Lesson 7: Grammar

Double-Verb Sequences with Object

Among the Basic Sentences of this lesson we have met the following:

     (7) chéen j taalen in xíimbaltech  "I just came to visit you"
     (18) ba'ax u k'áat u ya'al chukwa'  "what does chukwa mean (=want to say)?"
     (25) yan in bin in wáant in wéet taalo'  "I must go to help that companion of mine"
     (26) wa a k'áate' je' in bisikech a wil in taanajo'  "if you wish, I'll take you to see that house of mine"

Note that in each of these sentences there is a sequence of two verbs (underlined both in the Maya and in the English): came to visit, want to say, go to help, and take to see. In the Maya expressions, the verb in the first position may be either transitive (26) or non-transitive (7, 18, 25). In the second position, all the verbs are transitive and their objects are all present (marked in italics), some suffixed pronouns (7), others independent nominal expressions (18, 25, 26). Few verbs occur in the first position all in such two-verb sequences. Those most frequently found are the verb k'áat 'want', and verbs of motion such as 'go', 'come', 'send', 'bring', 'take', and the like. In the second position, on the other hand, a wide variety of verbs can and does occur. These verbs are all preceded by a pronoun, sometimes the same (7, 18, 25) as the pronoun with the verbs in the first position, sometimes different (26). In the English equivalents, the second verb is never so preceded, but is always in the infinitive (that is, is preceded by to). This use of the marked infinitive in English indicates the dependency of the second verb on the first. In these Maya double-verb sequences such dependency is not indicated by any special particle, but only by their order: the second verb is dependent on the first.

Note, however, the following:

     18. ba'ax u k'áat ya'al chukwa'  "what does chukwa' mean (= want to say)?"
     20. ba'ax u k'áat ya'alej  "what does it mean (= want to say)?"

Note first that the underlined forms are contextual variants of ya'al and ya'alej, which in turn are shorter variants of u ya'al and u ya'alejo'. Both verbs are transitive as evidenced by their (underlined) objects. We note that when the transitive verb (in second position and dependent on the verb in first position) occurs in sentence final, it terminates in -ej. We are reminded of a similar variation between non-final imperative a'al and sentence-final imperative a'alej.

We note, finally, that none of these transitive verbs in second position (all dependent on a verb in first position) are marked with the suffix -ik (observed with transitive verbs in 4.3.1) but that they, like the imperative forms (5.3.1) are composed of the transitive stem alone.

Subordinating Particle ka (after k'áat)

In the Basic Sentences of this lesson we have likewise met the following:

     (5) in k'áat in manej  "I want to buy [it]"

Contrast this with the following:

     (4) ba'ax a k'áat ka in manej  "what do you want me to buy (= that I buy)?"
     (5) ba'ax in k'áat ka a manej  "what do I want you to buy (= that you buy)?"

Note that in the first sentence (consisting of two verbs, the second dependent on the first) the subject pronouns (underlined) are the same (both in). The dependency of the second verb on the first (k'áat) is indicated only by their order: the dependent verb follows. In the second and third sentences, however, the subject pronouns are different, and the dependency of the second verb on the first (k'áat) is indicated by an intervening particle ka. The dependent verb again appears to be composed of the transitive stem alone (here, in sentence final, terminating in -ej).

Double-Verb Sequences without Object.

Among the Basic Sentences these also have appeared:

     (8) chéen in k'áat tsikbal ta wéetel  "I just want to chat with you"
     (22) a k'áat uk'ul  "do you want to drink?"

These, likewise, are two-verb sequences, the second dependent on the first. But here the second verb has no expressed object, that is, it is non-transitive. Furthermore, it has no expressed subject pronoun, and its subject then must necessarily be the same as that of the first verb. It has, finally, no utterance final -ej, as was true of the transitive verb stem a'al(ej) in 7.3.1. above. Its dependence on the verb in the first position, then, is marked by order alone.

k'abéet it is necessary; one needs

Among the Basic Sentences we have seen the following:

     (12) k'abéet in manik un p'éel ch'óoy "I have to buy a bucket"
     (14) k'abéet teen suum xan "I need a rope, too"
     (17) k'abéet kaab wa chukwa' "Do you need honey or chocolate?"
     (24) k'abéet in bin beyooráa'  "I have to go now"

We note that in the first and the last sentences above (12, 24), k'abéet is followed by a verb preceded by its subject pronoun: in 12, the verb is transitive (as evidenced by the expressed object) and the verb-stem ends in -ik; in 24, the verb is intransitive.  In sentences 14 and 17, however, k'abéet is followed by an independent pronoun (ten, tech) which constitutes its object, and this, in turn, is followed by that which is needed, its subject.  In sentences 12 and 24, then, the usage is impersonal.

The Transitive-Verb Terminal -ej

Observe the following expressions taken from the Basic Sentences in this or previous lessons:

Column 1 Column 2
ts'íibt le t'aano' 
"write that word!"
"write [it]!"
a'al teen 
"tell [it] to me"
"tell [it]!"
j taalen in xíimbaltech 
"I came to visit you"
kin taal in xíimbaltej 
"I come to visit [him]"
kin bin in wáant in wéet taal 
"I go to help my companion"
kin bin in wáantej 
"I go to help [him]"
ma' in k'áat in man le ba'alo'obo'
 "I don't want to buy those things"
in k'áat in manej 
"I want to buy [it]"
If you compare Column 2 with Column 1, you will note that each expression in Column 2 ends in a transitive verb stem with a terminal -ej. Each expression in Column 1, on the other hand, contains the same transitive verb stem, followed either by another suffix (-ech) or by other words of the sentence. The forms are variously: imperative (1, 2), or dependent transitive (3, 4, 5) with (3) or without (1, 2, 4, 5) a suffixed pronominal object. All verbs in Column 1 consist of the transitive stems alone. When such transitive stems alone occur in sentence-final they may not stand bare, but, as we see in Column 2, end in the transitive-verb terminal suffix -ej.

Terminal -e'

In 2.3.2., we discussed one use of this terminal, that of introducing the subject-matter of a sentence in an anticipatory or summary fashion, and labeled it the topical -e' We have seen many further instances of this same construction. Most recently:

     in watano' mina'an waye'  "as for my wife, she isn't here"
     le in hija dieciocho meses yaan ti'  "for my daughter, she's eighteen months old"
     lelo' u k'aaba'e' ch'óoy  "as for the name of that, it's ch'óoy"

These expressions, like the previous ones, are all nominal expressions.

Now observe the following which have appeared among recent Basic Sentences:

     u k'áat u ya'ale' chocolate  "as for what it means (=wants to say), it's chocolate"
     u k'áat u ya'al ich inglese' honey  "as for what it means (=wants to say) in English, it's honey"
     in tukulike' lelo' u k'aaba'e' mejen kaax wa mejen úulum  "as for what I think, that, as for its name, it's chicken or baby turkey"

These, unlike the previous expressions ending in -e' above, are not nominal, but verbal expressions.  In both cases, however, the expressions are anticipatorily or summarily pointing toward the major predication.

In addition to these of topical -e', we have seen the following:

     wa a k'áate'  "if you want to"
     je' in bisikech a w ile'  "I'll take you to see [it]"
     táant u bine'  "she just went"
     láili' táan u wenele'  "he's still sleeping"

All these sentences end in -e', and all the sentences begin, with another element (wa, je', táant, láiIi') which together with the terminal -e' form framing particles (5.3.7.).

Precedence Rank among Terminal Suffixes

We have so far seen and (in part) discussed the following terminal suffixes:

     (1) topical -e'   (2.3. 2., 7.3.6.)   (discussed)
     (2) framing particle -e'   (5.3.7.)   (discussed)
     (3) negative (framing) particle -i'   (3.3.9., 4.3.3., 4.3.5., 5.3.5.)   (mentioned and in part discussed)
     (4) locative -i'   (4.3.5.)   (mentioned only)
     (5) transitive-stem-terminal -ej   (5.3.1., 7.3.2., 7.3.5.)   (in part discussed)
     (6) demonstratives -a' (near) and -o' (far)   (2.3.8.)

Examples are:

     (1)  tene' tin chan bin j maan  "me, I'm just going shopping"
     (2)  táant in weensike'  "I just put him to sleep"
     (2)  je' in bisike'  "I'll take him"
     (2)  wa a k'áate'  "if you want to"
     (2)  láili' tun wenele'  "he's still sleeping"
     (3)  ma' tin wu'uyaji'  "I didn't hear [it]"
     (3)  ma' táan u kooliki'  "I'm not clearing it"
     (3)  mix in ti'a'ali'  "[it's] not mine"
     (4)  ma' táan a lúubuli'  "you're not falling there"
     (4)  ti'i' ti' t kanaji'  "yes, we learned it there"
     (5)  a'alej  "tell[it]!"
     (5)  in k'áat in manej  "I want to buy [it]"
     (5)  kin bin in wáantej  "I go to help [him]"
     (6)  le un túula'  "this one"
     (6)  le u láak' un túulo'  "that other one"

Note that the terminals above are underlined. Further, when the terminal above is a final framing particle, it is accompanied by its initial framing particle and that is italicized.

Now note the following pairs of sentences containing such terminal particles (whether framing or not):

     (A)  (1)  je' in bisikeche'  "I'll take you"
     (A)  (2)  je' in bisikech a w ile'  "I'll take you to see [it]"
     (B)  (1)  ma' in k'áat in mani'  "I don't want to buy it"
     (B)  (2)  ma' in k'áat in man le ba'alo'obo'   "I don't to buy those things"
     (C)  (1)  je' in wáantikeche'  "I'll help you"
     (C)  (2)  je' in wáantikech yéetel le ba'alo'oba'  "I'll help you with these things"
     (D)  (1)  in k'áat in manej  "I want to buy it"
     (D)  (2)  ma' in k'áat in mani'  "I don't want to buy it"
     (E)  (1)  u k'aat u ya'alej  "it wants to any [it]"
     (E)  (2)  u k'áat u ya'ale'  "as for what it wants to say..."

Note in (A) above that the position of a terminal suffix is at the very end of utterance: on bisikech in (1), and on a wil in (2).

In this end position it is to be expected that two or more terminals may come to occupy the same position, that only
one can survive in that position, and that some order of precedence must exist in order to explain which one survives when
two (or more) are competing for the same position.

In the examples of such competition we have so far seen, we note the following rankings:

     (1) in B. above, that -o' (and presumably also co-ranking -a') takes precedence over -i';
     (2) in C. above, that -a' (and presumably also co-ranking -o') takes precedence over -e';
     (3) in D. above, that -i' takes precedence over -ej;
     (4) in E. above, that -e' takes precedence over -ej.

We see, then, that by pairs the relative ranking is:

-a' (or -o') over -i'
-a' (or -o') over -e'
-i'   over -ej
-e'   over -ej
or, possibly: -a'  (or -o') over-i' over-ej
and, probably: -a'  (or -o') over-e' over-ej
What we have not seen thus far is a pair of examples which will place -i' relative to -e', nor triplets which will confirm the sequential displacement in this precedence ranking series of terminals. The question will be further discussed when such examples have presented themselves.