Lesson 17: Grammar

The Anterior Aspect Particle ka'ach(ij)

The following expressions are taken from the Basic Sentences. Compare each expression in Column 1 with its
corresponding number in Column 2:

  Column 1 Column 2
1 ka meyaj  "you work" ka meyaj ka'achij  "you used to work"
2 j meyajnajech  "you worked" j meyahnajech ka'achij  "you were at work"
3 táan a meyaj  "you are working" táan a meyaj ka'achij  "you were working"
4 ts'o'ok a meyaj  "you have worked" ts'o'ok a meyaj ka'achij  "you had worked"
5 kin meyajtik José  "I serve José" kin meyajtik José ka'achij  "I used to serve José"
6 tin meyajtaj José  "I served José" tin meyajtaj José ka'achij  "I used to serve José"
7 tu'ux a kaajal  "where is your town?" tu'ux a kaajal ka'achij  "where was your town?
Note that the matched expressions in the two columns differ only in that the expressions in Column 2 contain the form ka'achij. The difference in meaning between the corresponding sets of expressions is not always easy to define. The English translations suggest we are dealing with the rather subtle matter of
aspect. The meaning of ka'achij in these expressions can be conceived of as a reference to an earlier time, a time before or anterior to something else. We will therefore call it the anterior-aspect particle.

Indeed, it may often be helpful to assign to this particle a literal English equivalent, such as "before," or "at an earlier time." When it occurs in verbless expressions, it can often be best translated by was or were, as bix ka'ach a k'aaba' "what was your name?" Some additional contrasts in meaning are provided in the following sets of questions and answers, taken from 17.1. :

     (1)    ka wenel wa las tres  "do you [customarily] sleep at three?"
     (2a)  kin wenel  "I do"
     (2b)  kin wenel ka'achij  "I used to"
     (3)    j wenech wa las tres  "did you [this time] sleep at three?"
     (4a)  j weenen  "I did"
     (4b)  j weenen ka'achij  "I was sleeping along [but something happened]"
     (5)    táan wa a wenel  "were you sleeping at three?"
     (6)    táan ka'achij  "I was"

In all these examples of the anterior particle cited in the section above, the particle occurred at the end and in the form ka'achij.  Now observe the following examples:

     (1)  tu'ux ka'ach a kaajal  "where was your town?"
     (2)  xoy ka'ach in kaajal  "Xoy was my town"
     (3)  bix ka'ach a k'aaba'  "what was your name?"
     (4)  kin meyajtik ka'ach Jose  "I used to serve José"
     (5)  tin meyajtaj ka'ch Jose  "I used to serve José"

In these sentences we find the form ka'ach which corresponds to the form ka'achij. The longer form, it appears, is a form this particle takes in sentence-final position, while the shorter form is the one which occurs sentence medially. We can assume that the suffix -ij is the terminal suffix discussed in 9.3.3.

Now observe the following expressions in which the anterior-aspect particle occurs before the predication:

     (1)  ka'ache' a k'aaba'e' José  "your name was José?"
     (2)  a k'aaba' ka'ache' José  "your name was José?"
     (3)  ka'ache' way xan ka meyaje'  "you used to work here, too"

Note that in these sentences the suffix -e' is added to the particle (or phrase), indicating an impending sentence predication. This is an additional instance of the topical -e' (7.3.6.).

Hierarchical Rank among Terminal Suffixes

We have identified the following mutually exclusive terminal suffixes: -ej, -ij, -i', -e', -o', -a'. In 7.3.7., it was shown that the terminal suffixes are not all of the same rank, and the relative rank of certain of them was demonstrated. Now, with more examples to draw from, we can continue the description of the terminal suffix hierarchy. Note the following examples:

     (1)  kin meyaj ka'achij                 "I used to work"
     (2)  ti' ku meyaj ka'achi'              "I used to work there"
     (3)  way ku meyaj ka'ache'         "I used to work here"
     (4)  te' ku meyaj ka'acho'            "I used to work there"
     (5)  le k'oja'anil yan teen ka'acha'  "this disease I had"

In sentence 1 the terminal suffix -ij occurs as a "crutch" where the stem would otherwise be bare. In the other sentences, the particle ka'ach is followed by other terminal suffixes: -i', -e', -o', and -a'. We conclude that these must all be ranked above -ij (just as we concluded in 7.3.7. that these were ranked above -ej).

Since the terminal suffixes -ij and -ej do not occur in the same kinds of constructions (-ej occurs only in certain transitive active verb constructions, -ij occurs only in certain other constructions) it is obvious they cannot "compete" for rank. And, since just these two suffixes are superseded by any other terminal suffix, we conclude that -ej and -ij are of equal rank with each other and below all other terminal suffixes.

So far, the hierarchical ranking of the six terminal suffixes appears as follows:

     (1)  -ij, -ej are outranked by -i', -e', -o', -a'
     (2)  -i', -e' are outranked by -o', -a'
     (3)  The relative status of -i' and -e' is still in question.

The Maya Equivalents of alone

The following are found in the Basic Sentences:

     (1)  ta juun ka meyaj     "you work alone"
     (2)  tin juun     "by myself" or "(I) alone"
     (3)  t juun     "by ourselves," etc.
     (4)  tu juuno'ob     "by themselves," etc.
     (5)  tin juunal     "by myself," etc.
     (6)  t juunal     "by ourselves," etc.
     (7)  tu juunalo'ob     "by themselves," etc.

From these a structure can be deduced:

           t + nuclear pronoun + juun  or
           t + nuclear pronoun + juunal

forming prepositional (t) phrases which function to qualify the actor (sentence 1) and emphasize that he performs the action "by himself" or "alone."

Verb Review

In the vocabulary a cumulative list of all verbs with their stems has been included.  Check out all verbs used thus far.