Lesson 10: Grammar

Peripheral Pronouns in Stative Expressions

In 9.3. we observed certain functions of the peripheral pronouns with verbs, namely as objects of transitive verbs and as subjects of intransitive verbs referencing past time. Observe now another function of the peripheral pronouns in the following examples taken from the Basic Sentences:

meyjil máaken     "I'm [a] worker"
meyjil máakech     "you're [a] worker"
meyjil máak     "he is [a] worker"
catolico'on     "we are Catholics"
catolico'ex     "you (pl.) are Catholics"
catolico'ob     "they are Catholics"

ke'elen     "I'm cold"
ke'elech     "you're cold"
ke'el     "he's cold"

In A, you will note, the peripheral pronouns are suffixed to noun-like words and in B to adjective-like words (which we will here combine into a category of nominals). Observe how these expressions are translated. It seems that in these the function of the peripheral pronouns is very similar to their function as intransitive (past-referencing) verb, subjects. They serve to make a sentence nucleus of (or they predicate) a nominal expression. We call such nominals, when peripheral pronouns are suffixed to them, stative nominals. The structural meaning of a stative nominal is "[someone] is in the state of being something." Thus ke'elen "I'm cold" consists of the [adjectival] nominal ke'el "cold" to which the first-person singular pronoun -en is suffixed, with the resultant meaning: "I am in the state of being cold." Similarly máakech "you are [a] man" consists of the noun máak "man" to which the second-person singular pronoun -ech is suffixed, with the resultant meaning "you are in the state of being [a] man."

yaan as a Copular Nominal

We regard be in English as a verb, and it is natural to suppose that all languages just have such a verb. In Maya, of course, we have the form yaan which, in some of its uses may translate different forms of the verb be. Note, however, in the forms:

          tu'ux yanech     "where are you?"
          way yanene'     "here I am"
          ti' yanechi'     "you are right there"

that yaan is really not like intransitive verbs in Maya (which reference past time when a pronoun suffix is added), but is in form like an (adjectival) nominal. It may be helpful to think of it as meaning "be existent."  Thus, tu'ux yanech means literally: "where are you existent?" And yan ten taak'in means literally: "[there] is existent at me money' or "I have money."

Because the nominal yaan is unique in some ways, we classify it in a special category which we will call copular nominal.

The Reflexive Particle báaj.

Observe the following examples taken from the Basic Sentences:

k in w ilik in báaj  "I see myself" k ilik k baj  "we see ourselves"
k a je'esik a báaj  "you rest yourself" k a wilik a báe'ex  "you see yourselves"
k u je'esik u báaj  "he rests himself" k u y ilik u báo'ob  "they see themselves"
Note that these verbs are transitive. Note that the object of each of these transitive verb expressions is the particle báaj (baj).  This particle is used only to express a pronoun object which is the same person and number as the subject.

Such a verb expression we will call a reflexive verb expression. Such expressions differ from other transitive verb expressions in that they contain no suffixed object pronoun. Instead the transitive verb stem is followed by a sequence of a nuclear pronoun (underlined) (here used as a possessive) and the reflexive particle (italicized).

The Suffix -(j)e(j)ak or -ak

In the Basic Sentences of this lesson, we met the forms:

           lunesak and lunesjejak
           ok'onjej and ok'onajejak

"last Monday" and "last night," respectively. They seem to consist of roots (lunes, ok'on) or stems (ok'ona(j)-) plus the endings -jej, or -ak, or the combination of both (-je(j)ak), On this model, one can clearly produce other such forms:
martesak martesjejak
miercolesak miercolesjejak
juevesak juevesjejak
viernesak viernesjejak
sabadojak sabadojejak
domingojak domingojejak

Impersonal Verb deber "ought"

In the Basic Sentences of this lesson we met the following sequence:

      (1)  k u deber  "[one] should"
      (2)  k a chital  "you lie down"
      (3)  k u deber a chital  "you should lie down"

in which an impersonal expression (1) is combined with a personal form of a verb (2) to produce (3) an expression of obligation. In the process the second k (incompletive) is replaced and the second verb phrase is subordinated to the first. Any incompletive verb expression (in any person or number) may occupy the second position) in such a construction after k u deber "ought, should."

Preposed Particle tak "as far as"

We note in the Basic Sentences of this lesson the expression:

10.1.17     tak jo' k u bin  "he's going as far as Merida?"

in which a new particle tak "to (or from) as far as..." is introduced. We shall note other uses of this particle as they occur.