Lesson 13: Grammar

Derived Verbs in -tal, -chajal

In the Basic Sentences you have learned a number of forms related as those in Column 1 with those in Column 2.

  Column 1   Column 2  
(1) ma'alob "good" ma'alobtal
"to improve, be better"
(2) k'oja'an "sick" k'oja'antal
"to get sick, be sick"
(3) uts "good" utstal
"to improve, be better"
The forms in Column 1 we recognize as adjectival nominals (other such forms we recognize in nojoch "big," ko'oj "expensive"; the forms in Column 2 we recognize as verbs. Since the verbs consist of a nominal base plus the ending -tal or -chajal, we say that they are de-nominal verbs, i.e., verbs derived from nominal bases.

It should be noted that whereas from any nominal base a verb can be derived by the addition of either -tal or -chajal (and apparently either of these endings can be added to any nominal) (though with some nominals one or the other ending is more common), not every verb which ends in -tal or -chajal can necessarily be broken down into an actually occurring nominal plus this ending.

Others you have learned are the following (we give only one of the two possible denominal verb forms):

Column 1   Column 2  
peor "worse" peortal "worsen"
más "more" mástal "get more-so"
xaan "slow" xáantal "be slow"
yan "existent" yantal "be existent"
----   páajtal "be able"
We note the lack of a nominal corresponding to the last of these. Others might be:

Column 1   Column 2  
nojoch "big" nojochtal "get big"
ko'oj "expensive" ko'ojtal "get expensive"

Past of Verbs in -tal or -chajal

In the Basic Sentences you have met forms similar to the following:

Column 1   Column 2  
ka wutstal
(or  ka wutschajal)
"you get well" utschajech "you got well"
ka xáantal
(or ka xáanchajal)
"you spend time" xáanchajech
"you spent time"
Note that as a citation form or in environments such as ko'ox ___ and kin (w) ___ the first - stem of this class of derived verbs may be formed either by -tal or by -chajal.

The past-referencing form, however, is built up only on the -chaj(al) form, i.e., the second - stem of derived verbs in -tal and -chajal is composed of the nominal base (preceded optionally by j- plus the stem-formative -chaj-.

Subordinate Ending -Vk with Intransitive Verbs

You may recall that in 7.3.2., we discussed the use of the subordinating particle ká (after k'áat) followed by the bare transitive verb stem (accompanied when the stem occurred in sentence final by the terminal suffix -ej).

In the Basic Sentences of this and previous lessons, we have seen a number of instances of the subordinating particle ka followed by intransitive verb stems (underlined) in the subordinate position:

(1) ka xi'ik tech utsil "may it go well with you!"
(2) ka talak "that he come"
(3) talake'ex "that you (pl.) come"
(4) ka k'uchuk "that he come over"
(5) ka jóok'ok "that he leave"
(6) ka okok "that he enter"
(7) ka talakech "that you come"
(8) ka taakech "that you come"
(9) ka xi'ikech "that you go"
(10) ka okokech "that you enter"
(11) ka oojkech "that you enter"
(12) ka jóok'okech "that you leave"
(13) ka jóok'ech "that you leave"
(14) ka xi'iken "that I go"
(15) ka utschajkech "may you get well!"
You will note that following the stem (15) or root (all others) of the intransitive verbs we find an ending -(V)k (italicized). The vowel (V) of this ending echoes the last vowel of the preceding root or stem. A full form of 15., for example, therefore, would be utschajakech with the vowel a of the ending echoing the last vowel of the stem utschaj-; we see by the pairs (10 and 11, and 12 and 13) of full and shortened forms that on occasion (as in 15) the -V- of the ending is lost. In the case of 11 and 13, such loss is accompanied by an alteration in the verb root (okok- becomes oojk-, and jóok'ok becomes jóok-). In the case of 7 and 8, we note, first, that in the full form talakech the shape of the root (tal-) is different from that in other contexts (taal : k in taal "I'm coming"), and second, that in the shortened form taakech the /l/ has been lost and the neutral-accented vowel (a) replaced by a low-level one (à). In one case (seen in 1, 9, 14), the verb root (xi'-) which precedes the ending is totally different from that (bin) which appears in other contexts (táan in bin "I'm going").

In all of the examples cited above these intransitive verb forms in -Vk follow the subordinating particle ká, and we shall call this ending the subordinate ending with intransitive verbs. In its subordinate character, it parallels the use of the bare stem with transitive verb bases (roots or stems) as we noted in 7.3.2.

We shall see below that although the subordinating particle ka may stand alone before verbs with such subordinate endings (-ø for transitives, -Vk for intransitives), as it most often does in the examples thus far cited, it may, on occasion, be preceded by other elements.

Uses of the Subordinate Forms of Verbs

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

     (1)  in k'áat ka talake'ex  "I want you (pl.) to come"
     (2)  j taalen in wa'al tech ka talakech  "I came to tell you to come"
     (3)  más ma'alob ka xi'ikech  "it's better that you go"
     (4)  a k'áat ka xi'iken  "you want me to go"
     (5)  j taalen in wa'al-ø tech  "I came to tell you"
     (6)  ka talakech in wil-ø in papa  "may you come to see my father!"
     (7)  tu chakaj teen xíiwo'ob in wuk'-ø-ej  "she boiled me herbs to drink"
     (8)  a k'áat ka xi'iken in ch'a'-ø ts'aak  "do you want me to go and (= to) get medicine?"
     (9)  a k'áat ka in man-ø-ej  "you want me to buy [it]"

You will note that preceding the subordinating particle ka in 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 9 are a number of verb expressions (k'áat, a'al, k'áat) and one nominal expression (más ma'alob). They express wish (k'áat), command (a'al), or preference (más ma'alob). They are followed by ka, and that, in turn, is followed by intransitive verbs with the subordinate ending -Vk (1, 2, 3, 4, 8) and transitive verbs in their subordinate (bare-stem) form (marked by -ø : there is no -ik)(9).

You will note, further, that in 5, 6, 7, and 8, a number of verb expressions (taal, chakaj, xi'ik) occur which indicate intent. They are followed directly (without an intervening ka) by transitive verbs in their subordinate (bare-stem) form (a'al, il, ch'a') (or, in sentence-final, as in 7, by the form with terminal -ej).

In one instance (8) both types of subordination occur (after k'áat with ka followed by an intransitive in -Vk; after xi'ik without ka followed by a transitive in -ø).

In one instance (9) ka occurs (after k'áat, whose subject is different from that of the subordinate verb which follows) followed by a transitive in -ø (with, to be sure, the utterance-terminal
ending with transitives -ej).

That the difference in subject is associated not only with ka, but also with k'áat is evidenced by 7, in which the subject of the first (main) verb is different from that of the dependent verb, although there is no ka. Only in 9, where the subjects different, and the main verb is k'áat is the ka requisite (see 7.3.2.).

From the English equivalents (to..., that..., and..., = to...), it is clear that where in Maya the goal of a wish, a command or a preference, or the intended purpose of an action, are expressed by dependent verbs equipped with their own pronominal subjects (-e'ex, -ech, -en, in w, a w, in), in English such goals or purposes are frequently expressed by to with an infinitive (and the pronominals, if present, appear as objects of the main verb as in 1, 4, 9).

Dubitative wa ka...-e'

If we compare the following phrases from the Basic Sentences:

     (1)  wa u yutstale'  "if he recovers"
     (2)  wa utschaje'  "if he recovered..."
     (3)  wa ka utschajake'  "if he should recover..."

we note that the difference between 1 and 2 is a simple difference of time-reference: 2 references past time, and 1 references no particular time at all. The difference between 2 and 3, however, although it does reference time (2 references past time, and 3 references future), the contingency indicated by the use of ka ... -Vk (in combination with wa ... -e'), emphasizes the dubitative nature of the goal. We see here another use of the subordinate -Vk with intransitives.

Intransitive Perfects in -Vk

In the Basic Sentences we have met the following expressions:

     (1)  desde úuch k'oja'anchajakech  "for a long time you've been ill"
     (2)  jay p'éel k'iin k'oja'anchajakech  "how long have you been ill?"
     (3)  desde u mesil septiembre yanaken waye'  "I've been here since the month of September"
     (4)  ma' utschajkechi'  "you haven't gotten well"

Although expressions 1, 2, and 4 most often occur in the shortened form with only -k- as the ending, in 3 the full ending -ak appears. It is clear from these examples that the meaning of the italicized ending is that of perfect action. For the demonstration that the ending is really -Vk, rather than -ak, we must await more examples.

If we compare the following from the Basic Sentences:

      (1)  jay p'éel k'iin k'oja'anchajech  "how long were you sick?"
      (2)  jay p'éel k'iin k'oja'anchajakech  "how long have you been sick?"
      (3)  ma' utschajechi'  "you didn't get well"
      (4)  ma' utschajakechi'  "you haven't gotten well"

it is clear that the difference between 1 and 2, and between 3 and 4, is the difference between a single act in the past of the completive-punctual (3.3.5., 3.3.9., 4.3.5., 9.3.4.) forms and the completed but on-going condition of the continuing-perfect forms in -Vk of intransitive verbs. The perfect of transitive verbs will be treated in a later lesson.