), A3 (third-person A), and P. Since R is typically marked by be, it is not included for the sake of simplicity. As can be seen from the table, there is a strong tendency for A3 to be marked with õ or one of its variants. Such marking is impossible with P, but possible with A1/2 and S. While it is true that õ predominantly marks A3, there are considerable cases of inconsistency. Three types of inconsistency, indicated by the shaded areas in Table 6-3, are observed: (i) absence of the instrumental marker after A3, (ii) occasional Instrumental marking on A1/2, and (iii) unexpected Instrumental marking on S. Among 70 instances of explicit A3 in the texts, 33% are not marked by õ. For example, the bare A3 in (6.23) receives no functional marking, whereas the A3 in (6.24) is followed by the topic clitic ɡe without the Instrumental õ. 6.23


A3 without any functional marking a ʈʂaF=ɹəL tʃɨLdĩH kʰəH-lɑ̃L soil=PL flood out-inundate ‘the land, the flood inundated (it).’ b

tɜHkɜL zoH=ɡeH beL tʰɜL-sʉHdʉL tɜLtʃĩH one:house one:family nice=TOP to TLC-think ‘Every family thinks about the nice (things).’


bɨHtsjɛH̃ mɑL=tʃjɛH̃ djɛR̃ toL koHkɥeL sɜjLkɥeF=ɹəL earth on air:EXT.IN blood:EXT.IN=PL sunray N=see ‘All living beings on earth see no sunlight, …’

A3 marked with ɡe instead of ɡõ a təLboR təH miF=ɡeL təH=ɹəH tʰɜL-tʃɥɛH̃ kʰeH=boL then this man=TOP this=PL TLC-see;3 time=FRM ‘Then when this guy saw all these, …’ b

məF to=ɑL xeH=ɡeH ʈʂɜH to=ɑL tʃʰyH pʰɜH sky on=M god=TOP earth on=M good news tʰɜL-nuR kʰeL=boL TLC-hear time=FRM ‘When the heavenly god hears good news from earth, …’




təLboR ʃjõF=ɡeL kiHpuL then golden.pheasant=TOP cuckoo L F dɜ -pʰʴɜ =neL=boL nɜL-kjɑL pɑH CLC-meet=DSC=DSC down-envy do ‘Then (whenever) Golden Pheasant runs into Cuckoo, (he) feels jealous.’

Another problem lies with the use of õ after A1/2. As many as 12% of A1/2 in the texts is marked with õ. 7 The Deluge Myth provides some illuminating examples for the optional use of õ in spontaneous Prinmi. When describing a repeated event in the story, the consultant would use sentences that were structurally identical or very similar to each other. The markings on A in these sentences may vary, however. Consider the following pairs of sentences, which contain a first-person A in (6.25) and third-person A in (6.26): 6.25 a


6.26 a



neL beH pʰɜHdziH xĩL=ʃoL (2 instances) 1SG =DSC;INS 2SG to news:good tell=OPT ‘I will tell you some reliable news.’ ɜH

neL beH pʰɜHdziH xĩL=ʃoL 1SG 2SG to news:reliable tell=OPT ‘I will tell you some reliable news.’

(1 instance)

ɡəL-ʐɑH tʃɨH=ɡõH water=INS out-carry ‘the water washed (him)/(it) away.’

(2 instances)

ɡəL-ʐɑH tʃɨR water out-carry ‘the water washed (him) away.’

(1 instance)

In the story, the sentences in each pair appeared temporally quite close, but not immediately next to each other. The different markings on A could be motivated by stylistic consideration. From the grammatical point of view, the possibility to spare the Instrumental marking in (6.25b) and (6.26b) indicates that such marking is not rule driven. In the light of this, the superficial pattern seen in distribution of õ cannot be regarded to represent an ergative system.

Instrumental marking on A1/2 occurs even more frequently in translated sentences from Chinese, a non-ergative language. 7



Another kind of inconsistency occurs when õ is used to mark S. For instance: 6.27 a

təLɡjɑR ɖʐɜH=ɡeL=boL djɛR̃ wuL bɨHtsjɛ̃H=ɡõL this:M after=TOP=DSC field in sunlight= INS L H nɜ -tsɜ down-hot ‘After this, the sunlight on earth was heating.’


pjɛR̃ wuL tɑL tɜL-pʰɑ̃L ʃjõF=ɡõL golden.pheasant=INS grove in only up-flee;3 ‘Golden Pheasant just fled to the woods.’


təLboR tɜHn̥iL=njɑL kiHpuL=ɡõL ɹɥɛH̃ kʰeL=boL then one:day=DSC cuckoo=INS call time=FRM H L kwɜ pu kwɜHpuL tʃɨL kʰeL=boL ONOMATOPE utter time=FRM ‘Well, when the cuckoo calls, saying guabu guabu, all the time, …’

In (6.27), the core arguments of the intransitive verbs are all marked by the Instrumental in the form of ɡõ. All of them bear the semantic role of Agent, although the one in (6.27a) involves a force of nature. Note that in (6.27c), the semantic complement of ɹɥɛ̃H ‘to call’ is expressed through the help of a transitive verb in the successive clause. If Prinmi were an ergative language, such marking would point to ‘split-S’ ergativity, in which S is split to SA and SP with SA treated the same as A (see e.g. Dixon 1994: 71-72). With the identical marking on SA and A, Prinmi can be argued to have an agentive system. Nonetheless, this marking is not employed systematically. Consider the following sentences, both translated from Standard Chinese by the main consultant (but on different field trips): 6.28 a


təL=ɡjɑR wɑLʒjɑL kɥɛ̃L=ɡõH=neH nɜL-kwɜjH this:M reason younger.sister=INS=DSC down-cry F L pʰɑ toL tʃʰjõL pɑL n̥i day half on appear do ‘For this reason, (my) younger sister cried for half a day.’ niF

tɜHn̥iL=ɡeL kwɜjH=ɹɑH tiL 3SG one:day=TOP cry=IPFV;M NMLC ‘S/he cried for a full day.’



The verb kwɜjH ‘to cry’ occurs in both sentence, but the SA is marked with ɡõ only in (6.28a). As with the marking on A, the optional marking on SA shows that this morphosyntactic marking does not operate rigidly in the grammar of Prinmi. Such inconsistency is commonly found on the Instrumental marking. A few consultants pointed out that the marking is used to emphasize the Agent of an act. Inasmuch as placing an emphasis on the semantic role is motivated by discourse need, the Agent-marking is susceptible to great variation. Currently no syntactic evidence suggests a solid alignment of S (or its subtype) with any of the other core functions in the language. Therefore, the grammatical system of Prinmi is best considered to be fluid: core functions operate independently with some similar properties possibly shared between one and the other. Fluidity of Prinmi grammar also gives rise to free coreference of core functions across different clauses in a sentence (as seen in §6.3.1). 6.4. Pragmatic functions Prinmi has three specialized markers for pragmatic functions of a noun phrase: ɡe for signifying a topic, bo for setting up a discourse frame, and ʃjɛ̃ for denoting a focus. It has also a few vague discourse clitics (see §7.2.2). This subsection discusses pragmatic functions marked by the three specialized clitics. The structure of topiccomment construction is studied in detail in §12.3. 6.4.1. Topic and Frame-setter Topic and scene-setting topic are closely related to each other. The latter represents a special type of topic that sets the scene or frame within which a situation holds (Chafe 1976). Prinmi clitics designated to mark these two types of topic are: the general topic marker ɡe and the frame-setter bo. Thanks to availability of different marking, distinguishing the two types of topic is straightforward. On the other hand, topic marking is complicated in Prinmi. First of all, topics do not always receive explicit topic marking. For instance, in (6.29a) the leading topic is not marked by ɡe. In (6.29b), the topic is attached with the plural clitic, which is incompatible with ɡe.



6.29 a


jõLdzɨHpɑLpɑL [zʉL=ɡeH [ɖʐɜL=nõL]] [ʈʂoL=ɡeH [dziL]] bat face=TOP bad=DUR organ=TOP perfect ‘The bat, (its) face is ugly; (yet its) organs are perfect.’ [Proverb] ʈʂaF=ɹəL tʃɨLdĩH kʰəH-lɑ̃L soil=PL flood out-inundate ‘the land, the flood inundated (it).’

Secondly, a noun phrase marked by the topic clitic ɡe does not necessarily hold such pragmatic status in discourse. Consider the following: təLboR neL=boH ʈʂĩLʈʂuL=ɡeH dɜL-ʐuH then 2SG=FRM pestle=TOP CLC-carry;2SG L L H L H L F ɹɜ pu =ɡeL dɜL-ʐuH mɜ tsɨ =ɡe dɜ -ʐɑ cat=TOP CLC-carry cock=TOP CLC-carry;2SG ‘Then you take (your) pestle, (your) cat, and (your) rooster with you.’


In (6.30) the nouns rendered as italic are all ‘brand-new’ in discourse. They should have been modified by tiR ‘one’ in lieu of ɡe. The change would be appropriate to the discourse context where an advice was given to a young man. The consultant pointed out that the marking by ɡe here implied that these items were properties of the young man’s family, and that this subtlety in meaning would have been lost, if tiR had replaced ɡe. Thus, the precise function of ɡe in (6.30) is to convey specificity, a meaning extended from topicality. Topicality, rather than specificity, is taken to be the central meaning of ɡe, because it is easier to explain its grammaticalization path as follows: from signifying ‘topic’ to ‘something being specific’, and eventually to a loss of meaning in complex clitics such as ɡõ (ɡe + õ) and ɡjɑ (ɡe + ɑ). Furthermore, the ability of the clitic to attach itself to a clause, as in (6.31), also evinces its function as a topic marker. 6.31 a


tʰɜL-kʰjɛ̃H=ɡeH meH=kʰjɛH̃ toL ʐoL ʈʂɑL TLC-give=TOP PF.N=give on great ATT ‘speaking of giving, (to give) is much better than not to give.’ pʉHniL ɑLɹəH dzĩH=ɹĩL=ɡeL=boL ɹɜHkɑL dzɨL today 1PL.EX eat=IPFV;1PL=TOP=FRM bone COP;3 ‘Speaking of what we eat today, (it) is ribs.’



The general topic is typically encoded on a noun phrase which bears a core function, as exemplified in (6.32). Sometimes, the topic may be expressed as a clause, as seen in (6.31) above (see §12.3.1 for more examples of clausal topic). sʉL=ɡeH ɹəL=boL ɣɑ̃LkuHkuL fruit=TOP first=DSC yellow:IDE ‘As for the fruit, (it) is yellow at first, …’



təLboR təH miF=ɡeL təH=ɹəH tʰɜL-tʃɥɛH̃ then this man=TOP this=PL TLC-see;3 ‘Then this guy saw all these, …’



sõLtsɨH=ɡeL tʰɜL-ʈʂɥeF ʃĩL (TOPIC=P) təH m̥iL this daughter three:CLF=TOP TLC-send go;2PL ‘These three daughters, (you) go and send them away.’


kiHpuL=ɡeL beL kɜH nɜH-pɑL tɜHn̥iL one:day cuckoo=TOP at fake down-do ‘one day, (he) played a trick on Cuckoo.’

6.32 a


Temporal and locative expressions are often encoded morphosyntactically as a frame-setter in Prinmi. A temporal or locative frame is placed at the sentence-initial position, unless the utterance starts with a discourse filler, as found in (6.33a). To signal the boundary between a frame-setter and a proposition, bo sometimes serves as a vague discourse clitic which is readily omissible. Note that the frame-setter, much like the general topic, can appear without any morphosyntactic marking, as shown in (6.33d). It is also quite common for both bo and ɡe to co-occur in a simple sentence, as seen in (6.33a)‒(6.33c). In (6.33b), inclusion of ɡe in the expression təLɡjɑR ɖʐɜFɡeL ‘afterward’ is idiomatic. 6.33

Temporal expressions as a frame-setter a təLboR tɜHn̥iL=boL koLjiL=ɡeL ɡəL-tʃʰjõF then one:day=FRM crow=TOP CLC-appear ‘Then one day Crow came over.’ b

təLɡjɑR ɖʐɜF=ɡeL=boL boR mɜLtsɨL=ɡeH nɜL-diL this:M after=TOP=FRM DSC cat=TOP down-cast ‘Afterward, (you) throw (the cat) down, …’


mɑ̃LtoH kʰeH=boL boR ɹɜLpuF=ɡeL nɜL-diL final time=FRM DSC cock=TOP down-cast ‘Finally, (you) throw (the rooster) down, …’




ʒjɑLn̥jɛ̃R m̥əLɡjɛF̃ tiL ʒeL tsʉF nɜHtsɨL bõL ancient old.man one EXT.AN son two:CLF have ‘Once upon a time, there was an old man, (and he) had two sons.’

The use of locative frame is closely parallel to that of temporal frame. For instance: 6.34

Locative expressions as a frame-setter a miF wuL tʃʰiF ɜL-kɥeL person in religion in-EXT.IN R L djɛ̃ wu =boL tsʰiR ɜL-kɥeL earth in=FRM salt in-EXT.IN ‘People have faith in mind, and the earth has salt inside.’ [Proverb] b

ʐɨLtʃʰɥeH beL=boL=neL mɜLtsɨL tiH right:side at=FRM=DSC cat one ‘On the right, a cat is drawn, …’


toL=boL tʃɨH=ɡeH lɜjL ʐõH sheep on=FRM water=TOP heavy ‘To the sheep, water (on its body) is heavy.’ [Proverb]


sɜLpɑH=ɡjɑH toH=boL pɜLtsɨL=ɡeL leaf=M on=FRM flower=TOP ‘Above the leaves grow the flowers.’

ɜL-ɖʐʉL in-write

ɡəL-xĩR out-grow

As seen in (6.34a)–(6.34c), the locative is typically introduced with a postposition. However, a relational noun is employed in (6.34d) (cf. §7.1.4). Conditional clause is among the commonly found scene-setting frames in Prinmi (cf. Haiman 1978). Structurally, the conditional frame is always a clause. In (6.35), the simple conditional frame contains only one word. Note that in (6.35b) the conditional frame is not marked by bo, although it can easily be attached to it. 6.35

Conditional clause as a frame-setter a bo R pʰjɛ̃R=boL xɜHkiH tʰɜL-ʃɨL DSC flee=FRM where TLC-go ‘Well, where do (we) go, if (we) run away?’




nõR mɑR=dzɨL tʃʰeL tiH ɡəH-tiL or N=COP meal one out-put ‘If not, put some cooked rice (there).’

The topic marker ɡe is incompatible with speech act participants in Prinmi, since they are inherently high in topicality (Wierzbicka 1981). However, they can be encoded as a scene-setting frame. Consider the following examples: 6.36

Marking of interlocutor as an agent frame a hə̃F ɜH=boH/#ɡeH njɑH=ɡjɑH dzɨR=mɑL=tʉF INT 1SG=FRM/TOP 2SG;M=M eat =N=EXP ‘Huh, as for me, I haven’t eaten yours.’ b

təLboR neL=boH/#ɡeH ʈʂĩLʈʂuL=ɡeH then 2SG=FRM/TOP pestle=TOP ‘Then you take a pestle, …’

dɜL-ʐuH CLC-carry;2SG

The use of agent frame may give rise to some discourse implication. For instance, the utterance in (6.36a) implies that the proposition about not having eaten the other’s food holds true only to the agent frame. Prinmi has no specific marking for contrastive topic. A convenient way to convey contrast a topic is to place it in an agent frame. Consequently, contrastive topic typically receives marking by both ɡe and bo, e.g.: 6.37

ʃjõF=ɡeL=boL boR təL=ɡjɑR ɖʐɜH=ɡeL=boL golden.pheasant=TOP=FRM DSC this=M after=TOP=FRM sɜHkʰʉL kʰʉL ʃjɑL waF mɑR=wə̃L twig top rest dare N=ASR ‘As for Golden Pheasant, (he) dares not rest on a branch from then on, …’

As shown in (6.37), it is possible for a sentence to include more than one scene-setting frame: an agent frame followed by a temporal frame. In passing, it is worth mentioning the ‘attention-calling’ function of bo at the beginning of utterances. For instance: 6.38 a

boR neLɹəH sõLpɜjLkɥɛF̃ =ɡeL=boL pʰjɛL̃ kʰuR=kɜjL DSC 2PL three:brothers=TOP=FRM flee need=VLT ‘Well, the three of you need to run away.’




təLboR təH tsʉF=ɡeL nɜL-tʃeHɹõH=nõL then this son=TOP down-hungry=DUR ‘Well, this young fellow was hungry, …’

The discourse clitic either occurs by itself, as in (6.38a), or in the form of təLboR (plausibly attached to the demonstrative təH), as in (6.38b). It can also appear in reduplication alone or after kʰeH ‘time’. Such use of bo is undoubtedly motivated by discourse need in spontaneous speech. However, all consultants unanimously deemed it unnecessary to transcribe them in recorded texts, and constantly discarded them. Notice also that bo in this usage typically bears a rising tone. 6.4.2. Focus marker The focus marker ʃjɛ̃, used less frequently than the other pragmatic clitics, represents a dialectal element found specifically in Xīnyingpán Prinmi (among the known varieties of the language). The clitic often implies pragmatic contrast on the noun phrase that it modifies. The host to which it is attached may bear a core function, as in (6.39a), or an oblique function, (6.39b): 6.39 a


ɑHliL=ʃjɛ̃L sʉHdʉL Ali=FOC think ‘It was Ali who thought ...’ ʒɨF=ɡõL tɜHpʰɜjL=ʃjɛ̃L koLjiL=ɡjɑH ljuR lɑL tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeR bow=INS one:shot=FOC crow=M crop also TLC-tear ‘(he) tore Crow’s crop with (his) bow in just one shot.’

The focus marker highlights a selected argument by contrasting it against other plausible members in a closed set defined by discourse context. In (6.39a), ɑHliL is highlighted and placed in contrast to his brother, which is his rival in a story. Similarly, the manner expression tɜHpʰɜjL ‘in one shot’ in (6.39b) is intended to contrast to other plausible manners such as two or three shots. The kind of contrast implied by ʃjɛ̃ is quite different from those arising occasionally with other pragmatic clitics. Consider the contrastive reading associated with the frame-setter in (6.40) and the noun phrases marked as topics in (6.41), all rendered as italic: 6.40


kʰʉR toL dzĩL ʃɨL=ɹõL 1SG=FRM top on sit go=IPFV;1SG ‘as for me, I’ll go to sit at the top.’




ʒjɑLn̥jɛR̃ kiHpuL=ɡjɑL tsõLɡyH=ɡeH ɡjɑH=ɹəH beL ɡjɑH ancient cuckoo=M attire=TOP pretty=PL at pretty H L L L L H H L ʃjõ ɹə pu =ɡjɑ tsõ ɡy =ɡe mɑ -ɡjɑH golden.pheasant=M attire=TOP N-pretty ‘Once upon a time, Cuckoo had the most beautiful clothing (and) Golden Pheasant’s clothing was ugly.’

In (6.40) ‘sitting at the top’ is encoded as applicable only to the host in the agent frame, as opposed to others. This implication may be read as a kind of indirect contrast, as it is not intended for comparing ‘my sitting at the top’ against ‘someone else’s sitting at the top’. In (6.41) a direct contrast exists between the two explicit topics in the clauses in virtue of the predicates that oppose each other. This differs fundamentally from the kind of suggestive contrast signaled by the focus marker, where the target of contrast is implicit.


STRUCTURE OF NOUN PHRASES Six types of modifying element may appear in a Prinmi noun phrase. According to their positions relative to the head noun, the structure of noun phrase can be formulated as follows: 7.1

NP = Modificator + Demonstrative + Noun + Head Noun + Adjective + Numeral expression + Postposition/Clitic

As shown in (7.1), the first three kinds precede the head noun which they qualify, while the other three follow it. Their word order in the noun phrase is such that single words are situated closer to the head and other elements, clitics or larger constituents, distributed at the two edges. Given the quasi-clitic status of Prinmi postpositions (§4.3.9), they are treated as clitics in a noun phrase. Complexity of noun phrase is mainly realized with the modificator, whose structure ranges from a single word to a relative clause. This chapter starts with a detailed study of the modificator, followed by a description of nominal clitics and discussion of the overall structure of noun phrase. 7.1. The modificator The ‘modificator’ refers to a special type of modifier, typically signified by the modificatory clitic ɑ or one of its variants in such complex forms as ɡjɑ, ɹɑ, si=ɑ and so forth. This term should be distinguished from other more general modifiers such as lexical or compound attributes. Through the modificatory clitic, the modificator is related to the head of a noun phrase as follows: 7.2

Modificator + Modificatory clitic + Head Noun

The clitic marking is often omissible. According to the environment of occurrence, the meaning of a modificator can usually be pinpointed to one of the following: (a) a genitive expression, (b) a restrictive expression/relative clause, (c) a relational expression, and (d) a temporal expression. These are studied after examining the modificatory clitic.



7.1.1. The modificatory clitic The modificatory clitic ɑ tends to occur in a complex form such as ɡjɑ (fused with the topic clitic ɡe), ɹɑ (with the plural clitic ɹə, or with the imperfective ɹju), si=ɑ [sjɑ] (with the perfective si) and tʃjɑ (with the mirative clitic tʃɨ). Phonologically, the modificatory clitic always triggers some change on the vowel of the preceding morpheme (as discussed in § Consequently, all these complex forms are monosyllabic. In such complex forms the meaning of the topic and the imperfective clitics has been weakened to the extent of virtual emptiness; they mainly serve to provide a separate dummy-like syllable for the modificatory clitic to cling to. Consider the following instances: 7.3


lɥɛHmɜLlɑ̃L ɡəL-tʰɥɛL̃ =siL=ɡjɑL lɥɛF ash:soup out-drink;3=PFV=M ash ‘the ash in the ash soup that (she) drank’


tʰɜL-pʰɑLpʰɑH bjɛL̃ =ʃoH=ɹɑH niL tʰɜL-pɑL dõR wing TLC-spread fly=OPT=IPFV;M like TLC-do ‘(Magpie) opened his wings and was just about to fly, …’

The modificatory clitic could have fused with the perfective si in (7.3a). In contrast, no alternative to ɹɑ is available in (7.3b), as the optative clitic does not occur in such complex form as *ʃɑ. In the case of a single-noun modificator, the complex form ɡjɑ is often employed to mark the modificatory relation, e.g.: 7.4

pɜjLtɜjH=ɡjɑH kʰʴəH brother:big=M foot ‘Big Brother’s feet’

If a modificator ends with a noun marked with the plural clitic ɹə, the modificatory clitic is simply fused with it, and ɡjɑ cannot be used. For instance: 7.5

tʃĩH=ɹɑH wuL house=PL;M inside ‘in the houses’


* tʃĩH=ɹəH=ɡjɑL wuL house=PL=M inside

When a modificator ends with a postposition, ɑ is attached directly to the postposition, causing a glidization of its vowel to yield a monosyllable. For example:





ʈʂaF to=ɑL məHdəL koHkɥeL sɜjLkɥeH soil on=M all air:EXT.IN blood:EXT.IN=PL ‘all the animals on earth’


sjɛL̃ bõH be=ɑL əHtəH miF=ɡeL tree at=M that person=TOP ‘that person in the tree’

Following a clausal modificator, ɑ is attached to the final word in the clause. It may be fused directly with the verb, resulting in a diphthong. For instance: lɜLljɛR̃ bõL=ɑH tɜHn̥iL very cold=M one:day ‘a very cold day’


If an aspectual clitic occupies the clause-final position, attaching the modificatory clitic after it will lead to a complex form such as si=ɑ, ɹɑ and so on: 7.8


ʃjõF=ɡjɑL tjɑR nɜL-ɡyH=si=ɑL tsõLɡyH golden.pheasant=M now down-dress=PFV=M attire ‘the clothes that Golden Pheasant wears nowadays’


tɜH-tɑH=ɹɑL kʰeL=boL up-arrive=IPFV;M time=FRM ‘when (it) rises, …’


njɑH kʰɥɛH wuL ɡjɑH=ɹu=ɑL 2SG;M heart in love=IPFV;2SG=M ‘the person you love in your heart’

miF=ɡeL person=TOP

Despite the great number of variants available, the use of modificatory clitic is not obligatory in Prinmi, i.e. morphosyntactic marking on the modificator is optional. 7.1.2. The genitive expression When the modificatory clitic is attached to a personal pronoun, the semantic relation between the modificator and the pronoun is construed as possessor-and-possessee. The genitive expression is not sensitive to alienability of the possessee. The possessee may be alien-



able objects, body parts, or kinship terms, as shown in (7.9), (7.10), and (7.11) respectively. 1 7.9




Genitive expressions with alienable objects b ɜH=ɡjɑH puLkɑH a ɜH=ɡjɑH tʃɥɛ̃F 1SG=M lunch 1SG=M shoe ‘my lunch’ ‘my shoe’ c

njɑH=ɡjɑH tʃɥɛ̃F=ɡeL 2SG;M=M lunch=TOP ‘your lunch’


niF=ɡjɑL pʰɜHtɜjL 3SG=M umbrella ‘his/her umbrella’


njɑH tsõLɡyH=ɡeH 2SG;M attire=TOP ‘your dress’

Genitive expressions with body part terms a ɜH=ɡjɑH kʰʴəH b ɜH=ɡjɑH mjɑF 1SG=M foot 1SG=M eye ‘my foot’ ‘my eye’ c

njɑH kʰʴəH 2SG;M foot ‘your foot’


njɑH=ɡjɑH mjɑF 2SG;M=M eye ‘your eye’


niF=ɡjɑL kʰʴəH 3SG=M foot ‘his/her/its foot’


tɑLpɑR 3SG=M buttocks ‘his/her/its buttocks’ niF=ɡjɑL

Genitive expressions with kin terms a ɜH=ɡjɑH jiHtsɨL 1SG=M grandchild ‘my grandchild’ b

njɑH=ɡjɑH tsʉF 2SG;M=M son ‘your son’


njɑH pɜjL=ɡeH=boL 2SG;M brother=TOP=FRM ‘your brother’


niF=ɡjɑL m̥iF 3SG=M daughter ‘his/her daughter’


tsɨLtsɨF 3SG=M nephew ‘his/her maternal nephew’ niF=ɡjɑL

Since examples of noun phrases in this chapter are rendered isolated from discourse context, pragmatic clitics are generally ignored in English translations.



As shown in (7.9b), (7.10b), and (7.11b), the modificatory clitic may occur twice after the second-person singular pronoun. The variation basically reflects the extension force of ɡjɑ. It has no synchronic bearing. The double marking can be regarded as stylistic; it is possible to leave out ɡjɑ after the second-person singular pronoun, thereby avoiding the redundant marking. However, it is unacceptable to employ the complex form alone after removing the clitic from the pronoun, i.e. #neR ɡjɑH tsʉF ‘your son’. The double modificatory marking is exceptional. In general, the principle of economy is at work and multiple overt markings are avoided. For instance, in genitive expressions, such as (7.12), which involve embedding of possession, the first modificatory clitic is usually omitted (more on such omission below). ɜH(=ɡjɑH) ɖʐuH=ɡjɑL tsɨLtsɨF=ɡeL 1SG=M friend=M nephew=TOP ‘my friend’s maternal nephew’


As pointed out above, ɡjɑ is incompatible with the plural morpheme ɹə. After the plural form of a personal pronoun, the modificatory clitic is fused directly with the plural morpheme, e.g.: 7.13 a



‘our ox’ c



kwɜH ox H




‘our eyes’ L

ne ɹɑ kʰɥɛ wu 2PL;M heart:inside ‘in your mind’


mjɑF eye

neLɹɑH swɑ̃F 2PL;M father ‘your father’

Sometimes the modificatory clitic may relate an abstract noun to a pronoun, e.g.: 7.14

xɜL=ɡjɑR kʴiLʈʂʰwɑH who=M sing:sound ‘whose singing’

A vague genitive interpretation is possible for the example in (7.14). To be precise, the pronoun here should be construed as expressing the source of sound of singing. The genitive reading is not available when the modificator is a non-personal pronoun, irrespective of the meaning of the head noun. In such cases, the modificator is no more than a general modifying element:


7.15 a

meF=ɡjɑL pʰɜHdziH what=M news:perfect ‘what reliable news’



meF=ɡjɑL ʈʂʰɑLlaR what=M idea ‘what idea’

As well as a personal pronoun, the modificator in a genitive expression can also be a noun, often an animate one. The following are examples of various types of possessee: 7.16 a

kiHpuL=ɡjɑL tsõLɡyH=ɡeH cuckoo=M attire=TOP ‘Cuckoo’s clothing’

(alienable object)


koLjiL=ɡjɑH ljuR crow=M crop ‘Crow’s crop’

(body part)


pɜHdiH=ɡjɑL tsʉF frog=M son ‘the young of frogs’



(abstract possessee) kɥɛL̃ =ɡjɑH kɥɛ̃HtʃɨH brother=M clause:say ‘the younger brother’s words’

With appropriate discourse context, a possessee in the genitive expression can be rendered in the form of zero anaphor, e.g.: 7.17 a

niF=ɡjɑL 3SG=M


‘his (clothes)’ b


njɑH=ɡjɑH ø 2SG;M=M

‘your (honey dumplings)’ c

kiHpuL=ɡjɑL ø cuckoo=M ‘Cuckoo’s (clothes)’

The use of zero anaphor in the genitive expression is infrequent in the corpus of data. This is probably attributed to discourse factors for occurrence of the zero anaphor. Unless the speaker is confident that the cognitive status of the possessee is high enough to prevent any communication impediment, the head noun in the genitive expression will be expressed explicitly. It should also be pointed out that only a



possessee may be rendered implicit, i.e. the use of zero anaphor is possible only to genitive expressions. Omission of the modificatory clitic is rather common in Prinmi. It is observed in all types of expression built on the modificatory relation. The following pair of sentences is taken from the Deluge Myth. They are semantically identical; (7.18b), without any modificatory clitic, represents a succinct version of (7.18a). 7.18 a


pɜHdiH=ɡeL ɜH=ɡjɑH ɖʐuL dzɨF frog=TOP 1SG=M friend COP;3 ‘Frog is my friend.’ pɜHdiH ɜH ɖʐuL dzɨF frog 1SG friend COP;3 ‘Frog is my friend.’ 7.1.3. The restrictive expression/relative clause

The restrictive expression is typically, but not always, a clausal modificator. A restrictive expression with clause structure may be referred to as a relative clause. This subsection first provides a basic description of relative clauses in Prinmi and then makes a brief comparison of them with English relative clauses. Finally, the issue of nominalization is addressed. Basic properties of relative clauses As in genitive expressions, the modificatory clitic in restrictive expressions/relative clauses is optional, cf. (7.23c) below. If present, it serves as the sole indicator of relative clause in Prinmi. The predicate in a relative clause may host a variety of clitics such as the perfective in (7.19)–(7.20) and the imperfective in (7.21). The modificatory clitic is usually fused with the final clitic in the relative clause. Other forms are also possible, e.g. (7.22a), which contains no verbal clitic, and (7.22b), in which the general modificatory clitic is employed. (The modificator and the modificatory clitic appear in italics in the following examples.) 7.19

Head noun interpreted as A in the relative clause ɜH tʰɜL-tʃɥɛ̃H=si=ɑH ɖʐuL=ɡeH 1SG TLC-see;3=PFV=M friend=TOP ‘the friend who saw me’



Head noun interpreted as P in the relative clause nɜL-pʰɜL=si=ɑH sjɛL̃ =ɡeH down-fell=PFV=M wood=TOP ‘the firewood that (he) felled’


Head noun interpreted as S in the relative clause ɖʐõL=ɹɑL n̥iL sõLn̥iH three:day become=IPFV;M day ‘the third day (lit. the day that becomes the third day)’



Head noun without any core function in the relative clause kɥe=ɑH sjɛL̃ bõH a duL poison EXT.IN=M tree ‘a poisonous tree’ b

lɥɛHmɜLlɑ̃L ɡəL-tʰɥɛ̃L=siL=ɡjɑL lɥɛF ash:soup out-drink;3=PFV=M ash ‘the ash in the ash soup that (she) drank’

The head noun of a relative clause can function as A, P, or S in relation to the predicate of the embedded clause, as shown in (7.19)– (7.21) respectively. It is also possible for the head noun not to bear any core function in the relative clause. In (7.22a) the head noun sjɛ̃LbõH ‘tree’ denotes a location for the existence of duR ‘poison’, whereas in (7.22b), the head noun lɥɛF ‘ash’ is semantically associated only with the argument lɥɛHmɜLlɑ̃L ‘ash soup’ in the relative clause. The choice of a clitic form for the modificatory marking is irrelevant to the kind of relation held between the head noun and the embedded verb. There is a tendency to place a relative clause at the beginning of a sentence. Being modified by a relative clause has no bearing on the potential syntactic function of a noun in the matrix clause. The head noun can serve as either a core argument or an oblique argument in a sentence. The former is exemplified in (7.23), and the latter in (7.24). 7.23 a

sjɛ̃LbõH=ɡjɑH dʒiR loL nɜL-pɜjH=si=ɑH tree=M back outside down-hide=PFV=M L H L pʰɜ tʰɜ mi xeHtsɨH tʰɜL-tʃɥɛH̃ =siL youth fairy TLC-see;3=PFV ‘The youth who has hidden behind the tree saw the fairies.’




sjɛ̃LbõH beL nɜL-bĩH=si=ɑH sʉL=ɹəH tʃjɛL̃ =ɹõH tree at down-fall=PFV=M fruit=PL child=PL;INS L H dɜ -jõ =siH CLC-pick= PFV ‘The children picked up fruit that had fallen off the tree.’


ʒjɑHniL ɜH dɜL-pʰʴɜF=siL ɖʐəLɖʐuH=ɡeL təH=ɡeL dzɨL yesterday 1SG CLC-meet=PFV friend=TOP this=TOP COP;3 ‘The friend whom I ran into yesterday is this (one).’

The head nouns (rendered in boldface) of the relative clauses in (7.23) have the functions of A, P, and S respectively. Note that in (7.23c) the modificatory relation is not explicitly marked by any clitics. A relative clause may also qualify a noun which functions as an oblique argument or a peripheral adjunct, for instance: Instrumental in (7.24a), Locative in (7.24b), and as a topic in (7.24c). 7.24 a

m̥əLʈʂɑL=ɡõH=neH tʃjɛ̃L=ɡjɑH dɜL-kʰɥɛ̃L=si=ɑH girl=INS=DSC child=M CLC-give;3=PFV=M L H H L H H L tɜ tsɑ =ɡõ n̥i tʃʰjõ le to tɜHxɑL tʰɜL-kʰɥɛL̃ =siL stick=INS boy on one:CLF TLC-give;3=PFV ‘The girl gave the boy a tap with the stick that the child gave (her).’


toL ɑLbɑH tɜLnɜL=nõR tʰɜL-dzuL=si=ɑH ɡɑ̃F ʃiL dad just=DSC TLC-make=PFV=M bed new on L H L L H L H H kɥɛ̃ kɥɛ̃ kɜ tsɜj =ɡõ nɜ -dzõ =si brother little=INS down-sit=PFV ‘Little Brother sat on the new bed that Dad has just made.’


boL təL=ɡõR tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeH=si=ɑH mʉLkʉH=ɹəH ɹəLʂɨR DSC this=INS TLC-feed=PFV=M livestock=PL skin:meat H L tʃʰy ʈʂɑ good exceed ‘Well, the livestock that are fed with this, (their) meat and skin is extremely good.’

Notice that the modificatory clitic ɡjɑ is employed after the Agent tʃjɛ̃R ‘child’ in the relative clause in (7.24a). Such marking is not found in all relative clauses, as witnessed with the Agent ɑLbɑH ‘dad’ in (7.24b), and the clitic is not freely omissible. The consultant rejected the sentence when the modificatory clitic ɡjɑ was left out from (7.24a), but he accepted the change when one was added after the



embedded Agent in (7.24b). The difference, if any, signaled by the genitive-like marking on the Agent is beyond native speakers’ conscious reflection. Even the main consultant offered no explanation for the use of such marking. 2 A brief comparison to English relative clauses Prinmi relative clauses can be rather different in structure from other languages such as English. Consider the following examples: 7.25 a

neR xɜHkiL tʰɜL-ɹ̥ ʉL=si=ɑL ɡɥɛL̃ =ɡeH əHni=ɑL 2SG where TLC-buy=PFV=M horse=TOP so=M xɑF tiL good NMLC ‘The horse, (which was) so stout, where did you buy it?’


ɖʐɑ̃Lɖʐɑ̃L=ɹɑL dzɑF=ɡeL tʰɜL-tʃɥɛL̃ miF person walk=IPFV;M shadow=TOP TLC-see;3 ‘ (he) saw the shadows of people (who were) walking, …’


miF=ɡeL zʉR beL=ɡeL ɣoLtyL djõF-mi=ɑL face at=TOP wart EXT.IAN-NMLZ=M person=TOP ‘the person with facial warts’


mjɑHbuLtɜjL tʃɨLdĩHdiH-mi=ɑL təH ʃɨHbɑH eyelid:big flood:cast-er=M this dragon:family L F m̥ə ɡjɛ̃ old.man (i) ‘this old man of the Dragon family, the flood-starter who has big eyelids’ or (ii) ‘this old man of the Dragon family, who has big eyelids and started the flood’

In (7.25a) the restrictive clause contains an interrogative pronoun and the clause represents an information-seeking question. In (7.25b) and (7.25c), the head nouns do not assume any grammatical role with the embedded verbs in the relative clauses (see (7.28) below for discussion of the nominalizer -mi in (7.25c)). Instead, these head nouns hold a possession relation with an argument in each of the clauses: as the possessee in (7.25b) and the possessor in (7.25c). Finally, (7.25d) 2

Japanese shows a very similar situation with the use of no, equivalent to Prinmi ɡjɑ, to mark the Agent in relative clauses (cf. Shibatani 1990; Matsumoto 1997; Tsujimura 2007). Further study may shed light on this interesting usage, perhaps from a typological perspective.



contains two restrictive expressions. The target of modification of the first one is ambiguous, as shown in the two possible translations: it may modify the noun ‘flood-starter’ or the head of the noun phrase, m̥əLɡjɛ̃F ‘old man’. The function of relative clause in Prinmi resembles only one variety of English relative clauses: the restrictive relative clause. Other varieties such as non-restrictive and headless relative clauses find no equivalent in Prinmi. A headless relative clause is simply expressed as a clausal topic. For instance: 7.26 a


pʉHniL ɑLɹəH dzĩH=ɹĩL=ɡeL=boL ɹɜHkɑL dzɨL today 1PL.EX eat=IPFV;1PL=TOP=FRM bone COP;3 ‘What we eat today is ribs.’ pɑHleH be=ɑL ɜL-ɖʐʉL=siH=ɡeH mɜLtsɨL tiH dzɨH clothes at=M in-write=PFV=TOP cat one COP;3 L L L H H nõ l̥ ju tsɨ ti dzɨ or hare one COP;3 ‘Whatever was drawn on the clothes, is (it) a cat or a rabbit?’

Lambrecht (1994: 51-52) notes that restrictive relative clauses in English typically involve presupposed information. This pragmatic property also holds true for Prinmi relative clauses, or more generally, restrictive expressions as a whole. Consider the following: 7.27 a

( tjɑR tsʉHkɜHtsɜjL=ɡõL ʈʂĩLʈʂuL=ɡeH nɜL-dyL now son:small=INS pestle=TOP down-cast;3 H H L L L kʰe =bo kʰõ tʰõ tʃɨ ) time=FRM ONOMATOPE utter kɑLwuH tʃɨH=ɡeH lɜLljɛR̃ ɡɑwR under water=TOP very deep L R tʃɨ tʰõ wuL nɜL-ʃɨH=siH=ɡjɑL ʈʂʰwɑH=ɡeH ɡəL-tʃʰjõL pond in down-go=PFV=M sound=TOP out-appear ‘(Now, when the young fellow threw the pestle down, it went “kong-tong”.) The water below was very deep; it sounded like falling into a deep pond.’ [Pragmatic presupposition: something was thrown down.]




tsɑHɡjõH dʒiL=ɹɑH l̥ wɜjHtsʰõH=ɡeL=boL tsʰiR dried.pork saturate=IPFV;M spice=TOP=FRM salt R H L R H L L se kɨ ɹə ʈʂɨ ʐə tsʰõ dzɨ pepper garlic liquor four:kind COP;3 ‘The spices for seasoning whole-body dried pork, (they) are salt, pepper, garlic, (and) liquor — four kinds.’ [Pragmatic presupposition: whole-body dried pork, like other preserved food, needs to be seasoned with spices.]


tʃeHmeH ʃɑwH=ɹɑH kwɜH=ɡeL=boL=neL eLɹɑH ox=TOP=FRM=DSC 1PL.IN;M home raise=IPFV;M L L H L dzɨ mʉ kʉ =ɡe livestock=TOP COP;3 ‘The word gua, it refers to the livestock that we raise at home.’ [Pragmatic presupposition: the addressee knows the kind of livestock raised at home.]

The examples in (7.27) are taken from various texts. The larger context for the relative clause is included in (7.27a). When the story-teller commented that the water was very deep, the entire sentence was intended to convey that the pestle had been thrown down into deep water, which presupposed the audience’s knowledge about something having been thrown down. The situations for the other examples are similar, although the kind of presupposition involves information based on common sense. Modificatory marking and nominalization Many Tibeto-Burman languages have been observed to employ one morpheme (or a set of variants) to mark both genitive and relative clauses (cf. Matisoff 1972; Herring 1991, LaPolla 2003, Genetti 2007 among others). Prinmi behaves like the majority in this regard but the modificatory clitic does not have a nominalizing function in Prinmi. Nominalization found in similar attributive expressions reported for some Tibeto-Burman languages in the literature is inapplicable to Prinmi. A kind of nominalization is sometimes observed in Prinmi restrictive expressions. Consider the function of -mi in the following: 7.28 a

loHpjɑH-mi=ɑL pɜjLtɜjH=ɡeL work:do-er=M brother:big=TOP ‘the big brother among working people (or: the big brother



who does work)’ b

m̥əLɡjɛF̃ tʃɨLdĩHdiH-mi=ɑL ʃɨHbɑH flood:cast-er=M dragon:family old.man ʃɨHbɑH puLdiLmɑH=ɹəH dragon:family old.woman=PL ‘the old man and old woman of the Dragon family, the flood-starters (or: the old man and old woman of the Dragon family who started the flood)’


miF=ɡeL ɣoLtyL ɡəL-xĩH-mi=ɑL wart out-grow-NMLZ=M person=TOP ‘the person with warts’

As noted in §, -mi has originated from the word miF ‘person’; it is used to derive a nominal form for the agent of an act. A necessary, but not sufficient, condition for its occurrence in restrictive expressions is that the head noun must be a person or personified being. Compare the following examples in which -mi does not occur with a head noun referring to a person: 7.29 a


ʈʂaFpoL nɜL-tsjɛ̃L pɑL=si=ɑL miF soil:below down-hit do=PFV=M person ‘the person who deliberately fell down on the ground’ dɜL-pʰʴɜF=siL ɖʐəLɖʐuH=ɡeL ʒjɑHniL ɜH yesterday 1SG CLC-meet=PFV friend=TOP ‘The friend whom I ran into yesterday’

Depending on how the function of the suffix -mi is analyzed, the modificators in (7.28a) and (7.28b) may be interpreted as general restrictive expressions, where -mi derives a nominal word from a compound, rather than relative clauses. This analysis is preferred for (7.28a) and (7.28b) because these two modificators can appear freely outside the noun phrase. In contrast, a clause predicated by a prefixed verb definitely occurs in (7.28c). Here -mi serves as a clause nominalizer, a function found typically in the focus-presupposition construction (see § Moreover, -mi=ɑ in (7.28c) can be replaced by the clitic ɡjɑ. This suggests that nominalization is not an essential process for relative clauses in Prinmi.



7.1.4. Relational and temporal expressions A relational expression consists of three elements: a modificator, a modificatory clitic and a relational noun. Unlike that in other modificatory expressions, the head noun in a relational expression must be introduced by a modificatory clitic. For instance: 7.30 a

sɜLpɑH=ɡjɑH toH=boL wood:leaf=M on=FRM ‘above the leaf (lit. the above of the leaf)’


ɹwɜL=ɡjɑR wuL road=M inside ‘on the road’


l̥ ɑLtsɨL=ɹɑH beH finger=PL;M at ‘on the fingers’

Moreover, the noun phrase must be headed by a relational noun in order to denote a relational meaning. The relational expression is semantically identical to that conveyed by a postposition. Compare the following: 7.31 a

l̥ ɑLtsɨL=ɹɑH beH finger=PL;M at ‘on the fingers’


l̥ ɑLtsɨR beL finger at ‘on the finger(s)’

Prima facie, (7.31b) differs from (7.31a) mainly in the omission of modificatory marking. Such omission is a general feature observed with the modificatory expressions. However, in the case of relational expressions, it gives rise to a reanalysis. Instead of treating the italic word in (7.31b) as the head of the phrase, beL is considered to have been grammaticalized to a postposition, and, as such, it often bears the default low tone. 3 This kind of alternation between a relational noun and a postposition is observed with all locational postpositions, but not all relational expressions can be reanalyzed as containing a postposition. For example, the modificatory marking in (7.32) is compulsory.


See DeLancey (1997b) for discussion of a similar grammaticalization from relational nouns to postpositions in other Tibeto-Burman languages.



7.32 a

ʈʂaFpoL nɜL-tsjɛL̃ pɑL=si=ɑL miF=ɡjɑL dzɨH soil:below down-hit do=PFV=M person=M vicinity ‘near the person who deliberately fell down on the ground’


təH dzɜLbɑH=ɡjɑH ɡõH=boL this trap=M inside=FRM ‘inside the animal trap’


ʒjɑLpuLtõH=ɡjɑH loF palm=M outside ‘the outside of the palm’


pɑHtʃjɑL sjɛL̃ tɜjHbõL=ɡjɑL ɡuLʒĩH Bajia wood:big:tree=M middle ‘the middle of the Big Bajia Tree’


jiLtsʉF=ɡjɑL bʴɑ̃RpoL conch:son=M root:below ‘the bottom of the small conches’

Sometimes a demonstrative alone can serve as the modificator in a relational expression, e.g.: 7.33 a


təL=ɡjɑR dʒeL this=M place ‘from here’ təL=ɡjɑR ɡõH=nõH this=M inside=DSC ‘inside this’

After a demonstrative the choice of modificatory clitic must be ɡjɑR. It can be omitted, if the head noun has developed a postpositional function, as is the case for the noun in (7.33a), but not the one in (7.33b). The modificatory relation is also used regularly in temporal expressions. Similar to relational expressions, the head of the phrase is semantically restricted: only a temporal noun can take this role. The two most frequently found temporal nouns in modificatory expressions are ɖʐɜF ‘after’ and kʰeH ‘time’, as exemplified in (7.34) and (7.35), respectively. 7.34 a

təL=ɡjɑR ɖʐɜF=ɡeL=boL this=M after=TOP=FRM ‘after this’



7.35 a



bɑLlɜjH=ɡeH tɜL-sɨH=ɹɑL ɖʐɜF=ɡeL snake=TOP CLC-alive=IPFV;M after=TOP ‘after the snake becomes alive’ m̥əLɡjɛF̃ =ɡeL=niL puLdiLmɑH ʃɨHbɑH Dragon:family old.man=TOP=COM old.woman dzɨL=ɹɑH kʰeL=boL eat=IPFV;M time=FRM ‘at the time when the old man and old woman of the Dragon family are eating’ kʰeL=boL ɡəL-ʒɨL=si=ɑH out-sleep=PFV=M time=FRM ‘at the time when (we) sleep’

In the simple case, the modificator may be no more than a demonstrative, as seen in (7.34a). This is common in expressions headed by ɖʐɜF ‘after’, but impossible with kʰeH ‘time’. The latter always requires a clausal modificator, as seen in (7.35). 7.2. Nominal clitics Nominal clitics are mainly attached to noun phrases. In accordance with their functions, two types can be distinguished: number clitic and discourse clitic. 7.2.1. Number clitics: ɹə and dzɑ̃ Prinmi nouns are not inflected for number. One way to express plurality is by means of number clitics: ɹə for the plural and dzɑ̃ for the dual. Like other nominal clitics, the use of number clitics is optional and often omissible. Pragmatically, the host noun gains a sense of specificity after it is attached with a number clitic. The following are exemplified with the dual clitic dzɑ̃: 7.36 a


pɜjL=dzɑ̃H brother=DU ‘(the) two elder brothers’ tsʉF=dzɑ̃L son=DU ‘(the) two sons’




kʰʴəH=dzɑ̃H leg=DU ‘(the) two legs’


põLbɑH=dzɑ̃H vase=DU ‘(the) two vases’

When used with a body part term, the two parts conveyed by dzɑ̃ are understood to belong to a single body. The dual clitic cannot modify a ‘mass’ noun such as mɜR ‘fire’. The occurrence of ɹə is much more frequent than dzɑ̃. It can appear with all types of COMMON noun, including ‘mass’ nouns, as in (7.37): 7.37 a


7.38 a

ʈʂaF=ɹəL soil=PL ‘(the) land’ tʃɨH=ɹəH water=PL ‘(the) waters’ pɜjL=ɹəH elder.brother=PL ‘(the) elder brothers’


muHmuH=ɹəL corpse=PL ‘(the) corpses’


tʃʰɨLn̥iH tʃʰɨLʒjɑH=ɹəL tʃʰeR meL=dzɨH how.many:day how.many:night=PL meal PF.N=eat ‘for how many days and nights, (he) hasn’t eaten any meal’

Since the plural clitic is attached to a noun phrase as a whole, it is possible to construct plurality as a sum of individual singular items in the noun phrase. For instance: 7.39

təH tsʰiH niL tsoHloH=ɹəL this plowshare COM mortar=PL ‘the plowshare and mortar’

Although the noun phrase refers only to one plowshare and one mortar, the plurality is construable when taking them collectively.



On the other hand, the plural clitic does not apply to nouns that have been qualified by an explicit quantifier such as a numeral, shown in (7.40), or a numeral-classifier compound, as in (7.41). 7.40 a b 7.41 a b

*nɜH two *sõL three

pʰuLmoL=ɹəL couple=PL pɜjLkɥɛH̃ =ɹəL brothers=PL

*tʃjɑLtʃiH=ɹəL ʐɜHtsʰõL color=PL four:kind *tsʉF son

wɜFtsɨL=ɹəL five:CLF=PL

This constraint also applies to the dual clitic. The unacceptability is probably attributed to the principle of economy: the number of a noun need not be conveyed overtly; if expressed, no redundancy should take place in the noun phrase. The plural clitic ɹə, but not the dual clitic dzɑ̃, can sometimes be attached to a verb, e.g.: 7.42 a

ɥɛH̃ =ɡeH tɜHʒɨL=boL sõHʒiL ɜL-ʒɨL jõL bear=TOP one:sleep=DSC three:month in-sleep ASR keH jõH tsõHl̥ eL beL ɜL-ʒɨL=ɹəH niLl̥ eH toL ɡəL-tɑL winter at in-sleep=PL spring on out-reach let ASR ‘A bear can sleep for three months, sleeping from winter to spring.’


ɜL-ɹõHʒɑwH=siL ø=ɹəL m̥jɛH̃ tʃĩH wuL ɜL-ʈʂɥɛH̃ m̥jɛH̃ in-wound=PFV PL clinic in in-send medicine H L L L H H nɜ -sɨ =si ø=ɹə zoHloHloL nɜL-puLdzuH nɜ -tʃʰɨ down-do down-die=PFV PL carefully down-bury ‘The wounded ones, send (them) to a clinic for medical treatment; the dead ones, bury (them) well.’

The clitic ɹə functions as a nominalizer in (7.42a), but as a plural marker in (7.42b). In the latter, the clitic is hosted by a verb only because it appears in a noun phrase with a zero anaphor modified by a short relative clause.



7.2.2. Discourse clitics Discourse clitics are usually attached to noun phrases. This subsection describes two discourse clitics commonly found in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. Other discourse clitics for nouns are discussed in §6.4. ne and njɑ The discourse clitic njɑ has an extensive range of distribution, despite its relatively low frequency in use. It appears to be a combination of the discourse clitic ne and the modificatory clitic ɑ. This is supported with the consultant’s acceptance of replacement of njɑ by ne on a number of occasions. The reverse substitution, however, is often not possible. These two clitics are mainly employed as a kind of emphatic marker after the third-person pronoun niF, e.g.: 7.43 a



ɡəL-dzʉL 3SG=DSC out-eat;3 ‘he himself ate (the food).’ nɜL-ʒɨF=siL niF=njɑL/neL nɜL-ɡəH 3SG =DSC down-fall down-come=PFV ‘(the fruit) itself fell down.’

The emphatic reading of njɑ can induce a distributive sense when it is attached to a temporal compound comprising the numeral ‘one’. For instance: 7.44 a


tɜHkjuL=njɑL Qīngmíng=ɡjɑL tʃɨH one:year=DSC Qingming=M water L F L L kʰe =bo ɡə -tʰjɛ̃ out-drink time=FRM ‘After (it) drinks the water of Qingming every year, …’ təLboR kiFpuL=ɡeL=boL tɜHn̥iL=njɑL tʃʰjõLl̥ ɥɛH̃ then cuckoo=TOP=FRM one:day=DSC wait;3 ‘Then Cuckoo waited day after day.’

If the host noun takes several enclitics, njɑ/ne is usually placed at the final position, e.g.: 7.45

təL=ɡjɑR ɖʐɜF=ɡeL=boL=njɑL/neL this=M after=TOP=FRM=DSC ‘after this’



The clitic often follows ɡõ or bo, although sometimes it may precede bo, as in ɡõ ne bo. In this case ne acts like a bridge between the other two clitics. Without it, bo cannot follow ɡõ. The clitic ne can appear in a complex form njõ, which is combined with the instrumental õ. This complex clitic can be used to highlight a first-person singular Agent, e.g.: 7.46

ɜL=njõH/*õH neL beH pʰɜHdziH xĩL=ʃoL 1SG=DSC;INS/INS 2SG at news:good tell=OPT ‘I’ll tell you some reliable news.’

In passing, it is worth mentioning that the clitic njɑ/ne is sometimes attached to a verb, as in the following as well as (7.51a): 7.47

ɹ̥ ɑ̃H nõH tsʰõF tiL mɑH=kjɜH ljɛF̃ =njɑL kɥaR long or short one N=fear firm=DSC alright ‘It doesn’t matter whether (it’s) long or short; it will do as long as (it’s) firm.’ nõ There appears to be a pair of homophonous clitics nõ: one as a discourse clitic and the other as the durative clitic (cf. § The discourse clitic nõ mainly occurs after a locational postposition, as in (7.48), or after a DEICTIC adverb, as in (7.49): 7.48

wuL=nõL tʃʰeR ɜL-jõH nɥɛL̃ pɑH winnowing.tray in=DSC meal in-rub ‘rub the dough in the winnowing tray.’


təLdʒeH=nõL tiR nɜL-dzõH=siH here=DSC one down-sit=PFV ‘oh, one is sitting right here.’

ɡjɑH ATT

The use of nõ immediately after a noun is rare. The clitic usually follows another discourse clitic, e.g.: 7.50


ɖʐɜF=ɡeL=nõL tʃɨLpɜjH wuL ɡəL-ɹoLɹɑH DSC after=TOP=DSC water:boil in out-drench ‘Afterwards, immerse (it) in boiling water.’

Note that (7.50) also contains a sentence-initial nõ, which typically occurs with a negated copula in a short clause. For instance:



7.51 a


nõR mɑR=dzɨL ɣoLtyL ɡəL-xĩH=neL miF=ɡeL DSC N=COP wart out-grow=DSC person=TOP H L L L nɜ -ɹĩ ɡə -tʃʰjõ down-suffer out-appear ‘(If) not, bad things will happen to the person with warts.’ nõR mɑR=dzɨL tʃʰeL tiH ɡəH-tiL DSC N=COP meal one out-put ‘(If) not, put some cooked rice (there).’ 7.3. Structure of noun phrase: a layered analysis

This section examines the overall composition of a noun phrase, which is repeated from (7.1) as follows: NP = Modificator + Demonstrative + Noun + Head Noun + Adjective + Numeral expression + Postposition/Clitic The order between a postposition and a clitic is determined by the types of postposition and clitic involved. Number clitics precede all other clitics and postpositions. The topic clitic ɡe follows a locational postposition but precedes a non-locational one. Other discourse clitics are usually attached to the very end of the noun phrase, starting with the frame-setter bo, if present. The general order of their occurrence is presented in Figure 7-1. Figure 7-1: Ranking of the order of occurrence for clitics and postpositions

Number clitic > Locational postposition > Topic clitic ɡe > Non-locational postposition > Frame-setting clitic bo > Discourse clitic

One way of accounting for the rigid word order of the elements in a Prinmi noun phrase is to analyze the structure of the noun phrase in terms of layers. With the head noun placed in the Center, a total of four layers can be identified, as illustrated below:



Figure 7-2: A layered structure of the noun phrase

The layer next to the Center may be called the ‘Compounding layer’, as compounding tends to occur between the head noun and modifiers on this layer. The third layer is referred to as the ‘Word layer’, where word modifiers such as the demonstrative are found, and the final one as the ‘Outer layer’. Situated on the Outer layer, the modificator, regardless of its length, always precedes the demonstrative on the Word layer (if there is one). The following, with bracketing representing the layers, illustrate this word order: 7.52 a


[ dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL=ɡjɑL [ təH [ mɑ̃H ]]=ɡeH ] Zzonbba god=M this name=TOP ‘the name of the Zzonbba god’ [ sjɛL̃ bõH be=ɑL [ əHtəH tree at=M that ‘that person in the tree’

[ miF ]]=ɡeL] person=TOP

A demonstrative occurring on the Outer layer can modify only a noun inside the modificator. This is shown in (7.53), where two demonstratives appear on different layers in the noun phrase. This example is rather ad hoc, as such repeated use of demonstrative is not found in spontaneous data. 7.53

[ əHtəH sjɛL̃ bõH be=ɑL [ əHtəH that tree at=M that ‘that person in that tree’

[ miF ]]=ɡeL] person=TOP

Depending on the head noun, the numeral expression in the noun phrase may be a numeral-classifier compound, as in (7.54), or simply a numeral, as in (7.55): 7.54

[ neLbɑH [ təH [ m̥iF ] sõLtsɨH ]=ɡeL ] 2SG:family this daughter three:CLF=TOP ‘these three daughters of your family’



7.55 a


[[ tsɑHɡjõH ] sõR ] dried.pig three ‘three whole-body dried pork’ [[tʃʰɥaR ] ʃɥɛR ] pig eight ‘eight pigs’

Like many nouns in Prinmi, the head nouns in (7.55) are counted without any classifier. Therefore, the numeral expressions contain only a numeral. The Compounding layer seldom contains a noun or an adjective as a free modifying word. This is in large part ascribed to the strong tendency for modifiers to compound with the head noun on this layer (see §5.4). The following are examples of noun modifiers (rendered as italic): 7.56 a

ɡuLʒĩH l̥ ɑHtsɨL middle finger ‘middle finger’


mɜF ʈʂʰwɑLdeL bamboo pipe ‘bamboo pipe’

Noun phrases with a free modifying noun are rare. The following expression seems to contain a noun modifier in a phrase, evinced by the possible insertion of the modificatory clitic ɡjɑ between the two nouns: 7.57

[ sõHdʒeH (=ɡjɑL) [ tʃʰiF ]=ɡeL ] Shakyamuni=M religion=TOP ‘Shakyamuni’s religion’

Nevertheless, the use of ɡjɑ suggests that the noun modifier should occur on the Outer layer as a modificator rather than on the Compounding layer. Suprasegmental changes are often observed between a noun and an adjective, suggestive of a noun-adjective compound, e.g.: 7.58 a

jiL ɣɑ̃H conch yellow ‘yellow conch’


ɹəLʈʂɨL ʂõH liquor clean ‘clean liquor’

Expressions like (7.58) are ambiguous between noun phrases and nominal compounds. However, (7.58a) is more likely than (7.58b) to be a compound, as compounding of monosyllabic words is more common. The following are noun phrases with an adjective modifier:


7.59 a


[[ təH [[ kɥɛR̃ ] kɜLtsɜjL ]]=ɡeH ] this young.brother little=TOP ‘this young brother’


[[ sõLpɜjLkɥɛF̃ ] tiL ] three:brothers some ‘some three brothers’


[[[ mɜLkʰɑwL ] tiH ] fire:smoke some ‘some kind of smoke’

tɜHtsʰõL ] one:kind

As the head noun kɥɛ̃R ‘young brother’ and the adjective kɜLtsɜjR ‘little’ both have their own prosodic domains in (7.59a), the two are considered to represent two separate words rather than a nounadjective compound. The indefinite meaning of ti seen in (7.59b) and (7.59c) is grammaticalized from the numeral tiR ‘one’. Its use for the more abstract sense is unambiguous given the occurrence of a numeral expression in the same phrase: sõR ‘three’ in (7.59b) and tɜH (variant of tiR) ‘one’ in (7.59c). Since the indefinite ti immediately follows the head noun, it is treated as an adjective modifier in the noun phrase. Under the strong tendency towards compounding, Prinmi noun phrases typically consist of no more than one free adjective, if any. Consider the following (compound formatives separated by ‘_’): [pjɛ̃L_njɑL] _tɜjH grove_dark_big ‘primeval forest’



[ɣɑ̃L_tɜjH] pʰɑLliH tiL [gold_big] basin one ‘a big golden basin’

NP=[N_Adj] + Head + Num


NP=[Head_Adj] + [N_Adj] [ɖʐuL_diH]_[kɑ̃H_ɹ̥ ɑ̃H] [wild.goose_old]_[neck_long] ‘crane (lit. old wild goose with a long-neck)’

7.60 a

Prinmi nouns are seldom modified by several words. Although the noun phrase in (7.60a) embodies two adjectives, they are compounded with the head noun. Only one adjective is found in (7.60b): tɜjH ‘big’. It combines with the noun ɣɑ̃R ‘gold’ into a compound noun, which, in turn, modifies the head noun pʰɑLliH ‘basin’. The literal meaning of the expression is thus ‘a basin (made) of a big (piece of) gold’. Finally,



multiple compoundings occur in (7.60c), resulting in a tetrasyllabic compound which comprises two noun-adjective compounds. 4 The head of Prinmi noun phrases is noteworthy in two respects: (i) it can take a complex structure, e.g. (7.61), and (ii) it may be rendered implicit; see (7.62). Structurally, the head noun in (7.61) involves coordination of two nouns: a pair of juxtaposed compounds in (7.61a) and two nouns connected with a postposition in (7.61b). 7.61 a


7.62 i ii iii

[ miF=ɡjɑL [ kʰʴəLl̥ ɑHtsɨL ʒjɑLl̥ ɑHtsɨL ]] person=M foot:finger hand:finger ‘mankind’s fingers and toes’ niL tsoHloH ]]=ɹəL ] [[ təH [ tsʰiH this plowshare COM mortar=PL ‘the plowshare and mortar’ [[ tʃʰyRn ] nɜHtsʰõL ] ʃiL jõL EXT ASR badger two:kind H L L [[[øn] tɜ tsʰõ ]=bo ] tʃʰɥaLtʃʰyH pig:badger one:kind=FRM H L L [[[øn] tɜ tsʰõ ]=bo ] tʃʰɨLtʃʰyF one:kind=FRM dog:badger ‘There are two types of badger: one kind is hog badger, and the other Eurasian badger.’

The head of the noun phrases in (7.62-ii) and (7.62-iii) is expressed as a zero anaphor, which is possible in the context of the sentence. The three noun phrases under discussion in (7.62) all share the same referent and identical structure, with a post-head compound as a modifier. Unlike the first instance in (7.62-i), however, the successive two noun phrases take a zero anaphor as the head. Such implicit expressions require support of special discourse context. Therefore, they are uncommon. Although seven elements are identified for a Prinmi noun phrase, no instance has been found with all of them present in one large phrase. The most complex one in the corpus is the following:


Prinmi often employs tetrasyllabic expressions for naming insects and wild animals.




[ mjɑHbuLtɜjL tʃɨLdĩH diH-mi=ɑL [ təH [ ʃɨHbɑH eye:lid:big flood:cast-er=M this dragon:family L F H H L L [ m̥ə ɡjɛ̃ ]] [ ʃɨ bɑ [ pu di ]] nɜHtsɨL ]] old.man dragon:family old.woman two:CLF ‘these two of the old man and old woman of the Dragon family who have big eyelids and started the flood’

Except for the postposition/clitic, this complex noun phrase makes a full display of all other elements: two modificators, a demonstrative, a pair of co-ordinate heads, each modified by a noun, and, finally, a numeral expression. The notion of noun phrase is conventionally extended to a pronominal head. The extension seems logical and natural inasmuch as the function of a pronoun is regarded as replacing a noun. This assumption cannot be taken for granted in Prinmi, however. Except for thirdperson pronouns, Prinmi pronouns behave quite differently from nouns as regards to the selection of topic clitics and tone changes with certain postpositions. Nonetheless, given the significant overlap in functional distribution between pronouns and nouns, it will still be useful to consider pronouns as representing a kind of special noun phrase. When headed by a pronoun, the noun phrase inevitably diminishes its nominal properties. Barring postpositions and clitics, no other elements discussed above can enter the noun phrase. In other words, Prinmi pronouns cannot be qualified by any modificator, demonstrative, noun, adjective, or numeral expression.


GRAMMATICAL CATEGORIES OF VERBS Grammatical categories in Prinmi are largely expressed by clitics and, to a lesser extent, copular auxiliary constructions. This chapter studies verbal clitics in detail. According to their functions, verbal clitics are classified into four groups: (1) the aspect group, which encompasses aspectual and modal clitics, (2) the sentence-type group, which comprises negative and interrogative clitics, (3) the evidential group, and (4) the attitudinal group. The latter two provide additional information beyond the proposition of sentences, largely related to the speaker’s attitude. Verbal clitics impart a new meaning such as marking a question or a surprise to a clause. Their use, while largely motivated by communicative need rather than syntactic consideration, is essential to effective communication in Prinmi. 8.1. Aspect and Modality Tense is not a grammatical category in Prinmi. Habitual actions and past events are often (but not always) encoded through imperfective and perfective aspects, respectively; future actions are conveyed through modality. After describing aspectual and modal categories in Prinmi, this subsection will discuss the issue of temporal implication arising from aspectual and modal marking. 8.1.1. Aspect Aspect is expressed primarily by enclitics in Prinmi. There are four aspect categories: experiential, perfective, imperfective and durative. The perfective and the imperfective, each with several variants, are sensitive to subtle contrast in terms of volitionality and controllability. On the surface they are reminiscent of person agreement. Based on available data, however, it is evinced that the seeming pattern of person agreement is an epiphenomenon. Directional prefixes (discussed in §5.2.1) show a certain amount of correlation with perfectivity in Prinmi. This correlation is addressed in §


189 Experiential tʉ The experiential tʉ is one of two clitics with a transparent etymology (the other being the quotative, see §8.3.1). 1 It is grammaticalized from the verb meaning ‘to pass through’, which is still in use, e.g. (8.1). Used as a concrete verb, tʉH ‘to pass through; to thread’ is often affixed with a directional prefix. boL tɜLtʃʰɥeL beH=boH põF tiL tʰɜL-dzuL l̥ ɑLtsɨL=ɡõH DSC one:side at=FRM loop one TLC-make finger=INS L H ɡə -tʉ out-thread ‘Then at one side, make a loop and pass the finger through (it).’


While the experiential clitic can combine with the interrogative clitic or the general negator (see Table 8-4), it lacks the morphological ability for prefixation. Furthermore, it must co-occur with a verb, suggesting its dependent status as a clitic. The experiential in Prinmi is not used for marking completion of an act/event. It simply signifies that the Agent has gained particular experience through engaging (or not engaging) in an event. Its use is restricted to ACTION verbs. For instance: 8.2



ɜH=boH njɑH=ɡjɑH dzɨR=mɑL=tʉH INT 1SG=FRM 2SG;M=M eat=N=EXP ‘Huh, I haven’t eaten yours.’


ʒjɑHpʉL=nõL tjɑL toH tʃʰjõH ɑLpuH grandpa last.year=DSC now on appear kʰuHpoLtiL tʰjɛR̃ =mɑL=tʉH əLʈʂɨL alcohol bottle:one drink=N=EXP ‘Grandpa hasn’t drunk any alcohol since last year.’


ɹəHkʰeL sɥɛH̃ tʃĩH wuL kjõLnjɑLdʒiLdʒiR sɥɛL̃ =tʉL 1SG before school in Yi: script learn=EXP ‘In the past, I had the experience of learning the Yi script in school.’



In Lánpíng Prinmi the experiential marker is grammaticalized from the verb ma sɨF ‘to know’ (cf. Fu 1998). The meaning ‘to know’ as the source for developing experiential is also found in Southern Min, although most Chinese topolects, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, have grammaticalized the experiential marker from a verb meaning ‘to pass’. L



The discourse context of (8.2a), extracted from a dialogue in the Deluge Myth, is as follows: the sole human survivor of the deluge has managed to pick up food between the Dragon couple who have the habit of feeding each other when dining together. It is clear that the husband’s complaint about not receiving any food from his wife refers to the immediate experience at the moment of utterance rather than one from the past. In instances like this, the temporal point of the experience is rather specific. In contrast, the examples in (8.2a) and (8.2b) involve experience that occurred or started some time ago. Perfective: si/sjɛ̃/sĩ The aspectual category signified by the perfective set si/sjɛ̃/sĩ is well grammaticalized in Prinmi. Its central meaning denotes completion of a change of state, in line with many other languages, cf. Dahl (1985); Huang (1988); Smith (1991); Bache et al (1994), inter alia. Besides the typical usage of perfective, shown in (8.3), the clitic may also convey a persistent situation, as exemplified in (8.4). 8.3



ʐɨLtʃʰɥeH l̥ iH wɜjLtʃʰɥeH bɨH ɜH-ɖʐʉL=siL right:side moon left:side sun in-write=PFV ‘The moon was drawn on the right, and the sun on the left.’


sõLtsɨH=boL əHwuL tʰɜL-pʰɜL=siR 1PL.EX three:CLF=FRM there TLC-abandon=PFV ‘(He) has abandoned the three of us over there.’ ɑHɹəL

Events with a persistent situation a ʃjõF=ɡjɑL tjɑR nɜL-ɡyH=si=ɑL tsõLɡyH golden.pheasant=M now down-wear=PFV=M attire ‘Nowadays the clothes that Golden Pheasant has put on (his body), …’ b

mjɑHbuH=ɡeL=boL kʰʴəHɡjõL toL nɜL-ʈʂwɑL=siH eye:lid=TOP=DSC knee on down-contact=PFV L L tʃɨ =ɹju QUOT

‘It is said that their eyelids (had grown so long that they) touched their knees.’ c

tʃeHmeH mʉLkʉLsɜjLkɥeH buLlɑH dɜH-ʃɑwL=siL 1SG family livestock many CLC-raise=PFV ‘My family has raised a lot of livestock at home.’





ɡoR kʰʉL dʒiLmɜL tʰɜL-ʒjõH pʉHniL=boL sõLn̥iF hill top bushfire TLC-burn today=DSC three:day ɖʐõL=siL become=PFV ‘The bushfire on the mountain has burned for three days.’

All the sentences in (8.4) involve situations that have existed for a lengthy period of time and will remain so after the time of speaking. Unlike those events bounded to a completion point in (8.3), the events in (8.4) are anchored to the start point. These characteristics of Prinmi perfective are similar to that found in English perfect ‘tense’. At first glance, the variant form sjɛ̃ appears to agree with the firstperson singular Agent: 8.5


dzɨF ɜL=njõH tʰɜH-pjɛL̃ =sjɛ̃L COP 1SG=DSC;INS TLC-do;1SG=VL.PFV ‘Yes, I did (it).’


ɹ̥ əLɡiHniH ʒeLɡɑwH ʃjɛH̃ =sjɛ̃L 1SG two.days.ago Lijiang go;1SG=VL.PFV ‘I went to Lijiang the day before yesterday.’


ɹəHdʒeL beL=boL ʃɨH=ʃoH sʉLdõL=sjɛ̃L 1SG beginning at=DSC go=OPT think;1SG=VL.PFV ‘At first I thought I’d go, …’

ɜH ɜH

On further scrutiny, however, it is discerned that sjɛ̃ does not signal person-number agreement. In the examples in (8.6), the perfective is marked by si, despite the Agent being first-person. 8.6


təH beL kʰyL-jiL tʃʰɨH tʰɜH-deL=siL/*sjɛ̃L 1SG this at pity-NMLZ do TLC-err=PFV/VL.PFV ‘(It) was wrong for me to pity this.’


bo R pʉHniL=boL tʰɜL-lɑH tʰɜL-dɑwL=siL/*sjɛ̃L=boL DSC today=FRM TLC-also TLC-tired=PFV/VL.PFV=FRM ‘Well, (since I’ve) been so tired today, …’


The examples in (8.6) both involve involuntary situations, with which the use of sjɛ̃ is incompatible. The verb tʰɜL-deF in (8.6a) has the sense of ‘making a mistake unwittingly’, and hence, controllability and volitionality are inherently lacking in the meaning of the verb. Association of sjɛ̃ with volitionality can be observed when we compare the situations in (8.6) with those in (8.5). If the host verb is controllable



by the first-person singular Agent, as in (8.5), sjɛ̃ is used. If the host verb cannot be controlled willfully, as shown in (8.6), the form si must be used instead. From these, it is apparent that the seeming personnumber agreement does not account for the distinction between the two variants of the perfective. Occurrences of the third variant, sĩ, are scarce in the collected corpus. The consultant considered this variant to be designated for the first-/second-person plural agent, parallel to the use of sjɛ̃ with the first-person singular agent. It may be the case that the variant sĩ once had a volitional meaning similar to that of sjɛ̃, but the form has become obsolete in the modern language. The declining variant sĩ, however, exhibits the regular inflectional pattern observed in some Prinmi verbs (cf. §5.2.4). In this connection it is noteworthy that a perfective variant for the second-person singular Agent is not attested. It is unclear whether such a form existed in the past or whether it never existed in Prinmi. Imperfective: ɹõ/ɹu/ɹĩ and ɹju Another frequently used set of aspectual clitics in Prinmi is the imperfective. The inflectional pattern for deriving the first-person singular, the second-person singular, and the first-/second-person plural forms is identical to the verbal inflection discussed in §5.2.4, yielding a total of four variants: Table 8-1: Paradigm of imperfective clitics

Controllable & Volitional Singular Plural

1SG 1/2PL




Default ɹju


The three inflectional variants ɹõ/ɹu/ɹĩ differ from one another in terms of person and number and they contrast with ɹju in terms of controllability and volitionality, as presented in Table 8-1. As the default form, ɹju is employed when controllability does not factor in. In other words, the choice of a particular imperfective form is first determined by controllability and volitionality from the point of view of speech act participants; with controllable events, person-number



agreement also comes into play for the selection of an appropriate form. The typical use of these imperfective clitics is exemplified in the following: 8.7


djɑHdjɑL neR meF dzɨL=ɹuL granny 2SG what eat=IPFV;2SG ‘Granny, what are you eating?’


ʂɜHjĩLsoLjĩH dzɨL=ɹõL 1SG fried.cereal eat=IPFV;1SG ‘I’m eating fried cereal.’ (Granny replied.)


tiR təLboH mɑL=pʰeR mɑL=ʒjɛL̃ tʃɨH=ɹĩL=boL then N=spew N=can say=IPFV;2PL=FRM one H H L tɜ -pʰe =ʃo up-cough.out=OPT ‘Well, (since you all) say that (I) must cough (him) up, (I) will do so.’ (said by the Dragon Queen.)


niHɹəL tʃʰeL dzɨH=ɹjuH ɑLɹəH kʰoLloH=nõH 3PL meal eat=IPFV 1PL.IN porch=DSC tʃʰjõLl̥ jɛ̃H=ɡiH wait=HRT ‘They are having a meal; let’s wait at the porch.’


The default form ɹju is often found in sentences with a third-person Agent, as seen in (8.7d) above. However, it can also occur with a nonthird-person Agent. Consider the following: 8.8 a


Uncontrollable events by the first-person Agent təH puLkɑF=ɡeL tɜLkõR tʰɜL-ɹĩF=siL ɜH tʃeL this shoe=TOP a.little TLC-narrow=PFV 1SG wear H L H ʒjɛ̃ =mɑ =ɹju can=N=IPFV ‘This shoe is a bit tight; I can’t wear it.’ ʒjɛH̃ tʰjɛH̃ =mɑL=ɹjuH 1SG cigarette drink=N=IPFV ‘I don’t smoke.’ ɜH

As the imperfective ɹõ signifies a situation where a first-person singular Agent can willfully control a situation, its use would have been inappropriate and unacceptable in (8.8a), since the speaker could not change the size of the shoe nor her foot. Therefore, the default form



ɹju was called upon, implying a lack of controllability over the situation. For similar reasons, the default imperfective form was chosen in (8.8b), as the speaker, being a non-smoker, lacks the ability to smoke. If the form were replaced with ɹõ, the intended message would be the speaker’s unwillingness to take the cigarette offered to him rather than his being a non-smoker. Further examples of this kind are provided in (8.9), which see a second-person Experiencer in (8.9a) and a first-person Experiencer in (8.9b). The former is marked by the default imperfective ɹju due to the uncontrollable nature of the mental verb seH ‘to miss (someone)’. The latter is predicated with nɜL-mɜR ‘to forget’, which denotes an involuntary process, and thus the situation is uncontrollable. These examples demonstrate that the set of imperfective clitics in Prinmi makes foremost reference to controllability and volitionality, while personnumber agreement takes secondary consideration for controllable events. 8.9

Uncontrollable mental activities with first-/second-person Experiencer a neR ɜL beH seH=ɑL=ɹjuL 2SG 1SG at miss=Q=IPFV ‘Do you miss me?’ b

ne=õH=neH dzuR=mɑR=beL=boL təH loH=ɡeH this matter=TOP 2SG=INS=DSC N=mention=FRM ɑHɹəL nɜL-mɜL=tʃjɑH tʃʰɨL=ɹjuL 1PL.EX down-forget=say do=IPFV ‘This matter, if you hadn’t brought it up, we would have soon forgotten about (it).’

The utterance in (8.10) contains three clauses headed by the causative keF: the first one in the bare form, the second modified by the default imperfective and the third by the volitional imperfective. 8.10 i ii iii


neL kiH

ɡoR poL nɜL-ʃɨH keF 1SG 2SG BNY hill below down-go let ɹ̥ ʉH ʃɨL keL=ɹjuL m̥jɛH̃ medicine buy go let=IPFV ɹ̥ aLtʃʰɨR ʃɨH keL=mɑL=ɹõH play go let=N=IPFV;1SG ‘I am letting you go down the mountain to buy medicine, not to play.’ [said before the departure]



The choice of imperfective clitic is not arbitrary; rather, the speaker has taken controllability into consideration. Getting medicine is an urgent necessity, not merely the speaker’s wish, thus the default imperfective is employed in the second clause. However, prohibition of the addressee’s going for fun is taken as a controllable event, given the authority of the speaker. Therefore, the volitional form of imperfective occurs in the final position. The imperfective aspect in Prinmi conveys three kinds of grammatical meaning: progressive, habitual, and generic/gnomic situations. Each of these functions is exemplified from (8.11) to (8.13) below, respectively. 8.11


Progressive expressed by the imperfective a djɑHdjɑL beL ɹ̥ aL=ɹuH ɹ̥ aL=ɹuH granny at laugh=IPFV;2SG laugh=IPFV;2SG ‘(you) are smiling at me.’ (said by Granny.) b

ɜH=boH kʰʉR toL dzĩL ʃɨL=ɹõL 1SG=FRM top on sit go=IPFV;1SG ɜH ɹəL tɜH-ʃɨL=ɹõL 1SG first up-go=IPFV;1SG ‘as for me, I’m going to sit at the top. I’m going up now.’


niHɹəL tʃʰeL dzɨH=ɹjuH ɑLɹəH kʰoLloH=nõH 3PL meal eat=IPFV 1PL.in porch=DSC L H tʃʰjõ l̥ jɛ̃ =ɡiH wait=HRT ‘They are having a meal; let’s wait at the porch.’

Habitual expressed by the imperfective a ɜH tjɑR kɥɛH̃ tʃɨH jĩR=mɑL=ɹõH 1SG now words listen=N=IPFV;1SG ‘From now on, I don’t obey (your) words.’ tʰjɛR̃ =ɑL=ɹjuH b ʒjɛH̃ cigarette drink=Q=IPFV ‘(Do you) smoke?’ c

təH ɹɜLmɑLdeL=ɡeH kuH kuH=mɑL=ɹjuH this hen:old=TOP egg lay=N=IPFV ‘This old hen doesn’t lay eggs.’




Generic/gnomic expressed by the imperfective a neR ɜL beH ɡjɑH=mɑL=ɹuH 2SG 1SG at love=N=IPFV;2SG ‘you don’t love me.’ b

dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL=ɡeL dzõLbɑH=ɡjɑL xeH tʃɨL=ɹjuL Zzonbba god=TOP Zzonbba=M god say=IPFV ‘Zzonbba Lha means the god of Zzonbba.’


pɨF=ɡeL lɜHtuHtuL tʃʰjɑH=mɑL=ɹjuL axe=TOP blunt:IDE sharp=N=IPFV ‘The axe is really blunt, not sharp (at all).’


dɜL-bõR təH bɑF=ɡeL nɜL-teF=neL=boL this child=TOP down-born=DSC=DSC CLC-deaf kʰəLtiF lɑL nuR=mɑL=ɹjuH what also hear=N=IPFV ‘This child was born deaf; (he) can’t hear anything.’

The progressive reading of the imperfective is induced from discourse context, where an on-going action is observable at the moment of utterance. When the stem verb does not denote an action, as in (8.12a) and (8.13a), the progressive meaning does not arise. In (8.12a), the verb jĩR ‘to listen; to obey’ conveys a sense of obedience rather than an act of hearing. Habitual and generic interpretations are largely related to the default form of the imperfective. Some DESCRIPTIVE verbs have a choice of forming a question with or without imperfective marking. That is, the interrogative clitic may be attached directly to the verb, as in (8.14a) and (8.15a), or it can appear in a complex form with the imperfective clitic, as shown in (8.14b) and (8.15b). 8.14 a


pɨHniL ɑH=bõH today Q=cold ‘Cold today?’ [Talking about temperature through one’s feeling] pɨHniL bõR=ɑL=ɹjuL today cold=Q=IPFV ‘Cold today?’ [Talking about the weather]


8.15 a



ɑL=tsɜF Q=hot ‘(Is it) hot?’ [Talking about temperature through one’s feeling] tsɜR=ɑL=ɹjuL hot=Q=IPFV ‘(Have) a fever?’ [Talking about one’s illness]

According to the old consultant, (8.14b) could only be used in a situation where the speaker was indoors and directed the question to someone who was outdoors. However, his insight is not shared by younger speakers. Three younger consultants, born in the 1970s, and having grown up in the same village, all rejected (8.14b). This suggests that the subtle difference between (8.14a) and (8.14b) has been conflated in the speech of younger Prinmi speakers. However, one of the younger consultants provided the pair of sentences in (8.15) and explained that (8.15a) was simply for inquiring whether a person felt hot on his body or something he touched, whereas (8.15b) would be used to check whether a patient had a fever. In (8.14a) and (8.15a), the feeling of temperature is achieved through personal touch of or direct exposure of oneself to something; by contrast, the imperfective marking in (8.14b) and (8.15b) are used for addressing general situations such as the weather or the condition of an illness. This is in line with the unbounded nature of imperfective. Durative nõ The durative clitic nõ is often attached to STATE verbs. Its function is to convey that the host verb is in an enduring state in relation to other situations at the time of utterance. This generally gives rise to a discourse function signaling continuous flow of information — the utterance has not reached its end. When the durative modifies a STATE verb, this discourse function is readily observed. For instance: 8.16

Durative on STATE verbs a təH=ɡeL ɜL-ljɛF̃ =nõL ʈʂeH ʒjɛL̃ lɑL mɑL=ɹjuH this=TOP in-firm=DUR pull can also N=IPFV ‘It is (so) firm (that I) just can’t remove (it).’




biHsʉH təH tɜLnɜHkjuH sjɛL̃ bõH lɑL njɛL̃ njɛR̃ =nõL bbisuu this few:year tree also few=DUR L H H L L H F ʒjɑ pɨ ɹə =bo bu lɑ djõ jõL past=FRM many EXT.IAN ASR ‘In these few years the bbisuu trees also became few; in the past there had been many.’

The examples in (8.16) are cited in complete form (cf. §10.2.2 for discussion of delimiting a Prinmi sentence). Different kinds of semantic relations between the clauses are found: state-and-effect in (8.16a), and state-and-change in (8.16b). Syntactically, the initial part in these sentences contains a clause ending with the durative clitic. Such clauses are typically found in complex sentences. That is, they express partial information in the discourse context of a larger message. If the clause occurred alone, one would have the impression that the sentence was incomplete. The durative clitic often occurs between two clauses, but it may also appear at the end of a complex sentence, e.g.: 8.17

põLbɑH wuL pɜLtsɨH kwaHtiL tɜL-tsɥeL=siL vase in flower CLF:one up-set=PFV H H L ne ɖʐɑ ɖʐɑ tɜLtsʰʉLtiH ɡjɑH=nõH red:ideophone a.while pretty=DUR ‘Putting a flower into the vase — such a red (flower) — immediately makes (it) beautiful.’

In sentences with a semantic relation of action-and-consequence between clauses, the durative-marked verb must occupy the final position. The following provides another instance of this semantic relation: 8.18

bɨH=ɡõH tʰɜL-nuR=boL dɜR-meL=dʒɥɛH̃ ʃeL sun=INS TLC-hear=FRM CLC-PF.N=dawn suppose ɡoL=ɡjɑH dʒiR loL nɜL-pɜjH ɜL-ʒɨL ɹ̥ õH pɑL=nõL hill=M back outside down-hide in-sleep deep do=DUR ‘…, hearing (it), the sun thought (day) hadn’t dawned; (he) hid (himself) behind the hill (and) took a sound sleep.’

When the durative is used with ACTION verbs, it focuses on the ongoing state of the action in connection to the other event in the sentence. Under the iconicity principle, the event modified by the dura-



tive is always understood to have taken place prior to the one signified in the second clause. For instance: 8.19

Durative on ACTION verbs a tʃɨH=ɡeH tjɑR nɜL-dʒɥaF nɜL-dʒɥaF=nõL water=TOP now down-low down-low=DUR tɑL nɜL-ʃɨL only down-go ‘Now the water is simply declining and declining.’ b

puLdiLmɑH=ɡõH lɑL tɜH-kjɛH̃ =nõL m̥əLɡjɛF̃ beL ʈʂʰeL old.woman=INS also up-pick=DUR old.man at feed ‘The old woman also, picking up (the honey dumplings), fed (them) to the old man.’


ʒjɑHniL ɜH niF beL dʒiLdʒiL dɜH-jĩL=nõL yesterday 1SG 3SG at book CLC-lend=DUR F L L R to -ji mɑ =ʃi look-NMLZ N=EXT ‘Yesterday I borrowed a book from him, (but) haven’t read (it yet).’

Note that attachment of the durative clitic to an ACTION verb also indicates dependent status of the clause (see §10.1.2 for further discussion). Perfectivity and directional prefixes As noted in §5.4.4, some directional prefixes can be used with verbs in compounding, e.g. ɡəL-ɖʐɑ̃H ɜL-ɖʐɑ̃H ‘to walk about’. The extensive aspect of the ACTION verb ɖʐɑ̃H ‘to walk’ is expressed by the pair of directional prefixes in the compound. Outside this morphological pattern, directional prefixes may also, with sufficient discourse context, imply a perfective reading of ACTION verbs, e.g.: 8.20 a

ɖʐɑ̃Lɖʐɑ̃L=ɹɑL dzɑF=ɡeL tʰɜL-tʃɥɛL̃ miF person walk=IPFV;M shadow=TOP TLC-see;3 ‘(He) saw the shadows of people walking.’




neR ɜH ɖʐuH=ɡjɑH tsɨLtsɨH ɡəL-djɛH̃ 2SG 1SG friend=M nephew out-swallow H L H L ɜ ne bo ʈʂĩ tsɑwH=mɑL=ɹõH 1SG 2SG for mortar hit=N=IPFV;1SG ‘You’ve swallowed my friend’s nephew; I won’t pound mortar for you anymore.’


əHniL ɡɥɛH̃ toL=nõL nɜL-jõHjɛH̃ ɹɜLkɑH 1SG like.that high on=DSC down-fall bone tɜHniLteL tɑL nɜL-ɡʴjɛH̃ əHniL kʰõLʈʂõH ʐoR a.few:CLF only down-break like.that life:hard great ‘I fell down from such a high place; yet only a few bones have been broken — such a tough life.’ ɜH

The perfective meaning suggested by the directional prefixes is dependent on discourse context and realized through telicity. Modified by a directional prefix, a verb’s telicity can be enhanced (Comrie 1976: 46). Directional prefixes have a strong tendency to occur with a perfective clitic in non-negative sentences. Except for a small number of verbs such as ʃɨH ‘to go’, ɖʐõR ‘to become’, and the auxiliary use of pɑF ‘to do’, attachment of a perfective clitic in non-negative sentences generally requires that the host verb is prefixed with a directional. For instance: tʃʰeR ɡə-ɑL=dzɑwH=siL meal out-Q=eat;2SG=PFV ‘Did (you) eat?’



ɡəL-dzjɛH̃ =sjɛL̃ out-eat;1SG=VL.PFV ‘(I) ate.’


?? dzjɛH̃ =sjɛ̃L eat;1SG=VL.PFV


meH=dzjɛH̃ PF.N=eat;1SG ‘(I) haven’t eaten.’


8.21 a

*tʃʰeR ɑL=dzɑwH=siL meal Q=eat;2SG=PFV

ɡəR-meR=dzjɛH̃ out-PF.N=eat;1SG ‘(I) haven’t finished eating.’

In questions and affirmative sentences, such as in (8.21a) and (8.21b) respectively, where the directional prefix is not present, native speakers do not completely reject the utterances, but they do characterize them as unidiomatic. Although such utterances are syntactically correct and the intended meaning is well conveyed, they do not sound right to native speakers. The subtle difference is the lack of explicit



telicity to which the directional prefix may contribute in portraying a perfective situation. On the other hand, a directional prefix is not usually used in negative sentences, since negation does not concern a perfective situation (as it has not happened). In the presence of a directional prefix in a perfective sentence, telicity rather than the predicate becomes the target of negation, as shown in (8.21c). 8.1.2. Modality: hortative ɡi, volitive kɜj, and optative ʃo Three types of modal meaning are expressed by clitics in Prinmi, i.e. hortative, volitive, and optative. The hortative clitic ɡi is attached to the end of ACTION verbs to invite other people to participate in the act collectively, e.g.: 8.22 a


ʃeF eLɹəH sõLpɜjLkɥɛH̃ =ɡeL pʰjɛL̃ =ɡiH go;HRT 1PL.in three:brother=TOP flee=HRT ‘Let’s go, … let us, three brothers, run away.’ eLɹəH

sõLpɜjLkɥɛF̃ =ɡeL kʰõR tʰɜL-l̥ iF=ɹəL 1PL.IN three:brother=TOP life TLC-escape=PL ʃiL=ɑL=ɹjuH toF=ɡiL EXT=Q=IPFV look=HRT ‘Let’s see if we, three brothers, can run for our lives.’

The utterance in (8.22a) starts with a special hortative form — ʃeF, which is synonymous with ʃɨH=ɡiH ‘let’s go’. The former tends to occur independently in initial position. Spontaneous and text data from Xīnyíngpán Prinmi suggest that the hortative does not share its host with other clitics. Consequently, negation and interrogativity are not found in hortative-marked verbs. The volitive kɜj and the optative ʃo are quite close in meaning, but with different emphases in terms of willful control on the part of speech act participants. The volitive indicates a wish where the speaker has no control over its realization, whereas the optative signifies the intention and willingness of a first-/second-person Agent to carry out an act. The semantic contrast between the two modal clitics often gives rise to a seeming person agreement pattern, as shown in (8.23), with kɜj employed for a third-person Agent and ʃo for a first-/secondperson Agent: 8.23 a

ɑHpõL ʒeH ʒeH eLɹəH tʃʰjõLl̥ jɛ̃H=kɜjL dad EXT.AN EXT.AN 1PL.in wait=VLT ‘Dad is there. (He) will wait for us.’




neL beH pʰɜHdziH xĩL=ʃoL 1SG 2SG to news:perfect tell=OPT ‘I’m going to tell you some reliable news.’


xĩL=ʃoL neR meF=ɡjɑL pʰɜHdziH 2SG what=M news:perfect tell=OPT ‘What reliable news are you going to tell (me)?’


This distributional pattern, in addition to their similar meanings, has led Lu (1983: 42-43) to treat these clitics as a pair of suppletive forms for the ‘future tense’. Careful scrutiny of their occurrence in the corpus, however, proves such a treatment to be problematic. Consider the following: 8.24 a



əLtʃʰɨLtsʰɜH əLʈʂɨL=ɹəH ɜH tʰjɛL̃ tɑH so.much alcohol=PL 1SG drink complete L L tʃʰɨ =mɑ =kɜjH do=N=VLT ‘So much alcohol, I won’t be able to drink (it) all.’ tʰɜL-pjɑH lɑH neR dəL-pʰʴɜR=mɑL=kɜjH loH work TLC-work also 2SG CLC-meet=N=VLT ‘Even (if you) work, you won’t be rewarded.’ ʈʂɑLʈʂɑF=ɡõL=neL dõR tʰɜL-pʰɑLpʰɑH bjɛL̃ =ʃoH=ɹɑH magpie=INS=DSC wing TLC-spread fly=OPT=IPFV;M L L L tʰɜ -pɑ ni like TLC-do ‘Magpie opened his wings and was just about to fly, …’

The volitive is used with a first-person Agent in (8.24a) and a second-person Agent in (8.24b), counter to its general collocation with a third-person Agent. On the other hand, the optative occurs with a third-person Agent in (8.25). These counterexamples to person agreement can be accounted for by the essential meaning of the clitics: the optative embeds in its meaning a voluntary event controllable by the Agent, whereas the volitive describes a prospective event in an objective way, where the Agent’s will, even if exercised, has little effect on the outcome of the situation. In (8.24a), the fact that the amount of alcohol exceeded the speaker’s capacity of consumption was expressed as something beyond the speaker’s willful control, and this was signaled by the volitive kɜj. If kɜj were replaced by the optative ʃo, the utterance would be grammati-



cally fine, but it would be likely, as the consultant pointed out, to provoke a quarrel or fight, since the optative would convey that the speaker had deliberately chosen not to finish up the alcohol (which can be interpreted as a lack of respect in Prinmi culture). Similarly inasmuch as the possibility of getting reward from work in (8.24b) cannot be assured with one’s will, the use of the optative here would be inappropriate. Notice that both the instances in (8.24) are negative sentences, which is not purely coincidence. Here, kɜj signifies a situation unalterable by one’s wishes. However, the speech act participants are inherently endowed with willful control over scores of situations, so an otherwise controllable situation must be placed in the negative perspective to render it beyond the control of the speech act participants. Therefore, the use of kɜj is often (but not always) found in negative sentences. In (8.25), the optative ʃo modifies Magpie’s intent of flying. Although the bird has been personified in the story, he retains his ability to fly. In other words, the action of flying is seen as controllable by Magpie’s will. Thus the optative instead of the volitive is employed. Instances of the use of ʃo with a non-speech act participant are extremely few (for discussion on the use of the modificatory clitic ɹɑ after ʃo, see §7.1.1). 8.1.3. Temporal implication from aspect and modality Aspect, modality, and tense are generally considered to be closely related to one another (cf. Bybee, Perkins, & Pagliuca 1994). Of these three categories, Prinmi has a rather elaborate system for aspect and modality while temporal reference is expressed mainly by lexical items. Although tense is not a grammatical category in the language, aspectual and modal clitics often supply some temporal information in the sense of relative tense (cf. Zeisler 2004 for discussion of this topic in Tibetan languages). Table 8-2 summarizes temporal implications associated with the modal and aspectual clitics in terms of Past, Recent Past, Present, Imminent (future), and Future. The symbol ‘+’ indicates the time reference with which a clitic is most likely to be associated; the symbol ‘÷’ indicates a less likely time reference; and the symbol ‘–’ denotes an unlikely temporal implication. The temporal implication for all modal clitics rests in the future, including the imminent future, relative to the moment of speaking. Found in complex sentences, the durative provides little temporal information and can be considered to be neutral regarding temporal



location. Volitionality is also a factor in the temporal implication of imperfective. A progressive reading from the volitional imperfective typically points to the present, the moment of utterance, and can also be extended to the imminent future. By and large, the general imperfective ɹju is temporally neutral. The imperfective as a whole favors present time. Finally, both the perfective and the experiential have strong implications for past time, including the recent past. Table 8-2: Temporal implications by modality and aspect Volitive kɜj Optative ʃo Hortative ɡi Durative nõ Volitional imperfective ɹõ/ɹu/ɹĩ Imperfective ɹju Volitional perfective sjɛ̃ Perfective si Experiential tʉ


Recent Past





– – – ÷

– – – ÷

– – – ÷

Imminent Future

+ + + ÷

+ + ÷ ÷









+ +

+ ÷

– –

– –

– –

8.2. Negation and Interrogativity Both negation and interrogativity are expressed by clitics in Prinmi. The former has a set of three specialized negators: general negator mɑ, perfective negator me, and deontic negator tjɑ. There is only one interrogative clitic: ɑ. The negative and interrogative clitics in Prinmi are attached to the penultimate position of the verb, as shown in Table 8-3. If the host is a monosyllabic verb without other enclitics, these clitics will occur to the left in order to occupy the penultimate position in the word.



Table 8-3: Attaching patterns of interrogative and negative clitics ( ͏ =attaching slot, C=aspectual/modal clitic, P=directional prefix)

Verb Host Bare monosyllabic verb

Interrogative General ɑ mɑ ͏ +Vσ

Perfective Deontic me tjɑ

͏ +Vσ

͏ +Vσ

͏ +Vσ

Bare disyllabic Vσ+ ͏ +σ verb

Vσ+ ͏ +σ

Vσ+ ͏ +σ

Vσ+ ͏ +σ

Prefixed without enclitic

P+ ͏ +Vσ

P+ ͏ +Vσ

P+ ͏ +Vσ

P+ ͏ +Vσ

Prefixed plus enclitic

P+V+ ͏ +C

P+V+ ͏ +C

The interrogative clitic appears in a complex form when it is combined with an aspectual/modal clitic, as does the general negator. This kind of complex form is not possible for the other two negators, as indicated in the table. There is considerable restriction on forming such complex clitics with aspectual/modal clitics; the details are summarized in Table 8-4. Where a complex clitic form is not allowed, this does not imply that the relevant meaning cannot be expressed. For example, while the interrogative does not combine with the perfective clitic, it does not ensue that perfective aspect cannot occur in yes-no questions (see §8.2.2 below). Table 8-4: Complex clitics for the interrogative and the general negator

Experiential Perfective si/sjɛ̃ Imperfective Durative clitic nõ Optative Volitive Hortative ɡi

Interrogative ɑ

General negator mɑ

V+ɑ=tʉ — V+ɑ=ɹõ/ɹu/ɹĩ/ɹju — V+ɑ=ʃo V+ɑ=kɜj —

V+mɑ=tʉ — V+mɑ=ɹõ/ɹu/ɹĩ/ɹju — V+mɑ=ʃo V+mɑ=kɜj —



8.2.1. Negative clitics: general mɑ, perfective me, and deontic tjɑ Selection of the general negator mɑ or the perfective negator me is basically determined by the aspect of verbs. The perfective negator is employed only for negation in perfective sentences; otherwise, the general negator is used. To understand the usage of the deontic negator tjɑ, we need to first take a closer look at its meaning. The central meaning of tjɑ is to convey one’s desire and/or expectation as differing from others in an interpersonal communication context where two parties do not agree. Such circumstances typically prompt the occurrence of tjɑ in a negated imperative sentence. Nonetheless, its usage is not confined to expressing negation in the imperative. 2 Consider the following cases: 8.26 a


tjɑR tjɑL=ʈʂʰeL nɜH-pɑL now DE.N=feed down-do ‘This time, what (the middle brother) did was to not feed (Crow).’ nɜH-pɑL tjɑL=jĩL DE.N=listen down-do ‘what (Frog) did was to not listen to (them).’

The contexts in which the sentences in (8.26) occur involve a conflict situation between two persons/parties. At the beginning of the Deluge Myth, after the eldest brother has refused Crow’s request for food, Crow asks the middle brother to feed him, but he does not want to do that. Relating this event, the consultant used the deontic negator tjɑ in (8.26a) to signify the conflict of desires between Crow and the middle brother. The other example in (8.26b) appeared in similar circumstances. At the climax of the story, a negotiation is taking place between Frog and his allies and the Dragon family. When Frog rejected the offer made by the Dragon family, (8.26b) was employed. These examples reveals that the term ‘deontic negator’ is more appropriate for tjɑ, whose negation function indicates conflict of desire between people rather than restricting behavior of the addressee. Since the negative clitic targets the penultimate position for attachment, it appears as a proclitic on a bare monosyllabic verb, e.g. (8.27), but as an endoclitic on a bare disyllabic verb, as exemplified in (8.28). 2

In Chinese linguistics convention, the deontic negator is labeled as ‘imperative negator’ (cf. Mandarin bié). However, its usage has a much wider scope beyond that of imperative in both languages.





Attachment of the negator as a proclitic a General mɑL=kʰuR N=want ‘don’t want (any)’ b


tjɑL=dzɑwH DE.N=eat;2SG ‘don’t (you) eat’



meH=dzjɛH̃ PF.N=eat;1SG ‘(I) haven’t eaten’

Attachment of the negator as an endoclitic a General mɑ̃R=mɑL=sjɛ̃H cf. mɑ̃LsjɛH̃ N=know;1SG know;1SG ‘(I) don’t know’ ‘(I) know’ b


mɜH=tjɑL=tʃeL cf. DE.N=look.for ‘don’t (you) search’

mɜHtʃeL look.for ‘search’

Prefixation of a verb or hosting of other clitics does not affect the penultimate position as the attaching slot of the negator; these are exemplified in (8.29) and (8.30) respectively. In the former, the negator becomes a mesoclitic between a prefix and a monosyllabic verb. In the latter case, the negator is combined with other verbal clitics into an enclitic; such a complex clitic is possible only with the general negator mɑ. 8.29

Attachment of the negator as a mesoclitic a Deontic nɜR-tjɑH=ʈʂʰɑwL cf. nɜL-ʈʂʰɑwF down-DE.N=stand;2SG down-stand;2SG ‘don’t be standing’ ‘be standing’ b


dɜR-meL=m̥jɛF̃ CLC-PF.N=ripe ‘hasn’t ripened’



tʰɜL-mɑH=mɑ̃L cf. tʰɜL-mɑ̃F TLC-N=follow TLC-follow ‘(they) don’t catch up’ ‘(they) catch up’

cf. dɜL-m̥jɛ̃F CLC-ripe ‘has ripened’




The general negator as part of a complex enclitic a tʃjɛH̃ =mɑL=tʉH but *mɑL=tʃjɛH̃ =tʉH see=N=EXP N=see=EXP ‘haven’t seen (it before)’ b

mɑ̃LsɨH=mɑL=ɹjuH but know=N=IPFV ‘(s/he) doesn’t know’

*mɑ̃L=mɑL=sɨH=ɹjuH N=know= IPFV


ɡəL-dzɨH=mɑL=ʃoH out-eat=N=OPT ‘(I) won’t eat’

*ɡəL-mɑL=dzɨH=ʃoH out-N=eat=OPT


To negate a perfective-marked verb, the perfective clitic must be removed when the perfective negator is attached to the host. In other words, the overt marking of perfectivity is taken over by me alone, e.g.: 8.31 a


dɜR-meL=m̥jɛF̃ CLC-PF.N=ripe ‘hasn’t ripened’


dɜL-m̥jɛ̃F=siL CLC-ripe=PFV ‘has ripened’

*dɜR-meL=m̥jɛF̃ =siL CLC-PF.N=ripe=PFV 8.2.2. Interrogative clitic: ɑ

The interrogative clitic ɑ is essential to formation of yes-no questions. Its attachment pattern is similar to that of the general negator mɑ: it favors the penultimate position. The interrogative is often realized as part of a complex enclitic when the verb hosts other clitics such as the experiential, the imperfective or a modal clitic, e.g. (8.32). Like the general negator, it surfaces as a proclitic on a bare monosyllabic verb, but as an endoclitic on a bare disyllabic verb, exemplified respectively in (8.33) and (8.34). Furthermore, it can appear as a mesoclitic, shown in (8.35), between a prefix and a verb, fusing into the vowel of the prefix (cf. §




Attachment of the interrogative as part of a complex enclitic a tʃjɛH̃ =ɑL=tʉH cf. tʃjɛH̃ =tʉH see=Q=EXP see=EXP ‘Have (you) ever seen (it)?’ ‘(I/you) have seen (it).’ b

mɑ̃LsɨF=ɑL=ɹjuL know=Q=IPFV ‘Do (they) know?’


tʃʰeL dzɨH=ɑL=ʃoL cf. tʃʰeL dzɨH=ʃoL meal eat=Q=OPT meal eat=OPT ‘Will (you) have a meal?’ ‘(I/you) will have a meal.’



mɑ̃LsɨF=ɹjuL know=IPFV ‘(They) know.’

Attachment of the interrogative as a proclitic põHpõL ɑH=ʒeL uncle Q=EXT.AN ‘Is Uncle home?’



põHpõL ʒeL uncle EXT.AN ‘Uncle is here.’

Attachment of the interrogative as an endoclitic neLɹəH mɑ̃R=ɑL=sĩH 2PL Q=know;2PL ‘Do you know?’



neLɹəH mɑ̃LsĩH 2PL know;2PL ‘You know.’

Attachment of the interrogative as a mesoclitic tʃʰeR ɡə-ɑL=dzʉH=siL meal out-Q=eat;3=PFV ‘Has (s/he) eaten?’


tʃʰeR ɡəL-dzʉH=siL meal out-eat;3=PFV ‘(S/he) has eaten.’

The interrogative clitic may occur at the end of a sentence when it is attached to a clause, as opposed to a verb. In this case, it introduces a tag question with an implied pragmatic presupposition, e.g.: 8.36 a

neR dɜL-jiF=siL ɑL 2SG CLC-come;2SG=PFV Q ‘You’ve come over, haven’t you?’


neR meH=ʃɑwH ɑL 2SG PF.N=go;2SG Q ‘You haven’t gone yet, have you?’

Although complex clitics are usually formed when two clitics occur in adjacency, this does not happen in (8.36a), as the perfective clitic si



(and its variants) is incapable of forming any complex clitic. In fact, these two clitics are attached to different hosts: a clause for the interrogative and a verb for the perfective. Phonetically, there is a hiatus between the two juxtaposed clitics. While negative clitics cannot occur in ordinary yes-no questions, they can do so in tag questions, as shown in (8.36b). 8.3. Evidentiality and Mirativity The concept of evidentiality, as discussed in Chafe & Nichols (1986), covers a wide range of phenomena from grammatical categories to discourse styles in academic writing. Following Aikhenvald (2004: 3), a narrower focus concerning merely the source of information in the proposition is adopted here in exploring evidentiality in Prinmi. This excludes debatable cases found with some attitudinal clitics such as the speculative (see §8.4.3). Under this approach, the quotative is the sole grammatical category in the evidential system of Prinmi. Like Lhasa Tibetan, Cantonese, Turkish and so forth, Prinmi has extended evidentiality to another grammatical category which DeLancey (1997a; 2001) terms ‘mirativity’. This section addresses both evidentiality and mirativity. 8.3.1. Quotative evidential: tʃɨ The quotative evidential is grammaticalized from the verb tʃɨR ‘to say’. Unlike its use as a verb, the cliticized tʃɨ cannot be negated or questioned; neither can it be affixed with a directional prefix. While these verbal properties have disappeared through grammaticalization, the quotative marker does occur together with the imperfective in the form of tʃɨ=ɹju. The quotative can appear after the speaking verb in the formulaic expression: tʃɨ=si tʃɨ=ɹju. This expression is often found in stories for citing direct speech, e.g.: 8.37 a

neL=njõH ɜL beH ʈʂʰeR mɑL=ɹwɑF ɡjɑH 2SG=DSC;INS 1SG at feed N=willing.to.give ATT tʃɨL=siL tʃɨL=ɹjuL say=PFV QUOT ‘“You are unwilling to feed me!” said (the Dragon Queen).’




neR əLdʒeL mjɑF tɜH-toL puL mɑL tʃɨL=siL 2SG there eye up-look do;2SG ATT say=PFV tʃɨL=ɹjuL QUOT

‘“Take a look there with your eye, won’t you?” said (the Dragon King).’ In addition to quoting a direct speech, the quotative clitic is frequently used to indicate an indirect source of information, as exemplified in (8.38). (8.38a) is extracted from an expository text. The employment of the quotative in this sentence is easily understood from discourse context. In explaining what a bɜLʒõR (a kind of sling) was, the consultant first introduced it as a toy that children made for fun in the past. Later he mentioned that it could also be used as a weapon. At this point, he showed an uncommitted attitude towards the statement by rendering it as hearsay. The attitude conveyed by tʃɨ=ɹju here is not meant to be a denial of truth. The speaker simply declares that the source of knowledge is indirect, not based on his/her actual experience, and therefore s/he should not be expected to vouch for its truth. Similarly, in making an incredible statement, such as (8.38b), the narrator of a story will prudently choose to present it as hearsay, thereby avoiding an argument about the truth of the statement. 8.38 a

miFɹəL sɜLsɜL tʃʰɨL kʰeL bɜLʒjõL=ɡõH bɜHbɑL tʃʰɨL jõL people war do time sling=INS hurl do ASR L L tʃɨ =ɹju QUOT

‘It’s said that when people were at war, they would shoot each other with slings.’ b

mjɑHbuF=ɡeL=boL kʰʴəHɡjõL toL nɜL-ʈʂwɑL=siH eye:lid=TOP=FRM knee on down-contact=PFV L L tʃɨ =ɹju QUOT

‘It is said that their eyelids touch down to the knees.’ 8.3.2. Mirative: tʃɨ/tʃjɑ Besides the quotative meaning, the grammaticalized tʃɨ can also signify mirativity, which marks ‘statements based on direct experience for which the speaker had no psychological preparation, and in some languages hearsay data as well’ (DeLancey 1997a: 35). The following



illustrate the mirative interpretation of tʃɨ, indicating that the speaker is dealing with unexpected information or experience: 8.39 a

pʉHʃiL ɜH ʒɨHmeL tiL ɡəL-tʃʰjõL last.night 1SG dream one out-appear ɜH xɑ̃L tiH beH tʰɜL-pʴɑwF=siL *(tʃɨL=ɹjuL) 1SG parrot one to TLC-transform=PFV MRT ‘Last night I dreamt of myself transforming into a parrot.’ meH=ʃɨH=ɡeL lɑL ɜL beH daH #tʃɨL=ɹjuL 3SG PF.N=go=TOP also 1SG at blame MRT F H H L H H L me =ʃɨ =ɡe ɜ me ɖʐõ mɑ̃LsɨH jõL ni 3SG PF.N=go=TOP 1SG how know ASR ‘His not going is also blamed on me; how on earth should I know he wouldn’t go?’




ɜH dʒjɛR̃ =mɑR=ʒɑwL niF=ɡeL kʉHliH dzɨL #tʃɨL 3SG=TOP thief COP;3 MRT 1SG N=believe ‘I just don’t believe that he’s a thief.’

All the examples in (8.39) are drawn from a collection of elicited sentences translated from Chinese. However, they were not intended for eliciting evidentiality or mirativity, for these do not exist in Standard Chinese. 3 The mirative tʃɨ in Prinmi serves to indicate that the speaker is psychologically unprepared for accepting the truth of the proposition. It cannot be left out from (8.39a), since its omission would result in an abnormal meaning as if the event in the dream were true. While the omission of tʃɨ in (8.39b) and (8.39c) would not lead to total unacceptability, the consultant rather indignantly objected to such a change. He questioned, ‘So the speaker (of (8.39b)) now thinks s/he should be blamed?’ This would have contradicted the discourse context of (8.39b), in which the speaker, claiming innocence for himself, was probably having an argument with someone accusing him of wrongdoing, or the speaker was recounting to someone else an unfair blaming of himself. Thus, the removal of tʃɨ from the utterance would create an infelicity. Likewise, the speaker’s attitude would be different in (8.39c) without the use of tʃɨ; the incredulity about the unexpected claim would simply disappear from the sentence. The mirative may appear as tʃjɑ, a combination with the modificatory clitic ɑ. While the form tʃɨ can easily be replaced with tʃjɑ, the 3

As a matter of fact, the word say does not even occur in the Chinese sentences, just as in the English translations.



reverse is not always possible, especially when tʃjɑ occupies a sentence-medial position and signals an imminent event (an extended function discussed in Schlichter 1986; DeLancey 1997a). Consider the following: 8.40 a

sɨL=tʃjɑL kʰeH=boL=neL die=MRT time=FRM=DSC ‘when (he) was about to die, …’


tjɑR tʃɨLdĩHtʃɨHlɑ̃L tʃʰjõL=tʃjɑL tʃɨL=ɹjuL now deluge appear=MRT QUOT ‘It’s said that a deluge is about to take place now.’


tjɑR mɜR nɜL-kʰoF=ʃoL tʃjɑL=boL 1SG now fire down-put.out=OPT MRT=FRM niF=njɑL nɜL-ɡoF=siL 3SG=DSC down-go.off=PFV ‘I was just about to put the fire out, but it’s gone out by itself.’ ɜH

When marking an imminent event, the clitic consistently appears in the form tʃjɑ. It tends to attach itself immediately after the host verb. The optative is the only clitic that may intervene, as shown in (8.40c). As can be seen from these instances, psychologically unprepared events — death, catastrophe or sudden extinguishment of fire — are involved. The mirative clitic may signify imminence concerning the unexpected event directly, as in (8.40a) and (8.40b), or in an indirect manner, as found in (8.40c). 8.4. Attitudinal clitics Occurring at the end of an utterance, attitudinal clitics usually inject extra information into the sentence about the speaker’s attitude or emotional state at the time of speaking. The meaning they convey is typically subtle and the kind of emotion experienced is not as punctual or intense as that expressed by an interjection. Attitudinal clitics are attached to the sentence-final position, i.e. to a clause rather than a verb (similar to utterance-final particles found in Cantonese and Southern Min, cf. Luke 1990; Matthews & Yip 1994; Chen 2011). The four attitudinal clitics discussed below are used quite commonly in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. Two of them, mɑ and pɑ, are extremely similar in form to Mandarin, which may be the source of their borrowing.



8.4.1. The surprisive ɡjɑ The surprisive clitic ɡjɑ conveys a sense of surprise, which, unlike the mirative, makes no reference to the psychological state of the speaker. This state of surprise is regarded as a general emotional reaction that people would normally experience in the same situation. Like other pragmatically conditioned clitics, its use is not indispensable but subject to delicate variation in meaning. The function of the surprisive is to highlight, rather than to indicate, the speaker’s surprise. The following examples, taken from the Deluge Myth, provide nice illustrations of its function. 8.41 a


neL=njõH ɜL beH ʈʂʰeR=mɑL=ɹuH ɡjɑL 2SG=DSC;INS 1SG to feed=N=IPFV;2SG ATT ‘You haven’t bloody fed me (any honey dumplings).’ nɜL-dzõH=siH təLdʒeH=nõL tiR here=DSC one down-sit=PFV ‘oh, one is sitting right here!’

ɡjɑL ATT

After the Dragon couple has started a flood in order to exterminate humans, they return home tired and hungry. They have extremely long eyelids that cover their eyes up all the time. When they are having their meal, the couple affectionately take some food to feed each other. The only survivor of mankind somehow has come to their place. Having starved for days, he simply stands between the two creatures and picks up the food they give to each other. After a while, a quarrel breaks out between the Dragon couple, from which the utterance in (8.41a) is extracted: they are accusing each other of being selfish and inconsiderate. The reaction of surprise and anger prompts the use of the surprisive clitic. Later when the Dragon Queen opens one of her eyes and sees the young man, she utters her astonishment with the clitic in (8.41b). 8.4.2. The suggestive mɑ The suggestive clitic mɑ is used for softening an utterance by presenting it as a suggestion. It is identical in pronunciation and function to Mandarin ma (嘛), and is likely a loan from Southwestern Mandarin. The ‘suggestive’ clitic often occurs in requests, e.g.: 8.42

tsɜR tʰɜL-ʐoL=siH ʈʂʰɑLlaL tiH tʰɜH-puL mɑL hot TLC-exceed=PFV idea one TLC-do;2SG ATT ‘It’s too hot. Why don’t you do something about it?’



The presence of mɑ in (8.42) has rendered the sentence less abrupt and the utterance more polite. The suggestive clitic can also be used as a sort of opening uttered before one proceeds to perform what is requested or volunteered, e.g.: 8.43

tʃɨLdĩHtʃɨHlɑ̃L=ɡjɑL ʒjɑLn̥jɛL̃ tõH=ɡeL dɜL-xĩH tiH deluge=M story=TOP CLC-tell one L L pjɛ̃ mɑ do;1SG ATT ‘Let me tell a story about the deluge.’

This self-effacing function is not found in Standard Chinese ma, but is observed in Southwestern Mandarin such as Chongqing. 8.4.3. The speculative pɑR The speculative clitic pɑR, similar to Mandarin ba (吧) in pronunciation and function, is probably another loan from Mandarin. However, it always carries a rising tone, which differs from the neutral tone of the particle in Mandarin. The speculative clitic is used in a conjectural proposition, often in questions asking about the addressee’s feeling, e.g.: 8.44

tʃeHɹõL pɑR hungry ATT ‘getting hungry, eh?’

A sense of empathy is conveyed by pɑR. The speaker may or may not share the same experience with the addressee at the time of utterance, but the clitic signals that s/he understands the kind of feeling the addressee has. 8.4.4. The assumptive mə Unlike other attitudinal clitics, mə does not occupy the very end of a clause. From the sporadic cases in which it occurs, the clitic is shown to be used in non-declarative sentences. It is attached immediately after the negative or interrogative clitic, e.g.:



8.45 a


tʃʰɥaR ʃɥɛR tɜHʒjɑL=boL=njɑL tɜLpʰɑR nɜL-sɨR pig eight one:night=DSC one:half down-die L H L L L tʃʰɥa njɛ̃ mɑ =mə =dzɨ pig:disease N=ATT=COP ‘Eight pigs, half of them died in one night, (I suppose) it won’t be an epidemic.’ ɜH põHpõL=boL ʃuLʃuH tsʰʉHʒɨL ʃɨH sjɛ̃Ln̥iH tomorrow 1SG uncle=DSC together Cuìyī go L L L ɑ =mə =ʒjɛ̃ Q=ATT=may ‘(I suppose) I may go to Cuiyi with Uncle tomorrow, (right)?’

The function of mə is to signal an assumption made by the speaker. In (8.45a), the speaker suspected a pig epidemic, but s/he made an assumption, out of good will, that it would not be the case with the use of mə. Likewise in (8.45b), the use of the assumptive clitic suggests the speaker’s anticipation of a positive answer.


THE COPULA, EXISTENTIALS AND AUXILIARY VERBS The Prinmi copula and existentials are grammatically quite similar to auxiliary verbs. Like auxiliary verbs, they tend not to take directional prefixes, and do not host verbal clitics other than the interrogative and the negative ones. The copula and existentials arguably function as auxiliary verbs in such periphrastic constructions as the obligational construction and the potentive construction. Thus they are addressed together with auxiliary verbs in this chapter. All Prinmi auxiliary verbs take a complement clause that does not receive any morphosyntactic marking. Auxiliary verbs differ from verbs of cognition, which can also take a morphosyntactically unmarked complement clause (see §11.3.2), in that the complement clause of auxiliary verbs is compulsory; it cannot be replaced or substituted by a noun phrase. Compare the complement (the part in boldface in examples) of the verb of cognition in (9.1) with that of the causative verb in (9.2): 9.1



təLboR təH miF=ɡeL təH=ɹəH tʰɜL-tʃɥɛ̃H then this person=TOP this=PL TLC-see;3 ‘Then when this guy saw all these, …’


əLdʒeL n̥iLtʃʰjõH tiH nɜL-dzõH tʰɜL-tʃɥɛ̃L=siL there boy one down-sit TLC-see;3=PFV ‘(she) saw a young fellow sit there.’

kʰeH=boL time=FRM

ʈʂɜF=ɡeL=boL sjɛL̃ bõH=ɡjɑH bʴɑ̃RpoL nɜL-dzĩL keL pɜjL brother big=TOP=FRM tree=M bottom down-sit let ‘As for big brother, let (him) sit at the bottom of the tree.’

While the verb of cognition may take a nominal argument, as seen in (9.1a), or a complement clause, as in (9.1b), the auxiliary verb can only take a complement clause, shown in (9.2). (Variation on dzõH and dzĩH ‘to sit’ in the examples is due to dialectal difference, and is irrelevant to the syntactic structure.) Based on this characteristic, distinguishing auxiliary verbs from verbs of cognition is quite straightforward.



The complex syntactic structure built with the complement clause of auxiliary verbs will be addressed in §11.3. This chapter focuses on meanings and functions of auxiliary verbs, covering a variety of auxiliary verbs in Prinmi: deontic modals (§9.2), epistemic modals (§9.3), the verbs-to-do (§9.4), aspectual auxiliaries (§9.5), and some minor types of auxiliary verb (§9.6). The causative auxiliary will be discussed under causative construction in §11.2.1. The copula and existentials are discussed first in what follows. 9.1. The copula and existentials Prinmi has only one copula, and a set of etymologically unrelated existentials. The existentials do not convey possession, which is expressed by the verb bõH ‘to have’. The possessive verb behaves like other bivalent verbs; it is not included for detailed description here (its inflections can be found in Table 5-5). This subsection first investigates the copula and two related periphrastic constructions. The set of existentials and the potentive construction are then examined. 9.1.1. The copula dzɨF The copula dzɨ F ‘to be’ has a total of four variants, which agree in person and number with the argument: Table 9-1: The paradigm of the copula

First person Singular Plural


Second person 2SG




Third person 3/root dzɨF


The copula does not take any directional prefix. Only the interrogative ɑ and the general negator mɑ can be attached to it. The copula is used mainly in ascriptive sentences and, to a lesser extent, in equational sentences to link a nominal predicate to the Theme, e.g.:



Ascriptive sentences a eLdzɑ̃H tʰjɜHtʰjõL ɖʐəLɖʐuL dĩF 1DU.IN congenial friend COP;1PL ‘We two are congenial friends.’ b



pʰʴĩHmiF mɑH=djɛ̃L ʃjɜL djɛ̃F 1SG Pǔmǐ N=COP;1SG Hàn COP;1SG ‘I’m not a Pǔmǐ, (but) a Han Chinese.’


Equational sentences tɜHkɜL=ɡjɑL tʃĩH wu=ɑL xeH ]=ɡeH=boL a [ tɜLtʃĩH one:house one:family=M home in=M god=TOP=FRM [ dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL ]=ɡeL dzɨL Zzonbba god=TOP COP;3 ‘The household god of every family is the Zzonbba god.’ b

ɜH dɜL-pʰʴɜF=siL ɖʐəLɖʐuH ]=ɡeL [ ʒjɑHniL yesterday 1SG CLC-meet=PFV friend=TOP [ təH ]=ɡeL dzɨL this= TOP COP;3 ‘The friend whom I met yesterday is this (one).’

Functionally, equational sentences identify the Theme with the entity in the predicate, whereas ascriptive sentences supply additional information about the Theme whose identity is already known in discourse. 1 Equational sentences further differ from ascriptive sentences with regard to the feasibility of switching the positions between the Theme and the nominal complement, which is impossible in ascriptive sentences. In (9.4), the positions of the two bracketed NPs in the sentence can be exchanged with little difference in meaning. The copula is also used to form tag questions. In a tag, the copula is invariable in form; the copula and any clitic(s) it hosts are separated intonationally from the rest of the sentence by a pause. 9.5



neR pʰɜHwuH dɑwL ɑH=dzɨL 2SG Boar COP;2SG Q=COP ‘You were born in the year of the Boar, right?’

The term ‘identificational sentence’ may be more appropriate for equational sentences. It is avoided here, not so much to follow convention, but because of potential confusion with the same term used in Lambrecht’s (1994) study of information structure.




təH miF=ɡõL ɡəL-dzɨH=siL ɑH=dzɨL this person=INS out-eat=PFV Q=COP ‘The man ate (it), right?’


ʃiL tʰɜL-ɹ̥ ʉH=siL neR təH tɜLnɜLn̥iH=nõL tʃĩH 2SG this few:day=DSC house new TLC-buy=PFV mɑH=dzɨL ɑL N=COP


‘You’ve bought a new house recently, haven’t you?’

Prinmi also has a quasi-copula ɖʐõR ‘to become’. In addition to linking a nominal predicate, as in (9.6), the quasi-copula must be employed when the predicate is a temporal expression, as shown in (9.7). Being a quasi-copula, ɖʐõR tends not to occur with directional prefixes, but it can host verbal clitics. kiFtsʉL ʃɑwL=nõL ɹoF mɑL=ɖʐõL cuckoo:son raise=DUR chicken N=become lɜFtsʉL ʃɑwL=nõL tʃʰɨL mɑH=ɖʐõL wolf:son raise=DUR dog N=become ‘A cuckoo chick raised at home won’t become a chicken; and a wolf pup raised at home won’t become a dog.’ [Proverb]




ɖʐõL=ɹɑL n̥iL koLjiR dəL-tʃʰjõH tjɑR sõLn̥iF now three:day become=M day crow CLC-appear ‘Crow came over now on the third day.’


tʃjɛL̃ =ɡeH tʃʰɨLkjuH child=TOP how.many:year ‘How old is the child?’

ɖʐõL=siL become=PFV The obligational construction -ji dzɨ Taking a complement clause nominalized by -ji, a periphrastic construction involving the copula expresses a kind of objective obligation. This construction is referred to as ‘obligational construction’. The kind of obligation involved here differs in nature from that conveyed by the obligative modal kʰu (§9.2.2). This obligational sense is more objective and can be construed as conditioned by circumstances — everyone feels the same obligation, given his/her role under such circumstances (in Prinmi culture). This is opposed to obligation arising from personal decision made by individuals.



In order to illustrate the discourse context in which this construction appears, the translations in (9.8) are supplemented with an additional sentence. 9.8


meH tʰɜL-tʃʰɨL-jiL dzɨL what TLC-do-NMLZ COP ‘What should (we) do? [Work that had been done in the field came to nothing the next day.]’


m̥əLɡjɛF̃ ʃɨHbɑH puLdiR ʃɨHbɑH dragon:family old.man dragon:family old.woman beL tʃʰeL ʈʂʰeH-jiH dzɨL at meal feed-NMLZ COP ‘(We) should serve food to the Dragon King and the Dragon Queen. [They are now hungry and exhausted.]’

The question about what is to be done in (9.8a) is intended to be viewed in the light of the fact that agricultural efforts have been in vain. Likewise, in (9.8b) the assertion that a meal should be served is uttered with the observation that their masters (the Dragon King and the Dragon Queen) are now hungry. Sometimes the obligational meaning of the construction is less clear. Consider the following examples, taken from another story: 2 9.9




lɑH tɜHn̥iL=boL əHniL=ɑL tsõLɡyH INT 1SG also one:day=DSC like.that=M attire H L nɜL-ɡwɜjF-jiL dzɨL pɑL tɜ tsɨ one:CLF down-dress-NMLZ COP ATT ‘My goodness, one day I should also wear clothes like this.’ (said by Golden Pheasant)



tjɑR miHɹəL wuL pʰʴiF tʰjɛL̃ 1SG now people in opaque.beer drink L F L L L tʃʰɨ ʃɨ -ji dzɨL wɜ mi guest do go-NMLZ COP ‘Now I need to go to a wedding banquet as a guest.’ (said by Golden Pheasant)

The obligational construction in (9.9a) concerns Golden Pheasant’s wish to wear clothes as beautifully as Cuckoo did in the story. The use 2

See Text II in Appendix I for the whole story. Additional sentences are not included for the examples in (9.9), since they do not contain relevant information.



of the obligational construction is to downplay Golden Pheasant’s negative feeling of jealousy by presenting it in a more objective manner. The obligation in (9.9b) needs to be viewed with cultural considerations in mind. The story makes no mention as to why Golden Pheasant must go to a wedding banquet; in fact, this is made up by Golden Pheasant to trick Cuckoo. An invitation is not in itself an obligation, but the sense of obligation is rooted in Prinmi culture, in which attendance at social gatherings such as wedding banquets is taken as indicative of mutual support, and is not just a matter of celebration. Absence without a good reason may lead to a degraded relationship between the guest and the host. In this regard, an invited guest is obliged to attend a banquet. As shown in (9.10), the copula is not inflected in the obligational construction. In fact, there is no person-number agreement on any of the verbs in this construction. The predominant verbal property exhibited by the copula is its ability to host the negative clitic, as in (9.10a). 9.10 a

ɜH=njõH=neL niF beL kʰyL tʃʰɨH-jiH 1SG=DSC;INS=DSC 3SG at pity do-NMLZ mɑH=dzɨL/*djɛL̃ N=COP


‘I shouldn’t pity it.’


meF tʰɜL-tʃʰɨL-jiL dzɨL/*djɛL̃ 1SG what TLC-do-NMLZ COP COP;1SG ‘What should I do?’ ɜH

The obligational construction requires nominalization of the embedded clause, since the copula takes only nominal arguments in Prinmi. The scope of nominalization in the construction covers the entire complement clause. When an adverb modifies the copula, it is placed immediately before the copula, e.g.: 9.11

kʰuLsjɛL̃ =nõH ʃɨH-jiH tɑL dzɨL third.day=DSC go-NMLZ only COP ‘(you) only ought to go the day after tomorrow.’

The verbal suffix -ji is the sole nominalizer designated for the obligational construction. The nominalized complement tends to be structurally simple and must be headed by an ACTION verb. A complex instance is provided in (9.12a), with two chained clauses embedded in the complement (the bracketed part). In (9.12b), on the other



hand, the obligational construction forms part of a clause-chaining sentence (see §10.3). 9.12 a


tjɑR miHɹəL wuL pʰʴiF tʰjɛ̃L 1SG now people in opaque.beer drink L F L L L L tʃʰɨ ʃɨ -ji ] dzɨ wɜ mi guest do go-NMLZ COP ‘Now I need to go to a wedding banquet as a guest.’

[ ɜH

neR ʃɨHbɑH ʈʂĩR tʰɜLsɑ̃H=boL grasshopper=DSC 2SG dragon:family mortar nɜL-tʃʰoH ʃɑwH ʈʂĩR zoHloHloL nɜL-tsɑwH down-pound go;2SG mortar carefully down-hit [ tʃʰeL dzuH-jiH ] dzɨL meal make-NMLZ COP ‘Grasshopper, you go and pound the mortar for the Dragon family; do a good pounding — (we) need to make meals.’

The scope of nominalization in (9.12b) is not as broad as that in (9.12a). This is clear in that different NPs take the role of Agent: in the first two clauses the Agent is neR ‘you (singular)’, referring to Grasshopper, but the implicit Agent for the final clause is the whole group of servants including Grasshopper and others. In expressing a future obligation, the quasi-copula ɖʐõR ‘to become’ is employed in order to host a modal clitic. For instance: 9.13

tiR pʰeL-jiR ɖʐõH=kɜjL one spew-NMLZ become=VLT ‘(I) should eventually cough one up.’ The focus-presupposition construction -mi dzɨ Another periphrastic construction headed by the copula is the ‘focuspresupposition construction’. As suggested by the term, the construction represents a kind of information structure (whose pragmatic function will be detailed in §12.2). The designated nominalizer for the construction is -mi, derived from miF ‘person’. This construction is used to signal an emphasis on a variety of focus elements. Below are some representative examples: 9.14 a

ʃjɛH̃ =ɡõH ɡəL-tsɑwH-miH dzɨL iron=INS out-hit-NMLZ COP ‘(The tool,) what I’m saying is: (it) is forged from iron.’




təLboR xɜLɡõR=njɑL tʰɜL-kʴiL-miH dzɨF then who:INS=DSC TLC-sing-NMLZ COP ‘(Those songs,) what I’m saying is: who did the singing then?’


sjɛL̃ bõH beL təH seLlɑwH=ɡeH ɜL=njõH this pear=TOP 1SG=DSC;INS tree at tʰɜL-kʰɑF-miL mɑH=dzɨL TLC-pick-NMLZ N=COP ‘This pear, what I’m saying is: I didn’t pick (it) from the tree.’

Prima facie, the focus-presupposition construction remarkably resembles the obligational construction in structure: both require a nominalized clause serving as complement of the copula in an uninflected form. With such similarities, it is tempting to analyze the focus-presupposition construction along the same lines as the obligational construction, i.e. to regard the scope of nominalization as covering the entire clause. However, taking pragmatic functions of the construction into account, it is apparent that it should be analyzed into two constituents: an NP which has the pragmatic status of topic, and a nominalized clause with a narrower scope. The topic need not be overt, as in (9.14a) and (9.14b) above, and it may not be the Agent of the embedded verb. In (9.14c), the topical Theme is seLlɑwH ‘pear’, but the Agent is ɜH ‘I’. Unlike the obligational construction, requirement of nominalization on the complement for the focus-presupposition construction has been relaxed. Consequently, the nominalization occurs optionally. Consider the following pairs of sentences translated from Standard Chinese by two different consultants from Xīnyíngpán: 9.15

By the older consultant a xɜH=ɡõL tʰɜL-ɹ̥ ʉL-miL dzɨL who=INS TLC-buy-NMLZ COP ‘(Such a stallion), what I’m saying is: who bought (it)?’ b

ɜL-wɑH tɜR-meL=m̥jɛF̃ =ɡeL dzɨH tʃʰeR meal in-cook up-PF.N=ripe=TOP eat L L L L mɑ =ʒjɛ̃ -mi dzɨ N=can- NMLZ COP ‘Rice not properly cooked, what I’m saying is: (it) cannot be eaten.’




By the younger consultant a xɜLɡõR tʰɜL-ɹ̥ ʉL=siL dzɨL who:INS TLC-buy=PFV COP ‘(Such a stud), what I’m saying is: who bought (it)?’ b

tɜH-meL=m̥jɛF̃ =ɡeL dzɨH ʒjɛH̃ =mɑL=ɹjuH dzɨL tʃʰeR meal up-PF.N=ripe=TOP eat can=N=IPFV COP ‘Rice not well cooked, cannot be eaten — that’s what I’m saying.’

As shown in (9.15), the older consultant employed the suffix -mi to nominalize the predicate. The younger consultant, on the other hand, rendered the focus-presupposition construction in (9.16) by simply supplying the copula after the clause. Note that the embedded verbs in (9.16) are able to retain the perfective clitic si and the imperfective clitic ɹju respectively, since they have not undergone nominalization. The contrast in (9.15) and (9.16) seems to suggest a variation between generations. However, nominalizer omission is also found in the focus-presupposition construction of the older consultant on a number of other occasions. For instance, the construction occurs without nominalization in (9.17), which is taken from a carefully revised text recorded and edited by the older consultant (see Appendix I). 9.17

dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL xɜLkiF dəL-tʃʰjõF=siL Zzonbba:god=TOP where CLC-appear=PFV ‘Where was the Zzonbba god from?

dzɨL COP

9.1.2. Existentials Many Tibeto-Burman languages have elaborate sets of existential verbs (LaPolla 1994). Six existential verbs are found in Prinmi, conveying additional meaning besides the existence of an entity. A classification of them is provided in Figure 9-1. The existentials are not inflected for agreement. Some of them may occasionally take a directional prefix, as shown in (9.20) below. All existentials are syntactically intransitive, although they often appear with an adjunct showing the location or context in which the Theme exists, e.g.: 9.18 a

jiLtsʉF põLbɑH dĩH dĩH tɜjL conch:son vase pair:pair EXT.ON ‘There are a pair of small conches and a pair of vases (on the altar).’




ʐõH xɜLkiH ʒeL sheep where EXT.AN ‘Where are the sheep?’


mjɑL=ɹəH=boL ɜL toH kɜLtsɜjL tiH soldier=PL=FRM 1SG on small one mɑH=dʒjɛ̃L/ʒeL N=EXT.AMONG/EXT.AN ‘Among the soldiers, no one is smaller than me (lit. one smaller than me doesn’t exist).’


mɜLl̥ eL djõF jiLtsʉF=ɡjɑL loL=ɑH tɜFtʃeL=ɡeL conch:son=M outer=M one:circle=TOP flame EXT.IAN ‘Outside the small conches, there are flames around them.’


l̥ ɑLtsɨR nɜL-ɡɑF jɑLxɑR əH-wuL kɥeL 1SG finger down-fall.off all there-in EXT.IN ‘My fingers fell off, and all were inside there.’ ɜH

The group existential dʒjɛ̃F is used infrequently and perhaps represents an archaic word; it can be replaced by the general animate existential ʒeF, as shown in (9.18c). Figure 9-1: Semantic features of existentials in Prinmi

Existentials Concrete

Conceptual ʃiR ‘(abstract things) to exist’


djõ ‘to exist’ kɥeF ‘to exist inside sth.’ tɜjF ‘to exist on sth.’


ʒeF ‘to exist’ dʒjɛF̃ ‘to exist among a group’

The choice of existential verb does not correlate to the general classification of Prinmi nouns, except for the notion of animacy. Some existentials can occur with more than one type of noun. For instance: 9.19 a

ɡoL=ɹəH sjɛL̃ bõH mɑH=djõL hill=PL tree N=EXT.IAN ‘the mountains had no trees, …’




piH ʃiH jõL djõF custom EXT culture EXT.IAN ‘there is custom and culture, …’ djɛR̃ wuL tsʰiR ɜL-kɥeL miF wuL tʃʰiF ɜL-kɥeL man in faith in-EXT.IN earth in salt in-EXT.IN ‘The man has faith inside; the earth has salt inside.’ [Proverb]


The existential djõF, as in (9.19), is primarily employed with inanimate objects such as houses, trees, and external body parts. However, it is used with an abstract noun in (9.19b), perhaps out of stylistic consideration (as the expected existential ʃiR has already occurred in the first part of the expression). The existential kɥeF is similar to djõF in regard to concreteness and animacy, but it further specifies that the object exists inside something. The proverb in (9.20) employs this existential twice, first with a conceptual noun, tʃʰiF ‘faith’, and then with a concrete one, tsʰiR ‘salt’. It is also possible for a noun to select different existentials under varied circumstances to convey different messages, e.g.: 9.21 a


tsʉF mɑL=ʃiR son N=EXT ‘have no son, …’ pʉHniL=boL ɑHpõL=boL tjɑL=boH mɑL=ʃiR today=FRM father=FRM now=DSC N=EXT ‘Today, right now, (we) have no father.’

Despite being an animate noun, tsʉF ‘son’ occurs with the conceptual existential ʃiR in (9.21a), since it refers to the concept of male offspring rather than any specific individuals. Likewise in (9.21b), extracted from a story about a father leaving his daughters behind in a forest, the girls abandoned by their father chose to use the conceptual existential to describe their situation. If ʒeF had been used, the intended message would be that the father was not there for the time being. The potentive construction -ji ʃiR Another function of the existential ʃiR is to serve as the head of the ‘potentive construction’, which expresses potentiality for something to happen. The nominalizer for the complement found in this construction is usually -ji, but sometimes the plural clitic ɹə may fulfill this function. The construction basically conveys that ‘means exists for doing X’, where X is the head of the nominalized clause. This general



meaning can be broken down into three specific senses: (a) ‘having the potential for X to happen’, (b) ‘having the ability to do X’, and (c) ‘frequent happening of X’. These meanings are exemplified in (9.22a) to (9.22c) respectively. 9.22 a


ɜH=ɡjɑH tʃɥɛF̃ lɑL neL beH ʈʂʰeL-jiH 1SG=M lunch also 2SG at feed-NMLZ ‘Is my lunch for you also?!’ eLdzɑ̃H nɜHtsɨL=ɡõL 1DU two:CLF=INS ʃiR=mɑL=ɹjuH

ʃiH ɡjɑL EXT ATT

ʈʂeH lɑL ʈʂeH-jiH pull also pull-NMLZ


‘The two of us pulled and pulled, but just couldn’t pull (it) out.’ c

tʃɨL-jiH ʃiH ɹ̥ ɑL-jiH ʃiH suHɡjɑH 3DU say-NMLZ EXT laugh-NMLZ EXT affection tʃʰyH ʈʂɜH=ɹjuL good strong=IPFV ‘The two of them talk and laugh a lot (with each other), showing fond affection.’ niFdzɑ̃L

Examples of the plural marker ɹə used in lieu of the suffix -ji are provided in (9.23) below. The choice of nominalizer may be related to dialectal variation. In regard to syntactic structure, the potentive construction can be analyzed in the same way as existential sentences. The only stipulation is that the argument of the existential must appear in the form of a nominalized clause. This can be formularized as follows:

Clause +  -ji  + ʃiR  -ɹə Nominalized Since the potentive construction concerns the potential for something to happen, it ensues that the nominalized clause can only be headed by an ACTION verb. Negative and interrogative clitics are attached directly to the existential ʃiR, as exemplified in (9.23). Coincidently, the complement clause of both sentences in (9.23) is nominalized by the plural marker ɹə. However, this is not a condition for the choice of nominalizer in the construction, cf. (9.22b) and (9.24).


9.23 a




sõLpɜjLkɥɛF̃ =ɡeL kʰõR tʰɜL-l̥ iF=ɹəL 1PL.IN three:brother=TOP life TLC-escape=PL ʃiL=ɑL=ɹjuH toF=ɡiL EXT=Q=IPFV look=HRT ‘Let’s see if the three of us can run for our lives.’ dzõH=ɹəH ʃiL=mɑL=kɜjH tiL ʃɨH-jiH 1SG sit=PL EXT=N=VLT NMLC go-NMLZ L L ɖʐõ =kɜj become=VLT ‘I probably won’t be able to sit any longer, and will be gone (soon).’ ɜH

The nominalization requirement of the potentive construction is found to be relaxed on some occasions, where the nominalizer has become optional. For instance: 9.24 a


neL kiH

tʰɜL-nĩH keL(-jiL) mɑL=ʃiR 2SG BNY TLC-lose let(-NMLZ) N=EXT ‘(We) won’t maltreat you.’ təH seLlɑwH=ɹəH sjɛL̃ boR lɑL tʰɜL-kiL(=ɹəL) this pear=PL tomorrow also TLC-sell(=PL) H L L mɑ =ʃi =bo N=EXT=FRM ‘These pears, (if we) can’t sell (them) tomorrow too, …’

The examples in (9.24) were both translated from Chinese sentences. The causative auxiliary ke in (9.24a) was not nominalized in the original translation. When asked about it, the consultant remarked that the suffix -ji could be added. To check the optionality, the original nominalizer ɹə in (9.24b) was deliberately omitted; the consultant accepted it as grammatically correct. Thus it appears that in modern Prinmi, at least in the Xīnyíngpán dialect, nominalization is dispensable in the potentive construction as well as the focus-presupposition construction discussed above. 9.2. Deontic modals Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has three deontic modals, all auxiliary verbs: admonitive mɑR=xɑL, obligative kʰuR, and permissive ʒjɛ̃R. These labels are based on their primary meaning and do not assume clear-cut



meanings/functions of the deontic modals. For instance: obligation may be expressed by deontic modals other than the one labeled obligative. Since deontic modality concerns the happening of events, the deontic modals are not used with STATE verbs. Deontic modals do not take any directional prefixes or aspectual/modal clitics. However, the permissive ʒjɛ̃ can host the volitive or imperfective clitics. 9.2.1. The admonitive mɑR=xɑL Appearing in the negated form, the admonitive modal mɑR=xɑL is used to express the speaker’s warning or advice against something happening, e.g.: 9.25 a

neR kʰʉL nɜL-ɡõH ɖʐəLɖʐɑ̃L mɑR=xɑL 2SG head down-bend walk N=good ‘It is no good for you to walk with (your) head down.’


mɑR=xɑL neLɹəH təL=ɡjɑR kɥɛH̃ tʃɨH siLjĩH 2PL this=M words heed:listen N=good ‘it is no good for you to take his words to heart.’


kʰeL ɖʐuR nɜL-pʰɜR pjɛ̃LtoL tʃʰjõH=ɹɑL danger appear=IPFV;M time friend down-abandon kʰõL pʰjɛL̃ miF=ɡeL=boL ɖʐəLɖʐuL tʃʰɨR mɑR=xɑL life flee person=TOP=FRM friend do N=good ‘It is no good to make friends with those who run away and leave their friends behind in danger.’

The deontic meaning conveyed by mɑR=xɑL is essentially subjective. It does not convey control over the actual situation. Having hosted the negative clitic, the admonitive modal mɑR=xɑL cannot host the interrogative clitic. But this does not prevent its occurrence in questions, e.g.: 9.26

meHti=ɑH wɑLʒjɑL niHɹɑL kwɜHʈʂʰɨL=ɡeL ɜH what=M reason 3PL;M cattle:slaughter=TOP 1SG toF mɑR=xɑL see N=good ‘Why is it no good for me to watch them slaughtering cattle?’

Use of the modal xɑF by itself (without the negator) is extremely rare. Such an instance is provided in (9.27), where two deontically modi-



fied clauses stand in contrast with each other. Without this contrasting context, it would be quite unlikely for xɑF to occur alone as a modal verb in the first clause. tʃʰɥaLʈʂʰɨH=ɡeL toF xɑL kwɜHʈʂʰɨL=ɡeL toF pig:slaughter=TOP see good cattle:slaughter=TOP see təH=ɡeH meF pəHjõH dzɨL mɑR=xɑL N=good this=TOP what rule COP ‘It’s fine to watch pig-slaughtering, but no good to watch cattle-slaughtering. What kind of rule is this?’


Apart from its modal function, xɑF can also be used in a more concrete sense, meaning ‘good’. For instance: 9.28 a


neR xɜHkiL tʰɜL-ɹ̥ ʉL=si=ɑL ɡɥɛL̃ =ɡeH 2SG where TLC-buy=PFV;M horse=TOP xɑF -tiL good-nmlc ‘Where did you buy such a good horse?’

əHni=ɑL like.that=M

wuLʃiL tʃʰɨH kʰeH xɑF tɑL dzɨH 1PL.IN year:new do time good only eat F L L xɑ tɑ tʰjɛ̃ good only drink ‘When we celebrate the Lunar New Year, we only eat the good, drink the good, …’ eLɹəH

In (9.28a), xɑF functions as a STATE verb, while it serves as a noun in (9.28b). Of its various functions, the modal one (in negated form) is used most frequently. The lexical meaning of xɑF appears to be archaic, losing in competition to synonyms such as tʃʰyF ‘good’ and zoH ‘fine’. 9.2.2. The obligative kʰuR As a verb, kʰuR means ‘to want (something)’. It also functions frequently as a modal, denoting a sense of obligation ‘must’. These two functions are shown in (9.29) and (9.30) respectively. 9.29

kʰuR used as a verb a ɹ̥ ɑ̃H=ɡeH sõLteR tɑL kʰuL long=TOP three:CLF only want ‘The long (ones), (I) want only three.’





tʃɨLpɜjH ɑH=kʰuL water:boil Q=want ‘Do (you) want any boiled water?’


mɑL=kʰuR tʃɨLpɜjH water:boil N=want ‘(I) don’t want any boiled water.’

kʰuR used as an auxiliary verb a dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL=ɡeL kʰɥɛL poH kɥeF tʃʰɨL kʰuL Zzonbba god=TOP heart below EXT.IN do must ‘(people) must bear the Zzonbba god in mind.’ b

dzɨL neR dəL-ʒɨF kʰuL wuLʃiR wuL dzõHtʃʰeH year:new in gather:meal eat 2SG CLC-come must ‘(Everyone) has a meal gathering (with their family) at the Lunar New Year, you must come.’


kwɜjH=boH tjɑL=kwɜjH kʰuH cry=FRM DS.N=cry must ‘As for crying, (you) mustn’t cry (any more).’

The examples in (9.29) represent the typical usage of kʰuR as an ordinary verb. It takes a noun phrase as its object, and can host the interrogative clitic ɑ or the negative clitic mɑ. On the other hand, when it functions as a modal, this verb can only take a complement clause as its argument, as shown in (9.30). Note that the obligative modal is typically used for expressing illocutionary force in Prinmi. Two kinds of obligative meaning can be further distinguished from the modal kʰu: strong obligative (‘must’) versus weak obligative (‘need’). The difference between the two is manifested in negation. With strong obligation, the deontic negator tjɑ is used; it negates the head verb of the complement clause, as shown in (9.30c) and in the following: 9.31 a


neLɹəH ɹuH=tjɑL=l̥ eL kʰuL 2PL DS.N=joke must ‘You mustn’t joke.’ *neLɹəH 2PL

ɹuHl̥ eL tjɑL=kʰuL joke DS.N=must

With weak obligative, the modal is negated directly by the general negator mɑ, e.g.:


9.32 a



kwɜjH mɑL=kʰuR cry N=need ‘(You) needn’t cry.’ neLɹəH ʈʂʰɑL pɑH mɑL=kʰuR 2PL shame do N=need ‘You needn’t be shy.’

Notice that, given the discourse context, the form in (9.32a) cannot replace the similar expression in (9.30c). The kind of illocutionary force conveyed by mɑL=kʰuR ‘needn’t’ is much weaker than that intended for (9.30c); it is closer to a piece of advice rather than a request. Since the negator appears at two different levels, i.e. in the matrix versus in the embedded clause, the scope of negation varies with these two types of obligative. The precise function of the modal kʰuR can be ambiguous in declarative sentences, unless discourse contexts provide sufficient clues. Its use in (9.33) is identified as a weak obligative modal by virtue of its service as an entreaty in (9.33a) and as advice in (9.33b). Note also that the weak obligative modal may occur with the volitive clitic, as in (9.33b): 9.33 a


neR məF=ɡõL=neL təH=ɹəH beL kʰyL puH kʰuF 2PL sky=INS=DSC this=PL at pity do;2SG need ‘You, the heavenly god, need to show mercy to them.’ neLɹəH sõLpɜjLkɥɛF̃ =ɡeL=boL pʰjɛL̃ kʰuR=kɜjL 2PL three:brother=TOP=FRM flee need=VLT ‘All three of you ought to run away.’ 9.2.3. The abilitive/permissive ʒjɛ̃R

Involving a semantic extension, the permissive modal ʒjɛ̃R is related to the verb ‘can (to have the ability to do something)’. The latter is also in use in the language, e.g.: 9.34

pʰʴĩHmiHl̥ eL ʒjɛ̃R=ɑL=ɹjuL Prinmi:language can=Q=IPFV ‘Do you speak Prinmi?’

When ʒjɛ̃R takes a noun as its complement, as shown in (9.34), it behaves like an ordinary verb. Such instances are rather few in the corpus, however. The verb typically takes a complement clause and can be regarded as an ‘abilitive’ modal in these cases. For instance:



9.35 a

mjɑF kɑLpʰɑL dəL-tʃjɛ̃H ʒjɛ̃L tʰɜL-pɑL eye half.pair CLC-see can TLC-do ‘(she) made one of her eyes able to see (by opening it).’


ɜH tʃeL təH puLkɑF=ɡeL tɜLkõR tʰɜL-ɹĩF=siL this shoe=TOP a.little TLC-narrow=PFV 1SG wear ʒjɛ̃H=mɑL=ɹjuH can=N=IPFV ‘This shoe is a bit tight; I can’t wear it.’

Another frequently observed function of ʒjɛ̃R is exemplified in (9.36). Taking a complement clause, the auxiliary verb serves as a permissive modal. It signifies that something can be done without causing any harm. 9.36 a


miHɹəL dzɨH ʒjɛ̃L mʉLkʉR lɑL dzɨH ʒjɛ̃L people eat can livestock also eat can ‘People can eat (it), and so can the livestock.’ ɜH põHpõL=boL ʃuLʃuH tsʰʉHʒɨL ʃɨH sjɛL̃ n̥iF tomorrow 1SG uncle=DSC together Cuiyi go L L L ɑ =mə =ʒjɛ̃ Q=ATT=can ‘Can I go to Cuìyī together with Uncle tomorrow, (please)?’

While ʒjɛ̃R conveys permission in a formulaic expression at the end of a sentence, as shown in (9.37), it functions here as a verb rather than as a modal. This syntactic difference is discernible by the fact that a brief pause may be inserted between ʒjɛ̃R and the full clause preceding it, but is not possible in other examples such as (9.35) and (9.36). Note also that the optative clitic is attached to the head of the clause before ʒjɛ̃R in (9.37); this would not be possible with a modal auxiliary. 9.37

kʰəLl̥ ɑHtsɨL niL ʒjɑLl̥ ɑHtsɨL tɜLtsɨR mɑR=ɹ̥ ɑ̃L toe COM finger one:CLF N=long tiL tɜH-pʰeH=ʃoL ʒjɛ̃R=ɑL=kɜjH əHni=ɑL like.that=M one up-spew=OPT can=Q=VLT ‘I’ll cough up one that has fingers and toes in different lengths …, will (that) be alright?’

Finally, ʒjɛ̃R is also used in a ‘double negation’ expression which takes the form of ‘not-V not-ʒjɛ̃R’, meaning ‘to have no choice but to



V’. The expression signifies an obligation imposed strongly by others, e.g.: mɑL=pʰeR mɑL=ʒjɛ̃L tʃɨH=ɹĩL=boL tiR N=spew N=can say=IPFV;2PL=FRM one L R H L ɖʐõ =kɜj pʰe -ji spew-NMLZ become=VLT ‘Since (you’re) saying I can’t go without coughing (him) up, one will eventually be coughed up.’


This morphosyntactic pattern is productive in that it may be used with a number of verbs. However, no other deontic modals can substitute for ʒjɛ̃R in this expression. 9.3. Epistemic modals Prinmi has two epistemic modals: the assertive jõF and the successitive tʰõR. Morphologically, epistemic modals resemble deontic modals in that they do not take directional prefixes. Nor do they host aspectual clitics, except the imperfective. 9.3.1. The skillitive/assertive jõF The modal jõF has two major functions. The first, labeled ‘skillitive modality’, is related to the meaning ‘to have the knowledge to do something’. The skillitive meaning of jõF is quite close to the abilitive meaning of ʒjɛ̃R — ‘to have the ability to do something’, but jõF typically implies that some conscious learning process is necessary in order to obtain the knowledge to do something. Some examples for the skillitive jõF are: 9.39 a


tɑL ɖʐõL=neL=boL təH tʃjɛL̃ =ɡeH ʐəHkjuL this child=TOP four:year only become=DSC=DSC niF=ɡjɑL mɑ̃H ɖʐʉR jõH=ɹjuL 3SG=M name write know.how=IPFV ‘This child, just four years old, (he) knows how to write his name.’ kʴiR ɑH=jõL 2SG sing Q=know.how ‘Do you know how to sing?’ neR




ɜH=boH=boL təH=ɹəH tʃʰiLpjɜH dzuR mɑR=jõL 1SG=FRM=DSC this=PL always repair N=know.how ‘As for me, I simply don’t know how to repair them, …’

Like other modals, the skillitive typically takes a complement clause, as exemplified in (9.39). Sometimes its complement may be rendered implicit, provided that it is shared and recoverable by the interlocutor, e.g.: 9.40

A: neR ɑH=jõL 2SG Q=know.how ‘Do you know how (to do it)?’ B: mɑH=jõL N=know.how ‘(I) don’t know how (to do it).’

In the short dialogue in (9.40), the focus is on a skill which has already been activated in discourse. Therefore, the complement can be encoded implicitly. It is also possible for the skillitive modal to take an explicit pronominal complement, e.g.: 9.41

təH=ɡeL lɑL jõR=mɑL=ɹjuH this=TOP also know.how=N=IPFV ‘Even this, (s/he) doesn’t know how (to do it).’

The second function of jõF, termed ‘assertive modality’, conveys the speaker’s intent to assert the truth of a statement. The corpus of Prinmi texts witnesses much more frequent use of assertive function than the skillitive one. The assertive jõF can highlight certainty of events that happen at any points in time. For instance: 9.42


Assertion for past events ʒjɑLpɨHɹəH=boL buLlɑH djõF jõL past.years=FRM many EXT.IAN ASR ‘In the past there were many. (I can tell you for sure.)’ Assertion for general truth jõL a tʃʰyR nɜHtsʰõL ʃiL badger two:kind EXT ASR ‘There are two kinds of badgers. (For sure.)’





tʃʰyR=boL ɖʐɜHɖʐɜL jõL badger=FRM bad ASR ‘The badgers are harmful animals. (For sure.)’

Assertion for folk beliefs jõL a tɜH-kwaH mɑR=xɑL tɜH-kwaH kʰeL=boL ʒɨHməH up-open N=good up-open time=FRM earthquake ASR ‘(the eyes) must not be opened; if they are opened, there will be an earthquake. (No doubt about that.)’ b

ʈʂaF to=ɑL tʃʰyH tʃʰɨH miL beL=boL ɜL-pʰjɛL̃ keH jõH soil on=M good do man at=DSC in-bless let ASR L H F L L be =bo ɜL-nɑ̃H keL jõL ɖʐɜ tʃʰɨ mi bad do man at=DSC in-harm let ASR ‘(The god) will cause those who behave well on earth to be blessed, and those who behave badly to be cursed. (I’m sure.)’

The assertive modal is not confined to positive statements. While it does not occur in the interrogative, it can appear in negative statements, e.g.: 9.45 a


mɑH=jõL sʉL djõF fruit EXT.IAN N=ASR ‘(The tree) does not bear any fruit. (For sure.)’ tʃɨR mɑR=jõL tɜLʃiH kjuH kɜLtjɛH̃ l̥ ɜH=boL ten decade=FRM say N=ASR one:hundred year L L tʃɨ jõ say ASR ‘(We) don’t say “ten decades”; (we) use the expression “one hundred years”. (It’s always like that.)’ 9.3.2. The successitive tʰõR

Another epistemic modal is the successitive tʰõR, which denotes ‘to succeed in carrying out a task’. This modal often occurs in the negative form, as found in spontaneous Prinmi data. It can be negated by the perfective or the general negator, as exemplified respectively in (9.46a) and (9.46b), but it cannot host the deontic negator tjɑ. 9.46 a

mɜHtʃeH ɹiR meL=tʰõH look.for find PF.N=SCC ‘(He) searched (but) was unsuccessful in finding (any).’




djɛR̃ ʈʂõL kwɜH=ɡõH jɛR̃ mɑL=tʰõR field hard ox=INS plow N=SCC ‘The field is hard; the ox cannot plow successfully.’

A special property of the successitive modal is its compatibility with another modal morpheme within a clause. In (9.47a), the successitive modal hosts the volitive clitic, and in (9.47b) it serves as the complement head of the assertive modal jõF. It may also host a complex clitic formed with the general negator and the imperfective marker. 9.47 a

təH miF=ɡeL this person=TOP tʰõL=mɑL=kɜjH

kʰɥɛHkɜjHtsɜjL loH tɜjH tʃʰɨL heart:small matter big do


‘This guy is a coward; (he) won’t succeed in doing great things.’ b

pɜR nɜL-ɡoH sʉL xĩH tʰõL mɑR=jõL flower down-wither fruit grow SCC N=ASR ‘(After) the flowers wither; no fruit will grow. (For sure.)’ 9.4. The verbs-to-do

Xīnyíngpán Prinmi has two different verbs meaning ‘to do’: pɑF and tʃʰɨR. While the former is widely distributed in all the three major dialectal groups, the latter is a dialectal addition found in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, and it was likely a variant of pɑF in the course of development of this word. In present-day Xīnyíngpán Prinmi, the two appear to be functionally divided with a low degree of overlap. This section first investigates the different functions of pɑF, and then compares them to those of tʃʰɨR. Finally, the semelfactive construction headed by the verb-to-do is discussed. 9.4.1. Functions of pɑF In addition to the basic meaning ‘to do’, pɑF has four extended meanings/functions for its usage as an auxiliary verb: (i) to describe an event happening in the manner of X, where X is the complement, (ii) to signify ad hoc control over situation X, (iii) to denote X as a result of a particular event that has happened, and (iv) to place emphasis on the occurrence of X. Moreover, the verb-to-do also heads a semelfac-



tive construction (to be discussed in §9.4.3). Morphologically, the verb maintains a complete paradigm for person-number agreement: Table 9-2: The paradigm of the verb-to-do pɑF

First person Singular




Second person 2SG





Third person 3/root pɑF

pĩF As an ordinary verb The following are examples of the use of pɑF in its basic sense: 9.48 a təH=ɡeL njõH tʰɜL-puF=siL dzɨL ɑL this=TOP 2SG;INS TLC-do;2SG=PFV COP Q ‘You did this, didn’t you?’ b

pɑF kiHpuL tɜHn̥iL=njɑL təH=ɡeH leLleL cuckoo one:day=DSC this=TOP folksong do ‘Cuckoo talks about this all the time, much like doing a folksong.’


tʰɜL-pĩL zoHloHloL miF fine:IDE person TLC-do;2PL ‘Be good people.’


kɜH pjɛ̃H=sjɛ̃L fake do;1SG=VL.PFV ‘(I) cheated.’

Note that the instances in (9.48c) and (9.48d) are idiomatic. The final one, although reminiscent of derivation, is not considered a derivational suffix because it shows inflectional agreement which is found mainly on verbs, but not on affixes. Such derivation-like and idiomlike usage of pɑF can further be observed in (9.49): 9.49 a

tjɑR kʉHmiL ʒjɑL ɹ̥ ɑ̃H tʰɜL-pɑL now thief hand long TLC-do ‘Now thieves carry out (activities) with their long hands, …’




neR məF=ɡõL=neL təHɹəH beL kʰyL puH kʰuF 2PL sky=INS=DSC these at pity do;2SG must ‘You, the heavenly god, need to show mercy to them.’

The prefixation on pɑF in (9.49a) provides an additional argument against treating it as a suffix. Heading an adverbial clause of manner When used as an auxiliary verb, pɑF always takes a complement clause. In (9.50) the auxiliary function of pɑF is to introduce an adverbial manner clause. Since the adverbial clause is syntactically an adjunct, its removal from the sentence would have no impact on the overall structure, but information would be lost about how the act was performed. Note that this kind of manner clause often contains the durative clitic nõ, as in (9.50a), but this is not obligatory, cf. (9.50b). 9.50 a tʰɜL-dɑwH pɑF=nõL tʃeHmeH ɡəL-tʃʰjõL TLC-tired do=DUR home out-appear ‘(He) returned home tired.’ b

tɜHtsɨL=boL tʰɜL-bjɛ̃H pɑF pʰɑ̃H ʃɨL one:CLF=FRM TLC-hurry do flee PUR ‘One (of them) went to flee in a hurry.’ Marking ad hoc control Quite frequently, pɑF is employed to signal ad hoc control or an attempt for control of a situation. Control marking can occur with all verbs regardless of their inherent controllability in meaning. For instance: 9.51 a ɹ̥ ɑLtsɨHtsɨL tʰɜL-pɑL smile:IDE TLC-do ‘(He) put on a smiling face, …’ b

pɑH=ɹɑL kʰeL=boL=neL kiHpuL=boL dɜL-pʰʴɜL cuckoo=DSC CLC-run.into do=IPFV;M time=FRM=DSC ‘When (he) pretended to run into Cuckoo, …’

In (9.51a), the complement of pɑF is inherently controllable, and the deliberate act of wearing a smile is signaled by the verb-to-do. In (9.51b), the complement clause is headed by dɜL-pʰʴɜR ‘to run into someone’, an uncontrollable act. Inasmuch as the situation of running into someone is brought into realization by planning it out, it amounts to pretense.



This function of pɑF can also apply to imperative sentences, often in negated form, to signify the extra effort involved in refraining from doing something. Consider the following: 9.52 a

neR ɡɑ̃F toL ʈʂɨH tjɑH=puL 2SG bed on jump DS.N=do;2SG ‘(Behave yourself and) don’t jump on the bed.’


beH seH tjɑH=puL 1SG at miss DS.N=do;2SG ‘Try not to miss me.’


puL neR kʰɥɛH ɖʐwɑL 2SG heart comfortable do;2SG ‘Try to ease your mind, …’


The complement head in (9.52a) represents a controllable act, while the heads in (9.52b) and (9.52c) concern mental processes, which are not readily controllable. With the use of pɑF in these sentences, the addressee is asked to try to control the mental process. Signifying a realis resultant state When pɑF is used to signify a resultant state arising from other situations explicitly stated in a sentence, its function is reminiscent of a causative suffix. However, its morphological status is a word rather than a suffix. As can be seen in (9.53a) below, the resultant state in each instance is expressed by more than one verb, but pɑF occurs only once in the sentence. This demonstrates that it functions as an auxiliary verb, taking a complex complement in this sentence. 9.53 a tʰɜL-dɑwH=nõH dʒiR tʰɜL-tsiH ʈʂwɑR tʰɜL-njɛ̃H TLC-tired=DUR back TLC-numb shoulder TLC-ache F L pɑ =si do=PFV ‘(he) got tired, (his) back became numb (and his) shoulder sore (as a result of overwork).’ b

təH bɑLlɜjH=ɡeH miF=ɡjɑL tʃʉH koL poL=nõL this snake=TOP person=M warm air below=DSC dəL-sɨH pɑF=siL dəL-nuR CLC-wake CLC-revive do=PFV ‘The snake woke up and came to life, under the body heat of the person.’




təLboR ʃɨH ʃɨH ɹwɜHɖʐɜL wuL kʰəL-ʃɨH kʰəL-tɑF pɑF kʰeL then go go road:far in out-go out-arrive do time ‘Then when (they) traveled and traveled (and, as a result, they) arrived at a place far away, …’

While the removal of pɑF from the sentences in (9.53) is not impossible, this would result in a change in terms of perspective or information presentation, and the sense of logical connection between the situations involved would simply be lost. It should be noted that pɑF expresses realis resultant only. It is not used for projecting what may result from a hypothetical situation. Expressing emphasis An emphatic function of pɑF is found in the expression ‘negator-Verb + nɜL-pɑF’. Two kinds of negators may occur here: the deontic is seen in (9.54a) and (9.54b), and the general negator in (9.54c). 9.54 a tjɑR tjɑL=ʈʂʰeL nɜH-pɑL again DS.N=feed down-do ‘Again what (he) did was to not feed (Crow).’ b tjɑL=jĩL nɜH-pɑL DS.N=listen down-do ‘what (Frog) did was to not listen (to them).’ c

mɑL=wɑL nɜH-pɑL məF niL djɛL̃ =ɡeH tjõRtiR sky COM earth=TOP each.other N=mind down-do ‘What Heaven and Earth did was to not interfere with each other, …’ 9.4.2. Functions of tʃʰɨR: a comparison with pɑF

The second verb-to-do tʃʰɨR differs from pɑF in its general lack of inflection for person-number agreement, although the form tʃʰuR does exist for second-person singular. Since both verbs are frequently used, their tokens in the core corpus are large enough (each well over a hundred) for empirical analysis. The corpus shows that tʃʰɨR overlaps with pɑF only in the lexical sense ‘to do’ and the semelfactive construction (see §9.4.3). It does not share the other functions of pɑF presented above. For meanings/functions shared by the two verbs, an interchange between them is sometimes possible, e.g.:


9.55 a


m̥jɛH̃ nɜH-tʃʰɨL/pɑL medicine down-do do ‘to cure’


pjɛR̃ wuL tɑL ɡəL-pɜjH ɜL-pɜjH tʃʰɨH/pɑH grove in only out-hide in-hide do do ‘(he) just hides around in the woods.’


kɜH tʃʰɨH/pɑH fake do do ‘to cheat’

Shown in (9.56) is a pair of structurally identical sentences from the Deluge Myth, where the two different verbs-to-do are employed. Noninterchangeable cases are exemplified in (9.57). 9.56 a

tɑ̃LkʰɑH əHniL pɑL jɛL̃ jɛ̃H tsõHjɛH̃ plow cultivate assart like.that do ‘(they would) plow, cultivate, and clear woodlands by slash-and-burn, doing things like that.’


əLɹɑHxɥɛL̃ poL toL loHpjɑH tʃʰeLdzɨH tʃɨHtʰjɛH̃ Earth on work meal:eat water:drink H L L ə ni tʃʰɨ like.that do ‘(they would) work, eat, and drink, doing things like that on Earth.’

9.57 a


tʃʰɨH/*pɑF tʃʰeL meal do do ‘to make meals’


wuLʃiL tʃʰɨH/*pɑF New.Year do do ‘to celebrate New Year’

təLboR sjɛL̃ n̥iH ɜH meF tʰɜL-tʃʰɨL/*pɑL-jiL then tomorrow 1SG what TLC-do/do-NMLZ ‘Then what should I do tomorrow?’

dzɨL COP

As can be seen from (9.57a), tʃʰɨR may express ‘to make’ in the sense of processing. Use of pɑF in this sense is unavailable in Xīnyíngpán Prinmi. Further examples of this meaning are: 9.58 a

tʰɜL-kʰɑF dəL-jɜR tʃeHmeH tʃʰɥaLtʃʰeH tʃʰɨH/*pɑF TLC-remove CLC-fetch home pig:meal do do ‘collect and take (them) home to make feed for the livestock, …’




ɖʐəLɖʐuL tʃʰɨR/*pɑF mɑR=xɑL friend do do N=good ‘no good to make friends with (him)’

As noted in § above, pɑF can only mark a realis resultant state. In contrast, tʃʰɨR may signify a general resultant state which holds a cause-effect relationship with the preceding clause. The effect can be realis, as in (9.59a), or irrealis, as in (9.59b)–(9.59d). The auxiliary takes a complement headed by either a STATE or a PROCESS verb. With an irrealis resultant state, the sentence often starts with a conditional clause (in boldface), as in (9.59b) and (9.59c). 9.59 a

kɜL tʃʰɨR tʰɜL-dɑwH tʃʰɨH miL=ɡeL=boL energy do TLC-tired do person=TOP=FRM H L L L ɑ li =ɡe dzɨ Ali=TOP COP ‘The one who spent great energy and got tired is Ali.’


neR mɑL=ʃɨH=boH ɑLpuH=ʃjɛH̃ =neL kʰɥɛHdʒeH 2SG N=go=FRM grandpa=FOC=DSC heart:angry L L tʃʰɨ =kɜj do=VLT ‘If you don’t go, Grandpa will get angry.’


njõH=neH dzuR=mɑR=beL=boL təH loH=ɡeH this matter=TOP 2SG;INS=DSC N=mention=FRM tʃʰɨL=ɹjuL ɑHɹəL nɜL-mɜL=tʃjɑH 1PL.EX down-forget=MRT do=IPFV ‘This matter, if you don’t bring (it) up, we’re about to get (it) forgotten.’


neL tʃʰjõHl̥ jɛL̃ tʰɜL-ʈʂɑL=nõL xõL=tʃjɑH 1SG 2SG wait TLC-exceed=DUR crazy=MRT L L tʃʰɨ =ɹju do=IPFV ‘I long for you so much that I’m about to go crazy.’ ɜH

It is not necessary for the resultant state introduced by tʃʰɨR to be logically attributed to a direct cause, e.g. the hypothetical state of forgetting in (9.59c) is averted, rather than caused, by mentioning the matter.



The (auxiliary) verb tʃʰɨR differs in meanings/functions from pɑF in two respects: (i) ‘to do sophisticated things (closer to the sense of make)’, and (ii) ‘to introduce a general resultant state (as opposed to the specific realis resultant state marked by pɑF)’. As summarized in Table 9-3, these two verbs are largely in complementary distribution, suggesting that they have each taken their own paths in semantic development. For the sake of completeness, the table includes the semelfactive construction, the topic of the next subsection. Table 9-3: Functional distribution of the two verbs-to-do

‘to do something’ ‘to do sophisticated things’ Marking general resultant Marking realis resultant Marking ad hoc control Marking manner clause Emphatic marking Heading semelfactive construction



  

    

9.4.3. The semelfactive ti pɑ/ti tʃʰɨ Prinmi has a semelfactive construction marked by tiR ‘one’ in conjunction with the verb-to-do pɑF/tʃʰɨR for the meaning ‘to do once’. Variants of the auxiliary verb contribute no difference to the construction. Since pɑF is used more frequently in the corpus, the examples of the semelfactive construction below mainly show this variant. The semelfactive construction in Prinmi portrays an act as being performed in a casual or non-committal manner. Consider the following: 9.60 a


n̥iLdʒjõH=ɡõH təH miF=ɡjɑL zʉR beL ɜL-n̥ʉLn̥ʉL nose=INS this man=M face at in-smell H F ti pɑ one do ‘(The bear) took a smell at this person’s face with its nose.’ tiL pɑL ɥɛH̃ =ɡõH nɜL-sʉHdʉL bear=INS down-think one do ‘The bear gave it a thought, …’




njɑH tsõLɡyH=ɡeH ɜL beH dɜL-jĩL tiH puH 2SG:M attire=TOP 1SG at CLC-lend one do;2SG ‘Your clothes, (why don’t you) lend me (for a while)?’


tʃɨLdĩHtʃɨHlɑ̃L=ɡjɑL ʒjɑLn̥jɛL̃ tõH=ɡeL dɜL-xĩH deluge=M story=TOP CLC-tell tiH pjɛ̃L mɑL one do;1SG ATT ‘The Deluge story, let (me) tell a bit about (it).’

The semelfactive construction is used in (9.60a) to express a cursory act of smelling. The occurrence of the complement head sʉHdʉL ‘to think’ in (9.60b) indicates that the construction is not confined to quantitatively measurable acts, despite the presence of the numeral tiR ‘one’. In the semelfactive construction, the auxiliary verb must appear in its bare form. Consequently, the construction cannot be encoded in negation or interrogativity. Nonetheless, pɑF retains inflection for person-number agreement. The overall composition of the semelfactive construction is presented in (9.61): the numeral ti ‘one’, modifying the auxiliary verb, cannot be replaced by other numerals, and the head of the complement clause is constrained to ACTION verbs and verbs of cognition. 9.61

pɑ/pu/pjɛ/̃ pĩ  Agent + Complement clause + ti +  tʃʰɨ  

The semelfactive construction has an alternate structure, where the numeral modifier is fronted before the complement head and compounded with it, namely: 9.62

pɑ/pu/pjɛ/̃ pĩ  Agent + [tɜH+V] +  tʃʰɨ  

In this simplified variant of the construction, the complement head, being part of a compound, cannot take any directional prefix or clitics. For instance:


9.63 a



təLdʒeH=nõH ʃɨH mɑH=ɖʐɑL here=DSC go N=far R H L ne [ tɜ to ] tʃʰɨL ʃɨL=ɑL=ʃoH 2SG one:look do go=Q=OPT ‘(The place) isn’t far away from here. Would you like to go and have a look?’ neR [ ɜL beH tɜHtoL ] puL 2SG 1SG at one:look do;2SG H H L L me ti də -ʐɑF=sjɛL̃ ɜ 1SG what CLC-bring=VL.PFV ‘Take a look at me and see what I’ve brought back.’

The complement clause in the regular semelfactive construction has the following three grammatical properties: (a) co-reference must exist between Agent of the complement head and Agent of the verb-to-do; (b) the complement head may be affixed with a directional prefix, but it cannot host any clitics, including the negative and the interrogative; and (c) it is possible to have further embedded complement clauses inside the complement of the construction. Of these, only the first property holds true for the simplified semelfactive construction. An instance of iterative embedding in the semelfactive construction is provided in (9.64), which contains three complement clauses, one embedded within another. These are numerally indexed on the closing bracket from the outermost to the innermost. 9.64

[ [[

eLɹəH=boL ɖʐəLɖʐuL tʃʰɨH ]3 1PL.IN=FRM friend do

ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL=ɑL=ɹjuL ]2 want=Q=IPFV

puL ɜL-ʃjɑLʃjɑH ]1 tiL in-try one do;2SG ‘(You) have a try and see if (she) wants to make friends with us.’ The co-referenced Agent requirement applies only to the verb-to-do and its complement. It is irrelevant to further complementation in the semelfactive construction. In (9.64), ʃjɑLʃjɑH ‘to try’ and the auxiliary puF share the Agent—an implicit addressee, but ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL ‘to want’ and tʃʰɨR ‘to do’ share a different Agent.



9.5. Aspectual auxiliaries: the terminative tɑF and the inchoative tʃʰjõR The terminative auxiliary indicates that a complete state is achieved in the situation/event denoted by its subordinate verb. This auxiliary verb may be etymologically related to tɑR ‘to arrive/reach’. The terminative auxiliary can take a directional prefix and the perfective clitic, e.g.: 9.65 a


tɜHsʉL=ɹəL tɜH-pʰʴĩL nɜL-tɑF=siL huángguŏ=PL up-white down-TRM=PFV ‘The huangguo (flowers) have completely whitened (the field).’ njɛH̃ =ɹəH=boL tʃɨR mɑR=tɑL 1SG ache=PL=DSC say N=TRM ‘My sufferings cannot be fully told.’ ɜH

The examples in (9.65) show that the end point of reference is not determined by the completion of an act or a process; rather, it concerns the event as a whole. In (9.65a), the terminative is used with the field taken as the reference for completeness. Likewise in (9.65b), the whole event is considered to be complete only when all that is to be told is actually said. Thus the sense of completeness conveyed by the terminative is quite different from that found in the perfective (cf. §8.1.1). A further aspectual auxiliary is the inchoative tʃʰjõR, which is related to the lexical verb ‘to appear’. When functioning as a verb, it takes a noun phrase as its argument, e.g.: 9.66

tʰɜLsɑ̃H=ɡõH=neL lɑL ɡəL-tʃʰjõF grasshopper=INS=DSC also out-appear ‘Grasshopper came forward too.’

There are a number of instances, especially in causative sentences such as (9.67a) and (9.67b), where tʃʰjõR expresses an inchoative meaning and takes a short complement clause. Consider the following (the complement is italicized with the auxiliary): 9.67 a

sʉLdʉL tʃʰjõH keL=mɑL=ʃoH 1SG 2SG BNY think INC let:SB=N=OPT ‘I don’t wish to let you worry (lit. you start thinking).’ ɜH

neL kiH




mɜHl̥ eL=ɡõL tʰɜL-m̥oLm̥oL kʰeL=boL bõL ɹəHbeL wind=INS TLC-blow time=FRM cold foremost H L L H H L mi ɹə ɡɥe ɹɜ ɹɜ kʰə -tʃʰjõH kɥɛL=siL people tremble out-INC let=PFV ‘When the wind blew so cold, (it) had people beginning to tremble.’


təLboR tʃɨLdĩH kʰəL-dyR kʰəL-tʃʰjõH=ɹɑH kʰeL=boL DSC flood out-cast;3 out-INC=IPFV;M time=FRM ‘Well, after the flood begins (lit. begins to be cast out), …’

As shown in (9.67b) and (9.67c), the inchoative auxiliary can take a prefix. This indicates that it has not been grammaticalized to a suffix. The inchoative function of tʃʰjõR appears to be quite limited, especially outside causative sentences. 3 In this usage, the auxiliary does not host the negative or interrogative clitics. 9.6. Other auxiliary verbs This final section describes some minor auxiliary verbs in Prinmi. These are the purposives ʃɨH and ʒɨR, the desiderative ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL, and the venturive waF. 9.6.1. The purposives ʃɨH & ʒɨR Both motion verbs ʃɨH ‘to go’ and ʒɨR ‘to come’ can function as purposive auxiliary verbs. These verbs inflect for person-number agreement (see Table 5-3), even as auxiliary verbs. The following exemplifies their purposive function: 9.68


Purposive denoted by ʃɨH ‘to go’ a dʒɨR wuL kiL ʃɨH=ɹɑH kʰeL lɑL market in sell PUR=IPFV:M time also H H L tə =ɡe pʰʉ tɜjH tʃjɑL jõL this=TOP price:big reckon ASR ‘When people go to sell (it) at the market, it is certainly reckoned as (worthy of) a big price.’

The consultant was once asked to translate an inchoative sentence with the Chinese expression kāishĭ ‘to begin’. However, he plainly pointed out that they did not say things like that in Prinmi and left the Chinese inchoative untranslated.





tʰɜLsɑ̃H=boL neR ʃɨHbɑH ʈʂĩR grasshopper=DSC 2SG dragon:family mortar nɜL-tʃʰoH ʃɑwH down-pound PUR;2SG ‘Grasshopper, you go to pound the mortar for the Dragon family, …’

Purposive denoted by ʒɨR ‘to come’ a tʃʰeL dzɨH jiF meal eat PUR;2SG ‘Come to eat.’ b

mɜLlĩH jiF warm.by.fire PUR;2SG ‘Come to get warmed up by the fire.’

Given that a change of physical location is often involved in purposive sentences, this opens the question whether it is necessary to treat the motion verbs as auxiliary verbs. Such treatment is justified by the fact that, under the purposive function, they must take a complement clause. Furthermore, no directional prefixes are allowed, although the auxiliary verbs may host modal or imperfective clitics, e.g.: 9.70 a


mɜLtʃeL ʃɨL=mɑL=ʃoH 1SG 3SG look.for PUR=N=OPT ‘I won’t go to look for him, …’



tsõLɡyH tɜH-ɡuH=siL niF tjɑR tsõLɡyH tʃʰjɛF̃ clothes up-dry=PFV 3SG now clothes dry.by.sun ʃɨL=ɹjuL PUR=IPFV ‘The clothes have already dried; now he goes to dry them in the sun.’

It should be pointed out that it is possible for a motion verb to follow another verb without taking the former as its complement. In (9.71) the motion verb is adjacent to a verb, but it does not function as an auxiliary. The motion involved is iconic to the order of the juxtaposed verbs; that is, the motion takes place after the other situation, contrary to the case in a purposive sentence.


9.71 a



kwɜjH kwɜjH ʃɨH ʃɨH kʰeL=boL cry cry go go time=FRM ‘When (they) keep crying and walking, …’ tɜH-tsɥɛL̃ ʃɨH=siL ɡɥɛL̃ =ɡeH sɑLdɑHbõL horse=TOP Sadda:family;INS up-drag go=PFV ‘The horse, the Saddas took (it and went) away.’ 9.6.2. The desiderative ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL and the venturive waF

The desiderative ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL, expressing a desire to do something, is the only known disyllabic auxiliary verb. It appears to be a reduplicated form accompanied by a vowel change. The auxiliary does not take any directional prefix, and always occurs with a complement clause, e.g.: 9.72 a


tʃiF miHɹəL dzĩH ɹ̥ õH=mɑH=ɹ̥ ĩL some people sit N=want L H H L dzɨ ɹ̥ õ ɹ̥ ĩ du poison eat want ‘Some people don’t want to live; (they) want to poison themselves.’ ɜH

ɹəHdʒeL beL=boL ʃɨH=ʃoH sʉLdõL=sjɛ̃L 1SG onset at=FRM go=OPT think;1SG=VL.PFV L H H tə ʃjɑ njõ =neL dəL-xĩH kʰeL=boL tjɑR=boL at.present 2SG;INS=DSC CLC-tell time=FRM now=FRM ʃɨH ɹ̥ õH=mɑR=ɹ̥ ĩL go N=want ‘At first I thought I would go; now that you have told (me this), I don’t want to go (any more).’

The meaning of the desiderative auxiliary is fairly similar to some modal clitics such as the optative; they differ in that the former expresses a desire, rather than an intention or volition. This difference is illustrated in (9.72b), where a positive intention becomes a negative desire after some consultation has taken place. The final auxiliary verb introduced here is the venturive waF. This verb has some inflectional forms, as shown in (9.73c). Like most auxiliary verbs, the venturive auxiliary does not take any directional prefix. However, it occasionally hosts the imperfective or the volitive clitic, and frequently appears in the negative form. For instance:



9.73 a

boL mjɑF lɑL kwaH DSC eye also open koF lɑL xeH breath also exhale ‘Well, (they) daren’t breath.’

waF=mɑL=ɹjuH dare=N=IPFV waF=mɑL=ɹjuH dare=N=IPFV open (their) eyes, or let out (their) waL=mɑL=kɜjH dare=N=VLT


neL beH nɑ̃H keL niHɹõL=neL 3PL;INS=DSC 2SG at harm let ‘they daren’t harm you.’


ɜH ɜL-ʃɨH mɑH=wõL põHpõL kʰɥɛHdʒeH=nõL uncle heart:angry=DUR 1SG in-go N=dare;1SG ‘Uncle is angry; I daren’t go in.’


CLAUSES AND SENTENCES This chapter analyzes structures of clause and sentence in Prinmi. These include simplex and complex sentences as well as the clausechaining sentence, one of the most common types of complex sentence in the language. This paves the way to study of other complex structures in Chapter 11. 10.1. The clause A clause represents the simplest sentence structure. Prinmi has three types of special clause: dependent clauses, nominal clauses, and verbless clauses. Each of them will be discussed after examining the structure of clause in Prinmi. 10.1.1. The clause structure The clause structure of Prinmi can be outlined as follows: [Adjunct] + (Argument) + Predicate Adjunct is optional, as can be seen from the two clauses in (10.1). The parenthesized Argument denotes possible occurrence of implicit arguments. For instance, a noun such as ‘water’, given proper discourse context, may serve as an implicit argument of the predicate in (10.1a). The number of explicit arguments is determined by the valence of a verb, as shown in (10.2), where arguments are rendered as italic. Finally in (10.3), both clauses begin with an adjunct and the Agent is covert. 10.1


bõL=nõH cold=DUR ‘(It’s) cold.’


pʉHniL bõL=nõH today cold=DUR ‘(It’s) cold today.’







mɑ̃LsjɛH̃ 1SG know;1SG ‘I know.’

(1 argument)



neL beH pʰɜHdziH xĩL=ʃoL 1SG 2SG to news:perfect tell=OPT ‘I’m going to tell you some reliable news.’

(3 arguments)


mɑ̃LtoH kʰeH=boL boR ɹɜLpuH=ɡeL nɜL-diL final time=FRM DSC cock=TOP down-cast ‘Finally, (you) throw down the rooster.’



nɜHdʒjuL kʰeH beL neL beH meHtiL tʃɨL=ɹjuL 2SG=M ear edge at 2SG to what say=IPFV ‘What did (the bear) say to you at your ear?’

As a verb-final language, Prinmi reserves the clause-final position for the predicate. No other constituent, argument or adjunct, may occur after the head verb in the clause. To a large extent, this also holds true for simplex sentences. Within the scope of the clause, word order is quite rigid, starting from adjunct/modifier at the onset, followed by core argument(s) and then the verb at the end. The default word order of arguments is Agent–Recipient–Theme, as seen in (10.2b). 10.1.2. Dependent clauses In principle, two types of clause can be recognized in Prinmi: dependent clauses and independent clauses, according to whether or not a clause may function independently as a sentence. A dependent clause always occurs as part of a complex sentence and is characterized with reduced structure, incapable of taking any adjunct. When a sentence contains a temporal adverb and a dependent clause, the adverb falls outside the scope of the dependent clause. Consider the relation between the temporal tjɑR ‘now’ and the dependent clause (rendered as italic) below: 10.4

niHɹəL tjɑR tʃɨLdĩH diH=nõL tʰɜL-dɑwH=siH 3PL now flood cast=DUR TLC-tired=PFV ‘Having started the flood, they got tired now.’

It is clear in the Deluge story that the flood-starters return home after they finish their act of flooding. The temporal adverb must be analyzed as situated outside the dependent clause, modifying the verb



tʰɜL-dɑwH ‘to be tired’ instead of diH ‘to cast’, even though the latter is closer to the adverb. However, if the sentence begins with a temporal scene-setting topic (cf. §6.4.1), the temporal frame will cover the entire scope of the sentence. In (10.5), for instance, the scene-setting topic ʒjɑHniL ‘yesterday’ is relevant to both events of borrowing and not-yet-reading. In order to specify the time for the event of borrowing, the dependent clause in (10.5) is rendered as an independent one and the clause functions as a scene-setting topic; see (10.6). 10.5

ʒjɑHniL ɜH niF beL dʒiLdʒiL dɜH-jĩL=nõL yesterday 1SG 3SG at book CLC-borrow=DUR F L L R mɑ =ʃi to -ji look-NMLZ N=EXT ‘Yesterday, having borrowed a book from him, I didn’t read (it yet).’


ʒjɑHniL ɜH niF beL əHtəL dʒiLdʒiL=ɡeH yesterday 1SG 3SG at that book=TOP H L L H H H dɜ -jĩ =bo me =jɜ tʃe meH toF meH=tʰõL CLC-borrow=FRM PF.N=fetch home look PF.N=SCC ‘(Although) I borrowed that book from him yesterday, I haven’t taken (it) home and aven’t been able to read (it).’

Prinmi dependent clauses are used to express adverbial meanings, especially for the manner. There is no specific marking for a dependent clause. The durative clitic nõ is often attached to the end of a dependent clause which is predicated with an ACTION verb (see § However, a durative-marked clause is not necessarily dependent in structure. The following sentences contain dependent clauses: 10.7


məF beH toL=nõL person at look=DUR H H toL=nõL bõ be tree at look=DUR ‘Open (your) mouth (to addressee; pick the fruit [Proverb]

woL kɑH mouth open sʉL kʰɑH fruit pick talk) after taking a look at the after taking a look at the tree.’




tsʰɨL koLʃiH=nõH ʐõH=ɡeH tʰuL goat usher=DUR sheep=TOP fall.off ‘A sheep led by a goat (can be expected to) fall off the cliff.’ [Proverb]


ɡɥɛL̃ mɑ̃H=ɡõH ɜL-ʈʂʰɨL=nõH tʃiF=ɹəL=boL some=PL=DSC horse:hair=INS in-knot=DUR tʰɜL-kʰɑH jõL TLC-detach ASR ‘It’s certain that some will detach (the warts) with horse hair by running a knot around (them).’


tʃjɛL̃ =ɹəH ɜL-ʒɨL=nõH tʃʰeL dzɨH kʰuH xɜLɡeLbɑR whose:family child=PL in-lie=DUR meal eat need ‘What sort of children would lie down to eat?’

When a dependent clause is employed to express a manner. This kind of adverbial clause may appear without marking by the durative, as in (10.8a), or without any clitics, e.g. (10.8b). 10.8


sõLpɜjLkɥɛF̃ tiL tʰɜL-ʃuLʃu=ɑH=boL djɛR̃ wuL three:brothers some TLC-gather=M=DSC field in loHpjɑH ʃɨL work go ‘Three brothers went to work together in the field, …’


tʰɜL-bjɛ̃H pɑF təLboH pɨF dɜL-ʐɑH bjɛR̃ dɜL-ʐɑH then axe CLC-carry rope CLC-carry TLC-hurry do R ɡo kʰʉL tɜH-ʃɨL hill top up-go ‘Then (he) took the axe and a rope, and went up to the hill top in a hurry.’

The clitics attached to the manner clause in (10.8a) are readily omissible. The manner clause in (10.8b) is relatively complex, as it involves the auxiliary verb pɑF ‘to do’. Another instance of complex adverbial clause is presented in (10.9), which contains two manner clauses: 10.9

tʰɜL-ʃuLʃuH=nõL ʈʂʰwɑLtɜjH pɑL=nõL kʴõLkʴiH 3PL TLC-gather=DUR voice:big do=DUR sing ‘They sing aloud together, …’ niFɹəL



10.1.3. Nominal clauses Prinmi has a special nominal clause which ends in a grammaticalized form of the numeral tiR ‘one’. Syntactically, the numeral serves as the head of the construction, although it contributes little meaning to the clause. Nevertheless, the nominal clause, as a whole, implies a sense of discovery by virtue of observation of surroundings at the time of utterance. Based on cursory observation, this discovery meaning is highly subjective. 1 Nominal clauses only occur in sentences involving situations relevant to the moment of utterance. For instance (discourse context is supplied in the sentence translation): 10.10 a


djɑHdjɑL jiHloL əHwuL ʒeL tiL 1SG granny grandchild there EXT.AN NMLC ‘[I smell the scent of people.] My dear little child is probably there, …’ (Said by the monstrous witch.)


nɜL-sɨL=si=ɑH tiL təH miF=ɡeL this person=TOP down-die=PFV=M NMLC ‘This person (is) dead.’ (Said by Bear after smelling at the person’s face.)


tiL m̥əLʈʂɑLleH=ɡõH=neL əLdʒeL kʴiL=si=ɑH girl =INS=DSC there sing=PFV=M NMLC ‘The girl has been singing there.’ (Said by Magpie after finding out who was singing.)

Despite that nominal clauses are marked with ti, this marker does not serve as a nominalizer of the clause. This is revealed in (10.10b) and (10.10c), where the clause is related to the numeral head through the modificatory clitic ɑ. The literal meaning of (10.10b) is thus ‘this person (is) one (who) has died’. The structure of nominal clause is analyzed in Figure 10-1. Under this analysis, the nominal clause comprises two constituents: a modificatory clause and a nominal head. The modificatory clause can be regarded as a relative clause (§7.1.3), but it is generally not marked by a modificatory clitic.


There is a striking functional similarity between Prinmi nominal clauses and nominal sentences in Central Alaskan Yupik Eskimo. Woodbury (1985: 72-73) reports that nominal sentences in this Eskimo language tend to ‘impart to the utterance an air of vividness and sometimes of exclamation; they are associated with statements of discovery or surprise.’



Figure 10-1: The structure of nominal clause in Prinmi

[ [Clause]

ti ] Nominal clause relative clause

When a nominal clause occurs as an interrogative or negative sentence, the relevant verbal clitic is attached to the head verb in the modificatory clause. The nominal clause can also form part of a complex sentence, as in (10.11). 10.11 a


neR toF kʰeL sjɛ̃LboH ɡyH tʃʰjõH=ɑL=kɜjH 2SG look time tomorrow rain appear=Q=VLT ‘Do you think it’s going to rain tomorrow?’


mɜLtsʰõR loL ɡəL-n̥ʉHn̥ʉH təH tʃʰɨL=ɡeH ɜH this dog=TOP 1SG heel outside out-smell L H H L L H H L ɜ -n̥ʉ n̥ʉ tʃʰɨ =ɹju ɜ mɑ̃ sɨ =mɑL=ɹjuH tiL in-smell do=IPFV 1SG know=N=IPFV NMLC ‘The dog is smelling at me around my heels; (it) probably does not recognize me.’

Sometimes the discourse motivation for using a nominal clause may not be as straightforward as those exemplified above. Compare the following: 10.12 a



beL əHnjɑL 1SG 3SG at like.that ‘I miss him so much.’



niF beL 1SG 3SG at ‘I miss him.’



seH tiH miss NMLC

seH tiH miss NMLC


beH əHnjɑL seH tiH 3SG 1SG at like.that miss NMLC ‘He misses me so much.’

As indicated in (10.12b), the nominal clause in (10.12a) becomes unacceptable when the adverb əHnjɑL ‘like that’ is omitted. Since omission of adverbs cannot possibly collapse the syntactic structure of the clause and the meaning (‘I miss him’) by itself is not abnormal, the unacceptability must be sought in pragmatics. That is, the encoding of



the message as a nominal clause is not appropriate in this instance. The subtle difference of əHnjɑL ‘like that’ in (10.12a) implies that the speaker does not realize how fond he has been of the person. The crucial point of the utterance is not about the mental state of thinking about someone, but the new discovery of the strong feeling towards that person. When the adverb əHnjɑL ‘like that’ is left out in (10.12b), it is not possible to express such discovery, and the use of nominal clause becomes problematic. Likewise, the lack of a discovery sense in (10.12c) leads to unacceptability of the nominal clause. While it requires little effort for a healthy person to understand his/her own mental state, it is virtually impossible to pinpoint others’ mental state based on cursory observation. Therefore, the original nominal clause becomes inconceivable and unacceptable with the change of persons made in (10.12c). Other noteworthy examples of nominal clauses are provided in (10.13). In (10.13a), the nominal clause makes reference to observation not available at the moment of speaking. Since Crow is projecting a future event about a deluge, whatever may be observable cannot be certain. The nominal clause is used to accentuate the connection between the discovery and observation. 10.13 a

mɜLtsɨL=ɡeH nɜL-diL neR zoHloHloL ɜL-sĩLjõH cat=TOP down-cast 2SG carefully in-listen;2SG L H H tiL tʃʰɨ ni ɖʐõ =ɹjuL how become=IPFV NMLC ‘Throw the cat down and listen very carefully how it may go’ (Said by Crow to the youngest brother.)


əLɹɑH xɥɛL̃ poL toL nɜHɹĩL nɜLtsʰɑH tʃʰjõF=kɜjL tiL Earth on catastrophe appear=VLT NMLC ‘A catastrophe is going to befall Earth.’ (Said by the youngest brother to his brothers.)

The sentence in (10.13b) conveys a piece of news which is obtained from Crow in exchange of food in the Deluge Myth. The choice of nominal clause instead of a quotative marking to relate the shocking news here implies that the youngest brother has absolutely trusted Crow’s words about the catastrophe, treating the information as a discovery.



10.1.4. Verbless clauses Prinmi verbless clauses do not represent syntactic structure in their own rights. They arise from ordinary clauses after the head verb is omitted. In accordance with the verbs that are omitted, two types of verbless clause are identified: verbless ascriptive clause and verbless quotational clause. The former results from ellipsis of the copula dzɨF in ascriptive clauses, whereas the latter is found in clauses containing a direct quotation without any speaking verb. Although Prinmi may allow some other similar verbs to be left out under certain circumstances, the copula and the speaking verb are the most common and well-observed ones. Short answers used in conversational exchange, e.g. (10.14), are not regarded as verbless clauses. This kind of reduced clause is found in all languages. A: nõHkʰeL dəL-tʃʰjõF=siL when CLC-appear=PFV H L B: pɨ ʃi last.night A: ‘When did (he) return?’ B: ‘Last night.’


The copula dzɨF is not freely omissible in Prinmi. Omission is found only in some ascriptive clauses. For instance (verbless clauses placed in brackets): 10.15 a

tʃʰyR nɜHtsʰõL ʃiL jõL badger two:kind EXT ASR H L L L tʃʰɥa tʃʰyH ] [ tɜ tsʰõ =bo one:kind=FRM pig:badger H L L [ tɜ tsʰõ =bo tʃʰɨLtʃʰyF ] one:kind=FRM dog:badger ‘There are two kinds of badgers: one kind (is) the hog badger, the other kind the Eurasian badger.’


[ tʃʰɥaLtʃʰyH=ɡeL=boL tʃʰɥaLn̥juHtʃjɛH̃ ]=boL pig:badger=TOP=DSC pig:mouth:kind=FRM ɹoHɹwɑL ʒjɛL̃ wriggle can ‘As for hog badgers, (being) the same kind as pigs in terms of the shape of snout, (they) can wriggle (with their snouts), …’




[tʃʰɨLtʃʰyH=ɡeL=boL=neL n̥juL=ɡeH dog:badger=TOP=DSC=DSC mouth=TOP tʃʰɨLn̥juHtʃjɛH̃ ]=bo ɹoHɹwɑL ʒjɛL̃ mɑR=jõL dog:mouth:kind=FRM wriggle can N=ASR ‘As for Eurasian badgers, (their) mouths (are) the same as that of dogs, (they) can’t wriggle (with their mouths), …’

Coincidently, a text about badgers contains several verbless ascriptive clauses. As shown in (10.15), the verbless clauses are typically situated in a complex sentence and they often take the topic-comment articulation. The four instances of verbless clauses presented in (10.15) are known to be results of verb ellipsis because it is possible to restore the copula in each case. A subtle effect of such reinstatement is that the structure of the sentence becomes less compact. Insertion of the copula is impossible for nominal clauses described earlier. As noted in §8.3.1, the verb tʃɨR ‘to say’ has undergone considerable grammaticalization and its cliticized form tʃɨ is used for quotative marking. The status of this morpheme, as a word or a clitic, is sometimes ambiguous. Unequivocal verbless quotational clauses in the corpus include the following: 10.16 a


mɑH=kjɜH mɑH=kjɜH mɑH=kjɜH mɑH=kjɜH N=afraid N=afraid N=afraid N=afraid L L R L H H tʰɜ -pʰɜ =si lɑ mɑ =kjɜ ʒjɑLmiH mɑH=kjɜH TLC-abandon=PFV also N=afraid tonight N=afraid ɜH dʒeL nɜL-ʒĩR nɜL-ʒĩR mɑH=kjɜH 1SG at down-sleep;2PL down-sleep;2PL N=afraid ‘(It) doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. (It) doesn’t matter, even (though you’re) abandoned, doesn’t matter. Tonight doesn’t matter, (you) sleep at my place, sleep (there), doesn’t matter.’ boR kiHpuL=ɡõL=neL eL zoH=kɜjH DSC cuckoo=INS=DSC INT fine=VLT eLdzɑ̃H tʰɜHtʰjõL ɖʐəLɖʐuL dĩH 1DU.IN congenial friend COP;1PL ‘Then, Cuckoo (said), “Yap, that’s congenial friends. This is true.”’


təH=ɡeL dʒjɛH̃ this=TOP true fine. We two are

A verbless quotational sentence like (10.16a), consisting of merely a quoted speech, is quite common in novels cross-linguistically. When



the narrator is confident that the hearer/reader will be able to figure out who utters the quoted speech, the speaking verb is left out together with the speaker. The other example in (10.16b) is more interesting. While ellipsis takes place, it affects only the speaking verb. As a result, the sentence comprises the speaker (which also retains the ordinary morphosyntactic marking) and the quoted speech. Such instances provide strong justification for recognizing verbless quotational clauses in Prinmi. Like other verbless clauses, the omitted speaking verb can be restored in the sentences without any difficulty. 10.2. The sentence The description of syntactic structure above concerns primarily simple clauses. At sentence level, a simplex sentence is precisely composed of a clause, but a complex sentence consists of several clauses. Since Prinmi clauses are readily combined into a sentence, the notion of sentence warrants some discussion (§10.2.2). 10.2.1. Structure of simplex sentences Although a simple clause alone may constitute a simplex sentence, Prinmi simplex sentences often comprise additional constituents. Therefore, a sentence structure must be distinguished from a clause structure. Relevant to the sentence structure of Prinmi are two extraclausal positions: one on the left, and the other on the right. These extra-clausal positions are essential to information structure of Prinmi (see §12.3). Figure 10-2 outlines the basic structure of a simple Prinmi sentence. With varying degrees of likelihood, all constituents in the sentence structure, including the predicate (as discussed in §10.1.4), are subject to ellipsis. Figure 10-2:

The structure of simplex sentences

Sentence Clause Topic


Argument(s) Predicate




Arguments are normally situated within the clause, but they may also appear outside the clause when they serve as a pragmatic topic. A topic may occur at either edge, but not simultaneously at both edges. The sentence-final topic is reserved for after-thought information. Its use, exemplified in (10.17), is infrequent, compared to the sentenceinitial one. In contrast, the sentence-initial topic, as shown in (10.18), is pervasive (the clause boundary is indicated with bracketing in the examples). təLboH [ tɜH-kjɜH=nõL] sõLpɜjLkɥɛ̃F=ɡeL well up-fear=DUR three:brothers=TOP ‘Well, (they) get frightened, the three brothers.’


10.18 a


təH ɹɜLmɑLdeL=ɡeH [ kuH kuH=mɑL=ɹjuH] this hen:old =TOP egg lay=N=IPFV ‘This old hen doesn’t lay eggs.’ ɜH

tsɨLtsɨH=ɡeL [neR pʉHniL=boL ɡəL-djɛH̃ =siL] 1SG nephew=TOP 2SG today=DSC out-swallow=PFV ‘My nephew, you’ve swallowed (him) today.’

When the Agent serves as the topic at the beginning of a sentence, as in (10.18a), there is no effect on the word order of the arguments. However, if the topic bears the role of Theme, as in (10.18b), a change on the word order is apparent. 10.2.2. Sentence as the smallest information unit While a clause can be identified on the syntactic basis, the boundary of sentence is not always straightforward in Prinmi. The language has no conjunctions, and therefore, to define a Prinmi sentence on merely syntactic grounds is difficult, if not impossible. This is not a problem unique to Prinmi, however. It is a known fact that the kind of structural relation between clause and sentence, as observed in written English, is not necessarily applicable to other languages (cf. Lehmann 1993; Heeschen 1994). 2 If the notion of sentence were taken for granted, it would not be inconceivable that those favoring simple sentences would break a complex Prinmi sentence down into smaller units and call them 2

In fact, this is a general problem between the spoken form and written form of a language. For example, Miller (1995) argues that spoken English has no sentences.



‘sentences’, and that, on the other hand, those favoring complex structure could regard a cluster of sentences as one huge unit and call it a ‘sentence’. In order to analyze complex sentences systematically, an information-based notion of sentence is proposed as follows: A sentence, with a syntactic structure of at least one clause, is the smallest unit that expresses coherent information in the specific discourse context.

Given this working definition, it is possible to demarcate a Prinmi sentence consistently. From the communicative point of view, a sentence necessarily constitutes the smallest unit which can stand alone to convey a complete piece of information. The size of the information unit is contextually determined by discourse use. In casual speech and conversation, its occurrence as a short clause is not uncommon. Nevertheless, it may also combine several clauses to express a longer and more complicated piece of information. This flexibility in size allows us to identify simplex as well as complex sentences. The working definition attempts to strike a balance between the simplistic and sophisticated approaches to sentence by taking into account coherency of information. Consider the following passage: Table 10-1: A passage extracted from the Deluge Myth A.

təLboR təH tsʉF=ɡeL nɜL-tʃeHɹõH=nõL well this son=TOP down-hungry=DUR tʃʰɨLn̥iFtʃʰɨLʒjɑH=ɹəL tʃʰeR meL=dzɨH how.many.day.and.night=PL meal PF.N=eat tʃɨH water

meL=tʰɥɛ̃L ɖʐɑ̃LnoH tʃeHɹõH PF.N=drink;3 thirsty hungry

tʰɜL-ɖʐɑ̃Hɖʐɑ̃L=nõL TLC-walk=DUR B.

tɑL only

ɡəL-tʃʰjõL out-appear

miF tiL tʰɜL-mɜLtʃeL mɜHkɜH man one TLC-find household tʃĩH=ɹɑH wuL house=PL;M in

ɑL=tjõH Q=see

ɜL-ʃɨL dzɨH-jiL in-go eat-NMLZ

tiL some

tʰɜL-mɜLtʃeL tʰjɛ̃L-jiH tiH dəL-pʰʴɜH TLC-find drink-NMLZ some CLC-meet ɑL=kɜjH tɑL Q=VLT only

sʉLdʉL think

Well, this guy was hungry — for how many days and nights he hadn’t eaten any meal, drunk any water — thirsty, hungry, he just kept walking. ‘Looking for people, will I see any household? After entering a house, will I find any thing to eat or get any thing to drink?’ he just thought (to himself).



C. ɖʐɑ̃Lɖʐɑ̃H=ɹəH mɑL=tʰõL tɜLpɜjR walk=PL N=SCC one:stumble tɜLpɜjR ɡəL-ʃɨL one:stumble out-go mɑL=tʃjɛ̃H tʃĩH N=see house

kʰeL=boL miF time=FRM person mɑH=tjõL N=see

D. dĩHbeL kʰəL-lɑ̃L=siL=ɹɑH moHmoH=ɹəL sand out-cover=PFV=M body=PL ɜL-dʒyH=nõL koLjiL=ɹõH dzɨL=ɹjuH-tiH in-rotten=DUR crow=PL;INS eat=IPFV-NMLZ tʰɜL-tʃɥɛL̃ ɡɥɛHdʒɥɛL=ɹõL dzɨL=ɹjuL TLC-see;3 bird=PL;INS eat=IPFV

Barely able to walk, he stumbled along the way; at this time, he saw no person, no house.

He saw that bodies covered with sand were rotten, being eaten by crows, by some birds.

The passage in Table 10-1 contains a number of clauses which refer to the entity introduced by the noun phrase təH tsʉF=ɡeL ‘this guy’ at the beginning of the text. Subsequent references to it all appear as a zero anaphor in Prinmi (rendered as italic in the English sentences). Using the working definition of sentence, this passage is analyzed into four complex sentences, as presented in the table. Take the first sentence, repeated as (10.19) below, as an illustration: 10.19 i ii


təLboR təH tsʉF=ɡeL nɜL-tʃeHɹõH=nõL well this son=TOP down-hungry=DUR tʃʰɨLn̥iF tʃʰɨLʒjɑH=ɹəL tʃʰeR meL=dzɨH few:day few:night=PL meal PF.N=eat tʃɨH meL=tʰɥɛL̃ water PF.N=drink;3 ɖʐɑ̃LnoH tʃeHɹõH tʰɜL-ɖʐɑ̃Hɖʐɑ̃L=nõL tɑL ɡəL-tʃʰjõL thirsty hungry TLC-walk=DUR only out-appear ‘Well, this fellow was hungry — for how many days and nights (he) hadn’t eaten any meal or drunk any water — (he’s) thirsty, hungry, (and) just kept walking.’

This complex sentence consists of five clauses: a dependent clause in (10.19i), followed by a pair of co-ordinate clauses in (10.19ii), and then another dependent clause plus the main clause in (10.19iii). It is apparent that the discourse motivation for inserting (10.19ii) is to explain why the fellow was hungry, as conveyed in the beginning part. After his physical conditions (being hungry and thirsty) are brought to



the foreground, (10.19iii) further describes what the fellow does under this situation. These clauses form a coherent information unit, which, in essence, indicates that the guy is walking while being hungry and thirsty. In most cases, Prinmi sentences can be identified with the proposed definition. A minor problem remains with some quotational sentences. Sometimes a lengthy direct quotation may contain separable sentencelike units, as seen in part B in the table. These clauses, despite their sentence-like properties, undoubtedly constitute a complex complement to the verb sʉHdʉL ‘to think’. This shows that they are combined into one unit, forming a long sentence. 10.3. Clause-chaining sentences As suggested by the term, clause-chaining involves a number of clauses in a sentence to appear one after another in a chain. In principle, the number of such clauses permissible in the sentence is unlimited. Sentences with seemingly endless clauses were observed when a story teller tried to treat paragraph, instead of sentence, as the basic information unit. In such a discourse fashion, subordinate clauses are frequently used to keep the ‘sentence’ growing. While this was tolerated in spontaneous speech, speakers of Prinmi showed no hesitation to divide and re-organize the enormous ‘sentence’ into a paragraph of sentences when they were consulted for transcribing the recorded data. Subject to cognitive constraints for optimal packaging and processing of information in human communication, clause-chaining may build on intricate information structure to generate complex sentences (see §12.3.3 and §12.3.4 for details). A syntactic characteristic of clause-chaining sentences is that a clause can easily be removed from the middle of the chain without affecting the overall structure of the sentence, albeit with an inevitable loss of meaning expressed by the deleted clause. For instance, the entire clause(s) placed within braces in (10.20) and (10.21) may be deleted without any impact on grammaticality of the sentence. The deletion in (10.20) would result in a simplex sentence. The same would happen to (10.21), if both of the chained clauses were removed.




l̥ jɑLl̥ jɑL=ɡeH=boL tsuH tɜHtsʰõL dzɨL firethorn=TOP=DSC prick one:kind COP;3 {miFɹəL toL ɑLljɑH tiL ɡɥɛH̃ jõH} people on little one tall ASR ‘The firethorn is a kind of pricky (shrub), a little bit taller than a man.’


təH tsʉF kɜHtsɜjL=ɡõL ʈʂĩLʈʂuL=ɡeH dɜL-ʐwɑH this son little=INS pestle=TOP CLC-carry;3 L L H L L {ɹɜLpuF=ɡeL dɜL-ʐwɑH} {mɜ tsɨ =ɡe dɜ -ʐwɑ } cat=TOP CLC-carry;3 cock=TOP CLC-carry;3 ‘the young fellow took a pestle, a cat, (and) a rooster with him.’

Shared core arguments (italicized in the examples) maintain their semantic role throughout the sentence: as the Theme in (10.20) and as the Agent in (10.21). However, this is not a requirement; the semantic role of a shared argument may vary in a clause-chaining sentence. Moreover, it is also possible for a clause-chaining sentence to contain no co-referenced core argument. These are discussed in what follows. 10.3.1. The semantic role of shared arguments in clause-chaining sentences Quite often, a shared argument in a clause-chaining sentence bears the same semantic role throughout the sentence, especially when the chained clauses are all predicated with an identical verb, as in (10.22) and (10.23). However, head repetition is not necessary for a clausechaining sentence, e.g. (10.24). Note also that two arguments are shared between the clauses in (10.24): the Agent and the Theme. 10.22

məF=ɡõL=neL məF toL bɨH ɜH-tyL l̥ iH ɜH-tyL sky=INS=DSC sky on sun in-put;3 moon in-put;3 ‘The heavenly god places a sun and a moon in the sky.’


təH bɑLlɜjH=ɡõL tʰɜL-tʃjɛ̃H pɜHdiH=ɡõL tʰɜL-tʃjɛ̃H this snake =INS TLC-see frog=INS TLC-see L H L L H tʰɜ sɑ̃ =ɡõ tʰɜ -tʃjɛ̃ grasshopper=INS TLC-see ‘…; this, Snake saw (it), Frog saw (it), Grasshopper saw (it), …’




kiHpuL=ɡõL tsõLɡyH nɜL-ʂwɑR=boL=neL cuckoo=INS attire down-undress;3=FRM=DSC F L ʃjõ be tʰɜL-kʰɥɛ̃L golden.pheasant to TLC-give;3 ‘Cuckoo took (his) clothes off (and) gave (them) to Golden Pheasant.’

Sometimes a shared constituent may receive varied semantic roles from different heads of the chained clauses. For instance, in (10.25) and (10.26) the initial clause is headed by an existential verb. When the shared noun serves as a core argument in the next clause, its semantic role changes from Locative to Theme in (10.25) and from Locative to Patient in (10.26). 10.25

ɡoL=ɹəH Locative sjɛL̃ bõH mɑH=djõL øTheme pɜLduHduL tree N=EXT.IAN bare:IDE hill=PL ‘the mountains have no trees (left) on them, simply become barren.’


kɥeF jõL təLboL ɡuHsʉL=ɡeLLocative duH poison EXT.IN ASR well Coriaria:fruit=TOP R R L ø Patient dzɨ mɑ =xɑ eat N=good ‘Well, the Coriaria fruit is poisonous, (it) cannot be eaten.’

A more complicated shift of semantic role is observed in (10.27), where the first verb assigns the role of Recipient to the argument, while the second verb assigns Source to it and the third verb Goal. 10.27

tʃʰeLdeLpʰɑR dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL be LRecipient Zzonbba god at offer.food L H ø Source ʐõ lɜj ø Goal l̥ oLtsɑwH blessing:ask.for forehead:hit ‘To the Zzonbba god, (people) offer food, ask for blessings, and kowtow.’

Complexity in semantic role assignment arises when more than one shared constituent, with varying co-reference across the clauses, occurs in a clause-chaining sentence. An instance of this is presented in (10.28). The first three clauses share two constituents: djɛ̃R to ‘on earth’ and koHkɥeL sɜjLkɥeF=ɹəL ‘living beings’. Their semantic roles remain constant across these clauses. However, complication emerges



with a switch in reference in (10.28iv), where the Locative djɛ̃R toL ‘on earth’, in the form of zero anaphor, serves as the Theme of the predicate. This abrupt shift of reference occurs in the sentence without any overt indication. 10.28 i ii iii iv v

djɛ̃R toLm Locative koHkɥeLsɜjLkɥeF=ɹəLn Agent bɨHtsjɛH̃ sun:ray earth on living.being=PL L H F L øm Locative øn Agent mə mɑ =tʃjɛH̃ mɑ =tʃjɛ̃ N=see sky N=see R L øm Locative øn Agent djɛ̃ mɑ =tʃjɛH̃ earth N=see L H L øm Theme njɑ kõ kõ black:IDE øn Agent tʃjɛH̃ =ɹəH mɑL=ʃiL tʰɜL-ɖʐõL N=EXT TLC-become see=PL ‘All living beings on earth see no ray, see no sky, see no earth — (it) is all dark — (they) can see nothing.’

The shift of referent and change of grammatical functions are necessarily subject to semantico-pragmatic consideration. They do not seem to be constrained by any syntactic rules in Prinmi. As a matter of fact, they are not predictable by syntactic rules or conditions, since they are driven directly by discourse need. 3 10.3.2. Clause-chaining sentences without shared core argument The clause-chaining sentences exemplified thus far all contain a shared constituent which functions as a core argument at least once. This is not an essential condition for clause-chaining in Prinmi, however. Shared elements in clause-chaining sentences may be oblique noun phrases only, expressing Temporal or Locative, e.g. (10.29). Moreover, it is also possible for chained clauses simply to have a repeated verb in common and share nothing else, e.g. (10.30). Functionally, the initial expression in (10.30) contributes a temporal frame to the sentence, and can be treated as a frame-setting topic. Syntactically, it is a clause, but not subordinate to any noun phrases in the sentence. 3

For further discussion on this issue, see LaPolla’s (2003) observation on the pragmatic force at work in the grammar of Mandarin.




ʒjɑLn̥jɛR̃ Temporal əLɹɑHxɥɛL̃ poL toL Locative miF=ɡeL ancient Earth on person=TOP lɑL ʒɨR mʉLkʉRsɥɛH̃ tʃjɛH̃ lɑL ʒɨR also many animals also many tsiHkɥeHkʰõLkɥeF mĩLʂõHʂõL living.being abundant ‘Once upon a time on Earth, there were many people and many animals too; living beings were abundant.’


mɜHl̥ eL tʰɜL-tʃʰjõL ɑLtɜjH ɹ̥ ɑ̃HtiH meL=ɖʐõL=njɑL long PF.N=become=DSC wind TLC-appear gale H L L H H L H tʰɜ -tʃʰjõ mə tjɛ̃ tʰɜ -tʃʰjõ ʒɨ ɡyH tʰɜH-tʃʰjõL TLC-appear thunder TLC-appear downpour TLC-appear ‘(It) hadn’t taken long (before) the wind blew, the gale stormed, the thunder roared, the rain poured.’

Finally, the examples in (10.31) represent a special type of clausechaining sentence: co-ordinate clause-chaining. This is a rhetoric style frequently adopted in proverbs. A Prinmi proverb typically consists of two contrastive clauses which are semantically interdependent on each other. They occur in juxtaposition without any co-reference or sharing of arguments. On the other hand, they share identical clause structure. Furthermore, some morphemes may recur across the clauses, e.g. l̥ jɜR ‘tongue’ and dəL-ʐaH ‘to take’ in (10.31a), and the postposition be in (10.31b). 10.31 a

l̥ jɜLkʰʉR kʰʉL=boL=neL bɨF=ɡeL dəL-ʐaL tongue:head top=FRM=DSC honey=TOP CLC-carry poL=boL pɨF=ɡeL dəL-ʐaL l̥ jɜLbɑ̃R tongue:root below=FRM axe=TOP CLC-carry ‘Honey is brought to the tip of the tongue; but an axe is hidden at the bottom of the tongue.’ [Proverb]


ʒjɛ̃LbʉH beH=boL wɜLkɜjH pʰeH manure:pile at=FRM ox:shit mend L L H L L tʃɨ pɑ mɑ be =bo ɑLdeH m̥əLm̥əL witch at=FRM granny recognize.as.relative ‘Onto the pile of manure, mend (it with) cattle dung; to the monstrous witch, call (her) granny.’ [Proverb]


COMPLEX PREDICATES This chapter examines the structure of three types of complex predicate in Prinmi. The first type relates to verb concatenation and it is referred to as the ‘double-verb predicate’. Two important issues, causativity and complementation, are also studied in this chapter. Other complex structures found in Prinmi have already been discussed in various sections, namely: relative clauses in §7.1.3, temporal adverbial clauses in §7.1.4, manner clauses with a dependent structure in §10.1.2, and clause-chaining sentences in §10.3. A complex structure may also arise when a topic constituent contains a conditional clause (see §12.3). 11.1. The Double-verb Predicate Prinmi verbs can appear side by side to form one complex predicate. This is generally referred to as a ‘serial verb construction’ or ‘verb serialization’ in the literature. However, these labels cannot be defined rigidly (cf. Wilawan 1993; Durie 1997, and further references therein). In order to systematically study this kind of compact predicate consisting of concatenated verbs, a descriptive, definable term — ‘doubleverb predicate’ — is proposed as follows: 1 A double-verb predicate comprises two adjacent verbs which share all arguments to the full potential of the valence of the verbs in a uniform grammatical function.

By definition, a shared argument must bear an identical grammatical function relative to both verbs in the double-verb predicate. This is 1

There are some generally accepted grammatical properties about ‘serial verb constructions’ such as containing a single predicate and being a monoclause (cf. Matisoff 1973, 1991b; Durie 1997; inter alia). However, these properties, if found, usually represent necessary but not sufficient conditions. They are of limited use in defining the construction. Indeed, Durie (1997: 291) notes that the term ‘verb serialization’ may be used to cover different phenomena by different authors.



exemplified in (11.1), which consists of the transitive verb jɜR ‘to fetch’ and the ditransitive verb kʰjɛ̃R ‘to give’ (the double-verb predicate is rendered in bold in all examples in this section). The Agent, expressed implicitly, is shared by the two verbs, as is the Theme tsõLɡyH ‘attire’. The Recipient, rendered as italic in the example, is relevant only to the ditransitive verb. The motion verb ʃɨF ‘to go’ at the end of the sentence forms at a higher level another complex predicate with the preceding verbs. Thus it has no bearing on the double-verb predicate (cf. §11.1.2 below). 11.1

tsõLɡyH=ɡeH niF beL ɡəL-jɜR tʰɜL-kʰjɛL̃ ʃɨH=ɑL=ɹjuL attire=TOP 3SG to out-fetch TLC-give go=Q=IPFV ‘Will (Golden Pheasant) go get and give the clothes back to him?’

The sentence in (11.2) is propositionally synonymous to (11.1), but structurally the two sentences are different. 2 Under the present analysis, the two verbs in (11.2) have violated the adjacency condition and, therefore, do not represent a double-verb predicate. 11.2

tsõLɡyH=ɡeH ɡəL-jɜR niF beL tʰɜL-kʰjɛL̃ ʃɨH=ɑL=ɹjuL attire=TOP out-fetch 3SG to TLC-give go=Q=IPFV ‘Will (Golden Pheasant) go get the clothes and give (them) back to him?’

Additional evidence exists for the structural difference between (11.1) and (11.2). Givón (1991) observes that the probability of pause placement is consistently and significantly low between components of ‘serial verbs’. Based on the findings of his empirical study, a pauseinsertion test may be used to distinguish the double-verb predicate from clause-chaining expressions in Prinmi. While a pause or discourse clitics such as bo can be easily inserted after jɜR ‘to fetch’ in (11.2), such insertion after the same verb in (11.1) is unacceptable. The contrasting results arising from insertion of a pause between the verbs reveal that the two sentences are structurally different from each other. 2

The two different structures in this pair of sentences are also found in other Tibeto-Burman languages, although not necessarily in one language. Wheatley (1985: 407) discusses a similar phenomenon in two branches of Loloish languages: the Yi and non-Yi groups. The Prinmi sentence in (11.1) resembles those found in the former, and the one in (11.2) parallels those in the latter.



It ought to be noted that the term ‘double-verb predicate’ does not imply a restriction on the total number of verbs in concatenation; rather, it is intended to constrain the number of units in each instance of combination. Details of this constraint are discussed in §11.1.2. Since the double-verb predicate behaves like a single predicate, the perfective si or the negator mɑ, if found, extends its scope over the entire predicate, even though it is attached to the final verb only; see (11.3b)–(11.3d) and (11.13) below. 11.1.1. Types of double-verb predicate The double-verb predicate can be classified according to valence of the verbs involved. Four kinds of combinations are found in the available data: bivalent-plus-trivalent, bivalent-plus-bivalent, bivalentplus-monovalent, and monovalent-plus-monovalent, each exemplified respectively in (11.3a)–(11.3d). The most common type comprises two bivalent verbs. 11.3


Bivalent-plus-trivalent tsõLɡyH=ɡeH niF beL ɡəL-jɜR tʰɜL-kʰjɛL̃ ʃɨH=ɑL=ɹjuL attire=TOP 3SG to out-fetch TLC-give go=Q=IPFV ‘Will (Golden Pheasant) go get and give the clothes back to him?’


Bivalent-plus-bivalent kʰɨLpʰʴĩH=ɡõH kʰɨHnjɑL=ɡeL ɜL-kɑR nɜL-sɜL=siH dog:white=INS dog:black=TOP in-bite down-assault=PFV ‘the white dog bit and killed the black dog.’


Bivalent-plus-monovalent kʰjɑL=ɡeH duHduL dəL-ʐwɑH dəL-ʒɨF=siL back.basket=TOP empty CLC-carry;3 CLC-come=PFV ‘(the middle son) came back, carrying an empty basket.’ [elicited with pictures]


Monovalent-plus-monovalent təH dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL xeH=ɡeH kʰɥɛF wuL=nõL this Zzonbba god god=TOP lake in=DSC tɜH-kʰɥɛH̃ ɡəL-ʒɨF=siL up-rise out-come=PFV ‘This Zzonbba god ascended from a lake.’



The condition for a uniform grammatical function, as stated in the proposed definition, becomes relevant and important when the verbs in the double-verb predicate are both polyvalent. This condition is chiefly based on the contrast between the arguments of transitive verbs — A(gent) and P(atient). It prohibits mixed combination of A and P on the shared argument. Thus in (11.3a), the Agent must be the ‘fetcher’ as well as the ‘giver’, and the object must be the ‘fetched’ as well as the ‘given’. Likewise in (11.3b), the white dog is understood as both the ‘biter’ and the ‘assaulter’, and the black dog is construed as both the ‘bitten’ and the ‘assaulted’. Cross grammatical functions are precluded. On the other hand, the double-verb predicate in (11.3c), which consists of a bivalent verb and a monovalent verb, is not subject to the same syntactic principles for interpreting their shared argument. In this type of valence-combination, the argument of the monovalent verb can be aligned to the role of either A or P (but not both simultaneously) in relation to the bivalent verb. Compare the following pair, comprising a bivalent verb and a monovalent verb in the predicate: 11.4


ʈʂɑLl̥ jɑL=ɡeH tsuF=ɡõL ɜL-kʴɑF nɜL-ɖʐeF=siL waistband=TOP thorn=INS in-hook down-get.torn=PFV ‘The waistband got caught and torn by the thorn.’


ɹəLʈʂɨL tʰjɛH̃ nɜL-ɡɥɛL=siF 1SG alcohol drink down-sate=PFV ‘I’ve drunk alcohol to satiation.’ ɜH

The intransitive verb ɖʐeF ‘to become torn’ in (11.4a) is a PROCESS verb (cf. §5.2.3). Its argument serves as P of the transitive verb kʴɑF ‘to catch (as with a hook)’ in the double-verb predicate. In contrast, the shared argument in (11.4b) bears the functions of A for the transitive verb tʰjɛ̃R ‘to drink’. The choice of semantic role is not predictable by rules; general semantic factors are crucial to interpretation of such sentences. There are relatively few instances of a double-verb predicate with an monovalent verb in the corpus. A double-verb predicate with an intransitive verb at the second position often expresses a resultative meaning. Thus this particular type of compact predicate may be labeled ‘resultative double-verb predicate’. In addition to (11.4), the following is another instance:



tʃʰeR ɡəL-dzɨH tɜH-kyH=siL 1SG meal out-eat CLC-full=PFV ‘I’ve eaten so much that I am full.’ ɜH


It should also be pointed out that the kind of resultative meaning in the predicate, as found in (11.5), implies weak causation. The causation is not carried out deliberately by a volitional causer, nor is the resultant state controllable, as it typically ensues logically from the event denoted by the first verb. On the other hand, when a double-verb predicate is intended to convey strong causation, the verb denoting a resultant state is accompanied by a causative verb, i.e. forming a ‘causative double-verb predicate’. Consider the following: 11.6


niF=ɡõLA ɜHP nɜL-tsɑwH nɜL-sɜL sɨH keH 3SG=INS 1SG down-hit down-assault die let ‘he (was going to) beat (and) assault me (and) make (me) die.’


nɜL-ʃɨH keH neRA ɹəLbeH ʈʂĩLʈʂuL=ɡeHP nɜL-diL 2SG first pestle=TOP down-cast down-go let ‘first, you throw the pestle down (and) let (it) go down.’

Comprising more than two verbs, the causative double-verb predicates in (11.6) are structurally more complex than the previous examples. For the time being, the discussion is focused on the semantic effect on the predicate with the causative verb added to it. The use of the causative in (11.6) is essential. If it were removed, the death could be attributed to indirect causes such as a heart attack rather than the beating and attempt to kill in (11.6a), and the downward motion would be taken as a volitional act in (11.6b). Thus the causative verb in these sentences is indispensable. Note that the condition of uniform grammatical function in argument sharing must be satisfied. The Agent in (11.6a) is thus the ‘hitter’, the ‘assaulter’ and the Causer, whereas the Patient is the ‘hit’, the ‘assaulted’ and the AFFECTEE (see §11.2 for detailed discussion of causatives). An exact parallel is seen in (11.6b). From the examples in (11.6), it is apparent that the double-verb predicate may contain more than two verbs. Nonetheless, Prinmi generally restricts the number of verbs in the basic unit to two in the double-verb predicate. Therefore, additional verbs introduced to the predicate must occur at a different level. The four concatenated verbs in (11.6a), for example, involve three instances of verb conjoining.



Similarly, the three verbs in (11.6b) require two processes of combination for the predicate. Their structures are depicted in Figure 11-1. Note that the causative meaning applies only to the verb in the complement. There is no restriction to the level of conjoining of the causative verb. It may also take place at a higher level, cf. (11.27b) below. Figure 11-1: A non-linear analysis of double-verb predicate

The double-verb Predicate in (11.6a)

nɜL-tsɑwH down-hit

nɜL-sɜL down-assault

sɨH die

keH let

The double-verb Predicate in (11.6b)

nɜL-diL down-cast

nɜL-ʃɨH down-go

keH let

11.1.2. Constraint on the number of verbs The number of verbs permitted in a unit for the double-verb predicate has been specified as two. This restriction can be explained on functional grounds. Recall that the double-verb predicate requires the verbs to share all their arguments under uniform grammatical functions. The degree of complexity involved has probably impeded formation of multi-verb predicates in one conjoining process. The following sentences are among those with the highest potential of generating a complex predicate with several verbs at the same level: 11.7

pɨHʃiL nɜHpɑL tʰɜH-ɹ̥ ʉL=boL dɜL-ɥɛR dɜL-tʃʰjõL axe:new two:CLF TLC-buy=DSC CLC-fetch;3 CLC-appear ‘(after he) bought two new axes, (he) took (them) home with him.’






kiHpuL=ɡjɑL=ɡeL niF=ɡõL nɜL-ɡwɜjH dəL-ʐaH ʃɨF cuckoo=M=TOP 3SG=INS down-dress CLC-carry go ‘Cuckoo’s (clothes), he wore and took (them) with him and (then) went away.’


kiHpuL=ɡjɑL tsõLɡyH nɜL-ɡwɜjH dəL-ʐaH=neL=boL cuckoo=M attire down-dress CLC-carry=DSC=DSC ʃjõF=ɡõL pjɛR̃ wuL tɑL tɜL-pʰɑ̃L golden.pheasant=INS grove in only up-flee;3 ‘Having put on Cuckoo’s clothes, Golden Pheasant just fled into the woods.’


tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeL tʃɨL neR ɡjɜLniH tʰɜH-kʰɑL dəL-jɜR 2SG grass TLC-detach CLC-fetch TLC-feed say ‘(Mom) said, “You pluck and bring some grass back and feed (the hare).”’


tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeR kɥɛR̃ =ʃjɛL̃ buLlɑH tʰɜH-kʰɑL dəL-ɥɛR sister=FOC many TLC-detach CLC-fetch;3 TLC-feed ‘Sister plucked and brought many back, and fed (the hare).’

The discourse clitic bo in (11.7) provides an important clue as to the relation of the three verbs in the sentence. It signals that the verb ɹ̥ ʉH ‘to buy’ is situated in a different clause. Thus the complex predicate in the main clause consists only of the two verbs: ɥɛR ‘fetch’ and tʃʰjõR ‘to appear’. The three concatenated verbs in (11.8a) are produced quite closely one after another; no discourse clitic occurs between them. Notwithstanding such compactness, the intonation over the predicate suggests a boundary between the final verb ʃɨF ‘to go’ and the others. There is further evidence against treating the complex predicate in (11.8a) as composed of three verbs at the same level. Like some Tibeto-Burman languages such as Burmese (Romeo 2008) and many Papuan languages (de Vries 2005), Prinmi adopts the narrative strategy of tailhead linkage, which characteristically starts a new information unit by repeating the main constituent(s) of the immediately preceding sentence. 3 The successive sentence to (11.8a) in the story is provided in 3

Besides Burmese, tail-head linkage is reported in other languages of the YiBurmish branch, e.g. Lisu. Its use is so frequent that Hope (1974) regards it a means for expressing adverbial meanings such as ‘afterwards’ in Lisu. This style is prevalent in classical Prinmi folk songs.



(11.8b), which is predicated by the first two verbs from (11.8a) only. This reveals that the motion verb in (11.8a) is structurally separable from the first two verbs, i.e. it does not conjoin with the double-verb predicate at the same level. Finally, even more tightly concatenated verbs are found in (11.9a). The constituency concerning the three verbs in this instance is virtually indiscernible, giving the impression that they form a ‘triple-head’ predicate. Fortunately, the same structure is employed twice in the story. Successive to the advice in (11.9a), the sentence in (11.9b) reports that the act is performed. In this instance, when the three verbs in question once again appear one after another, a noticeable pause (showing the speaker’s hesitation) occurs between the second and the third verbs. The constituent boundary between them is thus revealed. 11.1.3. Semantic characteristics of the double-verb predicate Although the double-verb predicate is identified on a strictly syntactic basis, it has two notable semantic properties that are worth examining: the word order of the verbs in the predicate and combination of their semantic types. The first one, on the logical sequence of situations expressed by the head verbs, is well observed (cf. Durie 1997). Although the compact predicate typically refers to situations that can be viewed as wholesale events, the order of occurrence of the verbs in the predicate corresponds to the discernible sequence of situations they denote. This is observed in all double-verb predicates, irrespective of valence-combination and/or semantic types of the predicate. This temporal iconicity, which may occur with or without a cause-effect relation, means that the positions of the head verbs in the double-verb predicate are not interchangeable. The semantic interaction between the two verbs in the double-verb predicate determines their order. This is based on emergence and realization of connected situations in the cognitive world. When the order is altered, difference in terms of meaning and/or structure inevitably arises. Compare the pair of sentences below: 11.10 a


kʰʉR toL tɜL-ʃɑwL nɜL-dzõH top on up-go;2SG down-sit;2SG ‘(You) go up and sit at the top.’ ʃɑwH kʰʉR toL nɜL-dzõH top on down-sit;2SG go;2SG ‘(You) sit at the top — go (read: do it).’



Although the meaning of the imperative sentences in (11.10) is essentially the same, the pair of sentences are structurally different from each other. A double-verb predicate is used in (11.10a), but not in (11.10b). This structural difference can be confirmed by the pauseinsertion test. The compact structure of the double-verb predicate in (11.10a) is intolerant of any pause placement, but in (11.10b) a pause can easily be inserted between the two verbs. This structural dissimilarity results simply from the switch of position of the two juxtaposed verbs. A difference in iconicity is also observable. In (11.10a), the order between the two verbs corresponds iconically to the logical sequence of events: (i) first go up to the top and (ii) then sit down there. The temporal iconicity is lost in (11.10b), where the intended meaning cannot be construed as: (i) first sit down at the top and (ii) then go. With regard to the semantic types of verb observed in the doubleverb predicate, the following combinations are found: ACTIONACTION, ACTION-PROCESS, ACTION-MOTION, and MOTION-ACTION. While this list by no means exhausts all possibilities, it reveals that the double-verb predicate is oriented towards controllable events. A double-verb predicate with only STATE verbs or PROCESS verbs is not attested. When such verbs are found in juxtaposition, they give rise to a chain of short clauses. For instance: 11.11

pɨF=ɡeL lɜHtuHtuL tʃʰjɑF=mɑL=ɹjuH axe=TOP blunt sharp=N=IPFV ‘The axe is really blunt, not sharp (at all).’


dɜR-meL=m̥jɛ̃F=ɹɑL kʰeL biHsʉHɡiLɡiL=ɡeL ɡəL-tɜjH bbisuu:grain=TOP out-big CLC-PF.N=ripe=IPFV;M time ‘When the bbisuu fruits have not grown to ripeness, …’

In (11.11) two STATE verbs occur side by side, but they do not form a double-verb predicate. The boundary between them is discernible by intonation: a brief pause exists between the two. A similar situation is observed for the two PROCESS verbs in (11.12). Moreover, the narrow scope of negation, confined only to the host verb (the italic part), also indicates that the juxtaposed verbs do not constitute one predicate. This contrasts starkly to the extended scope of negation marked on the final verb in the causative double-verb predicate, as in (11.13). 11.13

tɜH-pʰeH tʃʰɨL ɡəL-ʒɨR mɑR=keL=boL 2SG up-cough.out do out-come N=let=FRM ‘If you don’t cough (him) out, …’ neR



The exclusion of two non-ACTION verbs in the double-verb predicate can be explained by the concept of event. As is often pointed out in the literature (e.g. Zwicky & Joseph 1990; Durie 1997, among others), ‘serial verbs’ as a whole represent a single event. Portrayal of an event, as opposed to a state, is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the double-verb predicate. This event condition curtails the ability of the double-verb predicate to express a state or a natural process. Since the double-verb predicate always concerns events, it is necessary to contain at least one ACTION verb as part of the predicate. 11.2. Causatives Like many languages, Prinmi exploits a variety of devices for expressing causation. All three typological types identified in Song (1996) are found in the language. These are the COMPACT type, the AND type, and the PURP type. In brief, these typological types are distinguishable by clausal structure. The COMPACT type, with causation inherited in lexical meaning, has the simplest structure, as exemplified by the clause structure in (11.14). The other two types are associated with complex structures. The AND type consists of a pair of coordinate clauses occurring in the iconic order of cause-and-effect, as shown in (11.15). The PURP type involves embedding a complement clause in the causative sentence, e.g. (11.16). 11.14 The COMPACT type ʒɨHməH=ɡõL tʃĩH=ɹəH nɜL-pʰeF=siL earthquake=INS house=PL down-demolish=PFV ‘The earthquake has demolished many houses.’ 11.15 The AND type niF=ɡõL ɜL beH sʉHsɥɛ̃L 3SG=INS 1SG to teach H H H H L ɜ ki pʰʴĩ mi l̥ e tʃɨL=ɹõL 1SG BNY Prinmi:language say=IPFV;1SG ‘He teaches me to speak Prinmi.’ 11.16 The PURP type (complement placed within brackets) a təLsjɑH [ ɜL kiH kʴiL kʰuR ] tʃɨL (Modal-marked) at .present 1SG BNY sing must say ‘Now (you) have asked me to sing, …’




pɜjLʈʂɜF=ɡeL=boL [ sjɛL̃ bõH=ɡjɑH bʴɑ̃RpoL nɜL-dzĩL] brother:big=TOP=FRM tree=M bottom down-sit L ke (Periphrastic) let ‘(you) let the big brother sit at the bottom of the tree.’

The modal-marked PURP causative in (11.16a) requires the obligative modal kʰuR to head a complement clause to the speaking verb tʃɨR ‘to say’. On the other hand, the periphrastic causative in (11.16b) simply takes a complement clause directly. Notice that in (11.16a), the tone of the obligative modal kʰuR does not spread onto the following verb tʃɨR ‘to say’. (The change on the latter’s suprasegmental is due to intonation.) The two do not form a single prosodic domain. The periphrastic causative is the dominant type used in Prinmi. It is examined in detail below. The number of instances for the modalmarked causative in the corpus is few, and even fewer for the AND type. The structure of these minor types is addressed in §11.2.2. The COMPACT type involves an archaic morphological derivation which is discussed in §5.2.3. 11.2.1. The periphrastic causative construction The major periphrastic causative construction in Prinmi consists of the following elements: Causer +

Causee + Complement clause + keF AFFECTEE/GOAL/SOCIATIVE

The most remarkable feature of this causative construction is the various choices available for encoding the Causee. This is discussed in § after an investigation of the causative verb. Complexity of the complement clause is examined in § The causative auxiliary verb Like other auxiliary verbs, the causative keF does not take any directional prefixes. However, it can host all three types of negative clitic: 11.17 a

tsɜR tjɑH=keL hot DS.N=let ‘Don’t let (it) be hot.’




niHɹõL ɜH ɜL-ʃɨH meH=kɥɛH 3pl;INS 1SG in-go PF.N=let;3 ‘they didn’t let me in.’


ɹ̥ ʉH ʃɨL keL=ɹjuL m̥jɛH̃ medicine buy go let=IPFV ɹ̥ aLtʃʰɨR ʃɨH keL=mɑL=ɹõH play go let=N=IPFV;1SG ‘(I) let (you) go to buy medicine, not to play. ’

As pointed out in §8.2.1, the perfective negator me and the desiderative negator tjɑ are unable to form composite clitics with another clitic; they must be attached directly to verbs. This constraint is helpful in demonstrating verbhood of the causative. In addition to these negators, the causative may also host the perfective and the modal clitics, e.g.: 11.18 a

ɜL=njõH=neH niF kiL ɜL-kʰõLn̥jɛH̃ keH=sjɛ̃L 1SG=INS=DSC 3SG BNY in-irritate let=VL.PFV ‘I’ve got on his nerves.’


təH mɜLkʰɑwL=ɡõH tɜH-kʰɑwH ɜH mjɑLbʴɜjL this smoke=INS up-fume 1SG tear L F L L nɜ -ʒɨ kɥɛ =si down-come let;3=PFV ‘The smoke is so fuming that (it)’s made my eyes water.’


ɡɑ̃F toL ʈʂɨHkɑL keL=ʃoL 2SG BNY bed on jump let=OPT ‘(I’ll) let you jump on the bed.’ neL kiH The core arguments The causative verb requires two core arguments: Causer and Causee. The latter can be encoded as AFFECTEE (followed occasionally by the topic marker ɡe, otherwise unmarked morphosyntactically), GOAL (signified by the Recipient postposition be), or SOCIATIVE (indicated by the Beneficiary postposition ki). These three types of encoding correspond to direct, indirect and sociative causation discussed in Shibatani & Pardeshi (2001). Within possibilities permitted by a situation, the Causee may be encoded differently in accordance with specific discourse contexts. Consider the following (the relevant context is supplied in brackets in the English sentence):


11.19 a




neL kiH

ɡoR poL nɜL-ʃɨH keH (SOCIATIVE) 1SG 2SG BNY hill below down-go let ‘I let you go down the mountain, [so that you can buy some medicine.]’ ɜH ɜL-ʃɨH meH=kɥɛH (AFFECTEE) niHɹõL 3PL;INS 1SG in-go PF.N=let;3 ‘[I wanted to go in;] they wouldn’t let me in.’

11.20 a

kiHpuL beL nɜL-ɡwɜjH keL (GOAL) ʃjõH=ɡõL g.pheasant=INS cuckoo to down-dress let ‘Golden Pheasant let Cuckoo put (the ugly clothes) on.’


m̥iF=ɡeL tʰɜL-bõL=nõH ɡɥeLkjɜHkjɜL=ɹjuL pɑHleH girl=TOP TLC-cold=DUR shiver=IPFV clothes L H L R F L H L ɣõ ɣɜ tɜ pɑ ni ɡwɜj ke mɑ (AFFECTEE) thick one:CLF 3SG dress let ATT ‘The daughter is cold and shivering; dress her with a piece of thick clothing.’

11.21 a


njɛH̃ =ɡeH tʃjɛ̃LɹəH kiL mɑLsɨH meH=keH (SOCIATIVE) 1SG ill=TOP children BNY know PF.N=let ‘My illness, (I) haven’t let the children know.’


neR ɜL

beH mɑLsɨH meH=keH pʰɜHdziH=ɡeL 2SG 1SG to know PF.N=let news=TOP ‘The news that you haven’t let me know, …’


The causative sentences in (11.19) both involve the motion verb ʃɨH ‘go’ in a discourse setting where the Causee has lower status in the social relationship. The volition of the Causee’s going is presumed in (11.19a) and thus the argument appears as the SOCIATIVE. The wish of the Causee in (11.19b), on the other hand, is rejected by an implicit Causer. Under such circumstances of conflict, the powerless status of the Causee prompts the argument encoded as the AFFECTEE, which is the most powerless in the scheme of causation (see Figure 11-2 below). A parallel distinction can be observed in the sentences in (11.20). In a story, Golden Pheasant has talked Cuckoo into lending him his clothes. After they exchange the clothes, he lets Cuckoo put on his ugly clothes (see Appendix I for the full story). In (11.20a), the Causee, being a willing participant, is rendered as the GOAL. On the other hand, it is not difficult to imagine a shivering daughter of a young age in (11.20b), and thus the Causee, unable to get dressed by herself, is



encoded as the AFFECTEE. Coincidently the AFFECTEE Causee appears as a pronoun in both (11.19b) and (11.20b). The Causee, taking the form of personal pronoun, can also be encoded as SOCIATIVE, as found in (11.19a), or GOAL, as in (11.21b). Semantic subtlety is also discernible in (11.21). In (11.21a) the Causee tʃjɛ̃LɹəH kiL ‘children’ marked as SOCIATIVE by the Beneficiary postposition implies a close relationship between the speaker and the children, and the latter, given the familial bond, are considered to have the right and to be willing to know about the speaker’s physical condition. In contrast, the relationship between the two interlocutors under the indirect causation in (11.21b) implies no such closeness between them. As noted in §6.2.1, some Prinmi bivalent verbs take the Recipient (marked also by be) as one of the core arguments. When this type of verb appears in the causative construction, e.g. (11.22b) and (11.23b), the be-marking on the argument is retained. Consequently, neutralization may take place: the Causee in (11.23b) shows a high degree of affectedness in spite of the seemingly indirect causation. 11.22 a


neR ɜL

beH kʰɥɛHdʒeH 2SG 1SG to heart:angry ‘Don’t you get mad at me.’

tjɑH=puL DS.N=do;2SG

Causee ɜL beH njõH=neL 2SG;INS=DSC 3SG BNY 1SG to L L tʃʰɨ ke do let ‘You made him get mad with me.’

kʰɥɛHdʒeH heart:angry

11.23 a

ə LʈʂɨL=ɡeH tʰjõR tʰɜL-ʒɨH kʰeH=boL alcohol=TOP drink;2SG TLC-many time=FRM ɡjõHm̥jɛ̃H beL nɑ̃H jõL body to harm ASR ‘When (you) drink too much alcohol, (it) certainly harms the body, …’


< ɖʐɜL tʃʰɨH miF beL=boL>Causee ɜL-nɑ̃H keL jõL bad do person to=FRM in-harm let ASR ‘(The god) … will certainly cause those who behave badly to be cursed.’



The four semantic roles of the two core arguments in the causative construction can be presented on a continuum of volition and control as follows: Figure 11-2: Semantic roles in the periphrastic causative construction SOCIATIVE


Causee ki



Causee be


Causee (ɡe)



As illustrated in Figure 11-2, the different encodings of the Causee, from SOCIATIVE to AFFECTEE, correlate to varying degrees of volition and control in causation. Among the three, the SOCIATIVE is the most volitional, whereas the AFFECTEE has the least control over the situation and is susceptible to manipulation or being affected in a significant way. While the AFFECTEE is insensitive to animacy, e.g. the inanimate AFFECTEE in (11.25a), both the GOAL and the SOCIATIVE can only be assigned to an animate NP. Furthermore, the SOCIATIVE Causee must be human. With regard to morphosyntactic marking, SOCIATIVE and GOAL are obligatorily marked, while Causer and AFFECTEE follow the general marking on core arguments in the language. Like other core arguments, the Causer and Causee may take the form of zero anaphor. In (11.24) and (11.25b), the Causer is implicit. When a Causee occurs in the zero form, as in (11.25b), its precise semantic role becomes indistinct. 11.24

11.25 a

ɡɑ̃H toL ʈʂɨHkɑL 2SG BNY bed on jump ‘(I’ll) let you jump on the bed.’ ø



keL=ʃoL let=OPT

tʃʰiHtʃʰɨL miLɹõL=neL ɡyLtõH ø ɡəL-l̥ eL religion:do people;INS=DSC fireplace out-fuel H L L ke mɑ =jõ let N=ASR ‘Religious people certainly won’t burn (this kind of wood) at the (sacred) fireplace, …’




tɑL=boR mɜLtɜjH mɜHʈʂʰeL ø mɜHlĩH kɥɛL now=DSC fire:big make.fire warm.by.fire let;3 ‘Now (she) made a big fire and let (them) warm up.’ The causative complement The causative construction in Prinmi is open to all kinds of verbs, including certain auxiliaries, as shown in (11.26); these function as the head of the complement clause. Evidence for analyzing the complement as a clause is available from the examples below: a clause structure with embedding in (11.26) and a display of complex predicate functioning as the complement head in (11.27). (The complement clause is indicated by bracketing in the examples.) ɜL=njõH=neH niF kiL 1SG=DSC;INS=DSC 3SG BNY [[ tɜLtsiH=ɡeH neL beH ljɜHtʃʉL ] tʃʰɨL] keL=ʃoL one:life=TOP 2SG to dislike do let=OPT ‘I’ll cause him to hate you for the (rest of his) life.’


Due to the occurrence of an embedded clause within the complement of the causative sentence, two pairs of brackets are shown in (11.26). Sometimes the complement of the causative verb may be composed of a pair of coordinate clauses, as in (11.27a), or a double-verb predicate, e.g. (11.27b). 11.27 a


ɑLmɑF=ʃjɛL̃ pɜjLpɜjF kiL mother=FOC brother BNY [ dʒiLdʒiL nɜL-ɖʐʉH ɑLbɑH beL tʰɜL-kʰjɛL̃ ] kɥɛH=siH letter down-write father to TLC-give let;3=PFV ‘Mother let Brother write a letter to Father.’ məLdzuF=ɹəL ɑLkɑwF pɜHdiH=ɡõL eLɹəL uncle frog=INS 1PL.IN all=PL L H L L H ɡə -ʐo ] kɥɛ =siH [ ɡə -tʰe out-clever out-smart let;3=PFV ‘Uncle Frog made us all become clever and smart.’

Of the two arguments of the causative — Causer and Causee, the latter is closely associated with the complement clause. Irrespective of how it is encoded in the construction, the Causee is always shared between the causative verb and the complement head.



11.2.2. Other causative constructions Unlike other bi-clausal causative constructions, the highly iconic AND type of causative is not signaled by specializing markers (although sometimes the Causee may receive marking from a postposition); a pair of clauses is linked together similar to that found in a clausechaining sentence. The causation is essentially implied by the order in which the clauses occur, iconic to cause-and-effect. The AND type conveys sociative, rather than direct, causation. This is well illustrated by (11.28). While learning to speak another language requires the help of a teacher, the teaching itself does not necessarily make one able to speak the language. Instead, the learner’s attitude is vital. 11.28

niF=ɡõL 3SG=INS ɜH kiH


beH sʉHsɥɛ̃L 1SG to teach pʰʴĩHmiHl̥ eL tʃɨL=ɹõL 1SG BNY Prinmi:language say=IPFV;1SG ‘He teaches me to speak Prinmi.’

Causative of the PURP type is commonly expressed by the speaking verb tʃɨR ‘to say’ in conjunction with the obligative modal kʰuR ‘must’. This subtype of causative is not productive in Prinmi. It involves two instances of embedding: one subordinate to the obligative modal, which, in turn, subordinates to the speaking verb. Consider the following: 11.29 i ii iii

pɜHdiH=ɡõL=neL tɜL-koLʃyH=nõH frog=INS=DSC up-lead=DUR kʰuL [ əHpoL bɑLlɜjHɹəL kiL lɑL ɜL-ɡjɜHɡeL ɜL-ʒɨF there snake=PL BNY also in-help in-come must L H H L L L H L L F tʰɜ sɑ̃ =ɹə ki lɑ ɜ -kwɑ ku ɜ -ʒɨ kʰuL ] tʃɨL locust=PL BNY also in-help in-come must say ‘The frog, leading the way, got the snakes there to come to help (and) also got the grasshoppers to come to help.’

The structure of this sentence is quite complex, with a dependent clause in (11.29-i) and two coordinate clauses (appearing within brackets) in (11.29-ii) and (11.29-iii) serving as the complement to the saying verb. Moreover, a double-verb predicate (the italic part) occurs in subordination to the obligative modal kʰuR in each of the coordinate clauses.



11.3. Complementation With regard to types of syntactic constituent and morphosyntactic marking, the following are observed for complementation in Prinmi: Table 11-1: Major properties of complements in Prinmi

Morphosyntactic marker


Phrasal complement



Clausal complement

-mi, -ji,-ɹə


Phrasal complements are marginal in Prinmi. The only attested type is the comparative complement (addressed in §11.3.1), which must be marked by the postposition to. Morphosyntactically unmarked phrasal complements are not observed. Clausal complements occur frequently and morphosyntactic marking is sometimes unnecessary to them, as discussed in §11.3.2. 11.3.1. The comparative complement & the comparative construction As noted in §4.2.3, Prinmi adjectives are not inflected for the comparative or the superlative. Comparison is expressed by means of the comparative construction, e.g.: 11.30 a b

ʐɨLʒjɑL=ɡeH wɜjLʒjɑR toL ʈʂəH mɑR=jõL right:hand=TOP left:hand on big N=ASR toL kɜLtsɜjR=mɑL=kɜjH wɜjLʒjɑL=ɡeH ʂɨLʒjɑR left:hand=TOP right:hand on small=N=VLT ‘The right hand can’t be bigger than the left hand; the left hand won’t be smaller than the right hand.’

The comparative construction in Prinmi, strictly speaking, lacks a unique marking of its own. A comparison is achieved simply by introducing the standard for comparison next to the Theme, the constituent under comparison, as shown in (11.30). The standard NP serves as the complement, and the postposition to ‘on’ is construed as a complementizer in the construction. As such, to is obligatory and essential to the comparative construction. The noun phrase as a whole represents a kind of oblique complement (cf. §6.2.2). It is always expressed explicitly. In contrast, the Theme, like core arguments in general, can undergo ellipsis, e.g.:



l̥ jɑLl̥ jɑL=ɡeH=boL tsuF tɜHtsʰõL dzɨL firethorn=TOP=FRM thorn one:kind COP;3 ø miFɹəL toL ɑLljɑHtiL ɡɥɛH̃ jõH people on a.little.bit tall ASR ‘The firethorn is a kind of thorny shrub; (it is) a little bit taller than humans.’


The Theme is shared in the clause-chaining sentence above, and therefore, not repeated in the second clause, where the comparative construction occurs. The structure of comparative construction in Prinmi can be presented as follows: Theme

Noun phrase  +   Verb/clause 


+ Descriptive Verb

The comparative complement is syntactically rather simple. It may contain a noun, a pronoun, or occasionally a verb. Its simplicity is perhaps attributed to discourse factors. Given that the sole purpose of the complement is to introduce the standard for comparison, there is no justification to enlarge it with unnecessary information. If detail must be supplied, it will be expressed separately outside the comparative construction. The following exemplify various kinds of possible elements in the comparative complement: demonstrative pronoun in (11.32a), personal pronoun in (11.32b), and verb in (11.32c). 11.32 a

təH toL ʈʂɜH tiL=boL ʃiR this on big one=FRM EXT ‘None is bigger than this.’




toH lɑL=boL niF=ɡjɑL ɡɥɛL̃ dzɜjH ɜL 3SG=M horse:ride 1SG on also=DSC L H L ʐo dzɜj kɨ ride:skillful great ‘His horse-riding is even more skillful than mine.’


meHtiL kʰjɛL̃ mɑL=kjɜH tʰɜL-kʰjɛH̃ =ɡeH meH=kʰjɛ̃H toL what give N=fear TLC-give=TOP PF.N=give on L L ʐo ʈʂɑ great ATT ‘it doesn’t matter what (you) give; to give is much better than not to give.’



Note that in (11.32a) the comparative construction (the italic part) occurs as a relative clause. In this short clause, the Theme under comparison is expressed implicitly and the exact reference for comparison is rather vague without discourse context. In (11.32b) a comparison is made on the abstract notion of skill in horseback riding. The single-word pronoun in the complement is probably reduced from an underlying noun phrase like ɜH ɡjɑH ɡɥɛ̃LdzɜjH ‘my horse-riding’. Since the comparison in (11.32c) concerns a situation, it is necessary to employ a verb as the comparative complement. Nonetheless, the complement is unlikely to expand to a larger clause. It is also possible to embed the comparative construction in a relative clause to make a comparison on a core argument. For instance, the argument of an existential verb is compared in (11.32a) and a comparison is made on P: Patient in (11.33a) and Theme in (11.33b). However, the employment of a relative clause is not always necessary. For example, the Prinmi translation of a Chinese sentence in (11.32b) involves a comparison between two agents, but no relative clause occurs. In fact, the Agent of the transitive verb has been morphosyntactically encoded as a possessor. 11.33 a


ɑHʈʂiL=ʃjɛL̃ =neL niF lɑL=boL pɜjL=ɡeH toL Azhi=FOC=DSC 3SG also=DSC brother=TOP on ɣõLɣɜH tiH nɜL-ʈʂɑL sʉLdʉL thick one down-chop think ‘As for Azhi, he also thought (he’d) chop a thicker (bundle) than his elder brother, …’ nɜLɡeH təH djɛ̃LbɑH toL tʃʰɥɑH tiL=boL 1SG again this place on good;M one=DSC H H R L H mɜ tʃe pʰʴə =mɑ =kɜj look.for encounter=N=VLT ‘I won’t be able to find a place better than this one again.’ ɜH

In these examples the comparative construction appears as a relative clause to modify the pronominal ti ‘one’, which functions as a core argument in the main clause. This is transparent in (11.33b), where the modificatory clitic ɑ is attached to and fused with tʃʰyH ‘good’. Taking information structure into consideration, the comparative standard may appear at the beginning of a sentence, forming a double topic construction (cf. §12.3.2). For instance:




ɣoR toL=boL zaL=ɡeH ʈʂɜL tiger on=FRM pangolin=TOP strong ‘More than the tiger, the pangolin is stronger.’ [Proverb]

If the word order in the proverb were changed to the canonical order, the frame-setter bo after to ‘on’ would have to be removed. In this case, the pragmatic presupposition of the tiger as a powerful animal would disappear, although the propositional meaning of the sentence would remain intact. 11.3.2. Clausal complements Nominalized complement clauses occur mainly in a few constructions headed by the copula or the existential ʃiR, such as the obligational construction and the potentive construction (discussed in §9.1.1 and §9.1.2). Except in these constructions, clausal complements are not marked by any mechanism in Prinmi. Auxiliary verbs represent the most common type of head for a complement clause. Some verbs of cognition may also take a complement clause. Thus there are basically two types of complement clause, according to their head verb. These are inspected in turn below. Complement clause to auxiliary verbs As noted in Chapter 9, all auxiliary verbs take a complement clause without any overt morphosyntactic marking. This gives rise to concatenation between the head verb of the complement and the auxiliary verb. For example (complement head and auxiliary verb are rendered as italic): 11.35

tʰjɛ̃R mɑH=tɑL lɑL ɡəL-tʰjɛ̃R kʰuL drink N=TRM also out-drink must R R L tʰjɛ̃ nɜ -mɑL=tɑF ʃɨH mɑR=xɑL ne 2SG drink down-N=TRM go N=alright ‘Even (if you) can’t drink to completion, (you) must drink. (If) you don’t drink to completion, it’s not alright (for you) to go.’

Verb concatenation in Prinmi has been analyzed in terms of a doubleverb predicate (§11.1) and clause-chaining sentences (§10.3). When a sentence is headed by an auxiliary verb, whether its structure can be treated as either of these two needs to be considered. By definition, a clause-chaining sentence is built on coordinate clauses. This differs substantially from the subordination found in the



complement of auxiliary verbs. In the light of this, an analysis as double-verb predicate seems to be the more likely of the two, since the causative verb can occur within the double-verb predicate. However, the causative double-verb predicate, as discussed above, is always complex, i.e. consisting of more than two verbs. The only auxiliary verb for which the double-verb predicate analysis could be argued is the terminative auxiliary tɑF. While this auxiliary could form a resultative double-verb predicate, as shown in (11.35), such an analysis runs into difficulty when the juxtaposed verb does not denote an action. The event condition required for double-verb predicate can no longer be met. Consider the following: 11.36

tɜHsʉL=ɹəL tɜH-pʰʴĩL nɜL-tɑF=siL huángguŏ=PL up-white down-TRM=PFV ‘The huangguo (flowers) have completely whitened up (the field).’

In (11.36), the noun cannot be shared between the two verbs. In this case, the situation of whitening must be analyzed as the complement of the auxiliary verb. In favor of a unified treatment, the possible alternative analysis of tɑF in (11.35) is regarded as an exception. A serious problem in attempting to analyze an auxiliary verb as part of a double-verb predicate lies in that the two verbs do not form one predicate. This has been demonstrated above, when discussing such constructions as the periphrastic causative construction and the semelfactive construction (§11.2.1 and §9.4.3). Similar evidence is not easily come by for each individual auxiliary verb, but sporadic examples are available. Consider the following (bracketing indicates the complement clause of an auxiliary verb): 11.37 a


[ ɜH=ɡjɑH kʰʴəH beL tjɑL=kʰiL] kʰuL 1SG=M foot at DS.N=grasp must ‘Don’t grasp my foot.’ ʃɨH ] mɑL=kʰuR kʰuLsjɛL̃ =nõH [ sjɛL̃ boH tomorrow go N=need third.day=DSC H H L L ʃɨ -ji tɑ dzɨ go-NMLZ only COP ‘(you) don’t need to go tomorrow; (you) just ought to go the day after tomorrow.’




təH njɛH̃ =ɡeH [ tʰɜL-njɛH̃ =boH] mɑR=wə̃L this disease=TOP TLC-pain=DSC N=ASR ‘For sure, this disease isn’t painful.’

As pointed out in §9.2.2, the strong obligative modal cannot host any negator. Consequently, negation must be expressed within the complement clause, as in (11.37a). Such attachment of negator is impossible for the double-verb predicate, which designates the final verb as the host for negating the entire predicate (cf. (11.13) above). This restriction does not apply to the weak obligative modal, so the negator is attached to the auxiliary in (11.37b). A hint at the existence of a complement clause is provided by the temporal modifier whose intended scope covers only the embedded clause. Compared with the following clause, it is not difficult to see that the entire sentence presupposes a need to go, with tomorrow’s going contrasted to that of the day after. A more illuminating example is (11.37c), where the discourse clitic bo intervenes between the single-word complement clause and the assertive auxiliary verb. It clearly demarcates the constituent boundary between the two. Sometimes the complement clause of an auxiliary verb may contain a complex structure as observed in the semelfactive construction and the periphrastic causative construction. These constructions are themselves headed by auxiliary verbs, leading to recursive subordination in the sentence. For example: 11.38 a


neLdzɑ̃H [[ ɜL

boH ɜL-kuF] tiH 2DU 1SG for in-help one ‘The two of you must give me a hand.’

tʃʰɨL ] kʰuL do must

ʐõH=ɡõH=neL [[ nɜL-sɨL-miH=ɡjɑH dʒʉL=ɡeH down-die-er=M spirit=TOP sheep=INS=DSC tɜL-koLʃiH eLɹɑH pɜLpuLdjɛL̃ =ɡeH tɜH-tɑH] keL ] jõL up-usher 1PL.IN;M origin.land=TOP up-reach let ASR ‘The sheep will certainly lead the spirit of the deceased and let it reach the land of our origin.’


eLɹəH 1PL.IN

ɡəL-ʃɨH=ɑL=boL [[ kʴiL-miH xɜH=ɡeL dzɨL out-go=M=DSC sing-er who=TOP COP;3

ɜL-toF ] tiL tʃʰɨL ] ʃɨL in-look one do PUR ‘We’ll go, go for a look at who the singer is.’



The collective evidence thus reveals that the auxiliary verb as a whole in Prinmi takes a complement clause. It cannot be analyzed as part of a clause-chaining sentence or as a component in a double-verb predicate. Complement clause to verbs of cognition Verbs of cognition include those denoting speaking, thinking, perceiving, and so forth. When they take a complement clause, no complementizer or any overt marking is employed. For instance: 11.39

A: meF tʃɨL=ɹjuL what say=IPFV B: [ mɑL=kʰuL ] tʃɨH=ɹjuL N=want say=IPFV A: ‘What does (he) say?’ B: ‘(He) says (he) doesn’t want (any).’ or ‘(He) says, “(I) don’t want (any).”’

As can be seen in (11.39), whether the complement to the saying verb represents direct or indirect speech is syntactically ambiguous in Prinmi. The lack of formal clues, compounded with frequent ellipsis of arguments, results in a dearth of unequivocal instances of indirect quotation. Furthermore, direct rather than indirect speech is a feature of story texts. These factors contribute to an impression that Prinmi prefers direct quotations to indirect ones.4 Two parameters are useful for distinguishing a direct quotation from an indirect one. In terms of viewpoint, a direct quotation is uttered from the viewpoint of the original speaker, whereas an indirect quotation is not (cf. Maynard 1984). Syntactically, a direct quotation can be unusually complex (as seen in part B of Table 10-1 in the previous chapter); it may involve a structure with more than one independent sentence, built on some sort of ‘sentential juncture’ (cf. Van Valin & LaPolla 1997: 469). The following sentences, taken from story texts, contain direct quotations:


In a survey of 40 languages, De Roeck (1994) reports a similar situation in some languages. The preference for direct quotations may be a feature of Prinmi discourse. This topic is worth studying further.


11.40 a



pɜHdiH=ɡõL [ mɑL=kɜjH ʒjɑLkʰʴəR ɜL-ljõF keH frog=INS N=fine hand:foot in-complete let L L kʰu ] tʃɨ must say ‘Frog said, “No good. (You) must make the limbs stay intact.”’ [ɑLjɑL ɜH

lɑH tɜHn̥iL=boL əHniL=ɑL tsõLɡyH INT 1SG also one:day=DSC like.that=M attire H L nɜL-ɡwɜjH-jiL dzɨL pɑL ] sʉLdʉL tɜ tsɨ one:CLF down-dress-NMLZ COP ATT think ‘(Golden Pheasant) thought, “My goodness, one day I should also wear a dress like this.”, …’

Some other verbs of cognition taking a complement clause are exemplified as follows: 11.41 a

ɹɜLpuF=ɡeL nɜL-diL [ tʃʰɨLniH ɖʐõH ɹɥɛH̃ =ɹjuH ] cock=TOP down-cast how become ring=IPFV H H L L L H zo lo lo ɜ -si jõ careful in-listen ‘(you) throw the rooster down, take notice and listen carefully to how (it) sounds.’


[ əLdʒeL n̥iLtʃʰjõH tiH nɜL-dzõH ] tʰɜL-tʃɥɛL̃ =siL there boy one down-sit TLC-see;3=PFV ‘(she) saw a young man sitting there.’


[ eLɹəF

sõLpɜjLkɥɛH̃ =ɡeL kʰõR tʰɜL-l̥ iH=ɹəL 1PL.IN three:brothers=TOP life TLC-escape=PL L ʃi =ɑL=ɹjuH ] toF=ɡiL EXT=Q=IPFV look=HRT ‘Let’s see whether we three brothers can run for our lives.’

Apart from the pre-verbal position, a complement clause can alternatively appear after verbs of cognition. This is illustrated by the pair of sentences predicated with the verb ‘to know’ in (11.42). The different placements of the complement are not freely interchangeable. In general, the pre-head one can be relocated to the post-head position, but not vice-versa.



11.42 a


tʃjɛL̃ leH=ɹəL neLɹəH [ pʉHljuL=ɡeL meH dzɨL ] child=PL 2PL tadpole=TOP what COP;3 R L H mɑ =ɑ =sĩ Q=know;2PL ‘Kids, do you know what a tadpole is?’ [ neR ɜL beH ɜH mɑLsjɛH̃ 1SG know;1SG 2SG 1SG at ‘I know that you don’t love me.’

ɡjɑH=mɑL=ɹuH ] love=N=IPFV;2SG

Although both types are complex sentences, those with a post-head complement differ syntactically from those with a pre-head one. The pre-head complement is an embedded clause, while the post-head complement is a coordinate clause. The following are further examples of post-head complements: 11.43 a


neLɹəH tʃjɛH̃ =tʉH [ pɜHdiH=ɡeL ʈʂɜF toL 2PL see=EXP frog=TOP soil on L H L H L ɡə -ʈʂɨ ɜ -ʈʂɨ tʃʰɨ ] out-jump in-jump do ‘You’ve seen that frogs jump around on the ground.’ ɜH=boH dʒjɛH̃ ʒɑwH ʈʂɑL [ njɑH=ɡjɑH tsʉF=ɡeL 1SG=DSC believe ATT 2SG;M=M son=TOP H L R L H tɜ ɹwɜ ɖʐõ tʰõ =kɜj ] one:road become SCC=VLT ‘I believe firmly that your son will succeed in every thing.’


INFORMATION STRUCTURE This final chapter is devoted to the study of information structure of Prinmi. Lambrecht (1994) and Gundel (1988) lay out the fundamental concepts of ‘focus’ and ‘topic’, respectively. The chapter starts with a discussion of various types of focus structure in Prinmi. The functions of the focus-presupposition construction -mi dzɨL are then examined in §12.2. Gundel’s definition of topic has been adopted for identifying the topic-comment construction, which facilitates analysis of topiccomment in a variety of complex sentences. 12.1. Types of focus structure Lambrecht (1994: 213) defines ‘focus’ as ‘the semantic component of a pragmatically structured proposition whereby the assertion differs from the presupposition.’ He emphasizes that the pragmatic relation of focus must be kept distinct from the grammatical realization of focus in a sentence. Three major types of focus structure are distinguished according to different syntactic domains of the focus in a sentence. These are, from the narrowest to the broadest: NP focus, Predicate focus, and Sentence focus. In addition to these, Prinmi makes use of a periphrastic construction to express (among other functions) a focus counter to a pragmatic presupposition. The domains of the four focus structures to be dealt with below are presented in Table 12-1 (adapted from Lambrecht 1994: 236). Table 12-1: Focus domains in different focus structures

Argument/ Adjunct NP focus + Predicate focus – Sentence focus + Counter-Presupposition focus – Focus domain

Predicate Complement – + + –

– – – +



Of the four focus structures in Prinmi, the one used with the highest frequency is the Predicate focus, expressed by means of the topiccomment construction; the least common one is the CounterPresupposition focus, conveyed by one of the functions of the focuspresupposition construction -mi dzɨ. These two constructions will be scrutinized later in the chapter. 12.1.1. NP focus Depending on whether a focal argument is presupposed to be a member of a set — defined by discourse settings — Prinmi can encode two subtypes of argument focus. If the focal argument is associated with a pragmatically defined set, it represents a closed NP-focus. Otherwise, it is an open NP-focus. The former is indicated by the focus clitic ʃjɛ̃, while the latter is unmarked morphosyntactically. Representative examples for each subtype are as follows (with focal expressions rendered as italic): 12.1


Closed NP-focus neL=ʃjɛ̃H kuH kuH=mɑL=ɹjuH sʉHdʉL=ɹuL 2SG =FOC egg lay=N=IPFV think=IPFV;2SG ‘It’s you [as opposed to others] who thinks (she) doesn’t lay eggs.’

b Open NP-focus ɜH dʒeR ɡəL-tʰjɛ̃F=siL xɜLɡõR who:INS 1SG tea out-drink=PFV ‘Who has drunk my tea?’ The use of a closed NP-focus in (12.1a) implies that the speaker does not agree with the addressee’s supposition about the hen. Without any suspect in mind when asking the question in (12.1b), the speaker can only encode the intended focal argument as an open one. While grammatical function is largely determined by the canonical word order, a focused NP need not always appear in sentence-initial position. For instance, the open NP-focus in (12.1b) can occur near the end of a sentence with different information structure such as: 12.2

dʒeL tʰjɛH̃ miF=ɡeL xɜH=ɡeL 1SG tea drink person=TOP who=TOP ‘The person who drank my tea, who is (it)?’ ɜH





On the other hand, the position of the closed NP-focus is less flexible, and it conforms to the usual word order of Prinmi in accordance with the grammatical relation of the NP. Note that an adjunct can also be marked with ʃjɛ̃, as in (12.3b), serving as a closed NP-focus. 12.3 Closed NP-focus a ɜL swɑ̃F=ʃjɛ̃L ljɛF̃ wə̃L tʃɨL=ɹjuL 1SG father=FOC firm ASR say=IPFV ‘my father [as opposed to others] said it would be stuck.’ b

koLjiL=ɡjɑH ljuR lɑL ʒɨF=ɡõL tɜHpʰeL=ʃjɛ̃L bow=INS one:shot=FOC crow=M crop also L R tʰɜ -ʈʂʰe tlc-tear ‘With one [as opposed to many] shot (he) tore Crow’s crop with his bow.’ 12.1.2. Predicate focus

Predicate focus is achieved using the topic-comment construction. The topic element is often followed by a clitic such as ɡe, but the comment never receives any morphosyntactic marking for its focus status. One characteristic of the predicate focus in Prinmi is that its domain tends not to contain any resumptive element of the topic. This is also a characteristic of topic-comment construction. 1 Thus the entire comment (placed within brackets in the example) usually coincides with the domain of focus. 12.4


təH miF=ɡeL [ ɜH tʃjɛ̃H=tʉH ] this person=TOP 1SG see=EXP ‘This person, I saw (him) before.’


təH miF=ɡeL [ kʰɥɛHkɜHtsɜjL ] this person=TOP heart:small ‘This person, (he) is cowardly.’

When the comment consists of a noun phrase and the copula, a focus domain narrower than the predicate is observed. This narrowing of the focus domain is feasible due to the empty meaning of the copula. The following is an instance of NP-focus found in a topic-comment construction ending with the copula: 1

Only one or two exceptions to this have been found.



l̥ jɑLl̥ jɑL=ɡeH=boL [ tsuH tɜHtsʰõL dzɨL ] firethorn=TOP=FRM thorn one:kind COP;3 ‘The firethorn, (it) is a kind of thorny plant.’


12.1.3. Sentence focus Sentence focus typically occurs in presentational sentences to introduce a new entity into discourse, e.g.: 12.6


tiL ʒeL ʒjɑLn̥jɛR̃ m̥əLɡjɛF̃ ancient old.man one EXT.AN ‘Once upon a time, there was an old man.’


jɜLmɜH tiH nɜL-dzõL=siL sjɛL̃ bõH poL tree under lama one down-sit=PFV ‘A lama is sitting under the tree.’ təLboR tɜHn̥iL=boL koLjiL=ɡeL ɡəL-tʃʰjõL then one:day=FRM crow=TOP out-appear ‘Then one day Crow appears.’


This kind of sentence tends to be short and structurally simple, with a temporal or locative expression at the beginning. The new entity being introduced to discourse is often marked by tiR ‘one’, as in (12.6a) and (12.6b). However, the noun phrase may be marked for specificity with ɡe (see discussion in §6.4.1), as seen in (12.6c). In this particular instance, the intended referent is one of the personified animals and main characters in the Deluge Myth. 12.1.4. Counter-presupposition focus As the focus-presupposition construction (see further discussion in § and §12.2) always conveys a presupposition, it is convenient to simply negate it to express a counter-presuppositional focus, e.g.: 12.7

Counter-presupposition focus niF=njɑL teH kʰeH =njɑL 3SG =DSC born time =DSC R L mɑ =dzɨ

ʈʂɜH toL ɖʐəLɖʐɑ̃H-miH earth on walk-NMLZ


‘When it [i.e. the frog] is born, it is not the case that (it) walks on earth.’ The sentence in (12.7) is extracted from a passage describing how the frog jumps high and low on the ground, which gives rise to the pre-



supposition that the frog is a terrestrial animal. To correct this wrong assumption, the focus-presupposition construction is called for. However, it is possible to render a counter-presupposition focus without using the periphrastic construction, provided that discourse contexts have established adequate presupposition. Consider the following extract from the Deluge Myth: 12.8

təLboR ɖʐɜF=ɡeL mɜLkʰɑwL=ɡjɑH dzɨH dʒeL then after=TOP fire:smoke=M vicinity at L H H L L H tɑ =ɹju kʰe =bo o tʃĩ lɑH mɑR=dzɨL arrive=IPFV time=FRM INT house also N=COP;3 ɹɑLpuLdʒjõH ti=ɑL wuL mɜR ʈʂʰeL=nõL cave one=M in fire kindle=DUR ‘Then afterwards when (he) gets close to the smoke, oh, it is not a house; (someone) is making fire in a cave.’

The sentence in (12.8) portrays a food-searching scenario by the sole survivor of a devastating deluge. When he sees some smoke in the distance, he walks towards it with the thought that the smoke is probably from some household. Only when he gets closer does he realize that the smoke does not come from a house. The consultant originally hinted at the counter-presupposition with an interjection when he told the story, as shown in the example. However, he suggested omission of it during transcribing of the text, in which the counterpresupposition is signaled by the contrastive adverb lɑ alone. 12.1.5. Sentence types and focus domains Except for the subtype of closed NP-focus, none of the four major focus types has a one-to-one correspondence with a specific linguistic device in Prinmi. A construction often conveys more than one type of focus domain, as seen in the examples above. Table 12-2 summarizes the types of focus that can be expressed in the topic-comment construction, the focus-presupposition construction -mi dzɨ, and ‘plain’ sentences without a topic-comment articulation. It should be noted that a topic-comment relation may be found in the focuspresupposition construction, but not in ‘plain’ sentences. The topic-comment construction is predominantly used for predicate focus. It cannot express sentence focus or counter-presupposition. When the construction is predicated with the copula dzɨ ‘to be’ in ascriptive or equational sentences, the focus domain is narrowed to the



NP argument. The focus-presupposition construction can convey all major focus types, except for sentence focus. ‘Plain’ sentences without a topic-comment distinction occur in a variety of forms and can be realized with various focus domains, except for the predicate focus. Table 12-2: Focus types found in various constructions

Argument/ Predicate Adjunct focus focus

Sentence focus

Topic(With copula) By default No comment Focus-preYes Yes No supposition Plain Yes No Yes sentence

Counter presupposition focus No Yes Yes

12.2. The focus-presupposition construction -mi dzɨ The focus-presupposition construction is used to introduce a focus related to presupposed information in discourse context. This construction is characterized with a topic-comment articulation. To some extent, the discourse function of the construction is akin to English cleft sentences or Mandarin pseudo-cleft sentences shì … de. The term ‘cleft construction’ is not adopted here as extraction is not involved in the Prinmi construction. The morphosyntactic properties of the construction were presented in § The lack of extraction in the focus-presupposition construction renders its intended focus domain indistinguishable by the surface structure. The syntactic structure of the construction is the same for generating various types of focus: on an argument, a complement clause, or a counter-presupposition; these are exemplified respectively in (12.9a)–(12.9c), where the italic part represents a focus. 12.9


təLboR xɜLɡõR=njɑL tʰɜL-kʴiL-miH dzɨF then who:INS=DSC TLC-sing-NMLZ COP ‘(Those songs), who is it that sang (them) then?’ [Presupposition: someone sang some songs.]




tʃʰeR ɜL-wɑF tɜR-meL=m̥jɛF̃ =ɡeL meal in-cook up-PF.N=ripe=TOP dzɨH mɑL=ʒjɛ̃L-miL dzɨL eat N=can-NMLZ COP ‘As for rice that has not been well cooked, (it) cannot be eaten.’ [Presupposition: it’s all right to eat well-cooked rice.]


sjɛ̃LbõH beL təH seLlɑwH=ɡeH ɜL=njõH this pear=TOP 1SG=DSC;INS tree at L H L H L tʰɜ -kʰɑ -mi mɑ =dzɨ TLC-pick-NMLZ N=COP ‘This pear, it is not me who picked (it) from the tree.’ [Presupposition: the interlocutor picked the pear from the tree.]

The focus-presupposition construction is ambiguous in regard to its focus domain when the sentence is examined out of context. Intonation over the sentence is helpful; so is the discourse context. Notice that in (12.9c) the general negator is attached to the copula in order to form a counter-presupposition sentence; otherwise, the negator is attached to the complement head within the focus domain, as seen in (12.9b). The attachment pattern of the negative clitic thus provides a useful morphosyntactic clue for recognizing a counter-presupposition sentence. 2 When the construction expresses focus on an argument/adjunct, the constituent must be open, i.e. not selected from a closed set, vis-à-vis the closed NP focus that is signaled by ʃjɛ̃. The open NP-focus is often Agent, as in (12.10a), but it can also be an oblique noun phrase concerning place or manner, as shown in (12.10b) and (12.10c) respectively. The discourse context for these sentences is supplemented in the translations.


The converse construction, focused presupposition, is not attested. Its nonexistence is understandable from discourse motivation. Inasmuch as presupposition is not worthy of attention, it receives no focus. An entire piece of presupposed information becomes focal only when it is contradicted.




Focus domain on an open argument/adjunct a kjõR mɜHl̥ eL=ɡõL=neL tʰɜL-m̥ɜR tʰɜL-tʃʰjõF-miL dzɨL door wind=INS=DSC TLC-blow TLC-open-NMLZ COP ‘The door, it is the wind that blew (it) open.’ [Said when explaining to a child who thought a ghost had opened the door.] b

dzɨL dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL=ɡeL xɜkiH dɜL-tʃʰjõF-miL Zzonbba god TOP where CLC-appear-NMLZ COP ‘The Zzonbba god, where is it that (he) came from?’ [To pave the way for the immediate discussion of the origin of the Zzonbba god.]


pɑHʒjɑH dzɑHtoLdĩL əLtʃʰjɛF̃ =ʃjɛL̃ Eqian=FOC deliberately mirror L H H nɜ -kʴɥɛ̃ -mi dzɨL down-break-NMLZ COP ‘It’s Eqian who smashed the mirror deliberately.’ [To emphasize an intentional act of the wrongdoer.]

A focus on Patient has not been found in the focus-presupposition construction, even when the Patient NP occurs explicitly. Quite often, Patient is encoded as a topic in the form of zero anaphor in the construction, as in (12.11). 12.11 a

ʃjɛH̃ =ɡõH ɡəL-tsɑwH-miH dzɨL iron=INS out-hit-NMLZ COP ‘(The pickaxe,) it is from iron that (it) is forged.’ [Said after introduing the pickaxe as a kind of tool for farmwork.]


njɑH pɜjR lɑL tʃɥɛH̃ -miL dzɨL 2SG;M brother also see;3-NMLZ COP ‘(Regarding this), those who saw (it) included your elder brother too.’ [Said after the matter becomes the topic of discussion.]



When the focus of the construction is intended to be a complement, its domain embraces the entire clause, which can be of considerable length and/or complexity, e.g.:




Focus domain on the complement clause a dzõLbɑH l̥ ɑL=ɡeL sõHdʒeH tʃʰiF=ɡeL niL Zzonbba god=TOP Sakyamuni religion=TOP COM tʃʉLdjɛ̃H wuL kʰəL-tɑL-miH dzɨF ʃuLʃuH together Buddhist:place in out-arrive-NMLZ COP ‘The Zzonbba god, what I’m saying is: (he) comes together with Sakyamuni’s religion to the Buddhist area.’ [Said after the question in (12.10b).] b

ʃjɛ̃H=ɡõH tʰɜL-dzuL dzwɜjF=ɡeL=boL pickaxe=TOP=FRM iron=INS TLC-make ɡəL-tsɑwH-miH dzɨL out-hit-NMLZ COP ‘The pickaxe, what I’m saying is: (it) is made of and forged from iron.’ [Said as a recapitulation at the end of explaining what a pickaxe is.]


ɥɛ̃L toH lɑL kjɜH təH bjɜL miF=ɡeL this kind person=TOP bear than also fear kʰuL-miL dzɨL need-NMLZ COP ‘This kind of person, what I’m saying is: (he) is even more terrible than a bear.’ [Said at the end of a story in which a friend abandons his friend when running away from a bear.]

The sentence in (12.12a) contains an expanded focus domain. While the domain in the next two examples is relatively short, their complement is syntactically more complex. A double-verb predicate occurs in (12.12b), whereas the complement in (12.12c) comprises a comparative construction within an embedded clause. Given the topiccomment relation built in its information structure, the focuspresupposition construction naturally highlights the comment part when its focus domain falls on the complement of the copula. The counter-presupposition function of the construction is the easiest to recognize, thanks to the attachment pattern of the general negator on the copula. The focus domain of a counter-presupposition extends over the entire complement. The topic in this function appears to be resistant to omission. Despite the presence of a negator, the



construction is not absolutely confined to the negative sentence. It can also occur in the interrogative. For instance: 12.13

ne=õH=neH kʴiL-miH mɑH=dzɨL ɑL 2SG=TOP=DSC sing-NMLZ N=COP Q ‘(Those songs), aren’t you the one who sang (them)?’

The discourse situation for the question in (12.13) is complicated. Two singers are introduced at the beginning of a story. They talk about hearing someone singing and each think that it was the other. When the first singer checks with the second singer, the second singer in turn reveals his presupposition of the other’s singing with the question in (12.13). Since the checking by the first singer already implies that he is not the one who sang those songs, it is necessary for the second singer to pose the question as a counter-presupposition, in order to acknowledge his realization of the new situation. Thus, under delicate discourse contexts, a counter-presupposition sentence may also appear as a question. 12.3. The topic-comment construction Gundel (1988: 210) defines topic as follows (emphasis added): An entity, E, is the topic of a sentence, S, iff in using S the speaker intends to increase the addressee’s knowledge about, request information about, or otherwise get the addressee to act with respect to E. A predication, P, is the comment of a sentence, S, iff in using S the speaker intends P to be assessed relative to the topic of S.

A sentence with an ‘aboutness’ relation between the topic and the predicate is here referred to as the topic-comment construction. The topic-comment construction is used pervasively in Prinmi, reflecting unmarkedness of predicate focus in information structure (cf. Lambrecht 1994: 296-306; also Primus 1993). This section aims at providing a detailed description of these constructions, from the simple one (§12.3.1) to more complex ones such as the double topic construction (§12.3.2), the chained comment construction (§12.3.3), and the embedded topic-comment construction (§12.3.4). 12.3.1. Basic structure of Topic-Comment Construction The basic structure of the topic-comment construction, illustrated in Figure 12-1, is rather simple. The position of constituents in this dia-



gram and those below represents the precise word order in which they occur in the constructions. The topic-comment construction comprises two essential parts: topic and comment. The topic need not be expressed explicitly; if it does appear explicitly, it always precedes the comment, usually at the very beginning of a simplex sentence (cf. §10.2.1). The occurrence of topic at the end of the sentence, while possible, inevitably leads to a special variant of the construction, the anti-topic construction; see (12.19) below. Figure 12-1: The basic structure of topic-comment construction

Topic-comment Construction Topic  NP  ɡe  +   Clause bo



The topic is typically marked by ɡe or bo. The latter, as noted in §6.4.1, denotes a frame-setting topic for a great variety of frames. The topic, when modified by ɡe and bo together, as in (12.14c), often gains a contrastive sense, leading to a contrastive aboutness topic. 12.14 Encoding of the topic in the topic-comment construction a pɜLtsɨL=ɡeH pʰʴĩH (general topic) flower=TOP white ‘(Its) flowers are white.’ b

ɖʐɜHɖʐɜL jõL (frame-setting topic) tʃʰyR=boL badger=FRM bad ASR ‘Badgers, (they) are certainly harmful animals.’


tsjɛL̃ tõH to=ɑL ʂɨF=ɡeL dzɨL puL=ɡeH=boL brisket=TOP=FRM chest on=M meat=TOP COP;3 ‘As for brisket, (it) is the (part of) meat on the chest.’

Topic often appears as a noun phrase and it may contain only a single morphological word, usually with clitic(s), as seen in (12.14). Sometimes the single element can be a demonstrative if the head noun is implicit, as in (12.15a); it can also be a pronoun, as in (12.15b).



əHtəL ø=ɡeL=boR pʰɑ̃F that =TOP=DSC flee ‘That (girl), (she) escaped.’

12.15 a


təH=ɹəH tʃʰiLpjɜF dzuR mɑR=jõL ɜH=boH=boL 1SG=FRM=DSC this=PL always repair N=know.how ‘As for me, (I) just don’t know how to repair them.’

The NP topic may also define a frame for discourse settings. A locative frame can further contain a postposition. Such frame-setting topics are quite common in Prinmi proverbs. For instance: 12.16

ʒjɛ̃LbʉH beH=boL wɜLkɜjH pʰeH manure:pile at=FRM ox:shit mend L L H L L L H L m̥ə m̥əL tʃɨ pɑ mɑ be =bo ɑ de witch at=FRM granny recognize.as.relative ‘Onto the pile of manure, mend (it with) cattle dung; to the monstrous witch, call (her) granny.’ [Proverb]

Less frequently, topic may also occur as a clause. A clausal topic often receives clitic marking. In the simplest case, it may consist of no more than one verb, as in (12.17a), (12.18a) and (12.18b). 12.17


A clause serving as a topic a ɡɥɛ̃H=boH ɡɥɛH̃ jõH tall=FRM tall ASR ‘As for being tall, (the tree) is certainly tall.’ b

tjɑR kʰoLtʃʰɥeH ʃiL jõL xõLtʃʰɥeH ʃiL=boL inner:side EXT=FRM now outer:side EXT ASR ‘There being an “innerland”, certainly there exists an “outerland”.’


sjɛL̃ boR=neL djɛR̃ pʉHni=ɑL ɜL-jɛ̃L=siH=ɡeL today=M in-plow=PFV=TOP tomorrow=DSC earth dɜL-muR TLC-compact ‘(They) plowed one day (but) the soil had become solid (again) the next day.’

A conditional clause serving as a topic a boR pʰjɛ̃R=boL xɜHkiH tʰɜL-ʃɨL DSC flee=FRM where TLC-go ‘Well, (if we) run away, where (should we) go?’




mɑL=pʰjɛ̃L=boH=neL tʰɜL-l̥ iHkiL=mɑL=kɜjH N=flee=FRM=DSC TLC-extricate=N=VLT ‘(If you) don’t flee, (you) won’t extricate (yourself from the flood).’


tʰɜL-pjɑH lɑH neR dəL-pʰʴɜR=mɑL=kɜjH loH work TLC-work also 2SG CLC-meet=N=VLT ‘Even (if you) work, you won’t be rewarded.’

The pragmatic function of a clausal topic is to introduce a suitable discourse setting for the comment that follows. As such, it is typically encoded as a frame-setting topic. Prinmi has no conditional conjunction, and the only means to express a conditional clause is through the scene-setting topic (cf. discussion in Haiman 1978). The conditional clause, exemplified in (12.18), is typically marked by bo, unless other words with a strong pragmatic meaning such as the contrastive adverb lɑ ‘also’ imbue the clause with a conditional reading, as is the case in (12.18c). Gundel’s approach to topic and comment does not stipulate the order between the two parts in the information structure. The natural occurring sequence between the two is: the topic first and then the comment. However, it is not impossible to have the comment rendered in front of the topic. In such cases, the anti-topic construction emerges, with the topic indicating an afterthought.3 Syntactically the antitopic can only be a noun phrase, not a clause, e.g.: 12.19

təLboH tɜH-kjɜH=nõL sõLpɜjLkɥɛ̃H=ɡeL well up-fear=DUR three:brothers=TOP ‘Well, (they) get frightened, the three brothers.’ 12.3.2. Double Topic Construction

The double topic construction consists of three parts: a frame-setting topic, a topic and a comment. The comment holds aboutness relation with the second topic, but not with the first one. The double topic construction can be considered a complex structure derived from the topic-comment construction. The structure of this construction is depicted as follows:


Afterthought as a remedial strategy in discourse is found in many spoken languages. For example, it is extremely common in Cantonese, as discussed in Ding & Féry (2014).



Figure 12-2: The structure of double topic construction

Double Topic Construction Frame topic


 NP    Clause




As indicated in Figure 12-2, the frame-setting topic can be either a noun phrase or a clause, but the aboutness topic must be a noun phrase and it is either marked by ɡe or left unmarked morphosyntactically. The frame is often signified using the clitic bo, as in (12.20a), but this is not obligatory, as can be seen in (12.20b). In the examples below, the frame-setting topic is rendered as bold, the aboutness topic italic, and the comment placed in brackets. 12.20 a

ʃɥeH=boL eHleL=ɡeL=boL [ əHdʒeL ɡʉLdɑHbʉF dʒeL night=FRM child=TOP=DSC there stone:pile at L H L ɖʐo ɖʐo =ɹju ] run=IPFV ‘At night, as for the child, (he) was jogging by the mound there.’ [elicited by pictures]


nõR=mɑR=dzɨL ɣoLtyL ɡəL-xĩH=neL miF=ɡeL DSC=N=COP wart out-grow=DSC person=TOP H L L L ɡə -tʃʰjõ ] [ nɜ -ɹĩ down-suffer out-appear ‘(If) not, bad things are going to happen to the person with warts.’

As temporal information is crucial to discourse settings, the temporal frame seen in (12.20a) is extremely common. The short clause in (12.20b) provides a conditional frame for the topic which is modified with a relative clause. The label ‘double topic’ does not imply any restriction on the number of pragmatic topics. With complex information structure, the following double topic construction contains a total of four pragmatic



topics — two frame-setting topics at the beginning and two aboutness topics in the middle: 12.21

pʰʴĩHmiH=ɹəL wuLʃiLtʃʰɥaH ʈʂʰɨL kʰeL=boL Pumi=PL New.Year:pig slaughter time=FRM H L H tɜ kju tɜ kɜL njɛ̃F=ɹəL [ niL ʈʂʰɨH ] one:year one:family few=PL two slaughter H H F L [ wɜ ʈʂʰɨ ] ʒɨ =ɹə many=PL five slaughter ‘When the Pǔmǐ slaughter New Year pigs, every year every household, for a small number, two are slaughtered, and for a large number, five are slaughtered.’

The sentence starts with a temporal frame for the event and a distributional frame for the frequency and agent. The next two topics are associated with two comments respectively, forming a pair of chained clauses in contrast. 12.3.3. Chained Comment Construction Clause-chaining sentences often see a single topic followed by several comments one after another in a series of coordinate clauses. This may be termed the ‘chained comment construction’. The basic information structure of this construction is analyzed as follows: Figure 12-3: The structure of chained comment construction

Chained Comment Construction Topic +

Comment1 +

Comment2 +


The topic constituent in the chained comment construction is explicitly expressed once and often receives some morphosyntactic marking. For instance: 12.22 a

lʉHbõL=ɡeL [ sjɛL̃ bõH tɜHtsʰõL ] [ bĩH ] China.fir=TOP tree one:kind radially.thick [ lɜLljɛR̃ ɡɥɛH̃ ] very tall ‘The China fir is a kind of tree, radially thick, and very tall.’




sʉL=ɡeH [ ɹəL=boL ɣɑ̃LkuHkuL ] fruit=TOP first=DSC yellow:IDE L F [ dɜ -m̥jɛ̃ =ɹɑL kʰeL tɜH-neL=nõL ] CLC-ripe= IPFV;M time up-red=DUR ‘As for the fruit, (it) is yellow at first, (but) turns red when ripe.’


[ ɹõHdjɛH̃ =boL lɑL djõF jõL ] l̥ ɑLsjɛ̃H=ɡeL=boL lhasian=TOP=DSP lowland=FRM also EXT.IAN ASR H H L L djõH jõL ] [ kõ djɛ ̃ =bo lɑ highland=FRM also EXT.IAN ASR ‘The Lhasian tree, (it) is found in the low land (as well as) in the high land.’

Note that the two comments in (12.22c) share parallel structures, while this is not the case in (12.22a) and (12.22b). What is essential to the construction is continuity of information supplied by the chained comments about the topic which appears at the beginning of the sentence. A chained clause may also contain a frame-setting topic, e.g. the temporal frame in (12.22b) and the locative frame in (12.22c). At the end of the Deluge Myth, the chained comment construction given in (12.23) is used in an extremely complex fashion. The two implicit topics of the chained comments do not share the same referent; instead, the two are related to each other in terms of whole and part. Under the factual frame about human fingers and toes, the chained comments relate to different referents situated in the initial clause: the first comment is about miF ‘man’ and the second one about kʰʴəLl̥ ɑHtsɨL ʒjɑLl̥ ɑHtsɨL ‘toe and finger’. 12.23

pɨLniHsɑ̃H miFi=ɡjɑL kʰʴəLl̥ ɑHtsɨL ʒjɑLl̥ ɑHtsɨLk finger nowadays person=M toe L R H L L L tɜ tsɨ mɑ =ɹ̥ɑ̃ =ɡe =bo øi [ ʒjɑLn̥jɛR̃ one:CLF N=long=TOP=FRM ancient L H H L L L H tʃɨ dĩ di -mi =ɡõ ɡə -dzɨ ] øk [ pʰɜLtsʰõL pʰɜHɹ̥ ɑ̃H flood:cast-er=INS out-eat half:short half:long L L L L L L tʰɜ -ɖʐõ kɥɛ =si dzɨ ] tʃɨ CLC-become let;3=PFV COP QUOT ‘As for (the reason that) nowadays man’s fingers and toes are not equally long, it’s said that in ancient times (man) was swallowed by the flood-raiser, and (the fingers and toes) became different lengths.’



12.3.4. Embedded Topic-Comment Construction It is possible to embed an aboutness relation within another topiccomment construction, giving rise to an embedded topic-comment construction. A necessary condition for such embedding is the delicate semantico-pragmatic relation which allows an entire embedded topiccomment to serve as the comment to the initial noun phrase in a sentence. This is illustrated in Figure 12-4. Figure 12-4: The structure of embedded topic-comment construction

Embedded Topic-Comment Construction Topic

Comment about


Comment about

The embedded topic-comment construction proposed here has been labeled as ‘double nominative construction’ (Teng 1974), ‘double subject construction’ (Li & Thompson 1976), ‘pragmatic incorporation’ (LaPolla 1995), and so forth in the study of Mandarin Chinese. 4 Consider the following Prinmi examples: 12.24 a



[ píqì [ ɜH kʰɥɛLpoH əLtʃʰjɛH̃ təH miF=ɡeL Eqian this person=TOP temper 1SG heart:below mɑL=tʃʰjõR]] N=open ‘Eqian this guy, (his) temper I don’t like.’ sõL=ɡeL ɡɑ̃F to=ɑL tsɑHɡjõH bed on=M dried.pork three=TOP [ ɹ̥ ɑ̃HtsɑH=ɡeL [ tiL məLdzɑL sõLɹjuH kɥeL]] length=TOP one every three:cubit EXT.IN ‘The three pieces of whole-body preserved pork on the bed, (the) length of each is three cubits long.’

However, these studies hardly discuss topic-comment embedding. For a different motivation for such complex information structure, see the pragmatic analysis of the Mandarin resultative construction in Ding (2007c).



The construal of the initial noun phrase of the sentences in (12.24) as the topic is straightforward, as it is clearly what the rest of the sentence is about. A careful look at the comment shows that it can itself be divided into two parts: with the first word (rendered as italic within the brackets) being the topic and the remainder (placed within a second pair of brackets) providing information about this embedded topic. As such, each of the sentences contains two instances of topiccomment relations, one within another. The fundamental distinction between the embedded topic-comment construction and the double topic construction rests on whether the initial topic is construable as being what the rest of the sentence is about. If and only if this additional aboutness relation holds, the sentence is analyzed as embedded topic-comment construction. As in other types of topic-comment construction described earlier, the topics in an embedded topic-comment construction can be marked morphosyntactically in various manners. Nil-marking on both of the topics has not been observed, however. In regard to syntactic constituent, a clausal topic is not permitted in an embedded topic-comment construction. This is due to the requirement of semantic relation between the two topics, which can only be met with NP topics. When a topic-comment relation is embedded within another comment, the two topics are semantically related to each other, where the outer topic represents an entity and the embedded topic is a property of this entity, as seen in (12.24). This semantic relation of whole-andpart often involves a body-part term. For instance: 12.25 a


təH tʃʰyL=ɡeH this badger=TOP [ əLdʒjɑH bəLtsɨR there piglet ‘The badger, (its) piglet.’

[ ɡjõHm̥jɛ̃H=boL [ ʈʂɜH mɑR=jõL] body=DSC big N=ASR H L L L pʰɑ lɑ ə tə tɜjL]] half also that big body is not big, about as big as half a

jõLdzɨHpɑLpɑL [ zʉL=ɡeH [ ɖʐɜL=nõL]] [ʈʂoL=ɡeH [dziL]] bat face=TOP bad=DUR organ=TOP perfect ‘The bat, (its) face is ugly; (yet its) organs are perfect.’ [Proverb]

The examples in (12.25), each comprising two clauses, are structurally more complex than those in (12.24). As the number of clauses in the sentence increases, more topic-comment relations may be embodied.



The complex information structures of the sentences in (12.25) are depicted in Figure 12-5. Figure 12-5: Illustrated analysis of embedded topic-comment constructions

Embedded Topic-Comment (in 12.25a) Topic1 + Comment Topic2

Comment1 +


Embedded Topic-Comment (in 12.25b) Topic1 +


Topic2 Comment


Comment2 Topic3 Comment

As shown above, both sentences in (12.25) involve embedding of topic-comment within another comment. All topics in the sentences take an explicit form and receive varied morphosyntactic markings. Notice that the third topic in (12.25b) holds with the initial topic a part-and-whole relation parallel to that between the second and the initial topics. However, the whole-and-part relation, or more generally the set-and-member relation, does not necessarily refer to the initial topic as the base in connection with an embedded topic-comment. In delicate information structure, it is possible for a third topic to hold a member-set relation to the second topic which, in turn, has a memberset relation to the initial topic. Such a case is found in (12.26), taken from an expository text: 12.26

təH sjɛ̃L tɜHtsʰõL [ sɜLpɑH=ɡeH=boL=neL [ ɹwɜLɹwɜR]] this wood one:kind leaf=TOP=FRM=DSC round dzɨL [ kʰʉL=ɡeH [ ljɑLljɑHtiL tʃʰjɑH]] əHniL top=TOP a.bit sharp like.that COP;3 ‘This kind of tree, (its) leaf is of round shape, a bit sharp at the top (of the leaf), like that.’



While a set-member relation exists between sjɛ̃R ‘tree’ (the initial topic) and sɜLpɑH ‘leaf’ (the second topic), the third topic kʰʉR ‘top’ holds a direct semantic relation to the second topic rather than the first. Agent-and-activity is another feasible realization of the set-member relation for the embedded topic-comment construction. Coding an animate noun as the initial topic and theme-verb compounds denoting general activities as the inner topics, a clause-chaining sentence can accommodate topic-comment embedding within the comments. For example, each of the three chained comments in (12.27) consists of an embedded topic-comment relation. All the inner topics are directly related to the outer topic in terms of activity-and-agent. 12.27

ʈʂɜH to=ɑL ɖʐɜLɖʐɜH tʃʰɨH miL=boL earth on=M bad do person=FRM H H L L H [ tsi lɜj =bo [ wu ɖʐɑ kʰəL-tʃʰjõL jõL]] seed:sow=FRM harvest:poor out-appear ASR L H L [ ɡĩ ʃɑw =bo [ ɖʐõR mɑR=jõL]] livestock:raise=FRM smooth N=ASR lɑH [ kuHdziH ɹiR mɑR=jõL]] [ tsʰõLtʃʰɨH business:do also profit get N=ASR ‘Those who behave badly on earth, for cultivation, a poor harvest will come; for livestock-raising, (it) won’t be smooth; for doing business, profit won’t be made.’

The set-member relation between topics is essential to topiccomment embedding. The semantic relation is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition. It is possible for sentences with expressions in such semantic relation to occur without topic-comment embedding. Such cases are found in the following: 12.28 a

tsɑHɡjõH dʒiL=ɹɑH l̥ wɜjHtsʰõH=ɡeL=boL dried.pork saturate=IPFV;M spice=TOP=FRM kɨH ɹəLʈʂɨR ʐəHtsʰõL dzɨL] [ tsʰiR seR salt pepper garlic liquor four:kind COP;3 ‘The spices for seasoning the whole-body preserved pork, (they) are salt, pepper, garlic, (and) liquor — four kinds.’




toH nõH ʐəLkʰʴəL dʒjõH kɑLsuH dʒjõH mjɑF dʒjõL=ɹəL up DSC four:foot hole anus hole eye hole=PL H L H L R L [ tɜ dʒjõ tɜ dʒjõ ɖʐi nɜ -tsʰɑH tʃʰɨH] one:hole one:hole sew down-complete do ‘Above (the slaughtered pig), the four foot cavities, anus cavity, (and) eye cavities, sew (them) up one after another.’

While a topic-comment relation can be observed in (12.28) and the topic holds a set-member relation with the following noun phrase, neither of the sentences can be analyzed as an embedded topiccomment construction. This is because the nouns representing members of the set within the comment part simply receive no further comment.


SAMPLE TEXTS This appendix contains two sample texts: a detailed narrative about the Fortune God and a short fable story. The texts are presented in a slightly different format from examples seen in the book chapters. General punctuations have been added in Prinmi sentences, and the phonological word in the texts is indicated with ‘∧’ (domain merger, if any, is ignored); the boundary of intonation units is marked by ‘|’. Intonation boundary may also be signaled by the comma in sentences; in this case, the ‘|’ sign is not employed. To facilitate an easy reading of the English translation, it is placed side by side with the Prinmi text.

Text I: The Fortune God Zzonbbaf Lha The following text is one of the best narratives recorded from the main consultant. It is the only text that has undergone several editions after it was transcribed. The text is divided into twelve paragraphs. Paragraph I dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL | pʰʴĩHmiHbɑL ∧ tɜLtʃĩH Zzonbba:god=TOP Prinmi:family one:house tɜHkɜL=ɡjaL ∧ xeHtõH=ɡjaL ∧ ɡãF ɡəL-tiL jõL. one:home=M altar=M top out-put ASR

Every Prinmi household places the Zzonbba god on top of the altar.

dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL ∧ bãRpoL, mĩLtoF ∧ peHmɑH=ɡjaL The Zzonbba god has lotus leaves on the Zzonbba:god=TOP bottom lotus flower=M L H H F lower part. ∧ sɜ pɑ =ɡe ∧ djõ . leaf=TOP EXT.IAN sɜLpɑH=ɡjaH ∧ toH=boL | mĩLtoF on=FRM lotus leaf=M L R ɡə -xĩ . out-grow

pɜLtsɨL=ɡeL ∧ flower=TOP

Above the leaves lotus flowers grow.


mĩLtoH ∧ sɜLpɑH=ɡjaH ∧ ɡõH, lotus leaf=M inside buLlɑH tɜH-kʰɥɛ̃L. many up-stick;3

jiLtsʉF=ɹəL ∧ conch:son=PL


Inside the lotus leaves many mini conches stick up.

jiLtsʉF=ɡjaL ∧ lwɑH tɜHtʃeL=ɡeL | mɜLl̥ jɜL conch:son=M out;M one:circle=TOP flame djõF. EXT.IAN

Outside the mini conches a flame encircles them.

mɜLneH=ɹəH ∧ kɜHkɑL=ɹjuL. fire:red=PL bite=IPFV

The fire is blazing.

jiLtsʉF conch:son nɜLɹəLbuH nearebbu


mãH. name

mɜLl̥ jɜL=ɡeH | dəHdjõH ∧ flame=TOP collectively

The mini conches and the fire are collectively referred to as nearebbu.

jiLtsʉF=ɡjaL ∧ bãRpoL | kʰɑHtɑH ∧ tɜLteR ʃjɛ̃L ∧ khata one:CLF FOC conch:son=M bottom tʰɜL-pɑL=siL. dəL-ʈʂʰɨR ∧ dəL-ɹ̥ ʉR, tɜHkãL CLC-knot;3 CLC-wrap a:bundle TLC-do=PFV

A piece of khata wraps around the lower part of the conches to make them into a bundle.

jiLtsʉF=ɡeL=boL | jiLpʰʴĩH, jiLneH, conch:son=TOP=DSC conch:white conch:red jiLniH, tʃjaLtʃiH ∧ jiLɣãH, conch:yellow conch:blue color ʐəFtsʰõL=ɡõL tʰɜL-dzuL=miL dzɨL. four:kind=INS TLC-make=NMLZ COP

The mini conches are four kinds of colors: white, red, yellow, and blue.

ʐɨLtʃʰɥeH beL ∧ mɜLtsɨL tiH ɜL-ɖʐʉL, right:side at cat one in-write jiLtsʉF ɹ̥ aLtʃʰɨL. conch:son laugh:do

On the right a cat is drawn, playing with the mini conches.

wɜjLtʃʰɥeH beL ∧ sãLdɑH ∧ ʃɨHbɑH ∧ left:side at Sadda dragon:family neH, njaR, pʰɜFtɜjL=ɡeL ∧ ɜL-ɖʐʉL=siH, parasol=TOP in-write=PFV red black sõLtsʰõH ∧ tʃjaLtʃiH=ɡõH ɜL-dzuL=siL. ɣãR, yellow three:kind color=INS in-make=PFV

On the left the parasol of the Saddas (Dragon King) is drawn using three colors: red, black, and yellow.

nɜLɹəLbuH=ɡjaH ∧ kʰʉR toL head on nearebbu=M

| bɨH, sun

l̥ iH, moon

At the top of the nearebbu there are a sun, a moon, a white



dĩHpʰʴĩH, dəLɹɥɛH̃ ∧ djõF. cloud:white fog EXT.IAN

cloud, and fog.

ʐɨLtʃʰɥeH right:side

The moon is drawn on the right and the sun on the left.

l̥ iH, wɜjLtʃʰɥeH bɨH ∧ ɜL-ɖʐʉL=siH. moon left:side sun in-write=PFV

Paragraph II dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡjaL ∧ təH ∧ mãH=ɡeH | this name=TOP Zzonbba:god=M xɜLkiF dəL-tʃʰjõL=siL? where CLC-appear=PFV

Where did the name of the Zzonbba god come from?

dzõLbɑH=ɡeL | dʒjaLkɑHɹəLbɑL ∧ mãH dzɨH nõL, Zzonbba=TOP Indian name COP or kɑLmiH mãH dzɨL, xãLjãR ∧ mɑL=ʃiR. Tibetan name COP knowledge N=exist

It’s unclear whether the name Zzonbba is from an Indian language or from Tibetan.

l̥ ɑF=ɡeL | kɑLmiHl̥ eH dzɨL | xeH tʃɨL=ɹjuL. god=TOP Tibetan:language COP god say=IPFV

Lha is Tibetan; it means ‘god’.

dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑF=ɡeL | dzõLbɑH=ɡjaL ∧ xeH tʃɨL=ɹjuL. Zzonbba lha means Zzonbba:god=TOP Zzonbba=M god say=IPFV the god of Zzonbba.

Paragraph III dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL | xɜLkiF ∧ dəL-tʃʰjõF=siL dzɨL? Zzonbba:god=TOP where CLC-appear=PFV COP

Where was the Zzonbba god from?

dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL | sõHdʒeH ∧ tʃʰiF=ɡeL niL ∧ Zzonbba:god=TOP Shakya faith=TOP COM wuL ∧ ɡəL-tɑH-miH dzɨL. ʃuLʃuH | tʃʉLdjɛH̃ together buddhist:land in out-reach-NMLZ COP

The Zzonbba god came to buddhist places together with the Shakya faith.

dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL | tʃʰiF=ɡjaL ∧ dʒiLdʒiR wuL ∧ Zzonbba:god=TOP faith=M book in L H F L F H L H H L kʰe , dʒja kɑ ∧ kjɜ ti ∧ ɑ lɑ jɑ ∧ tʃɨ =ɹɑ say=M time Jjiaga Giedi Alaja L H L L L tʃɨ =ɹju . dzõ bɑ l̥ ɑ Zzonbba:god say=IPFV

The Zzonbba god, in buddhist texts, is explained as follows: Jjiaga Giedi Alaja Zzonbba god.

dʒjaLkɑFɹəL=ɡeL | niHɹəL=njaL ∧ kʰɑL Jjiaga;PL=TOP 3PL=DSC state

tɜHkɜL dzɨL. The Jjiaga people, one:CLF COP they have their own country.


dʒjaLkɑHɹəLbɑL ∧ djɛR̃ wuL ∧ kjɜHtiL tʃɨL=ɹɑL ∧ Jjiaga;PL:family land in Giedi say=IPFV;M əHtəL ∧ djɛL̃ bɑH wuL=nõL, təH ∧ dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL ∧ there place in=DSC this Zzonbba:god xeH=ɡeH | kʰɥəF wuL=nõL ∧ tɜH-kʰɥɛ̃H ∧ lake in=DSC up-stick;3 god=TOP L F L ɡə -ʒɨ =si . out-come=PFV Paragraph IV ʒjɛL̃ n̥jɛR̃ | məF=ɡeL dəL-ɹ̥ əL, djɛ̃L=ɡeH ∧ ancient sky=TOP CLC-emerge earth=TOP kʰeF, məF niL ∧ djɛ̃L=ɡeH | dəL-muL=ɹɑH CLC-compact=IPFV;M time sky COM earth=TOP tjõRtiR ∧ mɑL=wɜL nɜH-pɑL, ʈʂaF njaL ∧ each.other N=mind down-do earth dark njaLbaHbaL. dark:as.pitch


At a place called Giedi in the land of the Jjiaga people, this Zzonbba god ascended from a lake there.

In ancient times when the heaven and earth were created, the two minded their own business; it was dark as pitch on earth.

djɛR̃ toL ∧ koHkɥəL sɜjLkɥəH=ɹəL | bɨHtsjɛH̃ ∧ sun:ray earth on living.being=PL L H F L H R mɑ =tʃjɛ̃ , mə ∧ mɑ =tʃjɛ̃ , djɛ̃ ∧ mɑL=tʃjɛ̃H, N=see sky N=see earth N=see njaLkõHkõL, tʃjɛ̃H-ɹəH ∧ mɑL=ʃiL tʰɜH-ɖʐõL. dark:as.pitch see-NMLZ N=exist TLC-become

All living beings on earth saw no sunray, no heaven, no earth; (they were) unable to see anything, being in total darkness.

əHkʰeL | dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL ∧ dəL-ɹ̥ əF, məF toL ∧ that:time Zzonbba:god=TOP CLC-emerge sky on tɜH-ʃɨL, məF twɑL ∧ xeH=ɡeH niL ∧ nɜL-ɡwɑLɡwɑR. up-go sky on;M god=TOP COM down-consult

Then the Zzonbba god arose and went up to heaven to consult the god there.

Paragraph V kɑLwuH ∧ ʈʂaF toL ∧ koHkɥeL sɜjLkɥeF=ɹəL | below earth on air:EXT.IN blood:EXT.IN=PL njaLkõHkõL, dzõF ∧ mɑL=tʰõL tʰɜH-ɖʐõL=siL. dark:as.pitch sit N=succeed TLC-become=PFV

‘The living beings on earth below, in complete darkness, are unable to live.

neR ∧ məF=ɡõL=njɛ̃L | təHɹəH beL ∧ kʰyLpuH 2SG heaven=INS=DSC these at pity:do H kʰu . must

You, the heavenly god, must show them mercy.’

322 məF=ɡõL=njɛL̃ | heaven=INS=DSC l̥ iH ɜH-tyL. moon in-put;3 təHkʰeH nõL | this:time from dəH-dʒɥɛH̃ CLC-brighten;3


məF toL sky on

bɨH ɜH-tyL, sun in-put;3

ʈʂaF toL ∧ bɨHtsjɛH̃ ∧ ɡəL-ʒɨF, earth on sun:ray out-come kɥɛL. let;3

The heavenly god placed the sun and the moon in the sky. From then on, the sun’s rays shone and brightened earth.

təLɡjaR ∧ ɖʐɜF=ɡeL=boL | djɛR̃ wuL ∧ this: M after=TOP=DSC earth in H H L bɨ tsjɛ̃ =ɡõ ∧ nɜL-tsɜF. sun:ray=INS down-heat

Afterwards sunlight warmed the earth.

tsiHkɥeH kʰõLkɥeF=ɹəL | dzõF ∧ mɑL=tʰõL life:EXT.IN life:EXT.IN=PL sit N=succeed H L L L H L tʰɜ -ɖʐõ kʰe =bo , tə ∧ dzõ bɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡõL ∧ TLC-become time=FRM this Zzonbba:god=INS məF twɑL ∧ xeH=ɡeH=boL | nɜL-tɥɛLtyR. god=TOP=DSC down-discuss sky on;M

When living beings were unable to stay alive, this Zzonbba god discussed the matter with the heavenly god.

Paragraph VI tsɜR ∧ tʰɜL-ʐoL=siH, ʈʂʰɑLlɑL tiH tʰɜH-puL mɑL. ‘It’s too hot. Let’s do hot TLC-exceed=PFV idea one TLC-do;2 ATT something about it. Don’t let it be so hot.’

tsɜR ∧ tjaF=keL. hot DS.N=let nõRnõLtsʰɜjL | məF toL then sky on təH ∧ tsɜL=ɡeH ∧ this hot=TOP tʰɜL-kyLtiH kɥɛH. TLC-distinct let;3

ɡyH rain

nɜH-tʃʰjõL. down-appear

bõL=ɡeH | məF=ɡõL=njɛ̃L ∧ cold=TOP heaven=INS=DSC

təLboR | ɡyH nɜH-tʃʰjõL=ɹɑL kʰeL, ʈʂaF then rain down-appear=IPFV;M time earth L sɜHpɑH, ɡjaLniH, to ∧ sɜLbõL on woody.plant leaf herb H L H L L H H kɥɛL. tsʰõ tsʰõ bɑ bɑ =ɡe | tɜ -xĩ up-grow let;3 all.kinds=TOP

Then rain fell down from the sky. Heat and cold were separated by Heaven.

The rain causes trees and grasses, all sorts of plants, to grow on earth.


mʉLkʉR sɥɛH̃ tʃjɛH̃ lɑL | animal also tʰɜL-ɖʐõL. TLC-become

ʈʂaF twɑL ∧ məHdəL earth on;M all kʰõLkɥeF=ɹəL tsiHkɥeH life:EXT.IN air:EXT.IN=PL dəL-pʰʴəL, tʰjɛ̃L-jiH drink-NMLZ CLC-meet dəL-pʰʴəL. CLC-meet

Also animals were able to feed on grasses.

ɡjõL dzɨH-jiH grass eat-NMLZ

miHɹəL lɑL ∧ tsiHlɜjH, people also seed:sow ʃiL, tʰjɛL̃ -jiH ʃiL exist drink-NMLZ exist

tʃʰjuLbjɜF, crop:cultivate tʰɜL-ɖʐõL. TLC-become


And humans were dzɨH-jiH eat-NMLZ able to sustain their life by farming.

koHkɥeL sɜjLkɥeF, air:EXT.IN blood:EXT.IN | dzɨH-jiH dəL-pʰʴəL, eat-NMLZ CLC-meet ɡwɜjL-jiH ∧ tʃeL-jiH cover-NMLZ wear-NMLZ ∧

All living beings on earth found things to eat, to drink, to dress, and to wear.

təLdʒeH nõL ∧ ʈʂaF twɑL ∧ miHɹəL, since.then earth on;M people L R H H L F L L mʉ kʉ sɥɛ̃ tʃjɛ̃ =ɹə , bu ɡe dʒĩ dɑL=ɹəH | insect=PL animal=PL tsiH dəH-ɹiL, kʰõL dəH-ɹiL; tjɛH̃ dəH-ɹiL, life CLC-find life CLC-find wealth CLC-find dəH-ɹiL. ɹoL growth CLC-find

Since then, humans, animals, and insects have secured their life on earth and have proliferated.

dʒɨR wuL ∧ ʈʂʰaLʃiH ∧ society in tradition:new ɡəL-tʃʰjõL. out-appear

A new era came about in society.

ʒiH ʃiH month:new

Paragraph VII dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡjaL ∧ ɹəFtʃʰɥeL | põLbɑH tɜHpʰʴəL ∧ one:pair Zzonbba:god=M front:side vase L H L H L L ʐɨ tʃʰɥe ∧ wɜj tʃʰɥe ɡə -ty . right:side left:side out-put;3

In front of the Zzonbba god, a pair of vases are placed: one on the right and the other on the left.

ɡuLʒĩH ∧ middle dʒeL ʂõH tea clean

Between (the vases) incense and oil lamps are alight; clean tea, liquor and water are placed there.

puF ∧ incense ɡəL-tiL, out-put

tɜL-n̥ʉH, kjõHjõH ɜL-n̥ʉL; up-light oil.lamp up-light ɹəLʈʂɨL ʂõH ɡəL-tiL, liquor clean out-put



tʃɨH ʂõH ɡəL-tiL. water clean out-put wuL tiH tɜH-ʃiL, ʃjaL tiH tɜH-ʃiL, year one up-new holiday one up-new dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL beL ∧ tʃʰeLdeLpʰɜR, ʐõLlɜjH, Zzonbba:god at offer.food blessing:invite l̥ oLtsawH. forehead:hit

At New Year celebrations and other festivals, we offer food to the Zzonbba god, ask for blessings, and kowtow.

tɜLtʃĩH tɜHkɜL=ɡjaL ∧ tʃĩH wɑL ∧ one:house one:home=M house in;M xeH=ɡeH=boL | dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL dzɨL. Zzonbba:god=TOP COP god=TOP=DSC

The family god in every household is the Zzonbba god.

Paragraph VIII tʃʰiFtʃʰɨL-miL=ɹəL | dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL ∧ faith:do-NMLZ=PL Zzonbba:god=TOP meHtjaL wɑLʒjaL dzɨL? tsɑHpuL=ɡeL ∧ important:do=TOP what reason COP

Why do religious practitioners hold the Zzonbba god in high regard?

dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL=boL | məF=ɡeL niL ∧ Zzonbba:god=TOP=DSC sky=TOP COM djɛL̃ =ɡjaH wɑL ∧ tɜH-ʃɨL nɜL-ɡiL ∧ earth=M in;M up-go down-return dzɨL. pʰʴɜHʐɑH-miL note:carry-NMLZ COP dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL | tɜHn̥iL ∧ məF toL Zzonbba:god=TOP one:day sky on jõL. dʒeL diL level back.and.forth ASR ʈʂaF twɑL ∧ tʃʰyH, ɖʐõR, earth on;M good become L H L H pʰʴɜ ∧ tɜH-ʐɑH, nɜ -tsʰɑ =ɹɑ disaster=PL;M note up-carry xeH beL ∧ tʰɜL-xĩH jõH. god at TLC-tell ASR

The Zzonbba god is the messenger traveling between heaven and earth.

kɜHsõH thirteen

nɜH-ɹĩL ∧ suffer məF twɑL ∧ sky on;M

məF twɑL ∧ xeHbɑH | tʃʰyH, ɖʐõL=ɡjaH ∧ sky on;M god:family good become=M

Every day the Zzonbba god goes to the heaven on the thirteenth level and returns. News from earth — good news, news of hope, suffering, or disaster, he tells it all to the heavenly god. Good and constructive ideas from the heavenly god are


ʈʂʰɑLlɑL pʰʴɜH=ɡeH lɑL ∧ nɜL-jɜR | idea note=TOP also down-fetch keH jõH. ʈʂaF toL ∧ nɜL-tɑL earth on down-reach let ASR Paragraph IX mɜHkɜHtʃʰɨL-miL=ɹəL | tʃĩH wɑL ∧ nõLsjɛH̃ household:do-NMLZ=PL house in;M morning L L L L H H L L L H H mə nã ∧ kɜ tɜ mɑ lɑ tʃʰɨ , de ɹe tɑ tõ kʰeL, evening chat do speech:talk time tʃʰyH tɑL ɡəL-tʃɨL, zoH tɑL ɡəL-tʃɨL, ɖʐõR good only out-say nice only out-say become tɑL ∧ ɡəL-tʃɨL kʰuH, jɜHɡawH lɑL ∧ tʃʰyH only out-say must behavior also good H L L tʰɜ -tʃʰɨ kʰu . TLC-do must


brought back down to earth.

In the morning or evening when householders chat or talk at home, they must speak only of good, nice, and promising matters; they must also behave well.

təLboR | məF twɑL ∧ xeH dʒeL lɑL ∧ tʃʰyHpʰʴɜH ∧ god at also good:note then sky on;M H H L jõ . tɜ -tɑ up-reach ASR

In this way, the news that reaches the heavenly god will also be good.

tʃĩH wɑL ∧ kɥɛH̃ tʃɨH ∧ ɖʐɜLɖʐɜH ɡəH-tʃɨL, house in;M word bad out-say L H H L L H H L kʰeL, mɑ ɡja ɡə -tʃɨ , mɑ ʂõ ɡə -tʃɨ ugly out-say dirty out-say time ɖʐɜLɖʐɜH ∧ jɜHɡawH tʰɜL-tʃʰɨL, məF twɑL ∧ bad behavior TLC-do sky on;M xeH dʒeL lɑL ∧ ɖʐɜLpʰʴɜH ∧ tɜH-tɑH jõL. god at also bad:note up-reach ASR

At home, if people say bad, ugly, or dirty words, and behave poorly, the news that reaches the heavenly god will also be bad.

məF twɑL ∧ xeH=ɡeH | ʈʂaF twɑL ∧ tʃʰyHpʰʴɜH ∧ sky on;M god=TOP earth on;M good:note L L H L tʰɜ -nu kʰe =bo , kʰɥɛHɡawH jõL; ɖʐɜLpʰʴɜH ∧ TLC-hear time=FRM heart:glad ASR bad:note tʰɜL-nuL kʰeH=boL, kʰɥɛHdʒeH jõL. TLC-hear time=FRM heart:angry ASR

If the heavenly god hears good news from earth, he will be happy; if he hears bad news, he will be angry.

ʈʂaF twɑL ∧ tʃʰyHtʃʰɨL-miL beL=boL ∧ earth on;M good:do-NMLZ at=FRM L L H ke jõH; ɖʐɜ LtʃʰɨH-miL beL=boL ∧ ɜ -pʰjɛ̃ in-bless let ASR bad:do-NMLZ at=FRM

He will cause those who behave well on earth to be blessed, and those who behave badly to be



ɜL-nãF keL jõL. in-harm let ASR


Paragraph X tʃʰyHtʃʰɨH-miL=boL | tsiHlɜjH=boL | good:do-NMLZ=FRM seed:sow=FRM ɡəH-tʃʰjõL, ʂɜLjĩH ∧ ɖʐjɛ̃H=ɹõH ∧ wuLdziH harvest:good out-appear grain barn=PL;INS ɡĩLʃawH=boL | tɜH-bɜL, nɜL-ʒjuH; down-overfill livestock:raise=FRM up-develop jõH. ɡĩLtsoR lɑL ∧ nɜL-ʒjuH stable also down-overfill ASR

Those with good behavior, when they farm, (they will reap) good harvests, barns will be overflowing with grains, and stables will become crowded with livestock.

tsʰõLtʃʰɨH-miL=ɹəL=boL | kuHdziH ∧ dəL-pʰʴəF, CLC-meet business:do-NMLZ=PL=FRM profit H H L L H L ∧ nɜ -ʒjuH jõ ɣã ` ∧ dʒɥɛ po =ɹõ silver:gold treasure.box=PL;INS down-overfill jõH. asr

Busineness men will make profits and (their) treasure boxes will be overflowing with gold and silver.

tʃĩH wuL=boL | miF=ɡeL ∧ tɜH-ɹoH jõL; house in=FRM person=TOP up-thrive ASR H H L dzɨ tʰjɛ̃ ∧ tʰɜ -mɑH=mãL jõL; ɡwɜjL-jiH ∧ eat:drink TLC-N=exhaust ASR cover-NMLZ buHɖʐuL jõL; tɜH-tjɛ̃H ∧ tɜH-ɹoH jõL. tʃeL-jiH wear-NMLZ pile ASR up-rich up-thrive ASR

Household populations will grow; food and drink will always be in supply; there will be piles of bedding and clothing; wealth will increase.

Paragraph XI ʈʂaF twɑL ∧ ɖʐɜLɖʐɜH ∧ tʃʰɨF-miL=boL | earth on;M bad do-NMLZ=FRM tsiHlɜjH=boL | wuLɖʐɑH ɡəL-tʃʰjõL jõL; seed:sow=FRM harvest:poor out-appear ASR | ɖʐõR ∧ mɑR=jõL; ɡĩLʃawH=boL livestock:raise=FRM become N=ASR lɑL ∧ kuHdziH ∧ ɹiR ∧ mɑR=jõL. tsʰõLtʃʰɨH business:do also profit get N=ASR

Those with bad behavior on earth, when they farm, (they will reap) poor harvests, livestock will fail to thrive; and they will gain little profit from doing business.

tʃĩH wuL=boL | miF ∧ person house in=FRM njɛH̃ miH ∧ tsɜHmiL ∧ sick:person hot:person

Household populations will dwindle; sickness will befall people; food and drink will be in short

tɜH-ɹoH ∧ mɑR=jõL; up-thrive N=ASR dəL-ɹ̥ əF jõL; CLC-rise ASR



dzɨHtʰjɛH̃ ∧ mɑL=ljõH, ɡwɜjL-jiH ∧ tʃeL-jiH ∧ eat:drink N=suffice cover-NMLZ wear-NMLZ mɑL=jiR, nɜL-ɖʐɜLɖʐɜH ∧ nɜL-ʃɨH jõL. N=enough down-bad down-go ASR

supply; bedding and clothing will be meager; and things will keep getting worse.

ɖʐawR, ʈʂiH, tʰjɛH̃ , doL=ɡeH | təLbɑR ∧ tʃĩH misfortune damnation=TOP often house L L L wu tʃʰjõ jõ . in appear ASR

Misfortune and curses will haunt the household.

Paragraph XII mɜHkɜHtʃʰɨL-miL=ɹəL | household:do-NMLZ=PL õHnĩLnĩL ∧ tsɑHloL ∧ such importance

dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL ∧ Zzonbba:god=TOP ɡəL-tʃʰjõF=siL. out-appear=PFV

All householders therefore take the Zzonbba god seriously.

tɜLtʃĩH tɜHkɜL ∧ zoH=ɡeL beL ∧ one:house one:home nice=TOP at tʰɜH-tʃʰɨL, tʰɜL-sʉHdʉL, tʃʰiF=ɡeL ∧ tɜLpɑH TLC-think faith=TOP one:piece TLC-do dzõLbɑHl̥ ɑL=ɡeL ∧ kʰɥɛLpoH ∧ kɥeF tʃʰɨL kʰuL. Zzonbba:god=TOP heart:bottom EXT.IN do must

Every household must think of goodness, practise one faith, and bear the Zzonbba god in their heart.

təLboR | then wuL ∧ in

In this way, prosperity often comes to the household.

tjɛH̃ ʐõH ɹoLʐõH=ɡeL | təLbɑR ∧ tʃĩH often house prosperity=TOP dəL-ɡiL jõH. CLC-return ASR



Text II: Cuckoo and Golden Pheasant The following text was given as a bonus, when the main consultant volunteered, as opposed to by invitation, to tell a story about the cuckoo. kiHpuL=ɡeL niL ∧ ʃjõHɹɜLpuL=ɡjaL ∧ cuckoo=TOP COM golden.pheasant=M ʒjaLn̥jɛL̃ tõH=ɡeL dəL-xĩL tʃɨL=ɹjuL. story=TOP CLC-tell say=IPFV

It's said that there is a story about the cuckoo and the golden pheasant.

Paragraph I ʒjaLn̥jɛR̃ | kiHpuL=ɡjaL ∧ tsõLɡyH=ɡeH | ɡjaH=ɹəH clothes=TOP pretty=PL ancient cuckoo=M beL ∧ ɡjaH; ʃjõHɹɜLpuL=ɡjaL ∧ tsõLɡyH=ɡeH | at pretty golden.pheasant=M clothes=TOP mɑL-ɡjaH. un-pretty

Once upon a time, Cuckoo's clothing was very very pretty, but Golden Pheasant's clothing was ugly.

ʃjõHɹɜLpuL=ɡeL | tɜHn̥iLnjaL ∧ kiHpuL=ɡeL golden.pheasant=TOP day:after:day cuckoo=TOP dɜL-pʰʴɜL kʰeL=boL, kiHpuL=ɡjaL ∧ tsõLɡyH=ɡeH ∧ CLC-meet time=FRM cuckoo=M clothes=TOP pɑL=siL. ɡjaH | tʃʰɨLniH nɜL-kjaL pretty how down-envy do=PFV

Day after day, when Golden Pheasant ran into Cuckoo, how jealous he was about Cuckoo's pretty clothing.

lɑH ∧ tɜHn̥iL=boL | əHni=ɑL ∧ tsõLɡyH INT 1SG also one:day=DSC like.that=M clothes tɜHtsɨL ∧ nɜL-ɡwɜjH-jiL dzɨL pɑL.' sʉLdʉL one:CLF down-wear-NMLZ COP ATT think kʰeL=boL, tɜHn̥iLnjaL ∧ tsõLɡyH mɜHtʃeL. time=FRM day:after:day clothes seek

He thought to himself: ‘Hm, one day I should also wear clothes like that, shouldn't I?’ Then he looked for some, day in and day out.

mɜHtʃeH ∧ ɹiR seek get

He searched but could not find any.

'ɑLjɑL! ɜH

meL=tʰõH. PF.N=succeed

təLboR | ʃjõH=ɡeL ∧ kiHpuL ∧ then golden.pheasant=TOP cuckoo dɜL-pʰʴɜH=neL=boL ∧ nɜL-kjaL pɑH. CLC-meet=DSC=DSC down-envy do

So, Golden Pheasant felt jealous when he ran into Cuckoo.



Paragraph II Then, one day he təLboR | tɜHn̥iL ∧ kiHpuL=ɡeL beL ∧ kɜH nɜH-pɑL. then one:day cuckoo=TOP at fake down-do played a trick on Cuckoo. kiHpuL=boL dɜL-pʰʴɜL pɑL=ɹɑL cuckoo=DCS CLC-meet do=IPFV;M 'kiHpuL, njaH ∧ tsõLɡyH=ɡeH | clothes=TOP cuckoo 2SG;M ɜH ∧ tjaR | 1SG now L F wɜ mi tʃʰɨL guest do

kʰeL=boL=neL: time=FRM=DSC tʃʰɨLniH ɡjaH. how pretty

miHɹəL wuL ∧ pʰʴiF tʰjɛ̃L, people in opague.beer drink L L L ʃɨ -ji dzɨ . go-NMLZ COP

njaH ∧ tsõLɡyH=ɡeH | 2SG;M clothes=TOP H H ɜ =ɡeH niL ∧ pu , do;2SG 1SG=TOP COM jiL. come;2SG


beH ∧ dəL-jĩL tiH 1SG at CLC-lend one L L tʰɜ -ɡɥɛ ɡɥɛH tiL tʃʰɨL TLC-exchange one do

ɜH ∧ dəL-ʒɨR=ɹɑL kʰeL=boL, neL 1SG CLC-come=IPFV;M time=FRM 2SG tʃʰeLɡyL=ɡeH=boL ∧ kwɜH=ɡjaH ∧ puL gift=TOP=DSC cattle=M brisket jɜH=ʃoL.' fetch=opt

beH ∧ at tiH one

He pretended to run into Cuckoo (and said): ‘Cuckoo, your clothing is so beautiful. I'm on my way to be a guest at someone's wedding banquet. Your dress, lend (it) to me for a while; let's exchange clothes.

When I return, I'll bring a piece of beef brisket as a gift for you.’

Paragraph III boR | kiHpuL=ɡõL=neL, 'eL ∧ zoH=kɜjH mɑL.' dsc cuckoo=ins=dsc int fine=vlt att

Then Cuckoo replied, ‘Well, that's fine.

L L H eLdzãH tʰɜHtʰjõL ∧ ɖʐə ɖʐu dĩ . 1DU TLC-harmany friend COP;1/2PL

We two are good friends.

təH=ɡeL ∧ dʒjɛH̃ .' this=TOP true

This is true.’

Paragraph IV kiHpuL=ɡõL ∧ tsõLɡyH ∧ nɜL-ʃwɑR=boL =neL, cuckoo=INS clothes down-undress=DSC=DSC H L L be tʰɜ -kʰɥɛ̃L. ʃjõ golden.pheasant to TLC-give;3

Cuckoo took his clothes off, and gave them to Golden Pheasant.



ʃjõH=ɡõL ∧ niF=ɡjaL=ɡeL ∧ golden.pheasant=INS 3;SG=M=TOP kiHpuL beL ∧ nɜL-ɡwɜjH keL. nɜL-ʃwɑR=boL, down-undress=DSC cuckoo to down-wear let

Golden Pheasant, having taken his own (clothes) off, let Cuckoo wear them.

kiHpuL=ɡjaL=ɡeL ∧ niF=ɡõL ∧ nɜL-ɡwɜjH ∧ dəL-ʐɑH He then put on cuckoo=M=TOP 3SG=INS down-wear CLC-carry Cuckoo's clothes and went away. ʃɨH. go kiHpuL=ɡjaL ∧ tsõLɡyH ∧ nɜL-ɡwɜjH ∧ cuckoo=M clothes down-wear ∧ pjɛ̃R wuL dəL-ʐɑH=neL=boL, ʃjõH=ɡõL CLC-carry=DSC=DSC golden.pheasant=INS grove in tɜL-pʰãL. tɑL only up-flee Paragraph V ʃjõLtʃʰwɑ̃Htʃʰwɑ̃H ∧ ʃjõLtʃʰwɑ̃Htʃʰwɑ̃H tʃɨL, onamatope onamatope say pjɛ̃R wuL tɑL ɡəL-ʃɨL kʰeL=boL, kiHpuL=ɡeL grove in just out-go time=FRM cuckoo=TOP lɑH ∧ mɑL=ɥɛ̃R, beL ∧ kwɜH=ɡjaH ∧ puL at cattle=M brisket also N=fetch;3 L H L L H L L me =tʃʰjõ . tsõ ɡy lɑ ∧ də -te clothes also CLC-return PF.N=appear

Wearing Cuckoo's clothes, Golden Pheasant just fled into the trees.

Calling out siong-chuan-chuan, siong-chuan-chuan, he just vanished into the trees, and didn't broing Cuckoo any beef brisket, nor returned the clothes.

təLboR | kiHpuL=ɡeL=boL | tɜHn̥iLnjaL ∧ tʃʰjõLl̥ ɥɛH̃ . So, day after day, then cuckoo=TOP=DSC day:after:day wait;3 Cuckoo waited. niF

beL ∧ kwɜH=ɡjaH ∧ puL=ɡeH ∧ jɜR=ɑL=ɹjuL? Would he bring him 3SG at cattle=M brisket=TOP fetch=Q=IPFV any beef brisket? tsõLɡyH=ɡeH ∧ niF beL ∧ dəL-jɜR ∧ dəL-kʰjɛ̃L clothes=TOP 3SG at CLC-fetch CLC-give ʃɨH=ɑL=ɹjuL? go=q=ipfv

Would Golden Pheasant return the clothes to him?

tɑL tʃʰjõLl̥ ɥɛH̃ . just wait;3

He just waited and waited.


Paragraph VI təLboR | tɜHn̥iLnjaL ∧ kiHpuL=ɡõL ∧ ɹɥɛH̃ kʰeL=boL, then day:after:day cuckoo=INS call time=FRM kʰeL=boL, ɹɥɛH̃ =ɹɑH kwɜHpuL kwɜHpuL tʃɨL ONAMATOPE utter time=FRM call=IPFV;M L H L kʰe , kwɜ =ɡe =boL | eLɹɑH ∧ tʃeLmeH ∧ time onmt.=top=dsc 1pl.in;m home ʃawH=ɹɑH ∧ mʉLkuL=ɡeH dzɨL. raise=IPFV;M livestock=TOP COP


So the cuckoo always says ‘guabu guabu’ when he calls; what (the sound) gua refers to is the livestock we raise at home.

means the kwɜH=ɡeL=boL | eLɹɑH ∧ tʃeHmeH ∧ ʃawH=ɹɑH ∧ Gua ONAM.=TOP=DSC 1PL.IN;M home raise=IPFV;M livestock we raise at home. mʉLkuL=ɡeH dzɨL. livestock=TOP COP Bu refers to breast puL=ɡeH=boL | tsjɛL̃ tõH twɑL ∧ ʂɨF=ɡeL meat. It's told like ONAM.=TOP=DSC chest up;M meat=TOP this. tʃɨL=ɹjuL, əHni=ɑL dzɨL. say=IPFV like.that COP təLboR | kwɜHpuL=ɡeL=boL | kwɜH=ɡjaH ∧ tsjɛL̃ tõH then ONAM.=TOP=DSC cattle=M chest L L H L L H tʃʰeLɡyH ∧ twɑ ∧ pu =ɡe ∧ də -jɜ =nõ , up;M brisket=TOP CLC-fetch=DUR gift ʈʂʰeR ɡəL-tʃɨL. feed out-say

So guabu refers to the brisket from a cow's breast (that was) to be brought as a gift to feed the cuckoo.

kiHpuL ∧ tɜHn̥iL=njaL ∧ təH=ɡeH leLleL pɑL. cuckoo day:after:day this=TOP folk.song do

The cuckoo has turned this into a folk song (and sings it) day after day.

Paragraph VII ʃjõH=ɡeL=boL | boR | təL=ɡjaR ∧ golden.pheasant=TOP=DSC DSC this=M ɖʐɜF=ɡeL=boL ∧ sɜHkʰʉL kʰʉL ∧ ʃjaL waH after=TOP=DSC twig top rest dare wuL tɑL ∧ ɡəL-pɜjH ɜL-pɜjH tʃʰɨH. mɑL=wə̃L, pjɛR̃ N=ASR grove in just out-hide in-hide do

Since then, the golden pheasant dares not rest on a branch, but just hides in the trees.

boR | kiHpuL=ɡõL ∧ DSC cuckoo=INS

It's said the cuckoo would see him.

tʰɜL-tʃjɛ̃H=kɜjH tʃɨL; TLC-see=VLT say

ɡəL-pɜjH ɜL-pɜjH=boL | tɜHtsʰɜH toL tʃʰjõL out-hide in-hide=FRM present on appear

He has hidden there



kɥɛL=siL. let;3=PFV

until this day.

R L H L ʃjõH=ɡjaL ∧ tja ∧ nɜ -ɡwɜj =si=ɑ ∧ golden.pheasant=M now down-wear=PFV;M L H L L H L L ʈʂɑ lɑ lɑ ∧ tsõ ɡy =ɡe =bo | ʒjaLn̥jɛR̃ ∧ colorful clothes=TOP=DSC ancient kiHpuL=ɡjaL ∧ tsõLɡyH=ɡeL dzɨL. cuckoo=M clothes=TOP COP

The colorful clothing that the golden pheasant wears nowadays used to be the clothing of the cuckoo in the past.

kiHpuL=ɡjaL ∧ tjaR ∧ tsõLɡyH ∧ ɖʐɜLɖʐɜH ∧ cuckoo=M now clothes ugly mɑL-ɡjaH=ɡeH=boL | ʒjaLn̥jɛR̃ ∧ un-pretty=TOP=DSC ancient H L L L L dzɨL. ʃjõ ɹɜ pu =ɡja =ɡe golden.pheasant=M=TOP COP

The ugly-looking clothes that the cuckoo wears nowadays belonged to the golden pheasant in the past.


WORD LIST AND GLOSSARY This appendix consists of four parts: (A) a short list of culturally important proper nouns, including a few toponyms and 12 animal terms designated for recording years in the duodecimal cycle, (B) the Swadesh-100 list, (C) a glossary of Prinmi words arranged by English entries alphabetically, and (D) a glossary of Prinmi words arranged by place of articulations. Except for a handful of adverbs and postpositions, the glossary entries exclude words from the closed lexical categories such as personal pronouns (given in §4.3.3) and numerals (given in §4.3.4).

Part A: Proper nouns Ethnic names and languages Pǔmǐ pʰʴĩHmiH Prinmi language pʰʴĩHmiHl̥ eL Tibetan kɑLmiH Tibetan language kɑHmiLl̥ eL Moso njɑLməR Moso language njɑLməLl̥ eH Han (Chinese) ʃjɜR; ʃjɜLbɑH Chinese language ʃjɜLl̥ eH Nosu/Yí kjõLnjɑR Nosu language kjõLnjɑLl̥ eH Toponyms (in Yunnan) poRtoL Xīnyíngpán ljɛH̃ ɡɑwH Nínglàng kuHluLdjɛL̃ Gǔlúdiàn ʒeLɡɑwH Lìjiāng tsʰʉHʒɨL Cuìyī

Toponyms (in Sichuan) lɑLtʰɑLdjɛH̃ Zuǒsuǒ məHləL Mùlǐ H H L li ʒjɑ tsu a village in Mùlǐ The duodecimal cycle Year of Rat tʃʰiLbeHwuH Year of Ox lõHwuH Year of Tiger toHwuH Year of Hare ʐɨLbɹiHwuH Year of Dragon bɹəLtajHwuL Year of Serpent bɹəLdɑHwuL Year of Horse tjɑHwuH Year of Goat ʐɨLwuH Year of Monkey pɹiHwuH Year of Cock dʒɥɛL̃ wuH Year of Dog tʃʰiHwuH Year of Boar pʰɜHwuH



Part B: Swadesh-100 list 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

I you (2.sg) we (incl.) this that who what not all many one two big long small woman man person fish (n.) bird dog louse tree seed leaf root bark skin flesh blood

ɜH neR eLdzɑ̃H təH əHtəH xɜHɡeL meF mɑR məLdzuF/ məHdəL ʒɨH tiR niR H


tɜj ; ʈʂɜ ɹ̥ ɑ̃H kɜLtsɜjR m̥əLʈʂɑR

pʰɜLtʰɜHmiL miF dʒɨH ɡɥɛLtsiR tʃʰɨR ʃiF sjɛL̃ bõH tsiH sɜLpɑH bʴɑ̃R ɹəF ɹəF ʂɨF sɜjR

31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61.

bone grease egg

ɹɜLkɑH tuF kuH

horn (n.) tail feather hair head ear eye nose mouth tooth tongue claw/nail foot knee hand belly neck breasts heart liver drink eat bite see hear know sleep die

kʰʴʉH mɜHl̥ eL mɑ̃F kʰʉHmɑ̃L kʰʉR nɜHdʒjuL mjɑF n̥iLdʒjõH kʰəHniL ɹ̥ ʉF l̥ eF dʒɑ̃R kʰʴəH kʰʴəHɡjõL ʒjɑR piR kɑ̃F njõR kʰɥɛH tsɥɛF̃ tʰjɛR̃ dzɨH kɑR tʃjɛH̃ ; tjõF nuR maLsɨH ʒĩR; ɜL-ʒɨR sɨR



62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81.

kill swim

sɜR n/a

fly (v.) walk

bjɛR̃ ʃɨH; ɖʐɑ̃Lɖʐɑ̃H ʒɨR; ɜL-ʒɨF ʒɨR; ɜL-ʒɨR dzõH ʈʂʰɨF kʰjɛR̃

come lie sit stand give say sun moon star water rain (n.) stone

tʃɨR bɨH l̥ iH ɡʴəR tʃɨH H

ɡy ɡʉLbõH/ ɡʉLtõH sand dĩHbeL earth/soil ʈʂaF cloud dĩH smoke kʰɑwR

fire 83. ash(es) 84. burn 85. path 86. mountain 87. red 88. green 89. yellow 90. white 91. black 92. night 93. hot 94. cold 95. full 96. new 97. good 98. round 99. dry 100. name 82.

mɜR lɥɛF ʒjõH ɹwɜF ɡoR neH niH ɣɑ̃R pʰʴĩH njɑR ʃɥeH tsɜR bõR sʉR ʃiR tʃʰyH ɹwɜR ɡuF mɑ̃H



Part C: English-Prinmi glossary A–B L R a few N tɜ nɜ a little ADV tɜLkõR a little bit ADV ɑLljɑHtiL abandon V pʰɜR; nɜL-pʰɜR abundant V mĩLʂõHʂõL accuse V kwɜHkwɑL affection N suHɡjɑH after N ɖʐɜHɡeL again ADV nɜLɡeH air; breath N koF alcohol; liquor (cf. opaque beer; fermented rice) N ɹəLʈʂɨR all N məLdzuF; məHdəL all kinds and sorts N tsʰõHtsʰõLbjɜHbjɜL alright V kɥaR alright; good V xɑF also ADV lɑ altar N xeHtõH always ADV tʃʰiLpjɜF ambush V ʒɥɛH̃ analyze V ʈʂwɜF ancient N ʒjɑLn̥jɛR̃ angry V kʰɥɛHdʒeH animals N mʉLkʉRsɥɛH̃ tʃjɛH̃ antelope N pʴɜF anus N kɑLsuH anxious V dʒeHʒɑwH appear V tʃʰjõR; ɡəL-tʃʰjõF appearance N zɑwF arrive  reach ash N lɥɛF ask V dɥɛR assault; kill V sɜR; nɜL-sɜR

at first ADV ɹəHdʒeL beL at one’s place PP dʒe at present ADV təLʃjɑH at; to; from PP be attire N tsõLɡyH aunt, maternal N mɑHmɑL aunt, paternal N ɑL-niH autumn N tsɑR axe N pɨF axe handle N pəHʒɑwL back N dʒiR backbone of house N ɡɥɛLtsiH bad, very V/A ɖʐɜLɖʐɜH bad; poor; weaken V/A ɖʐɜR badger N tʃʰyR badger, Eurasian N tʃʰɨLtʃʰyH badger, hog N tʃʰɥaLtʃʰyH bamboo N mɜF bare V pɜR bare as a bone V pɜLduHduL bark V toR barley N məLdziR barley, highland N kõLtsõH barn N ɖʐjɛH̃ basin N pʰɑLliH basket, pack N kʰjɑR bastard; illegitimate child N ɖʐjɛF̃ bat [animal] N jõLdzɨHpɑLpɑL be V dzɨF bear [animal] N ɥɛH̃ ; wəH̃ become V ɖʐõR bed N ɡɑ̃F before N ɹəHkʰeL behavior N jɜHɡɑwH


believe V dʒjɛH̃ ʒɑwH belly N piR/piRpoL below; down N poH benchmark V/N ʈʂwaF bend; bow V ɡõF; nɜL-ɡõF beneath N kɑLwuH beverage N tHjɛL̃ jiH big; grow big V/A tɜjH; ɡəL-tɜjH big; large; strong V/A ʈʂɜF bird N ɡɥɛLtsiR; ɡɥɛHdʒɥɛL bite V kɑR; ɜL-kɑR bitter V kʰaR black as night V njɑLbaHbaL black as pitch V njɑLkõHkõL black; dark; blacken V/N/A njɑR blacksmith N ʃjɛH̃ tsɑwHmiL bladder N l̥ juLtsɨR blame V daH bless V ɜL-pʰjɛR̃ blind V kuH block V tsʰɑ̃R; nɜL-tsʰɑ̃R blood N sɜjR blow V m̥uR blue sheep N tjɜF blue; green V/N/A niH blunt utterly V lɜHtuHtuL body N ɡjõHm̥jɛH̃ bone N ɹɜLkɑH book; script N dʒiLdʒiR borrow; lend (consumable) V tʰʉR; tʰɜL-tʰʉR borrow; lend (inconsumable) V jĩR; tʰɜL-jĩR bottom N bɑ̃RpoL bow N ʒɨF bowl N kʰwɑR


boy  man brain N n̥ɜR break (vi.) V ɡʴjɛH̃ break (vt.) V kʴjɛH̃ break off a relationship V ɡjɜHɡeL breast(feed); human milk N/V njõR breathe difficultly V suLdjõHdjõL bridge N dzõR bright (of color) V dzaLlɑHlɑL bring; carry V ʐɑH brisket N puR broom N ɹ̥ wɜjR brother, elder; elder sister; elder sibling of same sex N pɜjR brother, younger; younger sister; younger sibling of same sex N kɥɛR̃ brothers  siblings buffalo N dʒjõLʒɨR buffalo, female N dʒjõLʒɨL wɜHmiL build V tʰjõR burn V ʒjõH bushfire N dʒiLmɜR business N tsʰõLtʃʰɨF busy V bjɛH̃ butter N moH butter tea N moHdʒeL buttocks N tɑLpɑR buy V ɹ̥ ʉH

C–D cabinet  chest cake; bun N məLʒjɑR call off; ring out V ɹɥɛH̃ can V ʒjɛR̃



cap N tuHtuL carefully ADV zoHloHloL cast (v.) V diH castrate V ʃɥɛF̃ ; tʰɜ-ʃɥɛF̃ L R N mɜ tsɨ cat cattle N kwɜH cave N ɹɑLpuLdʒjõH center N tsʰjɛR̃ charcoal N mɜHɖʐiL chat N kɜLtɜLmɑHlɑH chest N tsjɛL̃ tõH chest; cabinet N dʒɥɛLpoH chicken N ɹoF chicken pox N kʰɨLbõLtʃʰɥaHbõH chicken, male; rooster N ɹɜLpuF child N tʃjɛR̃ ; ɑLleH China fir N lʉHbõL chirrup V ɹ̥ uH cholera N ʃjɜLnjɛH̃ chop (vegetable) V kʰʴiF chop (wood) V ʈʂɑR chopstick N ɡəLʂɑ̃R cicada N zɑ̃Lzɑ̃R clean V/A ʂõH clean up by wiping V ɹ̥ ʉLɹ̥ ɥeF; ɡəL-ɹ̥ ʉLɹ̥ ɥeF clever V/A ɡəL-tʰeH climb mountain V tʰõRpoLʃɨL clinic N m̥jɛH̃ tʃĩH closeness (of relation) N ɹwɜLɡɑ̃HɹwɜLmɑ̃H cloth N njɛH̃ clothes (cf. attire) N pɑHleH clothing N ɡwɜjLjiH cloud N dĩH cold V/N bõR collapse V beF

color N tʃjɑLtʃiH colorful V ʈʂɑLlɑHlɑL come V ʒɨR; nɜL-ʒɨF commit adultery V ɜL-djɜF compact V muR; dəL-muR complete V tɑH; nɜL-tɑH concentrate V dəL-ɹ̥ ĩR conch N jiR conch, mini N jiLtsʉH congenial V tʰjɜHtʰjõL conjunctivitis N mjɑHkʉLnjɛL̃ consult V nɜL-ɡwɑLɡwɑR contact V ʈʂwɑR; nɜL-ʈʂwɑR container N tʃỹH cook (v.) V wɑR; ɜL-wɑR copper N njɛF̃ Coriaria fruit N ɡuHsʉL corn N kʰɑLʃuH corpse N muR cottage cheese N tʰʉF cough up; spew V pʰeR; tɜH-pʰeH count V swɑR; ɡəL-swɑR cousin N m̥ɜHtsiH cover V kʰəL-lɑ̃R cover; lid N kɥeF cow N wɜHmiL cow, milk N wɜHmiL kʰeLpɑH coward; timid V kʰɥɛHkɜjHtsɜjL crack (vi.) V puHɡɑH crack (vt.) V puHkʰɑH craw; crop N ljuR crazy; insane V xõR creamy V dzʉR crow N koLjiR crow V wuH; tɜH-wuH crupper N l̥ ɥɛF



cry V kwɜjH; nɜL-kwɜjH cubit N ɹjuF cuckoo N kiHpuL cultivate V tsõHjɑ̃H cup N kɜjHliH custom and culture N piHjõH cut V ɡjɛF̃ dance (v.) V tsʰoF; tsʰɜHtsʰoL dare V waF daughter N m̥iF daughter-in-law N tsʉHʈʂʰɨH dawn V dəL-dʒɥɛR̃ day, holy N ʃjɑR day; daytime N n̥iF deaf V bõR; dɜL-bõR debt N ɡiF decade N l̥ ɜH decline V tʃɥaF deep V/A ɡɑwR deliberately ADV pɑHʒjɑH delicious V/A ʒ̩ĩH deluge N tʃɨLdĩH tʃɨHlɑ̃L demolish V pʰeF; nɜL-pʰeF deposit V tõR dew N ɹ̥ əR dhole N poH die (cf. pass away) V sɨR; nɜL-sɨR die from suffocation (of piglets) F L F V n̥ɥe ; ɡə -n̥ɥe H difficult V ko difficult to understand V n̥oR dig V kʉR dip V ɹeH direction N tʃʰɥeF dirty V/A mɑLʂõH dislike V ljɜHtʃʉL

distinct V tʰɜL-kyLtiH divorce V ɡeR do V pɑF; tʃʰɨR do well V xoH dog N tʃʰɨR dog, black N kʰɨHnjɑL dog, hunting; hound N dʒeLtʃʰɨF dog, old N kʰɨLdiR donkey N tõLpuH door N kjõR down [hair] N tʃjõF Dragon god N ʃɨH dream N ʒɨHmeL drench; make swallow V tʰɜjR dress; put on V ɡwɜjR; nɜL-ɡwɜjF drift aimlessly V diHjɑHjɑL drink V tʰjɛR̃ ; ɡəL-tʰjɛF̃ drip V tʰaLtʰaH drop (n.) N pʴjɛR̃ drum N dzɑ̃H dry V/A ɡuF; tɜH-ɡuH dry as dust V ɡuHsaLsaL dry in the sun V tʃʰjɛR̃ ; ɡəL-tʃʰjɛR̃ duck N baH dumb; stupid V ɡjõR dummy N ɡjõLɡjõH duodenary animals N wuLkʰʉHkoHniH dwindle V tʰɨF dyad N dĩH

E–F tjõRtiR

each other N eagle N kʴaR ear N nɜHdʒjuL ear of grain N n̥jɛR̃ earn V tʃɥɛH



earth; ground N djɛR̃ earthquake N ʒɨHməH east N ʃjɜF easy; convenient V ɖʐwɑF eat V dzɨH edible, make (through cooking) H H V tɜ -m̥jɛ̃ egg N kuH elbow-span  cubit elder sister-in-law N meHmeL elegant (objects) V zɨHɹəHɹəL elephant N lõHbuLtʃʰiL emerge V ɹ̥ əR; dəL-ɹ̥ əR energy N kɜR entice V kɜLkɜLkaHkaH envy V kjɑR; nɜL-kjɑR escape V l̥ iF; tʰɜL-l̥ iF estrange V kjɛR̃ ; nɜL-kjɛR̃ every household N tɜLtʃĩHtɜHkɜL exchange V tʰɜL-ɡɥɛLɡɥɛF exhale V xeH exist (of abstract things) V ʃiR exist (of animate) V ʒeF exist (of inanimate) V djõF exist inside something V kɥeF exist on something V tɜjF expand V biF expensive V pʰʉLtɜjH extinguish; put out V kʰoF eye N mjɑF eyeball N mjɑHsʉH eyelid N mjɑHbuL face N zʉR fake N kɜH fall (out of pocket) V ɡʴəF fall off V ɡɑF

fall off (of leaves) V dzeR fall; tumble V jõHjɛH̃ family [bound in compounds] R N bɑ family  home far V ɹwɜHɖʐɜL; ɖʐɜH far-away N tʰiLwuH farm animals N tʃʰɥaLɹoH father N swɑ̃F father (vocative) N ɑHpõL; ɑLbɑH fatten (of pig) V dziF; tɜH-dziH fear; afraid V kjɜR; tɜH-kjɜH feather  hair feces N kɜjF feed V ʈʂʰeR; tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeR fermented rice N nɜLnɜR fetch V jɜR; dəL-jɜR fever N tsɜLnjɛH̃ few/little V/N njɛF̃ fibula N kʰʴəHɹuHɹɜLkɑL loLtʃʰɥeHɹɜHkɑL fight V tsɜHtsɑwL fill  full final N mɑ̃LtoH find V ɹiR fine; alright V kɜjH finger; toe N l̥ ɑLtsɨR finger (cf. toe) N ʒjɑLl̥ ɑHtsɨL finger bone N l̥ ɑLtsɨLɹɜLkɑH fire N mɜR firefly N buLmɜR fireplace N ɡyLtõH firethorn N l̥ jɑLl̥ jɑR firm V ljɛH̃ fish (n.) N dʒɨH fishbone, small N m̥eF


flag N teR flame N mɜLl̥ eR flatland N kwɑ̃H flea N l̥ ɜjF flee V pʰjɛR̃ float V diH flood N tʃɨLdĩH flower N pɜLtsɨR fly (v.) V bjɛR̃ ; ɡəL-bjɛF̃ foe; personal enemy N bʴəF fog N dəLɹɥɛH̃ folk song N leLleR fondle V ʃeLʃeR food N dzɨHjiH food and drink N dzɨHtʰjɛH̃ foot N kʰʴəH footwear N tʃeLjiH forehead N l̥ oR forest N pjɛL̃ njɑR forest, virgin N pjɛL̃ njɑL tɜjH forget V mɜR; nɜL-mɜR fox N ɡɥɛF friend N ɖʐuR [same in Narua] frog N pɜHdiH front; first N ɹɨF/ɹəF frost (cf. hoarfrost) N puH fruit N sʉR fuel (v.) V l̥ eR; ɡəL-l̥ eR full; fill up V sʉR; tɜH-sʉH fume  smoke fur of plant N ʂwɑR

G–H gadfly N m̥jɑR gale N ɑR; ɑLtɜjH gall N kʴəH garlic N kɨH


get blunt V ɜL-dĩH get hooked V ɜL-kʴɑF get married V pʰʴiHtʰjɛL̃ get rich V tjɛH̃ ; tɜH-tjɛH̃ get stuck V ɹaF get wounded V ɡɥaF ghost N tsuF gift N tʃʰeLɡyR girl  woman give V kʰjɛR̃ ; tʰɜL-kʰjɛF̃ give birth to V teR; nɜL-teF glossy V dʒɥaR glossy glaringly V dʒɥaLzĩHzĩH gluttonous V tʃɥaH go V ʃɨH; ɡəL-ʃɨH goat N tsʰɨF goat, young; kid N tʃʰjɛH̃ tsɨL god N xeH gold N ɣɑ̃H golden pheasant N ʃjõF golden pheasant, male N ʃjõFɹɜLpuL good V/N tʃʰyH grain N ʂɜLjĩH grand grandchild N jiHloL grand grandmother N ʐõLdeH grandchild N jiHtsɨL grandfather, maternal N ɑL-kɑwH ɑL-puH grandfather; male N puH grandma (vocative) N ɑL-diH grandmother; old N/A diH grandpa (vocative) N ɑL-puH granny N djɑHdjɑL grass N ɡjõR grasshopper; locust N tʰɜLsɑ̃H grassland N keF



grease N tuF greasy V m̥uH green, bright V niHlɑHlɑL green, intensely V niHʈʂɑ̃Hʈʂɑ̃L grind V suR grope V ɹwɑH group; flock N pĩR grove N pjɛR̃ grow V xĩR; ɡəL-xĩR guard V dʒjõR guest N wɜLmiF gun N ɖʐoF hair (of head) N kʰʉHmɑ̃L hair (on human body) N ʒjɑRkʰʴəLmɑ̃H hair; feather N mɑ̃F half N/A pʰɑR hand N ʒjɑR handkerchief N ʒjɜLpʰeR handprint N ʒjɜHɖʐiL happen repeatedly V dəL-ʃɨH tʰɜL-ɡiR happy; glad V ɡɑwR hard V ʈʂõH hare N l̥ juLtsɨR harm; jeopardize V nɑF harvest; year N wuR hatch V dʒʉR; tʰɜL-dʒʉR have V bõH head; top N kʰʉR headache N kHʉLnjɛH̃ heap (of grain) N/V bʉH; ɜL-bʉH hear V nuR; tʰɜL-nuR heart N kʰɥɛH heavy V lɜjF hedgehog N pʴəF heel N mɜLtsʰõR

help V ɡeR; ɡjɜLɡeR help V kuF; kwɜHkuL hen N ɹɜLmɑH hen, old N ɹɜLmɑLdeR here PRON təLdʒeH hide about V ɡəL-pɜjH ɜL-pɜjH high; tall V ɡɥɛH̃ highland N kõHdjɛH̃ hire V tʃʰɥaF; dəL-tʃʰɥaF history N ʈʂʰɑR hit (the mark) V tsjɛH̃ ; nɜL-tsjɛH̃ hit; beat V tsɑwH; ɡəL-tsɑwH hoarfrost (cf. frost) N buH hole N dʒjõH home; family N tʃeHmeH homeland; place of origin N pɜLpuLdjɛR̃ honey N bɨF honey dumpling N bɨHpjɜLljõL hoof N kwɑH hope N ɹəLwɑH horn (n.) N kʰʴʉH horn; butt V ʈʂʰuR horse N ɡɥɛR̃ horse, male; stallion N kʉF hot V tsɜR house; home N tʃĩH household N mɜHkɜH hungry V tʃeHɹõH hurl V bɑR; ɜL-bɑF hurry V tʰɜL-bjɛH̃ hybrid A bɜjR

I–L ice; frozen V/N kjõH; ɜL-kjõH idea N ʈʂʰɑLlaR incense N puF


inconvenient V mɑLɖʐwɑH insect N buF inside N ɡõH inside; in N wuH intestine N tʃyH intestine, large N tʃyHbĩL intestine, small N tʃyHtsʰĩH invite V lɜjH; dəL-lɜjH iron; metal N ʃjɛH̃ irritate V ɜL-kʰõLn̥jɛH̃ itchy V dzʉF jeopardize  harm joke V ɹuHl̥ eL jump; leap V ʈʂɨF; ɡəL-ʈʂɨF keep in a safe place V ʈʂuF kick V ɖʐõR kill  assault king N kʰɑR knee N kʰʴəHɡjõL knee pit N ɡʴɑwR kneel V ɡʴɑwR knife N ɹɨHtsɨL knot V ɜL-ʈʂʰɨR know V mɑLsɨF know how V jõH kowtow V l̥ oLtsɑwH lack V kʰɥɛR ladder V l̥ iR ladle N puH lake; sea N kʰɥɛF lama N jɜLmɜH language  tongue laugh; smile V ɹ̥ aR lay (eggs) V kuH; nɜL-kuH lead (n.) N sɥaR


lead a nomadic life V ɡĩLl̥ iRɡĩLʃɑwH lead  usher leaf N sɜLpɑH learn V sɥɛH̃ leather bag N njuR leech N pʰjɑR leftovers N dɑLdɥeR leftside N wɜjLtʃʰɥeH lend  borrow length N tsʰõHɹ̥ ɑ̃H leopard N sɥiF lick V ɡõLɡɑF; tʰɜL-ɡõLɡɑF lie (v.) V ʒɨR; ɜL-ʒɨR life N kʰõR like (prep.) PP ni like that ADV əHniL lip N n̥ɜLpuLlɑH listen V jĩR; sĩLjĩH liver N tsɥɛF̃ liver disease N tsɥɛL̃ njɛH̃ livestock N mʉLkʉR lock; key N kʰiF locust  grasshopper log N ljuR lone V njɑR lonely V njɑLtɑwHtɑwL long V/A ɹ̥ ɑ̃H look for V mɜHtʃeH look; read V toF; ɜL-toF loop N põH loot V pʰʉR; tʰɜL-pʰʉR lose; be defeated V niF; tʰɜL-niF lotus N mĩLtoF louse N ʃiF love V ɡjɑH



lower/rear part; follow V/N mɑ̃F; tʰɜL-mɑ̃F lowland N ɹõHdjɛH̃ lumbar vertebra N dʒiLtsʰĩLɹɜHkɑL lunatic N xõLmiH lunch N tʃɥɛF̃ lung N tsʰʉR

M–O maggot N lõF magpie N ʈʂɑLʈʂɑF make fire V mɜHʈʂʰeL make; repair V dzuR; tʰɜL-dzuR man, little; boy N n̥iLtʃʰjõHliH man, old N m̥əLɡjɛF̃ man, young N pʰɜLtʰɜHmiL man, young; guy N n̥iLtʃʰjõH manure N ʒjɛR̃ many V/N ʒɨH market N dʒɨR matter N loH meal gathering (for New Year) H H N dzõ tʃʰe meal  rice meat, fat N tsɑH meat; flesh N ʂɨF mediate; intervene in a fight V pʰʉR; tʰɜL-pʰʉR medicine N m̥jɛH̃ meet by chance V pʰʴɜR; dɜL-pʰʴɜF melon N kɥaH mention V dzuLbeH metacarpal N ʒjɑHpɑLɹɜLkɑL metal  iron middle (n.) N ɡuLʒĩH middle (of birth order) A ɡuHʒĩL

middle class (of economics) N mɜLtjɛH̃ mɜHpʰuL midland N mɜLkõH mɜHɹõL milk (cf. breast) N nɑ̃R milk, cow N kwɜLnɑ̃H milk, goat N tsʰɨLnɑ̃R milk, yak N ɹwɜLnɑ̃H mind; care for V wɑR mirror N dzɑHtoLdĩL miserly V ɖʐɑwR mishap N ɖʐɜR miss (someone) V seH mix well V tʰɜL-ɥaH mold V/N ʃỹR money N ɡʉR monkey N tsɜHʒiL month N ʒiH moon N l̥ iH morning N nuLsjɛH̃ mortar N ʈʂĩR mother N mɑF mother (vocative) N ɑL-mɑF mountain; hill N ɡoR mouth N kʰəHniL/kʰəHnjõH mouth (archaic) N woR mouth; beak N n̥juR mud N ʈʂʰɑLmɑR muddy, (of water) V n̥ɥeF; nɜL-n̥ɥeF mule N ʈʂiF muntjac N ʈʂɨF muntjac, black N lɥɛH̃ muscle; flesh N ɹəLʂɨR musk deer N lʉF must  want nail; claw N ɖʐɑ̃R name N mɑ̃H


narrow V ɹĩF; tʰɜL-ɹĩF navel N pəHtʃɑwH near V ɹwɜHn̥iL; n̥iH neck N kɑ̃F necklace N kɑ̃Lɹ̥ ɑ̃H need  want needle N kʰoR needleleaf N tʰɜLmɑH nephew, maternal N tsɨLtsɨF nephew, paternal N djuR nest N ʈʂwɑF net N ɹoH new V/A ʃiR New Year (cf. harvest) N wuLʃiR news N pʰɜH nice V/N zoH night, last N pɨHʃiL night; evening V/N ʃɥeH nod V ɡõLdiR noodle N peR north N tʃʰjõF nose N n̥iLdʒjõH/n̥iLɡõH not ADV mɑR now ADV tjɑR numb V tʰɜL-tsiH oat N tʃɜLʒĩR offend V djɜH; tʰɜL-djɜH offer food (to god) V tʃʰeLdeLpʰɑR oil lamp N kjõHjõH old (of things) V ɡʉHɡʉH; nɜL-ɡʉHɡʉH old, grow; aged V deR on PP to only; just ADV tɑ opague beer N pʰʴiF


open V tʃʰjõF; tʰɜL-tʃʰjõF open (of eye) V kwaH; tɜH-kwaH open (of mouth) V kɑH; nɜL-kɑH oppose; opposite N noF organ N ʈʂoR orphan boy N tsʉHtʃjuL orphan girl N m̥əHtʃjuL otter N ʈʂʰjɛH̃ outside N loF overfill V ʒjuH; nɜL-ʒjuH owe V ɹwɑR; nɜL-ɹwɑR ox  cattle

P–R pain; ache; disease V/N njɛH̃ ; tʰɜL-njɛH̃ pair N pʰʴəF palm N ʒjɑLpuLtõH pangolin N zaR paper N ʃeLɡɑwH parasol N pʰɜHtɜjL parrot N xɑ̃R pass away; die of old age V deR; tʰɜL-deR pass through  thread past N ʒjɑLpɨHɹəH patch N/V pʰeR pay attention V jɑHmuH peach N ʃeLbõH peach, wild N bʉLsʉR pear N seLlɑwH pelvis N mɑ̃HʈʂʰoHɹɜLkɑL pen [for livestock] N ɣõR pen, cattle N jeH people N miHɹəL pepper, Sichuan N seR


person N miF pestle N ʈʂĩLʈʂuR pick off V tseR pickaxe N dzwɜjF pig N tʃʰɥaR pig, black N tʃʰɥaHnjɑL pig, male; boar N tʃʰɥɛR̃ piglet N bəLtsɨR pile up V ɹəH pincers N mɜLtsiH pine N tʃʰjɛH̃ bõL pine needle  needleleaf pine torch N ɹ̥ uF pity V kʰyR place (n.) N djɛL̃ bɑH play V ɹ̥ aLtʃʰɨR plentiful A buLlɑH plow V jɛR̃ plowshare N tsʰiH pluck V l̥ õR plug N dzɑwR poison N duR pond N tʰõR porch N kʰoLloH pork N tʃʰɥaLʂɨH pork legs N kʰʴəLməLʒjɑR pork, whole-body dried N tsɑHɡjõH pot, cooking N ɹɜjF pound V tʃʰoH; nɜL-tʃʰoH press V siF pretty; beautiful V ɡjɑH price N pʰʴʉR privacy N ʈʂõH profit N kuHdziH prophet N tʃʰjɛH̃


proud V ɡɑwLʒeHʒeH pull V ʈʂeH; ɡəL-ʈʂeH pure A ʂɨLʂõH put; place V tiR; ɡəL-tiR quarrels and rows N sɜHsɜLtɑwHtɑwH quick; hasty V ʈʂʰõH rain N ɡyH raise (livestock) V ʃɑwH; tɜH-ʃɑwH rake N dʒjɑR rank N ɡɥɛH̃ dʒɥaH rat; mouse N ɣoF reach V tɑR; ɡəL-tɑF reap V keF; tʰɜL-keF reason N wɑLʒjɑR recall V ʈʂjɛR̃ ; nɜL-ʈʂjɛF̃ recede (of water) V saF reckon V tʃjɑR red as a cherry V neHɡõHɡõL red deer N tsɜH red deer, female N tsɜHmɑH red; redden V/N/A neH release V l̥ jɜR religion; faith N tʃʰiF remove; pick (fruit) V kʰɑF; tʰɜL-kʰɑF repair  make resemble V ʃjɑH residue N pʰaF resin N dɜjR rest V n̥ĩH retreat V loHtsʰeHtsʰeL return (consumable) V tsʰɥeF; tʰɜL-tsʰɥeF return (inconsumable) V deH; tʰɜL-deH


return home V ɡiR return, make someone V kiR revive V tɜH-sɨH rhinophyma N n̥ɑLsɜLljõHneH Rhododendron N kʰwɑF rice plant N suH rice, raw N tʃʰɥɛF rice; meal N tʃʰeR ride (v.) V dzɜjR; nɜL-dzɜjF rightside N ʐɨLtʃʰɥeH ripe; ripen (cf. edible) V m̥jɛ̃F; dəL-m̥jɛF̃ rise V kʰɥɛH̃ ; tɜH-kʰɥɛH̃ road N ɹwɜF road, big N ɹwɜHmɑL roast V puHɹuH; ɜ L-puHɹuH roasted barley flour N bʴõLbʴõR rob V tsʰaR; nɜL-tsʰaR root N bʴɑ̃R rope N bʴjɛR̃ rotten V dʒyR; ɜL-dʒyF round V ɹwɜR; ɹwɜLɹwɜR rub V ɜL-jĩH ruin V ɡwaF run V ɖʐoLɖʐoF run around excitedly (of domestic animals) V tɜH-ɖʐɜH rust N siR

S–T saliva N ɖʐaR saliva, running down of V ɖʐiHɹeLɹeL salt N tsʰiR sand N dĩHbeL satiated from drinking V ɡɥɛR; nɜL-ɡɥɛR


satiated from eating V kyR; tɜH-kyH satisfied from eating V mɜLkyH mɜHɖʐjuL saturate V dʒiR; ɜL-dʒiF sausage N ʂɨHtʃyL sausage, Prinmi N ʐwɑLʐwɑR say; speak V tʃɨR; ɡəL-tʃɨR scatter V pʴõLpʴjɛF̃ ; nɜL-pʴõLpʴjɛF̃ school N sɥɛH̃ tʃĩH scold V mɑ̃HɹɜjH see V tʃjɛH̃ ; tjõF seed; life N tsiH sell V kiR send V tʰɜL-ʈʂɥeH sew V ɖʐiR shadow; shade N dzɑF shame V ʈʂʰɑR sharp V tʃʰjɑF shave V ɹiF; nɜL-ɹiF shed V kʰʴəF; nɜL-kʰʴəF sheep N ʐõH sheep, male; ram N tʰjuH shepherd V l̥ iR shine (of lamp) V dʒɥɛR̃ ; tɜH-dʒɥɛH̃ shiver V ɡɥeR shiver all over V ɡɥeLkjɜHkjɜL shoe N puLkɑF shoot V kʰʴaR short (of height); lower V dʒɥaH short (of length) V/A tsʰõF shoulder N ʈʂwɑR shout V xɥɛR; nɜL-xɥɛR shrink V l̥ õH



siblings of different sex N mʉLn̥ɥɛH̃ siblings of same sex (as the speaker) N pɜjLkɥɛF̃ sickle N ɹəR side N kʰeH silver N jõH sing V kʴiR sing (of bird) V ɹ̥ wɜHɹ̥ uH single mother N ɖʐɜHmɑH sister (of a male) N n̥ɥɛH̃ sister  brother sit V dzõH; nɜL-dzõH size N tsɨHtɜjL skin V l̥ jõF skin; fur N ɹəF skirt N nɑ̃F sky N məF slant (cf. sway) V pʰiR; nɜL-pʰiR slash-and-burn V tɑ̃LkʰɑH slaughter V ʈʂʰɨF; ɡəL-ʈʂʰɨF slave N ɡɥɛF sleep V ʒɨR; ɜL-ʒɨR sleepy V ʒɨLʒɑwH slice (v.) V ʒeR slingshot N bɜLʒjõR slippy V bɜjF slow V n̥ɑ̃F slowly ADV tiLtiH small V/A kɜLtsɜjR smell V ɜL-n̥ʉHn̥ʉH smile warmly V ɹ̥ aLtsɨHtsɨL smoke; fume V/N kʰɑwR; tɜH-kʰɑwF snake N bɑLlɜjH sneeze N ʃĩR snivel N n̥ɑ̃R

snow N pʉF soft V pɨF soil; earth N ʈʂaF soldier N mjɑR some N tʃiF son; small N/A tsʉF soul N dʒʉR sound; voice N ʈʂʰwɑH soup N lɑ̃F sour V/A ʈʂuH south N xuF sow (v.) V lɜjR soy bean N neF spade V kʰwɜjR sparkle N mɜHtsiL spice N l̥ wɜjHtsʰõH spicy hot V/A kɨH spring [water] N tʃɨLɹiR springtime N niLl̥ eH stable (n.) N gĩLtsoR stake N kwɜjR stand V ʈʂʰɨF; nɜL-ʈʂʰɨF stand up V kʰjɛR̃ ; tɜH-kʰjɛH̃ star N ɡʴəR starve V dʒjuR steal V kɑwH steel N tswɜjF stem; trunk N ɹuH stew (v.) V koF stick N tɜLtsɑH sticky V daH stomach N tjuH stone N ɡʉLbõH/ɡʉLtõH stone (of fruit) N pʰʴəF story N ʒjɑLn̥jɛL̃ tõH strike V duH


stripe N dzɜR stroke [illness] N zaH strong  big stumble V/N pɜjR stupid  dumb succeed V tʰõR suffice V ljõF; ɜL-ljõF suffocate V m̥uR summer N tʃeH sun N bɨH sunflower; sunflower seed N bɨHl̥ iH sunshine; sunray N bɨHtsjɛH̃ swallow V djɛF̃ ; ɡəL-djɛF̃ sway V ɡəL-pʰiR ɜL-pʰiR sweat, perspire V ɹ̥ iF sweat N ɖʐɜjF sweet V/A tʰɨR swerve V dəL-pʰeLljɑH tʰɜL-pʰeLljɑH table N sɑLlɑR tadpole N pʉHljuL tail N mɜHl̥ eL take off (clothes) V ʃɨR; nɜL-ʃɨR take shelter V ʃjɑR take; take back V kjɛR̃ ; tɜH-kjɛH̃ tall  high tanning V nʉF tea N dʒeR teach V sʉHsɥɛL̃ tear (n.) N mjɑLbʴɜjR tear (vi.) V ɖʐeF tear (vt.) V ʈʂʰeF; nɜL-ʈʂʰeF tell V xĩH than PP to thank V kʰɑwLkʰɑwR; nɜL-kʰɑwLkʰɑwLsiH


that time ADV əHkʰeL there ADV əHwuL thick V/A ɣɑR thick radially V/A bĩF thief N kʉHmiL; kʉHliH thigh N pʰɨR thin (of things) V/A bɨF thin as a piece of paper V bɨFl̥ jɑLl̥ jɑL thin radially V/A tsʰĩR think V sʉHdʉL; nɜL-sʉHdʉL thirsty V ɖʐɑ̃R thorn; prick N tsuH thread; pass through V tʉH thrive V ɹoH; tɜH-ɹoH thunder N məLtjɛH̃ tibia N kʰʴəHɹuHɹɜLkɑL ɹəHtʃʰɥeLɹɜHkɑL tiger N ɣoR tile N ɥaR tired V dɑwH; tʰɜL-dɑwH tobacco; cigarette N ʒjɛH̃ today N pɨHniL toe N kʰəLl̥ ɑHtsɨL together V (tʰɜL-)ʃuLʃuH tomorrow N sjɛL̃ n̥iH tomorrow, day after N kʰuLsjɛR̃ tomorrow, two days after N kʰuLdiH tomorrow, three days after N kʰuHl̥ ɑL tongue root N l̥ jɜLbɑ̃R tongue tip N l̥ jɜLkʰʉR tongue; language N l̥ eF tonight N ʒjɑLmiH tooth N ɹ̥ ʉF top  head & upper



torch N mɜLɡɑ̃H transform V pʴɑwH trap, animal N dzɜLbɑH tree N sjɛL̃ bõH tremble V ɡɥeLɹɜHɹɜH trough N boF true V dʒjɛH̃ try V ɜL-ʃjɑLʃjɑH turn upside down V nəHnoL turtle dove N kʰʴəLlɥɛR tusk N ɡwɜjR twig N sɜHkʰʉL twin daughter N kɥɛHnjɑH twin son N kɥɛHpʰʴĩH

U–Y ugly V mɑ ɡjɑH uncle, big paternal N tɜjHtɜjH uncle, maternal N kɑwR uncle, paternal N põHpõL uncle, youngest paternal N ljɑHljɑH unkempt (of hair) V tsʰɑR untie V pʰʴəH; tʰɜL-pʰʴəH up N toH upper/top part N ɡɑ̃F urination, frequent V bjɛL̃ zeHzeH urine N bjɛF̃ use V ʐəHʐaL usher; lead V koLʃiH; tɜL-koLʃiH varnish tree N ɹ̥ ʉHbõL vase N põLbɑH very ADV lɜLljɛR̃ vicinity N dzɨH village N məHʈʂiL violence N sɜLsɜRm̥jɑHm̥jɑH waistband N ʈʂɑLl̥ jɑR L

wait V tʃʰjõLl̥ jɛ̃H wake V nuR/muR; dəL-nuR wake up; get up V tɜL-ʈʂʰiF walk V ɖʐɑ̃Lɖʐɑ̃H walk around V ɡəL-ɖʐɑ̃H ɜL-ɖʐɑ̃H walnut N kʰɑLlɑR; ɡoLdoH [same in Narua] want (to do something) V ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL want; need; must V kʰuR war N sɜLsɜR warm V/A tʃʉH warm (of clothes) V/A jĩH warm by fire V mɜLlĩH wart N ɣoLtyR wash V tsɜjF wasp N nɜLtʃĩR/mɜLtʃĩR water N tʃɨH water, boiled N tʃɨLpɜjH waterfall N tʃɨLtʰoLtʰoR waver; wag V djõLdiF; nɜL-djõLdiF weaken  bad wear V tʃeR; nɜL-tʃeF wear out V dɨF weasel N l̥ jɜLməLl̥ jɜR wedge N tsoF well off V dzĩHɖʐwɑL well-being N ɹʉR west N njõF wet V dzɑ̃F whatever PRO kʰəLtiF wheat N ʂɜF wheat drying racks N ɹõH white as snow V pʰʴĩHtʃjɑHtʃjɑL white; whiten V/N/A pʰʴĩH; tɜH-pʰʴĩH wife N ʈʂʰɨR


willing to give V ɹwɑF wind N mɜHl̥ eL wing N dõR winnowing tray N nɥɛR̃ winter N tsõF; tsõHl̥ eL wipe V tʃʰoLtʃʰoR wither; die out; go off V ɡoF; nɜL-ɡoF wolf N lɜF wolf pup N lɜHtsʉL woman N m̥əLʈʂɑR woman, little; girl N m̥əLʈʂɑLleH woman, old N puLdiLmɑH; puLdiR wood; firewood N sjɛR̃ wool N tsõF words N kɥɛH̃ tʃɨH work N loHpjɑH


wriggle V ɹoHɹwɑL write; draw V ɖʐʉR; nɜL-ɖʐʉF yak N ɹwɜF yak, female N ɹwɜHwɜHmiL yarn N tɥeHliH year N kjuH year, last N ʒjɑHpɨL year, next N ʒjɑLkʰɑwH year, this N pɨHpɨL yeast N ɡɥeF yellow as the sun V ɣɑ̃LɡuHɡuL yellow; turn yellow V/N/A ɣɑ̃R; nɜL-ɣɑ̃R yesterday N ʒjɑHniL yesterday, day before N ɹ̥ əHniL yesterday, two days before N ɹ̥ əLɡiHn̥iH yesterday, three days before N ɹ̥ əHlaLn̥iL



Part D: Prinmi-English glossary This glossary is presented in six sections. Each section is arranged according to the consonant place of articulation, vowels, and tonal categories. Section 1 Section 2 Section 3 Section 4 Section 5 Section 6

(zero-onset) b p pʰ s z m m̥ dz ts tsʰ bʴ pʴ pʰʴ

j d ʃ n dʒ ɡʴ

w t tʰ ʒ n̥ tʃ tʃʰ kʴ kʰʴ

ɡ k kʰ ʂ ʐ l l̥ ɖʐ ʈʂ ʈʂʰ

x ɣ ɹ ɹ̥

The order of vowels is as follows: a ɑ ɑ̃ ɑw e ə ɜ ɜj i ĩ ɨ jɑ jɜ jɛ̃ jõ ju o õ u ʉ wa wɑ wɑ̃ wɜ wɜj y ỹ ɥa ɥe ɥɛ ɥɛ̃ The order of tones:



1.1: H


ɑ põ father (vocative) ɑLbɑH father (vocative) ɑL-diH grandma (vocative) ɑL-kɑwH ɑL-puH grandfather, maternal L H ɑ le child ɑLljɑHtiL a little bit ɑL-mɑF mother (vocative) ɑL-niH aunt, paternal ɑL-puH grandpa (vocative) ɑR; ɑLtɜjH gale əHkʰeL that time H


jɑ mu pay attention jeH pen, cattle jɜHɡɑwH behavior jɜLmɜH lama


R zero-onset

əHniL like that əHwuL there ɜL-dĩH get blunt ɜL-djɜF commit adultery ɜL-jĩH rub ɜL-kʰõLn̥jɛH̃ irritate ɜL-kʴɑF get hooked ɜL-n̥ʉHn̥ʉH smell ɜL-pʰjɛR̃ bless ɜL-ʃjɑLʃjɑH try ɜL-ʈʂʰɨR knot

j w

ɥ R

jɛ̃ plow R L jɜ ; də -jɜR fetch warm (of clothes) jĩH H L grand grandchild ji lo


jiHtsɨL grandchild jiLtsʉH conch, mini jiR conch jĩR; tʰɜL-jĩR borrow; lend (inconsumable) R L H jĩ ; sĩ jĩ listen jõH know how jõH silver jõHjɛH̃ fall; tumble jõLdzɨHpɑLpɑL bat [animal] waF dare wɑLʒjɑR reason wɑR mind; care for wɑR; ɜL-wɑR cook (v.) H


ba duck bɑLlɜjH snake bɑR family [bound in compounds] R L bɑ ; ɜ -bɑF hurl bɑ̃RpoL bottom be at; to; from beF collapse bəLtsɨR piglet bɜLʒjõR slingshot bɜjF slippy bɜjR hybrid biF expand bĩF thick radially bɨF honey bɨF thin (of things) bɨFl̥ jɑLl̥ jɑL thin as a piece of paper bɨH sun bɨHl̥ iH sunflower; sunflower seed bɨHpjɜLljõL honey dumpling


wɜHmiL cow wɜHmiL kʰeLpɑH cow, milk wɜjLtʃʰɥeH leftside wɜLmiF guest woR mouth (archaic) wuH inside; in wuH; tɜH-wuH crow wuLkʰʉHkoHniH duodenary animals L R wu ʃi New Year (cf. harvest) wuR harvest; year ɥaR tile bear [animal] ɥɛH̃

b p pʰ bɨHtsjɛH̃ sunshine; sunray bjɛF̃ urine bjɛH̃ busy bjɛL̃ zeHzeH urination, frequent bjɛR̃ ; ɡəL-bjɛF̃ fly (v.) boF trough bõH have bõR cold bõR; dɜL-bõR deaf buF insect buH hoarfrost buLlɑH plentiful buLmɜR firefly bʉH; ɜL-bʉH heap (of grain) bʉLsʉR peach, wild pɑF do pɑHleH clothes pɑHʒjɑH deliberately peR noodle pəHtʃɑwH navel pəHʒɑwL axe handle



pɜHdiH frog pɜLduHduL bare as a bone pɜLpuLdjɛR̃ homeland; place of origin pɜLtsɨR flower pɜR bare pɜjLkɥɛF̃ siblings of same sex (as the speaker) L pɜj pɜjH brother, elder (vocative) pɜjR brother, elder; elder sister; elder sibling of same sex R pɜj stumble piHjõH custom and culture piR/piRpoL belly pĩR group; flock pɨF axe pɨF soft pɨHniL today pɨHpɨL year, this pɨHʃiL night, last pjɛL̃ njɑL tɜjH forest, virgin pjɛL̃ njɑR forest pjɛR̃ grove poH below; down poH dhole põH loop põHpõL uncle, paternal põLbɑH vase puF incense puH frost daH blame daH sticky dɑLdɥeR leftovers dɑwH; tʰɜL-dɑwH tired dɜjR resin


puH grandfather; male puH ladle puHɡɑH crack (vi.) puHkʰɑH crack (vt.) puHɹuH; ɜ L-puHɹuH roast puLdiLmɑH; puLdiR woman, old puLkɑF shoe puR brisket pʉF snow pʉHljuL tadpole pʰaF residue pʰɑLliH basin pʰɑR half pʰeF; nɜL-pʰeF demolish pʰeR patch pʰeR; tɜH-pʰeH cough up; spew pʰɜH news pʰɜHtɜjL parasol pʰɜLtʰɜHmiL man, young pʰɜR; nɜL-pʰɜR abandon pʰiR; nɜL-pʰiR slant (cf. sway) pʰɨR thigh pʰjɑR leech pʰjɛR̃ flee pʰʉLtɜjH expensive pʰʉR; tʰɜL-pʰʉR loot pʰʉR; tʰɜL-pʰʉR mediate; intervene in a fight R pʰʉ price

d t tʰ dəL-dʒɥɛR̃ dawn dəL-pʰeLljɑH tʰɜL-pʰeLljɑH swerve dəLɹɥɛH̃ fog dəL-ɹ̥ ĩR concentrate


dəL-ʃɨH tʰɜL-ɡiR happen repeatedly deH; tʰɜL-deH return (sth. inconsumable) R de old, grow; aged deR; tʰɜL-deR pass away; die of old age F dɨ wear out diH cast (verb) diH float diH grandmother; old diHjɑHjɑL drift aimlessly dĩH cloud dĩH dyad dĩHbeL sand djɑHdjɑL granny djɜH; tʰɜL-djɜH offend djɛF̃ ; ɡəL-djɛF̃ swallow djɛL̃ bɑH place (n.) djɛR̃ earth; ground djõF exist (of inanimate) djõLdiF; nɜL-djõLdiF waver; wag djuR nephew, paternal dõR wing duH strike duR poison dɥɛR ask tɑ only; just tɑH; nɜL-tɑH complete tɑ̃LkʰɑH slash-and-burn tɑLpɑR buttocks tɑR; nɜL-tɑF reach teR flag teR; nɜL-teF give birth to təLdʒeH here təLʃjɑH at present


tɜH-ɖʐɜH run around (of domestic animals in rut) tɜH-m̥jɛH̃ edible, make (through cooking) H tɜ -sɨH revive tɜLkõR a little tɜLnɜR a few tɜLtsɑH stick tɜL-ʈʂʰiF wake up; get up tɜLtʃĩHtɜHkɜL every household tɜjF exist on something tɜjH; ɡəL-tɜjH big; grow big tɜjHtɜjH uncle, big paternal tiLtiH slowly tiR; ɡəL-tiR put; place tjɑR now tjɜF blue sheep tjɛH̃ ; tɜH-tjɛH̃ get rich tjõF see tjõRtiR each other tjuH stomach to on to than toF; ɜL-toF look; read toH up toR bark tõLpuH donkey tõR deposit tuF grease tuHtuL cap tʉH thread; pass through tɥeHliH yarn tʰaLtʰaH drip tʰɜL-ɥaH mix well tʰɜL-bjɛH̃ hurry tʰɜL-ɡɥɛLɡɥɛF exchange tʰɜL-kyLtiH distinct



tʰɜL-ʈʂɥeH send tʰɜL-tsiH numb tʰɜLmɑH needleleaf tʰɜLsɑ̃H grasshopper; locust tʰɜjR drench; make swallow tʰiLwuH far-away tʰɨF dwindle tʰɨR sweet tʰjɜHtʰjõL congenial tHjɛL̃ jiH beverage

tʰjɛR̃ ; ɡəL-tʰjɛF̃ drink tʰjõR build tʰjuH sheep, male; ram tʰõR pond tʰõR succeed tʰõRpoLʃɨL climb mountain tʰʉF cottage cheese tʰʉR; tʰɜL-tʰʉRborrow; lend (consumable)

2.3: ɡ ɡɑF fall off ɡɑ̃F bed ɡɑ̃F upper/top part ɡɑwLʒeHʒeH proud ɡɑwR deep ɡɑwR happy; glad ɡəL-ɖʐɑ̃H ɜL-ɖʐɑ̃H walk around ɡəL-pɜjH ɜL-pɜjH hide about ɡəL-pʰiR ɜL-pʰiR sway ɡəL-tʰeH clever ɡəLʂɑ̃R chopstick ɡeR divorce ɡeR; ɡjɜLɡeR help ɡiF debt ɡiR return home ɡĩLl̥ iRɡĩLʃɑwH lead a nomadic life gĩLtsoR stable (n.) ɡjɑH love ɡjɑH pretty; beautiful ɡjɛF̃ cut ɡjɜHɡeL break off a relationship ɡjõHm̥jɛH̃ body ɡjõLɡjõH dummy ɡjõR dumb; stupid ɡjõR grass

k kʰ ɡoF; nɜL-ɡoF wither; die out; go off ɡoLdoH walnut [same in Narua] ɡoR mountain; hill ɡõH inside ɡõF; nɜL-ɡõF bend; bow ɡõLdiR nod ɡõLɡɑF; tʰɜL-ɡõLɡɑF lick ɡuF; tɜH-ɡuH dry ɡuHsaLsaL dry as dust ɡuHsʉL Coriaria fruit ɡuHʒĩL middle (of birth order) ɡuLʒĩH middle (n.) ɡʉHɡʉH; nɜL-ɡʉHɡʉH old (of things) L H ɡʉ bõ /ɡʉLtõH stone ɡʉR money ɡwaF ruin ɡwɜjLjiH clothing ɡwɜjR tusk ɡwɜjR; nɜL-ɡwɜjF dress; put on ɡyH rain ɡyLtõH fireplace ɡɥaF get wounded ɡɥeF yeast


ɡɥeLkjɜHkjɜL shiver all over ɡɥeLɹɜHɹɜH tremble ɡɥeR shiver ɡɥɛF fox ɡɥɛF slave ɡɥɛHdʒɥɛL bird ɡɥɛLtsiH backbone of house ɡɥɛLtsiR bird ɡɥɛR; nɜL-ɡɥɛR satiated from drinking ɡɥɛH̃ high; tall ɡɥɛH̃ dʒɥaH rank ɡɥɛR̃ horse kɑH; nɜL-kɑH open (of mouth) kɑLsuH anus kɑLwuH beneath kɑR; ɜL-kɑR bite kɑ̃F neck kɑ̃Lɹ̥ ɑ̃H necklace kɑwH steal kɑwR uncle, maternal kɜH fake kɜLkɜLkaHkaH entice kɜLtɜLmɑHlɑH chat kɜLtsɜjR small kɜR energy kɜjF feces kɜjH fine; alright kɜjHliH cup kiHpuL cuckoo keF grassland keF; tʰɜL-keF reap kiR return, make someone kiR sell kɨH garlic kɨH spicy hot


kjɑR; nɜL-kjɑR envy kjɜR; tɜH-kjɜH fear; afraid kjɛR̃ ; nɜL-kjɛR̃ estrange kjɛR̃ ; tɜH-kjɛH̃ take; take back kjõH; ɜL-kjõH ice; frozen kjõHjõH oil lamp kjõR door kjuH year koF air; breath koF stew (v.) koH difficult kõHdjɛH̃ highland koLjiR crow koLʃiH; tɜL-koLʃiH usher; lead kõLtsõH barley, highland kuF; kwɜHkuL help kuH blind kuH egg kuH; nɜL-kuH lay (eggs) kuHdziH profit kʉF horse, male; stallion kʉHliH thief kʉHmiL thief kʉR dig kwaH; tɜH-kwaH open (of eye) kwɑH hoof kwɑ̃H flatland kwɜH cattle kwɜHkwɑL accuse kwɜjH; nɜL-kwɜjH cry kwɜjR stake kwɜLnɑ̃H milk, cow kyR; tɜH-kyH satiated from eating kɥaH melon kɥaR alright kɥeF cover; lid



kɥeF exist inside something kɥɛHnjɑH twin daughter kɥɛHpʰʴĩH twin son kɥɛH̃ tʃɨH words kɥɛR̃ brother, younger; younger sister; younger sibling of same sex kʰaR bitter kʰɑF; tʰɜL-kʰɑF remove; pick (fruit) kʰɑLlɑR walnut kʰɑLʃuH corn kʰɑR king kʰɑwLkʰɑwR; nɜL-kʰɑwLkʰɑwLsiH thank R kʰɑw ; tɜH-kʰɑwF smoke; fume kʰeH side kʰəHniL/kʰəHnjõH mouth kʰəLl̥ ɑHtsɨL toe kʰəL-lɑ̃R cover kʰəLtiF whatever kʰiF lock; key kʰɨHnjɑL dog, black kʰɨLbõLtʃʰɥaHbõH chicken pox kʰɨLdiR dog, old F

sa recede (of water) sɑLlɑR table seH miss (someone) seLlɑwH pear seR pepper, Sichuan sɜHkʰʉL twig sɜHsɜLtɑwHtɑwH quarrels and rows L H sɜ pɑ leaf sɜLsɜR war sɜLsɜRm̥jɑHm̥jɑH violence


kʰjɑR basket, pack kʰjɛR̃ ; tɜH-kʰjɛH̃ stand up kʰjɛR̃ ; tʰɜL-kʰjɛF̃ give kʰoF extinguish; put out kʰoLloH porch kʰoR needle kʰõR life kʰuHl̥ ɑL three days after tomorrow kʰuLdiH two days after tomorrow kʰuLsjɛR̃ the day after tomorrow kʰuR want; need; must kʰʉHmɑ̃L hair (of head) kHʉLnjɛH̃ headache kʰʉR head; top kʰwɑF Rhododendron kʰwɑR bowl kʰwɜjR spade kʰyR pity kʰɥɛF lake; sea kʰɥɛH heart kʰɥɛHdʒeH angry kʰɥɛHkɜjHtsɜjL coward; timid kʰɥɛR lack kʰɥɛH̃ ; tɜH-kʰɥɛH̃ rise


z R

sɜ ; nɜL-sɜR assault; kill sɜjR blood siF; ɡəL-siF press siR rust sɨR; nɜL-sɨR die sjɛL̃ bõH tree sjɛL̃ n̥iH tomorrow sjɛR̃ wood; firewood suH rice plant suHɡjɑH affection


suLdjõHdjõL breathe difficultly suR grind sʉHdʉL; nɜL-sʉHdʉL think sʉHsɥɛL̃ teach sʉR fruit sʉR; tɜH-sʉH full; fill up swɑ̃F father swɑR count sɥaR lead (n.) sɥɛH̃ learn

3.2: ʃɑwH; tɜH-ʃɑwH raise (livestock) ʃeLbõH peach ʃeLɡɑwH paper ʃeLʃeR fondle ʃiF louse ʃiR exist (of abstract things) ʃiR new ʃĩR sneeze ʃɨH Dragon god ʃɨH; ɡəL-ʃɨH go ʃɨR; nɜL-ʃɨR take off (clothes) ʃjɑH resemble ʃjɑR day, holy ʃjɑR take shelter ʃjɜF east ʃjɜLnjɛH̃ cholera ʃjɛH̃ iron; metal ʃjɛH̃ tsɑwHmiL blacksmith ʃjõF golden pheasant ʃjõFɹɜLpuL golden pheasant, male ʃuLʃuH together ʃỹR mold ʃɥeH night; evening castrate ʃɥɛF̃ ; tʰɜL-ʃɥɛF̃ F ʒe exist (of animate)

sɥɛH̃ tʃĩH school sɥiF leopard zaH stroke [illness] zaR pangolin zɑ̃Lzɑ̃R cicada zɑwF appearance zɨHɹəHɹəL elegant (objects) zoH nice zoHloHloL carefully zʉR face


ʒ ʒeR slice (v.) ʒiH month ʒ̩ĩH delicious ʒɨF bow ʒɨH many ʒɨHməH earthquake ʒɨHmeL dream ʒɨLʒɑwH sleepy ʒɨR; ɜL-ʒɨR lie (v.) ʒɨR; ɜL-ʒɨR sleep ʒɨR; nɜL-ʒɨF come ʒjɑHniL yesterday ʒjɑHpɑLɹɜLkɑL metacarpal ʒjɑHpɨL last year ʒjɑLkʰɑwH next year ʒjɑLl̥ ɑHtsɨL finger ʒjɑLmiH tonight ʒjɑLn̥jɛL̃ tõH story ʒjɑLn̥jɛR̃ ancient ʒjɑLpɨHɹəH past ʒjɑLpuLtõH palm ʒjɑR hand ʒjɑRkʰʴəLmɑ̃H hair (on human body) H L ʒjɜ ɖʐi handprint




ʒjɜLpʰeR handkerchief ʒjɛH̃ tobacco; cigarette ʒjɛR̃ can ʒjɛR̃ manure

ʒjõH burn ʒjuH; nɜL-ʒjuH overfill ʒɥɛH̃ ambush


ʂɜF wheat ʂɜLjĩH grain ʂɨF meat; flesh ʂɨHtʃyL sausage ʂɨLʂõH pure ʂõH clean ʂwɑR fur of plant

ʐ ʐɑH bring; carry ʐɨLtʃʰɥeH rightside ʐõH sheep ʐõLdeH grand grandmother ʐwɑLʐwɑR sausage, Prinmi


xɑF alright; good xɑ̃R parrot xeH exhale xeH god xeHtõH altar xĩH tell xĩR; ɡəL-xĩR grow xoH do well xõLmiH lunatic xõR crazy; insane xuF south F


x ɣ xɥɛR; nɜL-xɥɛR shout ɣɑR thick ɣɑ̃H gold ɣɑ̃LɡuHɡuL yellow as the sun ɣɑ̃R; nɜL-ɣɑ̃R yellow; turn yellow ɣoF rat; mouse ɣoLtyR wart ɣoR tiger ɣõR pen [for livestock]


mɑ mother mɑHmɑL aunt, maternal mɑLɖʐwɑH inconvenient mɑLɡjɑH ugly mɑLsɨF know mɑLʂõH dirty mɑR not mɑ̃F hair; feather mɑ̃F; tʰɜL-mɑ̃F lower/rear part; follow mɑ̃H name

m m̥ mɑ̃HɹɜjH scold mɑ̃HʈʂʰoHɹɜLkɑL pelvis mɑ̃LtoH final meHmeL elder sister-in-law məF sky məHdəL all məHʈʂiL village məLdziR barley məLdzuF all məLtjɛH̃ thunder


məLʒjɑR cake; bun mɜF bamboo mɜHɖʐiL charcoal mɜHkɜH household mɜHl̥ eL tail mɜHl̥ eL wind mɜHtʃeH look for mɜHʈʂʰeL make fire mɜHtsiL sparkle mɜLɡɑ̃H torch mɜLkõH mɜHɹõL midland mɜLkyH mɜHɖʐjuL satisfied from eating L R mɜ l̥ e flame mɜLlĩH warm by fire mɜLtjɛH̃ mɜHpʰuL middle class (of economics) L R mɜ tsʰõ heel mɜLtsiH pincers mɜLtsɨR cat mɜR fire mɜR; nɜL-mɜR forget miF person miHɹəL people mĩLʂõHʂõL abundant mĩLtoF lotus mjɑF eye F

nɑ harm; jeopardize nɑ̃F skirt nɑ̃R milk (cf. breast) neF soy bean neH red; redden neHɡõHɡõL red as a cherry nəHnoL turn upside down nɜL-ɡwɑLɡwɑR consult



mjɑHbuL eyelid mjɑHkʉLnjɛL̃ conjunctivitis mjɑHsʉH eyeball mjɑLbʴɜjR tear (n.) mjɑR soldier moH butter moHdʒeL butter tea muR corpse muR wake muR; dəL-muR compact mʉLkʉR livestock mʉLkʉRsɥɛH̃ tʃjɛH̃ animals mʉLn̥ɥɛH̃ siblings of different sex m̥eF fishbone, small m̥əHtʃjuL orphan girl m̥əLɡjɛF̃ man, old m̥əLʈʂɑLleH woman, little; girl m̥əLʈʂɑR woman m̥ɜHtsiH cousin m̥iF daughter m̥jɑR gadfly m̥jɛ̃F; dəL-m̥jɛF̃ ripe; ripen m̥jɛ̃H medicine m̥jɛ̃H tʃĩH clinic m̥uH greasy m̥uR blow m̥uR suffocate

n n̥ nɜHdʒjuL ear nɜLɡeH again nɜLnɜR fermented rice nɜLtʃĩR (or mɜLtʃĩR) wasp ni like (prep.) niH blue; green niHlɑHlɑL green, bright niHʈʂɑ̃Hʈʂɑ̃L green, intensely



niLl̥ eH springtime niF; tʰɜL-niF lose; be defeated njɑLbaHbaL black as night njɑLkõHkõL black as pitch njɑLtɑwHtɑwL lonely njɑR black; dark; blacken njɑR lone njɛF̃ copper njɛF̃ few/little njɛH̃ cloth njɛH̃ ; tʰɜL-njɛH̃ pain; ache; disease njõF west njõR breast(feed); human milk njuR leather bag noF oppose; opposite morning nuLsjɛH̃ nuR; dəL-nuR wake nuR; tʰɜL-nuR hear nʉF tanning

4.3: lɑ also lɑ̃F soup lɜF wolf lɜHtsʉL wolf pup lɜHtuHtuL blunt utterly lɜjF heavy lɜjH; dəL-lɜjH invite lɜjR sow (v.) leLleR folk song lɜLljɛR̃ very lɥɛF ash lɥɛH̃ muntjac, black ljɑHljɑH uncle, youngest paternal ljɛH̃ firm ljɜHtʃʉL dislike ljõF; ɜL-ljõF suffice

nɥɛR̃ winnowing tray n̥ɑLsɜLljõHneH rhinophyma n̥ɑ̃F slow n̥ɑ̃R snivel n̥ɜLpuLlɑH lip n̥ɜR brain n̥iF day; daytime n̥iH near n̥ĩH rest n̥iLdʒjõH/n̥iLɡõH nose n̥iLtʃʰjõH man, young; guy n̥iLtʃʰjõHliH man, little; boy n̥jɛR̃ ear of grain n̥juR mouth; beak n̥oR difficult to understand n̥ɥeF; ɡəL-n̥ɥeF die from suffocation (of piglets) n̥ɥeF; nɜL-n̥ɥeF muddy, (of water) n̥ɥɛH̃ sister (of a male)

l l̥ ljuR craw; crop ljuR log loF outside loH matter loHpjɑH work loHtsʰeHtsʰeL retreat lõF maggot l̥ õH shrink lõHbuLtʃʰiL elephant lʉF musk deer lʉHbõL China fir l̥ ɑLtsɨLɹɜLkɑH finger bone l̥ ɑLtsɨR finger; toe l̥ eF tongue; language l̥ eR; ɡəL-l̥ eR fuel (v.) l̥ ɜH decade


l̥ ɜjF flea l̥ iF; tʰɜL-l̥ iF escape l̥ iH moon l̥ iR ladder l̥ iR shepherd l̥ jɑLl̥ jɑR firethorn l̥ jɜLbɑ̃R tongue root l̥ jɜLkʰʉR tongue tip l̥ jɜLməLl̥ jɜR weasel F

ɹa get stuck ɹɑLpuLdʒjõH cave ɹeH dip ɹəF skin; fur ɹəH pile up ɹəHdʒeL beL at first ɹəHkʰeL before ɹəLʂɨR muscle; flesh ɹəLʈʂɨR alcohol; liquor ɹəLwɑH hope ɹəR sickle ɹɜLkɑH bone ɹɜLmɑH hen ɹɜLmɑLdeR hen, old ɹɜLpuF chicken, male; rooster ɹɜjF pot, cooking ɹiF; nɜL-ɹiF shave ɹiR find ɹĩF; tʰɜL-ɹĩF narrow ɹɨF/ɹəF front; first ɹɨHtsɨL knife ɹjuF cubit/elbow-span ɹoF chicken ɹoH net ɹoH; tɜH-ɹoH thrive ɹoHɹwɑL wriggle


l̥ jɜR release l̥ jõF skin l̥ juLtsɨR bladder l̥ juLtsɨR hare l̥ oLtsɑwH kowtow l̥ oR forehead l̥ õR pluck l̥ wɜjHtsʰõH spice l̥ ɥɛF crupper


ɹ ɹ̥ ɹõH wheat drying racks lowland ɹõHdjɛH̃ ɹuH stem; trunk ɹuHl̥ eL joke ɹʉR well-being ɹwɑF willing to give ɹwɑH grope ɹwɑR; nɜL-ɹwɑR owe ɹwɜF road ɹwɜF yak ɹwɜHɖʐɜL; ɖʐɜH far ɹwɜHmɑL road, big ɹwɜHn̥iL; n̥iH near ɹwɜHwɜHmiL yak, female ɹwɜLɡɑ̃HɹwɜLmɑ̃H closeness (of relation) ɹwɜLnɑ̃H milk, yak ɹwɜR; ɹwɜLɹwɜR round ɹɥɛH̃ call off; ring out ɹ̥ aLtʃʰɨR play ɹ̥ aLtsɨHtsɨL smile warmly ɹ̥ aR laugh; smile ɹ̥ ɑ̃H long ɹ̥ əHlaLn̥iL three days before yesterday ɹ̥ əHniL the day before yesterday



ɹ̥ əLɡiHn̥iH two days before yesterday ɹ̥ əR dew ɹ̥ əR; dəL-ɹ̥ əR emerge ɹ̥ iF sweat, perspire ɹ̥ õHɹ̥ ĩL want (to do something) ɹ̥ uF pine torch ɹ̥ uH chirrup

5.1: dza lɑ lɑ bright (of color) dzɑF shadow; shade dzɑHtoLdĩL mirror dzɑ̃F wet dzɑ̃H drum dzɑwR plug dzeR fall off (of leaves) dzɜLbɑH trap, animal dzɜR stripe dzɜjR; nɜL-dzɜjF ride (v.) dziF; tɜH-dziH fatten (of pig) dzĩHɖʐwɑL well off dzɨF be dzɨH eat dzɨH vicinity dzɨHjiH food dzɨHtʰjɛH̃ food and drink dzõH; nɜL-dzõH sit dzõHtʃʰeH meal gathering (for New Year) R dzõ bridge dzʉF itchy dzʉR creamy dzuLbeH mention dzuR; tʰɜL-dzuR make; repair dzwɜjF pickaxe tsɑH meat, fat L



ɹ̥ ʉF tooth ɹ̥ ʉH buy ɹ̥ ʉHbõL varnish tree ɹ̥ ʉLɹ̥ ɥeF; ɡəL-ɹ̥ ʉLɹ̥ ɥeF clean up by wiping H H ɹ̥ wɜ ɹ̥ u sing (of bird) ɹ̥ wɜjR broom

dz ts

tsʰ H

tsɑ ɡjõH whole-body dried pork tsɑR autumn tsɑwH; ɡəL-tsɑwH hit; beat tseR pick off tsɜH red deer tsɜHmɑH red deer, female tsɜHtsɑwL fight tsɜHʒiL monkey tsɜLnjɛH̃ fever tsɜR hot tsɜjF wash tsiH seed; life tsɨHtɜjL size tsɨLtsɨF nephew, maternal tsjɛH̃ ; nɜL-tsjɛH̃ hit (the mark) tsjɛL̃ tõH chest tsoF wedge tsõF wool tsõF; tsõHl̥ eL winter tsõHjɑ̃H cultivate tsõLɡyH attire tsuF ghost tsuH thorn; prick tsʉF son; small tsʉHʈʂʰɨH daughter-in-law tsʉHtʃjuL orphan boy tswɜjF steel


tsɥɛF̃ liver liver disease tsɥɛL̃ njɛH̃ R L tsʰa ; nɜ -tsʰaR rob tsʰɑR unkempt (of hair) tsʰɑ̃R; nɜL-tsʰɑ̃R block tsʰiH plowshare tsʰiR salt tsʰĩR thin radially tsʰɨF goat tsʰɨLnɑ̃R milk, goat


tsʰjɛR̃ center tsʰoF; tsʰɜHtsʰoL dance (v.) tsʰõF short (of length) tsʰõHɹ̥ ɑ̃H length tsʰõHtsʰõLbjɜHbjɜL all kinds and sorts tsʰõLtʃʰɨF business tsʰʉR lung tsʰɥeF; tʰɜL-tsʰɥeF return ( sth. consumable)

5.2: dʒe at one’s place dʒeHʒɑwH anxious dʒeLtʃʰɨF dog, hunting; hound dʒeR tea dʒiLdʒiR book; script dʒiLmɜR bushfire dʒiLtsʰĩLɹɜHkɑL lumbar vertebra dʒiR back dʒiR; ɜL-dʒiF saturate dʒɨH fish (n.) dʒɨR market dʒjɑR rake true dʒjɛH̃ H dʒjɛ̃ ʒɑwH believe dʒjõH hole dʒjõLʒɨL wɜHmiL buffalo, female dʒjõLʒɨR buffalo dʒjõR guard dʒjuR starve dʒʉR soul dʒʉR; tʰɜL-dʒʉR hatch dʒyR; ɜL-dʒyF rotten dʒɥaH short (of height); lower dʒɥaLzĩHzĩH glossy glaringly dʒɥaR glossy

dʒ tʃ


dʒɥɛLpoH chest; cabinet dʒɥɛR̃ ; tɜH-dʒɥɛH̃ shine (of lamp) tʃeH summer tʃeHmeH home; family tʃeHɹõH hungry tʃeLjiH footwear tʃeR; nɜL-tʃeF wear tʃɜLʒĩR oat tʃiF some tʃĩH house; home tʃɨH water tʃɨLdĩH flood tʃɨLdĩH tʃɨHlɑ̃L deluge tʃɨLpɜjH water, boiled tʃɨLɹiR spring [water] tʃɨLtʰoLtʰoR waterfall tʃɨR; ɡəL-tʃɨR say; speak tʃjɑLtʃiH color tʃjɑR reckon tʃjɛH̃ see tʃjɛR̃ ; ɑLleH child tʃjõF down [hair] tʃʉH warm tʃyH intestine tʃyHbĩL intestine, large



tʃyHtsʰĩH intestine, small tʃỹH container tʃɥaF decline tʃɥaH gluttonous tʃɥɛH earn tʃɥɛF̃ lunch tʃʰeLdeLpʰɑR offer food (to god) tʃʰeLɡyR gift tʃʰeR rice; meal tʃʰiF religion; faith tʃʰiLpjɜF always tʃʰɨLtʃʰyH badger, Eurasian tʃʰɨR do tʃʰɨR dog tʃʰjɑF sharp dry in the sun tʃʰjɛR̃ ; ɡəL-tʃʰjɛR̃ tʃʰjɛH̃ prophet tʃʰjɛH̃ bõL pine R


ɖʐa saliva ɖʐɑ̃Lɖʐɑ̃H walk ɖʐɑ̃R nail; claw ɖʐɑ̃R thirsty ɖʐɑwR miserly ɖʐeF tear (vi.) ɖʐɜH far ɖʐɜHɡeL after ɖʐɜHmɑH single mother ɖʐɜLɖʐɜH bad, very ɖʐɜR bad; poor; weaken ɖʐɜR mishap ɖʐɜjF sweat stains ɖʐiHɹeLɹeL running down of saliva R ɖʐi sew ɖʐjɛF̃ bastard; illegitimate child

tʃʰjɛH̃ tsɨL goat, young; kid tʃʰjõF north tʃʰjõF; tʰɜL-tʃʰjõF open tʃʰjõLl̥ jɛ̃H wait tʃʰjõR; ɡəL-tʃʰjõF appear tʃʰoH; nɜL-tʃʰoH pound tʃʰoLtʃʰoR wipe tʃʰyH good tʃʰyR badger tʃʰɥaF; dəL-tʃʰɥaF hire tʃʰɥaHnjɑL pig, black tʃʰɥaLɹoH farm animals tʃʰɥaLʂɨH pork tʃʰɥaLtʃʰyH badger, hog tʃʰɥaR pig tʃʰɥeF direction tʃʰɥɛF rice, raw tʃʰɥɛR̃ pig, male; boar

ɖʐ ʈʂ

ʈʂʰ H

ɖʐjɛ̃ barn ɖʐoF gun ɖʐoLɖʐoF run ɖʐõR become ɖʐõR kick ɖʐuR friend ɖʐʉR; nɜL-ɖʐʉF write; draw ɖʐwɑF easy; convenient ʈʂaF soil; earth ʈʂɑLlɑHlɑL colorful ʈʂɑLl̥ jɑR waistband ʈʂɑLʈʂɑF magpie ʈʂɑR chop (wood) ʈʂeH; ɡəL-ʈʂeH pull ʈʂɜF big; large; strong ʈʂiF mule ʈʂĩLʈʂuR pestle


ʈʂĩR mortar ʈʂɨF muntjac ʈʂɨF; ɡəL-ʈʂɨF jump; leap ʈʂjɛR̃ ; nɜL-ʈʂjɛF̃ recall ʈʂoR organ ʈʂõH hard ʈʂõH privacy ʈʂuF keep in a safe place ʈʂuH sour ʈʂwaF benchmark ʈʂwɑF nest ʈʂwɑR shoulder ʈʂwɑR; nɜL-ʈʂwɑR contact ʈʂwɜF analyze

ʈʂʰɑLlaR idea ʈʂʰɑLmɑR mud ʈʂʰɑR history ʈʂʰɑR shame ʈʂʰeF tear (vt.) ʈʂʰeR; tʰɜL-ʈʂʰeR feed ʈʂʰɨF; ɡəL-ʈʂʰɨF slaughter ʈʂʰɨF; nɜL-ʈʂʰɨF stand ʈʂʰɨR wife ʈʂʰjɛH̃ otter ʈʂʰõH quick; hasty ʈʂʰuR horn; butt ʈʂʰwɑH sound; voice

6.1: bʴɑ̃R root bʴəF foe; personal enemy bʴjɛR̃ rope bʴõLbʴõR roasted barley flour pʴɑwH transform pʴəF hedgehog pʴɜF antelope pʴjɛR̃ drop (n.) pʴõLpʴjɛF̃ ; nɜL-pʴõLpʴjɛF̃ scatter

bʴ pʴ pʰʴ


ɡʴ kʴ kʰʴ


ɡʴɑw knee pit ɡʴɑwR kneel ɡʴəF fall (out of pocket) ɡʴəR star ɡʴjɛH̃ break (vi.) kʴaR eagle kʴəH gall kʴiR sing kʴjɛH̃ break (vt.) kʰʴaR shoot kʰʴəF; nɜL-kʰʴəF shed


pʰʴəF (of fruit) stone pʰʴəF pair pʰʴəH; tʰɜL-pʰʴəH untie pʰʴɜR; dɜL-pʰʴɜF meet by chance pʰʴiF opague beer get married pʰʴiHtʰjɛL̃ pʰʴĩH; tɜH-pʰʴĩH white; whiten pʰʴĩHtʃjɑHtʃjɑL white as snow

kʰʴəH foot kʰʴəHɡjõL knee kʰʴəHɹuHɹɜLkɑL loLtʃʰɥeHɹɜHkɑL fibula H H L kʰʴə ɹu ɹɜ kɑL ɹəHtʃʰɥeLɹɜHkɑL tibia kʰʴəLlɥɛR turtle dove kʰʴəLməLʒjɑR pork legs kʰʴiF chop (vegetable) kʰʴʉH horn (n.)

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INDEX TO LANGUAGES Arakanese [Tibeto-Burman], 20, 44 Burmese [Tibeto-Burman], 10, 20, 118, 277 Cantonese [Sinitic], 189, 210, 213, 309 Central Alaskan Yupik Eskimo [Eskimo–Aleut], 257 Dumi [Tibeto-Burman], 29 English, 7, 16, 19, 21, 72, 73, 77, 83, 84, 91, 115, 165, 168, 171, 172, 191, 212, 263, 265, 282, 302 French, 101 Japanese, 11, 49, 171 Jiarong [Tibeto-Burman], 22 Lahu [Tibeto-Burman], 29, 118 Latin, 72 Naxi [Tibeto-Burman], 10, 14 Lisu [Tibeto-Burman], 14, 29, 277 Loloish branch [Tibeto-Burman], 29, 272 Mandarin [Sinitic], 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12-15, 52, 82, 87, 94, 111, 112, 126, 189, 206, 213-215, 269, 302, 313 Narua (a.k.a. Na, Moso) [TibetoBurman], 14, 29, 45

Nosu [Tibeto-Burman], 10, 13, 14, 44, 45 Papuan language(s), 151, 277 Proto-Prinmi [Tibeto-Burman], 8 Proto-Qiang [Tibeto-Burman], 8 Proto-Tibeto-Burman, 10 Qiang [Tibeto-Burman], 7, 8 Qiangic branch [Tibeto-Burman], 7 Southern Min [Sinitic], 189, 213 Standard Chinese [Sinitic], 2, 13, 15, 140, 154, 212, 215, 224 Tangut (a.k.a. Xixia) [TibetoBurman], 7 Tibetan [Tibeto-Burman], 4, 14, 53, 203, 210 Tibeto-Burman language(s), 1, 5, 710, 29, 45, 49, 79, 109, 118, 173, 175, 225, 272, 277 Turkish, 210 Yi group [Tibeto-Burman], 272, Yi-Burmish branch [Tibeto-Burman], 277 Yimas [Papuan], 151

GENERAL INDEX abilitive, 233, 235 ACTION verb See verbs admonitive, 88, 229, 230 adverbs, 85, 87, 96-98, 181, 222, 254, 255, 258, 259, 301, 309 affixes conjunctive infix, 107 conversional affix, 73 derivational suffixes, 73, 109, 114, 117, 123, 239 directional prefixes, 41, 60, 62, 63, 76, 80, 109, 112, 189, 199, 200, 205, 210, 217, 218, 220, 225, 230, 235, 246-248, 250, 251, 281 negative prefix, 81, 109, 114, 117 afterthought, 309 Agent See semantic roles agreement, 23, 99, 109, 119, 120, 146, 147, 150, 188, 191-194, 201, 202, 222, 225, 239, 242, 246, 249 alienability, 164 animate, 78, 101, 115, 167, 226, 227, 285, 316 antonym, 72, 81, 101, 108, 114, 117, 132 aspect durative, 52, 181, 197, 199, 204, 205, 240, 255, 256 experiential, 188, 189, 204, 205, 208 imperfective, 32, 42, 117, 163, 168, 192, 204, 205, 225, 230, 235, 238, 250, 251 inchoative, 88, 248, 249

perfective, 52, 63, 71, 119, 163, 168, 190, 204, 205, 207, 225, 237, 248, 273, 282 terminative, 88, 248, 292 aspectual auxiliaries, 248 aspiration See consonants assertive, 88, 235-238, 293 attitudinal See clitics auxiliary verbs, 87, 88, 115, 217, 218, 229, 232, 234, 238, 240, 241, 245, 246, 248-251, 256, 281, 291-294 See also modality desiderative, 88, 249, 251, 282 purposive, 249, 250 venturive, 88, 249, 251 Benefactive See semantic roles Beneficiary See semantic roles body part, 165, 167, 178, 227 causation, 11, 275, 280, 282-285, 287 See also sociative causative, 88, 194, 217, 218, 229, 241, 248, 249, 280-287, 292, 293 See also Double-verb predicate Causee See semantic roles Causer See semantic roles centralization See vowel clanlect, 45, 47, 90, 111 See also Prinmi dialects classifier, 49, 61, 67-69, 87, 92-94, 179, 183, 184 clause-chaining sentences See sentences cleft sentences, 302 clauses See also topics complement clauses, 88, 100, 115, 130, 131, 145, 146, 154, 217220, 222, 224, 227, 228, 232-


234, 236, 238, 240, 241, 244, 246-248, 250, 251, 266, 276, 280, 281, 286-296, 302-305 dependent clauses, 253-256, 265 embedded clauses, 169, 222, 233, 286, 293, 296, 305 nominal clauses, 82, 85, 253, 257259, 261 relative clauses, 75, 141, 162, 168170, 172, 173, 179, 257, 258, 290, 310 verbless clauses, 253, 260, 261 clitics attitudinal, 213 enclitic, 11, 117, 205, 207-209 endoclitic, 11, 206-209 mesoclitic, 11, 207-209 proclitic, 11, 206-209 closed lexical categories, 87 comitative, 60, 102, 139 comparative construction, 106, 145, 288-290, 305 complement clause See clauses compounds, 30, 38-40, 46, 49, 53-57, 60, 61, 65-69, 75, 80, 83-86, 90, 92, 95, 96, 101, 108, 114, 115, 117, 125-137, 162, 174, 179, 180, 183-186, 199, 246, 316 conditional clause See topics conjunctive infix See affixes consonants aspiration, 18, 19, 20, 45, 46, 110, 118 rhoticization, 7, 17, 21, 22 voicing, 10, 17-20, 43, 46, 110, 117, 118 continuousness, 123, 124 controllability, 114, 117-119, 188, 191-195, 202, 203, 240, 241, 275, 279


conversional affix See affixes co-ordinate expressions, 125, 132, 134-137, 187, 265, 270 copula, 8, 9, 116, 119, 120, 181, 260, 261, 291, 299, 301-303, 305 See also modality, quasi-copula core arguments, 11, 76, 124, 142-144, 148, 150-152, 154, 169, 254, 267-269, 282, 284, 285, 288, 290 core functions, 105, 142-146, 149-152, 155, 157, 160, 169 deictic, 96, 109, 113, 132, 181 demonstratives, 78, 88, 89, 160, 162, 182, 183, 289, 307 denasalization See vowels deontic See modality, See also negators derivational suffixes See affixes DESCRIPTIVE verb See verbs desiderative See auxiliary verbs dialects See Prinmi dialects, See also clanlect direct speech, 210, 211 directional prefixes See affixes discourse clitics, 43, 90, 100, 103, 139, 155, 157, 160, 177, 180, 181, 272, 277, 293 domain merger, 61, 127 double subject construction, 313 double topic construction See topiccomment construction double-verb predicate, 131, 271-280, 286, 287, 291-294, 305 causative double-verb predicate, 275, 276, 279 definition of double-verb predicate, 271 resultative double-verb predicate, 274, 275, 292, 313 durative See aspect



dual-domain, 55-57, 65, 69 economy, 22, 166, 179 ellipsis, 16, 76, 148, 150, 260-262, 288, 294 embedded clause See clauses embedded topic-comment See topiccomment construction enclitic See clitics endoclitic See clitics equational sentences See sentences ergative, 151, 153, 154 evidential See quotative existentials, 78, 116, 217, 218, 225228, 268 experiential See aspect extra-prosodic, 54, 57, 60, 61, 63, 64, 67, 89, 100, 102, 104 focus, 155, 160, 161, 174, 210, 236, 297-306 focus domains, 297, 299, 301-305 focus-presupposition, 115, 223-225, 229, 297, 298, 300-305 fusion See vowel genitive, 162, 164, 166-168, 171, 173 grammatical relations, 77, 138, 146, 299 grammaticalization, 88, 96, 114, 115, 156, 175, 185, 189, 190, 210, 211, 248, 249, 257, 261 hortative See modality iconicity, 198, 250, 278-280, 287 ideophone, 54, 55, 85, 87, 94-97, 128, 131, 135, 198 imperative, 119, 120, 206, 241, 279 imperfective See aspect inchoative See aspect indirect speech, 294

inflection, 11, 23, 24, 75, 109, 119, 121, 147, 148, 177, 192, 222, 225, 242, 246, 288 instrumental, 11, 42, 60, 102, 114, 139-141, 143, 151-155, 170 intensifier, 76, 132 intensity, 123 interjections, 99, 213, 301 interrogative, 41, 90, 116, 171, 201, 204, 205, 208, 217, 218, 228, 230, 232, 237, 246, 247, 249, 258, 306 intonation, 16, 49, 62, 69-71, 127, 277, 279, 281, 303 irrealis, 244 kinship terms, 78, 84, 107, 165 language attitude, 5 Lánpíng, 2-9, 12, 13, 47, 48, 90, 120, 189 loan, 4, 45, 53, 87, 94, 111, 214, 215 Locative, 106, 139, 142, 143, 158, 170, 268-270, 300, 308, 312 lowering See vowel melody-tone, 49, 57, 58 mesoclitic See clitics mirative, 11, 163, 211 modality deontic modal, 218, 229, 230, 235 See also abilitive, admonitive, obligative, permissive epistemic modal, 218, 235 See also skillitive, successitive hortative, 204, 205 optative, 163, 201-203, 213, 234, 251 volitive, 201-203, 230, 233, 238, 251 modificatory, 41, 42, 52, 78, 83, 162164, 166, 168-170, 173, 175,


176, 180, 184, 203, 212, 257, 258, 290 morpholexicalization, 39, 40, 45-47, 108, 123 Moso, 2-5, 45, 67, 130 Mùlǐ, 2-4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 30, 90, 147 multifunctionality, 11, 74, 129 Nàxī, 2, 4 negation, 81, 127, 204, 232-234, 246, 279, 293 See also negators negative prefix See affixes negators deontic negator, 204, 206, 232, 237 general negator, 189, 204-208, 218, 232, 237, 238, 242, 303, 305 perfective negator, 204, 206, 208, 282 neutralization, 50, 64, 120, 284 nominal clause See clauses nominalization, 168, 173, 174, 222225, 229 nominalizer, 73, 115, 171, 174, 179, 222, 223, 225, 227-229, 257 number clitic, 88, 89, 177 numerals, 43, 46, 49, 51, 61, 67, 68, 129, 136, 179, 180, 183-185, 187, 246, 257 obligational construction, 116, 217, 220-222, 224, 291 obligative, 88, 220, 229, 231-233, 281, 287, 293 oblique, 106, 138, 142, 143, 145, 146, 160, 169, 170, 269, 288, 303 onomatopes, 94, 95, 99, 100, 148, 150, 154, 172 open lexical categories, 75 ordinal expressions, 46 overlapping, 11, 72-75, 80, 83,85, 86, 129


Patient See semantic roles penultimate, 204, 206, 207, 208 perfective See aspect, See also negators periphrastic constructions, 220, 223, 297, 301 permissive, 88, 229, 230, 233, 234 phonotactics, 99 pluractionality, 11, 123, 125 plurality, 108, 122, 177, 178 See also number clitic Possessee See semantic roles Possessor See semantic roles postposition, 11, 39, 60, 61, 79, 87, 89, 100-105, 107, 139, 146, 158, 162, 163, 175, 181, 182, 186, 187, 270, 282, 284, 287, 288, 308 potentive construction, 116, 217, 218, 227-229, 291 presupposition, 172, 173, 209, 291, 297, 298, 300-303, 305, 306 Prinmi dialects, 4, 6-10, 19, 20, 30, 45, 47, 50, 63, 90, 97, 107, 111, 120, 160, 217, 228, 238 PROCESS verb See verbs proclitic See clitics pronouns, 43, 61, 76, 87, 89-91, 102, 104, 119, 143, 149, 164, 166, 167, 171, 180, 187, 284, 289, 290, 307 purposive See auxiliary verbs quasi-copula, 220, 223 quotative, 189, 210, 211, 259, 261 realis, 241, 242, 244, 245 Recipient See semantic roles reciprocity, 40, 76, 98, 123, 124 reduplication, 11, 39, 40, 49, 55, 64, 65, 75, 78, 94, 96, 97, 107, 122126, 132-134, 160, 251



relational nouns, 100, 158, 162, 175, 176 relative clause See clauses restorability, 40, 89, 262 resultative See Double-verb predicate rhoticization See consonants semantic roles, 11, 102, 138, 139, 141144, 150, 154, 155, 267, 268, 274, 285 Agent, 11, 109, 119, 120, 138-143, 147, 150, 154, 155, 170, 171, 181, 189, 191-193, 201, 202, 223, 224, 246, 247, 253, 254, 263, 267, 269, 272, 274, 275, 290, 303, 311, 316 Benefactive, 103, 139 Beneficiary, 102, 103, 138, 139, 282, 284 Causee, 11, 143, 281-287 Causer, 143, 150, 275 Patient, 115, 130, 138, 139, 142, 143, 197, 268, 275, 290, 304 Possessee, 164, 167, 168, 171 Possessor, 141, 164, 171, 290 Recipient, 103-105, 138, 139, 142, 144, 254, 268, 272, 282, 284 Theme, 11, 105, 138, 139, 143, 144, 150, 218, 219, 224, 225, 254, 263, 267-269, 272, 288290, 316 semantic types of verb See verbs semelfactive construction, 238, 239, 242, 245-247, 292, 293 sentences ascriptive sentences, 219, 301 clause-chaining sentences, 11, 222, 266-269, 271, 291, 306, 311, 312, 316 definition of sentence, 264 equational sentences, 218, 219, 301

simplex sentences, 262, 266, 307 serial verb construction See doubleverb predicate set-member relation, 160, 298, 303, 315-317 skillitive, 235, 236 sociative, 11, 104, 281-285 See also causation spatial expressions, 102, 105, 106, 109 See also relational nouns specificity, 156, 177, 300 STATE verb See verbs successitive, 88, 235, 237, 238 tag questions, 210, 219 tail-head linkage, 277 telicity, 200, 201 temporal expressions, 105, 139, 143, 157, 162, 175, 176, 180, 203, 204, 220, 269-271, 278, 279, 293, 300, 310-312 temporal implication, 188, 203 tense, 11, 191, 202, 203 terminative See aspect test, 50, 82-84, 127, 272, 279 Theme See semantic roles Tibetans, 2, 3 tone change, 49, 61-63, 65, 67, 79, 122, 127, 187 tone sandhi, 16, 60, 61 topic-comment construction, 11, 155, 261, 297-299, 301, 302, 305307, 309, 313-317 chained comment construction, 311, 312 double topic construction, 290, 306, 309, 310, 314 embedded topic-comment, 313-315


topics aboutness topic, 306, 307, 309, 310, 311, 313, 314 clausal topic, 157, 172, 308, 309, 314 conditional topic, 158, 244, 271, 308-310 definition of topic, 302 frame-setting topic, 155, 157-161, 182, 255, 269, 291, 307-312 transitivity, 76, 77, 119, 142-144, 149, 154, 225, 271, 272, 274, 290 typology, 10, 85, 171, 280 utterance-final particles See clitics, attitudinal valence See verbs venturive See auxiliary verbs verb of cognition, 88, 217, 246, 291, 294, 295 verb-to-do, 88, 218, 238-240, 242, 243, 245, 247 verbless clause See clauses verbs semantic types, 77, 78, 86, 278, 279 ACTION verb, 77, 118, 123, 124, 131, 132, 110, 115, 116, 119, 189, 198, 199, 201, 222, 228, 246, 255, 280


verb, 80-82, 84-86, 95, 97, 112-114, 116, 117, 122, 123, 131, 196, 289 PROCESS verb, 77, 78, 86, 110, 113, 114, 117, 118, 122, 134, 244, 274, 279 STATE verb, 77, 78, 80, 86, 110, 114, 197, 230, 231, 244, 279 valence, 76, 77, 253, 271, 273, 274, 278 vocative, 62, 107, 122, 123 voicing See consonants volition, 188, 191, 192, 194, 195, 204, 251, 275, 283-285 vowel centralization, 38-40, 92 denasalization, 24 fusion, 38, 41-43 lowering, 29-31 word order, 11, 83, 88, 148, 162, 182, 183, 254, 263, 278, 291, 298, 299, 307 zero anaphor, 11, 76, 77, 88, 89, 139, 143, 144, 149, 150, 167, 179, 186, 265, 269, 285, 304 DESCRIPTIVE