Lesson 16: Grammar

Independent Imperative of Intransitive Verbs

Observe the following forms taken from the Basic Sentences of this and previous lessons:

  Column 1 Column 2
1 j meyajnajen  "I worked" meyajnen  "work!"
2 j chilajen  "I lay down" chilen  "lie down!"
3 j ooken  "I entered" ooken  "enter!"
In Column 1 are found the three intransitive verbs,meyaj, okol, and chital, in their simple-past form with the first person pronominal ending -en. In Column 2 these verbs are found in a form which, because they are commands or requests, addressed to one hearer, we shall call the singular independent imperative form. The imperative of intransitive verbs, you will note, is formed by adding the suffix -en directly to the third stem. It should be clear that the first-person pronominal ending of the same shape must be considered completely unrelated to the suffix -en of imperative forms. We will call this latter suffix the independent imperative ending.

Observe the independent imperative forms of the following two verbs:

Column 1 Column 2
j binen  "I went" xen (xeen)  "go!"
j taalen  "I came" ko'oten  "come"
It is apparent that these two verbs have special stem alternants before the direct imperative suffix -en: bin has the alternant x- (xe-) and taal has the alternant ko'ot-.

We have noted that the imperative forms ending in -en are singular, i.e. addressed to one hearer only. Observe now the following forms which are independent imperatives addressed to more than one hearer:

     meyajnene'ex  "work!"
     ookene'ex  "enter!"
     xene'ex  "go!"
     ko'otene'ex  "come!"

Note that these are identical with the singular imperatives except that the pluralizing suffix -e'ex is added. We shall call these plural independent imperatives.

Other such independent imperative form which have occurred in this lesson are:

  Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
1 kin je'elel  "I rest" j je'elen  "I rested" je'elen  "rest!"
2 kin líik'il  "I get up" j líik'en  "I got up" líik'en  "get up!"
3 kin bo'ol  "I pay" j bo'olnajen  "I paid" bo'olnen  "pay!"
4 kin xook  "I study" j xooknajen  "I studied" xooknen  "study!"
5 kin suut  "I return j suunajen  "I returned" suunen  "return!"
Note that the stems for the independent imperatives of Column 3 are like those of the past forms (except that in 3, 4, and 5 the -aj- is suppressed).

One further observation must be noted here: Intransitive verbs whose second and third stems end in -chaj-, -paj-, and -kaj- verbs do not occur with the independent imperative ending. "Command forms" for these verbs must be made with the subordinating particle ka as in:

     ka séeb ma'alobchajakech   "may you get well soon!"

Imperatives of these intransitive verbs are, therefore, necessarily, dependent.

Intransitive Stems in -k'ajal and -pajal

In the Basic Sentences you have learned the following forms:

     (1)  ku kaach  "he performs the action of breaking"
     (2)  ku kachik  "he breaks [it]"
     (3)  ku kachk'ajal  "it breaks (by itself)"
     (4)  ku míis  "he performs the action of sweeping"
     (5)  ku míistik  "he sweeps [it]"
     (6)  ku míis(t)pajal  "it gets swept"

Note that the verbs in (3) and (6) are composed of a root to which -k'ajal or -pajal is suffixed. The resuIting forms indicate only that something happens. They are opposed, then, to a passive form such as ku míista'al (tumen Juan) "it gets swept by Juan" or ku ka'achal (tumen José) "it gets broken by José" which indicate or imply that an action is performed by someone or something. We may properly speak, then of -k'ajal and -pajal verbs as self-agentive intransitives.

In addition to the two cited above, we have also met in this lesson these:

     ka sutk'ajal  "you return (of you own accord)"
     ka jak'pajal  "you choke (of your own accord)"

For this last, an alternate, but similarly self-agentive form, jak'abpajal, was presented.

Intentional Future (bin in ka'aj-)

The following expressions are found in 16.1.:

     (1) bin in ka'aj xook  "I'm gonna read," "I'm about to read"
     (2) bin in ka'aj in ts'áej  "I'm gonna give [it],"I'm about to give [it]"

You will note that an element common to both of these sentences is the phrase bin in ka'aj. By itself this phrase means "I'm under way." When it occurs before a verb, it can usually be translated as "I'm going to ...," "I intend now to...," "I'm about to ..."

Note that the two sentences above differ in structure: in sentence 1 the phrase bin in ka'aj is followed by an intransitive verb. There is no pronoun before the verb; in sentence 2 the phrase bin in ka'aj is followed by a pronoun which in turn is followed by a transitive verb. Note that the transitive verb lacks the suffix -ik, that is, the verb occurs in its bare-stem form (here followed by the sentence-terminal -ej).

Note further that beside the full form
     bin in ka'aj
other abbreviated forms
     n in ka'aj
     in ka'aj
also occur. Since such forms refer to a future action and to some intention on the part of the actor with respect to it, we shall call them intentional future constructions.

Expressions of Obligation with u naj and k'abéet

Observe the following expressions taken from 16.1.:

     (1)  u naj a bin  "it is imperative for you to go, you should go"
     (2)  u naj ka xi'ikech  "it is imperative that you go, you should go"
     (3)  k'abéet a bin  "it is necessary for you to go, you must go"
     (4)  k'abéet ka xi'ikech  "it is necessary that you go, you must go"

It can be seen that u naj and k'abéet are related to each other somewhat as necessary and imperative, or "should, ought" and "must" are related in English. They can both combine with verb phrases of two kinds: a) an independent verb preceded by a nuclear pronoun or b) a dependent verb preceded by the subordinating particle ka.

Inalienably Possessed Body Parts with -el

Compare the following forms taken from 16.1.:

  Column 1 Column 2
1 k'i'ik'  "blood" u k'i'ik'el  "your blood"
2 tso'ots  "hair" u tso'otsel  "his hair"
3 ch'o'om  "brain" u ch'o'omel  "his brain"
4 chooch  "intestine(s)" u choochel  "his intestine(s)"
5 ch'ala'at  "rib(s)" u ch'ala'atel  "his ribs"
6 táaman  "liver" u táamnel  "his liver"
7 baak  "bone(s)" u baakel  "its bone(s)"
8 bak'  "flesh" u bak'el  "its flesh"
Observe that the forms in Column 1 are names of body parts which are not controlled by will; Column 2 shows a possessed form for these nouns. Note that the possessed forms have the suffix -el. Note further, however, that these nouns also occur possessed but without the -el suffix. There is a difference in meaning:

u k'i'ik'el "his blood" (i.e. the blood functioning in his body);
u k'i'ik' "his blood" (not that functioning in his body, but disassociated, as, say, preserved in a bottle).

"Whatever," "Wherever," etc. (je'...ak...-e')

The following forms have occurred in the Basic Sentences:

  Column 1 Column 2
1 ba'ax  "what?" je' ba'axak  "whatever, anything"
2 ba'al  "thing" je' ba'alak  "whatever, anything"
3 tu'ux  "place; where?" je' tu'uxak  "wherever, anywhere"
4 máax  "who?" je' máaxak  "whoever, anyone"
5 bix  "how?" je' bixak  "any way, however"
Observe that the forms in Column 2 are composed of a root surrounded by je'...ak...(-e'). The five roots listed in Column 1 are the most common roots which occur in the environment je'...ak...-e'. A variant of this set of framing particles is je'ej...ak...(-e'). The English equivalents include "-ever, any- (at all)."

"Abstract Noun" Derivation from Adjectives

Compare the following forms (abstracted from this and previous lessons):

  Column 1 Column 2
1 k'oja'an  "sick" k'oja'anil  "sickness"
2 chokoj  "hot" chokwil  "heat; fever"
3 ma'alob  "good (adjective)" ma'alobil  "good (noun)"
The forms in Column 1 are adjectives (or adjectival nominals); the forms in Column 2 are "abstract nouns" derived from the others by the addition of the suffix -il.

"What" plus Nominal

Observe the corresponding expressions in Columns 1 and 2 (abstracted from the Basic Sentences of this lesson).

  Column 1 Column 2
1 ts'aak  "medicine" ba'ax ts'aakil  "what medicine ...?"
2 bak'  "meat" ba'ax bak'il  "what meat ...?"
3 ju'un  "paper" ba'ax ju'unil  "what paper ...?"
Note that the forms in Column 2 contain the nouns found in Column 1 set in the frame ba'ax ____-il, meaning "what (noun) ...?" or "what kind of (noun) ...?"