Lesson 5: Grammar

Transitive Imperative

Observe the following expressions from the Basic Sentences:

a'al ten Jose ba'ax le je'elo'  "tell me, Jose, what's that?"
tsol ti' a suku'un ba'ax k u beetiko'ob  "explain to your brother, what they do!"
e'es ti' to'on bix a ts'íibtik x ch'úupal  "show us how you write x ch'úupal"
e'es ti' to'on bix a ts'íibtik x ch'úupal  "ask Jose what the name of this is!"
kanáant a w ook  "watch your step!"

Note the following about these expressions:
      (1) They are neither statements nor questions, but rather requests or commands.
      (2) The verb in them is never preceded by an aspect particle (k) nor by a dependent pronoun.
      (3) There is present in each of them an overtly expressed object; the verb is, therefore, transitive.
      (4) Indeed, each of the verb forms in them is composed of the transitive stem alone (without an -ik or other suffix). In view of the fact that the expressions represent requests or commands, we may call them transitive imperative expressions.

Now observe these same transitive imperative forms when they occur without any other sentence element immediately following them:
a'alej "tell (it)!"
tsolej "explain (it)!"
e'esej "show (it)!"
k'áatej "ask (it)!"
kanáantej "guard (it)!"
Note that these forms consist of the transitive stem to which is added the terminal suffix -ej. You have thus far encountered one other transitive imperative form: u'uye'ex "you (pI) listen [to it]!" Note that this is a request addressed to more than one listener; it is composed of the transitive stem u'uy plus the second person plural dependent pronoun -e'ex. We shall call it the second person plural imperative. Note that such second person plural imperatives, whether they are accompanied or not by some other sentence element, have no suffix -ej.  Most verbs we have seen thus far have only the three forms described above (e.g., kanáant..., kanáantej, kanáante'ex) for the transitive imperative. Some have special suppletive stems for the second person singular, as well as a fourth such form, for the first person plural. All the verbs, whose transitive forms you have learned thus far, are given below. In their three transitive imperative forms:
  Column 1   Column 2 Column 3
1. a'al "say" a'alej a'ale'ex
2. ajs "waken" ajsej ajse'ex
3. beet "do" beetej beete'ex
4. bis "take" bisej bise'ex
5. tsol "explain" tsolej tsole'ex
6. ts'a "give" ts'áej ts'áe'ex
7. ts'íibt "write" ts'íibtej ts'íibte'ex
8. e'es "show" e'esej e'ese'ex
9. il "see" ilej ile'ex
10. kan "learn" kanej kane'ex
11. kanáant "guard" kanáantej kanáante'ex
12. kol "clear off" kolej kole'ex
13. káat "ask" k'áatej k'áate'ex
14. lúubs "fell" lúubsej lúubse'ex
15. meyajt "serve" meyajtej meyajte'ex
16. meent "do" meentej meente'ex
17. na'at "understand" na'atej na'ate'ex
18. pak' "plant" pak'ej pak'e'ex
19. pá'at "expect" pa'atej pa'ate'ex
20. taas "bring" taasej taase'ex
21. tóok "burn" tóokej tóoke'ex
22. tukul "think" tukulej tukule'ex
23. uk' "drink" uk'ej uk'e'ex
24. u'uy "listen" u'uyej u'uye'ex
25. weens "put to sleep" weensej weense'ex

The "have" of possession in Maya

1.     Note the following expressions taken from the Basic Sentences:

(1) jay p'eel ja'ab yaan ti' leti'o'ob  "How may years are there at them? =how old are they?
(2) míin treinta dias yaan ti' leti'  "About thirty days there are at him = he is thirty days old"
(3) yaan un túul tsíimin ti' in papa xan  "There is a horse at my father, too = my father, too, has a horse"
(4) Alberto yaan teech tsíimin  "Alberto, do you have a horse?"
(5) yaan yaan teen in tsiimin  "Yes, I have a horse"
(6) yaan te'ex ya'ab taak'in xan  "Do you (all) have a lot of money too?"
(7) yan taak'in ti'  "Does he have any money?"
(8) le in hijae' dieciocho meses yaan ti'  "The daughter of mine is 18 months old =there is at her"
Note in sentences (1),(2), and (3), that "have" is expressed by a combination of yaan "exists" plus ti' "at," followed by an expressed possessor (leti'o'ob, leti', in papa).  The ti' may be omitted, as in sentences (4), (5), and (6) where teech teen te'ex express the possessor, or, finally. the ti' alone, may be kept, to express, within it, the third person possessor, as in sentcnces (7) and (8). In sentence (7), the third person possessor is understood, and, in sentence (8). It is expressed elsewhere in the longer utterance (Ie in hijae').

2.    Observe now the following expressions:

yaan teech a hijos "do you have [any] children?"
yaan a hijos "do you have [any] children?"
It is apparent that the presence of an independent pronoun, to further indicate such a possessor, lends (optional) emphasis.

The Negative of "have"

We have likewise heard the following expressions:

     mina'an to'on taak'in  "we don't have (any) money"
     mina'an taak'in ti' k papa xan "my father doesn't have (any) money, either"

We have earlier observed that the form yaan has the negative form mina'an. Note that this same negative form is used in expressions such as those above to express the negative of "have." The literal equivalent of the first example above would be: "(there) is not (for) us (any) money."

Indirect Object

Observe the following expressions from the Basic Sentences:
     1(a) tun tsolik wá ba'ax ti' le x-ch'úupalo'  "he's explaining something to that girl"
     1(b) tsol ti' a suku'un ba'ax ku beetiko'ob  "explain to your older brother what they do"

Sentence 1(a) might very well be re-wrilten as:
     1(c) tun tsolik ti' le x-ch'úupalo' wa ba'ax  "he's explaining to that girl something"

Note that in 1(a) the underlined element comes at the end, after the object, but that in 1(b) and in 1(c) it comes in the middle, before the object (and after the verb).  Compare this with a similar variation possible in English sentences which
contain a section (after the direct object) which indicates to whom (or of whom) the action is performed:

      2(a)  give the ball to me
      2(b)  give me the ball
      3(a)  ask a question of the teacher
      3(b) ask the teacher a question

Note that in English when this element occurs before the (direct) object, the preposition is dropped leaving behind an indirect object, but that in Maya, the (prepositional) particle ti' is retained, even when the section containing it is shifted to another position in the sentence. It retains, thus, in Maya, its special character as an indirect-object expression. Observe, nevertheless, in the following sentences:

     (a) e'es ti' to'on bix a ts'íibtik x-ch'úupal  "show us how to write x ch'úupaI"
     (b) es's to'on bix a ts'íibtik x-ch'úupal  "show us how you write x ch'úupal"

Note, too, the example:

     (a) a'al ti' leti'  "tell him!"
     (b) a'al ti' ba'axi'  "tell him what [it is]!"

in which, as also observed in 5.3.2., the emphatic leti' may be omitted after ti'.

Possession with ti'a'al

Observe the following expressions:

     a ti'a'al le naja'  "this house is yours..."
     u ti'a'al leti'  "(it's) his"
     mix in ti'a'ali'  "(it's) not mine"

Note that, in Maya, the dependent personal pronouns cannot be used alone to indicate "mine," "yours," "his," "ours," "yours," "theirs." They are, rather, preposed to the nominal form ti'a'aI (which characterizes a "possessed thing"):

     in ti'a'al  "it's mine"
     a ti'a'al  "it's yours (sg)"
     u ti'a'al  "it's his"
     k ti'a'al  "it's ours"
     a ti'a'ale'ex  "it's yours (p)"
     u ti'a'alo'ob  "it's theirs"


Observe the following expressions taken from the Basic Sentences:

      (1) un túul xi'ipal yéetel un túul x-ch'úupal  "a boy and a girl"
      (2) a ti'a'al le naja' Jose wa u ti'a'al leti'  "Is this house yours, Jose, or his?'
      (3) mix in suku'un yan taak'in ti'  "nor does my older brother have any money"
      (4) mix in ti'a'ali' mix u ti'a'al leti'i'  "(it's) neither mine, nor his"

Like English (and, or, neither, nor), Maya, too, has elements which connect (or disjoin) other words in its sentences.

In example (1), above, the element yéetel "and" serves to join noun phrases. You may recognize the element éet, which we saw in the Maya word éet meyaj "co-worker," where it means "with." The literal meaning of (u) yéeteI (in this meaning usually found in its short form) is "with it."

In example (2), the interrogative particle wáaj is used with the meaning "or."

In example (3), the negative particle mix may be glossed either as "nor" or as "neither."

In example (4). where mix is used to introduce successive phrases, it may be glossed as "neither...nor."

The fore-going constitute some of the Maya conjunctions.

Framing Particle je'el...e';, táant..e', and laili'...e'

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

laili'e' "still"
laili' tun wenele' "he's still sleeping"
laili' mina'an to'on taak'ine' "we don't have any money yet"
táante' "just now"
táant in weensike' "I've just put (him) to sleep"
táant u bine' "she's just gone"
je'ele' "(one) will"
je'el a kanike'exe' "you (pl) will learn (it)"
je' in bisike' "I will (certainly) take (him)"
It is seen in the above examples that certain introductory particles IaiIi', táante', je'ele') seem to require a suffixal particle -e' on the end of the utterance. If the utterance contains no elements following the introductory particle, then the -e' is suffixed to the particle, and the combination constitutes an utterance in itself. When there are other elements between the two, the combination frames them. We shall refer to such combinations as framing particles.

Aspectual Particles (or Particle Combinations)(Partial Summary).

Two of these framing particle combinations we can now add to our list of aspectual particles (or particle combinations). Note that táant...-e' and je'el...-e' do not occur with any other aspectual particles, but that laili...-e' does, as you have seen in laili' tun wenele'.

Since táant...-e' indicates that an action has just taken place, we shall refer to it as marking the proximate perfective aspect.

Since je'el...-e' indicates an action which will surely take place, we shall refer to it as marking the assurative aspect.

We now have seven such aspectual markers (or combinations of markers):

(1) k non-completive (3.3.5, 3.3.8, 4.3.5)
(2) t completive (3.3.5, 3.3.9, 4.3.5)  
(3) táan durative-progressive (4.3.2, 4.3.3, 4.3.5, 4.3.8)      
(4) ts'o'ok terminative (4.3.6, 4.3.9)      
(5) yan compulsive (4.3.7)
(6) táant...e' proximate perfective (5.3.7)
(7) je'el...e' assurative (5.3.7)