Lesson 2: Grammar

Plural Ending -oʾob.

In the Basic Sentences you have met the following forms (which we here present in two columns):

Column 1 Column 2
leti'o'ob "they" leti' "the one"
a wíits'ino'ob "your younger siblings" a wíitsin "your younger sibling"
k éet meyajo'ob "our co-workers" k éet meyaj "our co-worker"
k'aaba'o'ob "names" k'aaba' "name"
It is clear that the forms in Column 1 are longer (by the addition of -o'ob) than those in Column 2. It is likewise apparent that the forms in Column 1 refer to several individuals, those in Column 2 to single individuals. We shall say that those in Column 1 are plural, and that the ending -o'ob is a plural ending.
<br /> According to the work of Scruffington(1998), it is now clear the determiners in Maya have a number of unexpectedly complex properties.

Optional Loss of Vowels

In the Basic Sentences, thus far, we have seen series of forms like the following:

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
a wíits'in a wíits'ino'ob a wíits'no'ob
tu láakal tu láakale'ex tu láakle'ex
a wojel a wojele'ex a wojle'ex
in k'ajóol in k'ajóoltikech in k'ajóoltkech
You will note that the forms in Column 2 differ from those in Column 1 in that the forms in Column 2 have added an ending with an initial vowel. In the forms in Column 3, which are in meaning entirely equivalent to those in Column 2, the vowel (in the syllable which immediately precedes the vowel-initial ending is lost. Such vowel-loss in such syllables is optional and may depend on the speed of the utterance or on other factors. They may be retained in a slower style of speech and be lost in a faster (or less formal one).

Independent Pronouns Used for Emphasis

Compare the sentences in Column 1 (which lack independent pronouns), with the sentences in Column 2 (which have them):

Column 1 Column 2
tu'ux ka bin   "where are you going?" tu'ux ka bin teech   "where are you going?"
bix u k'aaba'   "what's his name?" bix u k'aaba' leti'   "what is his name?"
The dependent pronoun a "you" appears in both columns, as does the dependent pronoun u "his." In Column 2, however, the corresponding independent pronouns teech "you" and leti' "this (also: "the one")" are used to supplement the idea already expressed in the dependent forms, and lend to these greater emphasis.

Topicalizer -eʾ

In these phrases from the Basic Sentences:

tene' tin chan bin j maan                                          "me, I'm just going shopping"
leti' xane' ku bin j k'íiwik                                          "he, too, goes to the market"
k ojel pero Juane' chéen un p'íit u yojeli'                  "we do [know it]. Juan knows only a little of it"
tene' Alberto in k'aaba'                                              "(as for) me, my name is Alberto"
to'one' estados unidos k taal                                     "we are from the United States"
te'exe' tu láakale'ex a wojele'ex wáaj maya' t'aan   "you all, do you know Maya?"
a' leti'o'obe' chéen k éet meyajo'ob                             "no, they are only our co-workers"

we find the forms

tene'          "concerning me"
leti' xane'   "concerning him, too"
Juane'        "concerning Juan"
to'one'       "concerning us"
te'exe'       "concerning you (pl)"
leti'o'obe'  "concerning them."

Elsewhere we find:

teen          "I"
leti' xan     "he, too"
Juan          "Juan"
to'on         "we"
te'ex         "you (pl)"
leti'o'ob    "they."

We see that, in prior mention of the topic of conversation in a clause, or longer stretch of ongoing speech, one adds the ending -e' to such selected items. We might refer to the items so marked as topicalized, and to the ending itself as a topicalizer.

Plural Independent Pronouns

In 1.3.1 we listed the singular pronouns:

teen   "I"
teech "you"
leti'    "he/she/it"

used alone in phrases without a verb, that is, independently. In the Basic Sentences of this lesson we find:

to'on        "we"
te'ex        "you (pl)"
leti'o'ob   "they"

all of which refer to more than one individual. These, then, are plural independent pronouns.

Plural Dependent Pronouns

In 1.3.2 we listed the singular pronouns

in "I"
a  "you"
u  "he/she/it"

used as subjects of a verb, "tightly" preposed, that is, dependently attached. In the Basic Sentences of this lesson we find:

k ojel             "we know [it]"
a wojele'ex  "you (pl) know [it]"
u yojelo'ob  "they know [it]"

containing elements k "we", a w...-e'ex "you (pl), u y...-o'ob "they," all of which refer to more than one individual. These are the corresponding plural dependent pronouns.

Singular Possessor Pronouns

We have seen the following in Lesson 1:

Column 1 Column 2
in wóol "my spirit" óol "spirit"
a suku'un "your older brother" suku'un "older brother"
u beel "his road" beel "road"
and in Lesson 2 the following:

Column 1 Column 2
in k'aaba' "my name" k'aaba' "name"
a wíits'in "your younger sibling" íits'in "younger sibling"
u k'aaba' "his name" k'aaba' "name"
It is clear that the possessors of the things in Column 2 are indicated in Column 1 by the preposed in "my," a "your," and u "his," respectively, and, since these refer to single possessors, that we have here singular possessor pronouns.

Plural Possesor Pronouns

In the Basic Sentences of Lesson 2, we have met the following:
Column 1 Column 2
k éet meyajo'ob "our co-workers" éet meyajo'ob "co-workers"
a suku'une'o'ob "your(pl) older brothers" suku'uno'ob "older brothers"
u k'aaba'o'ob "their names" k'aaba'(o'ob) "name(s)"
We see that the forms in Column 1 contain preposed elements k "our" and u "their" (i.e., third person possessor), as well as a combination of a preposed a "your" (i.e., second person possessor) with a post-posed -e'ex "your(pl)" (i.e., plural of second person). In the first two cases, the base forms already end in -o'ob, so that not only are the possessors many, but so are the things possessed.  In the third case, however, the base form might be either k'aaba' "name," in which case the possessor "their" would be represented by the combination u...-o'ob, or the base form might be k'aaba'o'ob, in which the possessor might be either u "his," or the combination u...-o'ob "their." In this last instance, the two -o'ob are represented by only one ending. The form u k'aaba'o'ob, then, might mean either:

            (1) "his names,"
            (2) "their name,"
        or (3) "their names."

Both the simple preposed element and the complexes a...-e'ex and u...-o'ob refer to more than one individual, and are, therefore, plural possessor pronouns.

Preposed Pronouns with Vowel-Initial Roots

Compare the forms in Column 1 with those in Column 2:
Column 1 Column 2
consonant-initial roots vowel-initial roots
k'aaba'     "name" íits'in     "younger sibling"
in k'aaba'     "my name" in wíits'in     "my younger sibling"
a k'aaba'     "your name" a wíits'in     "my younger sibling"
u k'aaba'     "his name" (u) yíits'in     "his younger sibling"
k k'aaba'     "our name" k íits'in     "our younger sibling"
k'ajóol     "know [himJ" ojel     "know [ it ]"
in k'ajóol     "I know [him]" in wojel     "I know [ it J"
a k'ajóol     "you know [him]" a wojel     "you know [ it J"
u k'ajóol     "you know [him]" (u) yojel     "you know [ it 1"
k k'ajóol     "we know [him]" k ojel     "we know ( it ]"
It is clear that, when the preposed dependent pronouns in and a occur with vowel-initial roots, a /w/ is interposed, and when the dependent pronoun u occurs with a vowel-initial root, a /y/ is interposed (and the /u/ may optionally be dropped). Note that no such addition occurs after the preposed dependent pronoun k.

Thisʾ and ʾThatʾ "Frames"

In these phrases from the Basic Sentences:

un túuI     "one (person)"
le un túuIa' "this one (person)"
le un túulo' "that one (person)"

it can be seen that a two-part frame is used to express "this..." (Ie...a') and "that..." (le...o') . In the phrases

máak 'person'
Ie máako' 'that person'
Ie máako'oba' 'these people'
Ie máako'obo' 'those people'

it can be seen that these endings -o' and -a' are placed after the plural ending -o'ob.

The Particle wá(a)(j) in Questions

In the Basic Sentences of this lesson, you have met certain sentences:

      a wíits'ino'ob      "(they are) your younger siblings"
            a wíits'ino'ob wáaj      "(are they) your younger siblings?"
      a wojel     "you know (it)"
            a wojel wáaj     "do you know (it)?"

The first sentence in each of these pairs is a statement. The second is a question. These latter are identical with the former, except that they contain the particle wáaj. It is clear that the function of this particle in Maya is to ask
a question, that is, it is an interrogative particle.  This interrogative particle is post-posed to the thing which it questions.
Note that, in such question-sentences, the intonational terminal contour is the same as it is in the statement-sentences.