Lesson 15: Grammar

Subordinating Future with bíin

Observe the following sentences which we have learned in this or in previous lessons:

     (1)  tin bin j maan  "I'm going shopping"
     (2)  tin bin j xíimbal  "I'm going visiting"
     (3)  bíin weneken  "I'm gonna sleep"
     (4)  bíin talak in wenel  "I'll get to sleep"

Note that sentences (1) and (2) contain the verb bin "go" followed by a form with the prefix -j. These forms (j maan, j xíimbal) we can say complement the verb or indicate the goal of bin. The time indicated may be present or future. Sentences (3) and (4) contain a form bíin (not bin) plus an intransitive verb in its subordinate (13.3.3.) form. The time indicated is future. The difference between the two kinds of expressions often seems to parallel closely the difference in English between the (spoken) forms:

"I'm going to shop" which may indicate present or future action and could be an an answer to the question: "What are you going to Chicago for?"
"I'm gonna shop" which indicates future action and could be an answer to the question: "What are you gonna do in Chicago?"
The following sentences taken from 15.1. show bíin in transitive verb expressions:

     ba'ax k'iin bíin in wilech  "when will I see you?"
     ba'ax k'iin bíin a ts'áej  "when will you give [it]?"
     ba'ax k'iin bíin u ts'a teen  "when will he give me [it]?"
     bíin in weensej  "I'll put [him] to sleep"

In these sentences bíin is followed by a nuclear pronoun which is followed by a transitive verb. Note that the transitive verb lacks the suffix -ik, that is, that it appears in its bare-stem (7.3.2.) form (except that in sentence-final it has terminal -ej).

A representative-sample transitive paradigm with bíin is displayed below:

  Singular Plural
1 bíin in wilej  "I shall see [him]" bíin k ilej  "we shall see [him]"
    bíin k ile'ex  "we all shall see [him]"
2 bíin a wilej  "you will see [him]" bíin a wile'ex  "you all will see [him]"
3 bíin u yilej  "he will see [him]" bíin u yilo'ob  "they will see [him]"

Dependent Future with Subordinating ken

Note the following from the Basic Sentences:

     (1)  ba'ax hora ken jóok'oko'on j t'eelil  "when will we go out serenading?"
     (2)  ba'ax hora ken k'uchuk Pablo  "when will Pablo arrive?"

In these sentences we find the particle ken followed by an intransitive verb in the subordinate (13.3.3.) form. Future time is indicated.

Now note these:

     (1)  ba'ax hora ken a ts'a teen  "when will you give me [it]?"
     (2)  tech ken a wáanten  "you will help me"

In these sentences ken is followed by a nuclear pronoun which is followed in turn by a transitive verb. Note that the transitive verb lacks the suffix -ik, that is, that it appears in its bare-stem (7.3.2.) form.

A representative-sample transitive paradigm with kén is displayed below:

  Singular Plural
1 ken in wa'alej  "I'll say [it]" ken k a'alej  "we'll say [it]"
    ken k a'ale'ex  "we all'll say [it]"
2 ken a wa'alej  "you'll say [it]" ken a wa'ale'ex  "you all'll say [it]"
3 ken u ya'alej  "he'll say [it]" ken u ya'alo'ob  "they'll say [it]"

Dependent Future with k-n + (j) + Verb

Observe the following phrases taken from 15.1.

     (1)  kin j bin  "I'll go"
     (2)  kan j bin  "you'll go"
     (3)  kun j bin  "he'll go"
     (4)  ken (k) j bin  "we'll go"

These phrases indicate future time. They are composed of two sections; the second section is an intransitive verb form with the prefix j- (just as is the last word in t in bin j maan, which served, as we noted in 15.3.1., as a verb goal or complement). The first section, as is evident from number 4, is made up of a form ken plus a nuclear pronoun. In number 4 the pronoun follows the form ken, but in 1, 2, and 3, the pronouns are infixed or set within the form ken, so that ken (or its alternant k-n) plus infixed in results in kin; k-n plus infixed a results in kan; and k-n plus infixed u results in kun. One might immediately conclude from this that these are contractions (like táan plus in which may become tin), and that, therefore, the full or uncontracted forms of these could be: ken in, ken a, ken u. However, in these cases the uncontracted forms do not occur. We can call these, therefore, frozen contractions. And, since the second section of the above phrases is marked by the prefix j as a subordinate marker (even though the j here can optionally be dropped), it may be plausible to consider the ken in these phrases as a verb, or a particle with the function here of the main verb.

The following sentences, also taken from 15.1., show k-n used before a transitive verb complement:

     teech kan j áantiken  "you will help me"
     teen kin j a'alik  "I'll say it"

Note that the verb complement (a) does not lose the initial glottal stop (as it does in ten ken in w a'alej "I'll say it" and (b) contains the suffix -ik. If we may properly suggest that the particle ken (k-n) serves as the main verb in these constructions, then it might also be proper to suggest that the forms j-VERB-ik serve as nominal complements of such a verb and that, since they are based on transitive verb stems and bear the suffix -ik, that the latter here serves terminally to link the subject predicate and its complement (as does the j initially). The uses of initial (j) and terminal (-ik) linking elements will be further discussed later.

"When" Phrases (or Clauses) with Future (le) ken

In the Basic Sentences of this and previous lessons we have learned:

                    with intransitive verb

     (1)  tu'ux binech (le) ka j luk'ech cantamayec  "where did you go when you left Cantamayec?"
     (2)  tu'ux kan (j) chital (le) ken k'uchukech  "where will you go to lie down when you (will) arrive?"

Observe that the first sentence refers to past time, the second to future time. The "when-clause" of the first sentence is introduced by the particle ka (which, in this context, may optionally be preceded by the particle le) as we noted in 14.3.3. The "when-clause" of the second sentence is introduced by the particle ken which, in this context may also optionally be preceded by the particle le). We can say, therefore, that, ken or le ken may be used to indicate "when" in the future just as ka or le ka may be used to indicate "when" in the past.

laj-stem Verbs

In the Basic Sentences of this and previous lessons we have seen forms like these:

  Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
1 ku chital 
"he lies down"
ku kutal
"he sits"
ku kaajtal
"he lives at..."
2 j chilajen
"I lay down"
j kulajen
"I sat"
j kaajlajen
"I lived at..."
3 bíin chilaken
"I'll lie down"
bíin kulaken
"I'll sit"
bíin kaajlaken
"I'll live at..."
4 chila'anen
"I'm lying down"
"I'm sitting"
"I'm living at..."
5 chilikbalen
"I'm in a lying down position"
I'm seated"
"I'm living at..."
Three verbs are displayed above, each in five forms. We can see that the forms in Row 1, the citation forms or first stems are composed of a root plus -tal. The second stems, seen in Row 2, are formed of the root plus -l-aj; the third stems, (and all verbs whose second stems are forned with laj) we will refer to as laj-stem verbs) seen in Row 3 are formed of the root plus -l. It becomes apparent, when we examine Rows 4 and 5 that at least for this verb-class a fourth and fifth stem must be recognized. The fourth stems have the form root + a'an; the fifth stems have the form root + Vkbal, the V echoing the immediately preceding vowel.

Since most of the verbs which have a fifth stem in -Vkbal refer to body positions (with kaajtal a notable exception) we can use this peculiarity to define the class of position-verbs.

It should be noted that not all laj-stem verbs have a fifth stem in -Vkbal. Those which do not (such as kuxtal or utstal) must be put in a class by themselves.

Verbal Complements with Verbs of Perception

Observe the following sentences taken from the Basic Sentences:

     tin wilaj u yu'ul  "I saw him arrive"
     tu yu'ubaj a wuk'ik ja'  "he heard you drink water"

These sentences we can divide into two sections, the first section being a transitive verb phrase which indicates that the subject perceives something (sees it, hears it, watches it). The second section of the sentence is a phrase which contains a nuclear pronoun plus a transitive or an intransitive verb. We can say that this latter phrase is the verbal complement of a perception-verb. As is apparent from the examples, such verbal complements are derived from incompletive verb phrases introduced by k and, if the second verb is transitive, concluded by a verb-form containing -ik. In this construction, the second or dependent verb phrase suppresses the introductory k, but (with transitive verbs) retains the concluding -ik.

Maya Expressions for "allow... to..."

In the Basic Sentences we have learned the followine expressions:

     ku cha'ik in bin  "he allows me to go"
     tu cha'aj in bin  "he allowed me to go"
     cha' u bin  "allow him to go"
     cha' u bisik  "allow hime to take [it]"

The structure of these sentences is closely parallel to that of sentences containing perception verbs: the sentences have two sections, the first of which is a transitive verb expression, and the second is a verbal complement containing a nuclear pronoun plus a transitive or intransitive verb. As is clear from the English equivalents, the meaning of the two-verb combination is "allow... to..." in which the first ... contains the pronominal particle indicating the object of the first verb and the subject of the second, and the second ... contains the verb indicating the action to be allowed.

-e'ex with First Person Plural

In the Basic Sentences we have learned the following expressions:

     (1)  to'on  "we"
     (2)  to'one'ex  "we"
     (3)  ... ken (k) j bin  "we will go"
     (4)  ... ken (k) j bine'ex (or kene'ex (j) bin)  "we will go"

Observe that the pronominal reference of all of these is given the same translation: "we." Actually there is a difference in meaning between (1) and (2), as also between (3) and (4), even as there is a difference in form. (Consider some of the possible number and person referents for the English we: "he and I," "they and I," "you and I" (speaking to one other person), and "you and I" (speaking to more than one other person.) Note that any one of these meanings may be intended by the English pronoun we; the context is usually sufficient to indicate who all are included. We note, however, that the Maya forms above contrast in meaning. Those with the suffix -e'ex (i.e., to'one'ex and ken (k) j bine'ex indicate "you-all and I." That is, these forms specifically indicate by means of the suffix -e'ex that more than one hearer is included. The forms without -e'ex (i.e. to'on and ken k bin) are nonspecific in the same way the English translations are non-specific. Thus to'on can mean "you all and I," "you (singular) and I," "he and I," "they and I," or combinations of "you, he, and I," or "you, they, and I." Although there is no way in Maya unambiguously to indicate "you (sg.) and I," as opposed to "he and I," when a specific marker (-e'ex) for "you" is included, the reference is necessarily to a plurality of hearers.