Brief Tseeyo Grammar Notes

 

Sentence Structure

 

  1. Sentences with simple verb constructions have the structure SVO(O).
    1. Direct objects of extended verbs immediately follow the verb.
    2. Indirect objects of extended verbs immediately follow the DO.

                                                               i.      ‘he gives me a knife’ – (the verb ‘give’ – – is tonally irregular)

                                                             ii.      u (he) kánaŋ (give.APP) (1S.Obj) ḿbɔé (NM.knife)

    1. Location words are treated as direct objects with the LOC verb extension.

                                                               i.      ‘she came from the field’ – (direction of motion is inherent in the verb)

                                                             ii.      u (she) hundó (come.LOC) ncɛ (NM.field)

    1. (See Verb section below for verb extensions)
  1. Sentence with auxiliary verb constructions have the structure SAuxO(O)V.
    1. The main verb agrees with the subject when in the final position.

                                                               i.      ‘she is going to cook the meat’ – (‘going to’ is very similar to the Future Progressive auxiliary form)

                                                             ii.      u (she) ́ (AUX.go) ovisi (NM.meat) yaawo (cook.NC)

 

Nouns

 

  1. All nouns belong to specific noun classes.  A nominal stem will belong to a singular and a plural class, or to a collective (mass) class.
  2. Noun class membership is marked by a morpheme prefixed to the noun stem (NM).
  3. Nouns in genitive constructions or nouns that otherwise describe or are associated with another noun appear with a concord suffix (NC) that agrees with the noun class of the ruling noun. 

When nouns modify other nouns they still appear with their noun class prefix in place.

  1. Adjectives do not themselves belong to noun classes, but affix a noun class concord suffix for the noun they modify.
  2. There are no articles.
  3. Proper names and titles or terms of address do not affix a noun class prefix.
  4. Dependent phrases are terminated with a marker that agrees with the noun class of the subject of the phrase.
  5. Table of noun class concord markers:

Markers

Noun Class

Concord Prefix

Concord Suffix

Subject Pronoun

Object Pronoun

Dem Prox

Dem Dist

Dependent Marker

Singular

O

o-

-(w)o

u

awa

awɛ́ŋ

woŋ

Singular

KA

Ń-

-(k)

ka

káŋ

aka

akɛ́ŋ

ŋkaŋ

Singular

KE

Ń-

-(k)

ke

kéŋ

ɛke

ɛkéŋ

ŋkeŋ

Sg & Mass

LE

le-

-(l)e

le

ale

aléŋ

leŋ

Mass

MA

ma-

-ma

ma

máŋ

ama

amáŋ

maŋ

Plural

A

a-

-(y)a

ya

ɲáá

aya

ayáŋ

ɲaŋ

Plural

TSA

tsa-

-(a)tsa

tsa

tsá

atsa

atsáŋ

tsaŋ

Plural

TSI

tsi-

-(i)tsi

tsi

tsí

ɛtsi

ɛtsíŋ

tsiŋ

Plural

MO

mo-

-mo

mo

móŋ

amo

amóŋ

moŋ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:

"Ń" indicates a high-toned, homorganic nasal.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Personal pronouns appear in several forms.
    1. Subject Realis – used to mark realis verb forms
    2. Subject Irrealis – used to mark irrealis verb forms
    3. Object – Indicate direct or indirect object reference
    4. Possessive – Used to refer to the possessor of a noun
    5. Stress – Used in focus constructions to emphatically refer to the subject
  2. Table of personal pronouns:

 

Subj Rls

Subj Irrls

Obj

Poss

Stress

1S

á

áá

-

(ŋ)

2S

ɔ̀

ɔ́ɔ́

ŋɔ̀

-ŋó

ŋɔ́

3S

ů

úú

-

múó

 

 

 

 

 

 

1P

ŋɛ̀

ŋɛ́ɛ́

mɛ̀ŋ

-máŋ

míɛ́ŋ

2P

ŋŕ

ŋáá

ŋí

-

náŋ

3P

yáá

ɲá

-ɲá

ɲá

 

Verbs

 

1.      Verbs are inflected for tense and aspect by tonal profiles or melodies.  Normally the perfective is used in recounting stories unless a time in the future or past of the events being detailed needs to be referenced.

a.      Tones are indicated by accent marks: Low (L) ŕ or a / High (H) á.

b.      Realis and Irrealis subject pronouns are integral parts of verbal conjugation, but are not cliticized.

2.      Summary of simple verb form melodies:

Tseeyo Verb Forms

 

Realis Pronoun

Irrealis Pronoun

Tone Pattern

Negation

Sentence Structure

Subject Concord

Active Translation

Stative Translation

Simple Forms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfective

 

X

 

LL

̀

SVO

no

Xed

is X

Habitual

 

 

X

LL

̀

SVO

no

usually Xes

is usually X

General Negative

 

X

 

LL

̀

SVO

no

doesn't* X

isn't* X

 

 

* The general negative has no specific time reference - past, pres, or future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past Habitual

 

X

 

HL

n/a

SVO

no

used to X

used to be X

Negative Past

 

X

 

HL

̀

SVO

no

has never Xed

was never X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future

 

X

 

LH

́

SVO

no

will X

will be X

Conditional

 

 

X

LH

́

SVO

no

might X

might be X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imperative

 

(X)

 

HH

́

VO

no

X!

be X!

Hortative

 

 

X

HH

́

SVO

no

should X

should be X

 Past Hortative

 

 

X

HL

́

SVO

no

should have Xed

should have been X

 

3.      Summary of auxiliary verb forms:

 

Tseeyo Verb Forms

Realis Pronoun

Irrealis Pronoun

Auxiliary Used

Tone Pattern

Negation

Sentence Structure

Subject Concord

Active Translation

Stative Translation

Auxiliary Forms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Progressive

X

 

ʦɛ̀

LL

̀

SAuxOV

Yes

is Xing now

(Perfective)

Past Progressive

X

 

ʦɛ̀

HL

̀

SAuxOV

Yes

was Xing then

(Past Habitual)

Future Progressive

X

 

ʦɛ́

LH

́

SAuxOV

Yes

will be Xing then

(Future or Future)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Prog Conditional

 

X

ʦɛ́

LL

́

SAuxOV

Yes

might be Xing

(Conditional)

Past Prog Conditional

 

X

ʦɛ́

HL

́

SAuxOV

Yes

might have been Xing

might have been X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future

X

 

́

LL

́

SAuxOV

Yes

is going to X

is going to be X

Past

 

X

̀

HL

̀

SAuxOV

Yes

was going to X

was going to be X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tiu Terminative

X

 

těů

LL

́

SAuxOV

Yes

is done Xing

isn't X any more

tiu Term Conditional

 

X

těů

LH

́

SAuxOV

Yes

might be done Xing

might not have been X

 

4.      Verb Extensions

a.      There are a number of morphemes in Tseeyo which are marked on the verb that express meanings commonly conveyed by nominal cases or prepositions in other languages.  These verb extensions increase or decrease the valency of the verb allowing for the addition or omission of verb arguments.

b.      The Pluractive extension indicates a durative meaning or a multiplicity of occurrences depending on the telicity and semantics of the verb.

                                                               i.      PLU is marked by reduplication of the verb stem by repeating the onset and rime of the first syllable before the main stem.

                                                             ii.      If the syllable structure is CV, the verb is reduplicated as CVCV: with a lengthened stem vowel.

1.      naka (be sick) nanaaka (be sick many times or for a long time)

                                                            iii.      If the syllable structure is CV1.V2, the verb is reduplicated as CV1.CV1.V2 without lengthening the stem vowel.

1.      kiasa (write) kikiasa (write a lot or many times)

c.       The Stative extension reduces the valency of active verbs and indicates a state described by the meaning of the verb.

                                                               i.      STA is marked by a verbal suffix -(y)i, or after -ɛ after i.

1.      kulam (harvest) → kulami (be harvested)

2.      cuwo (carry) → cuwoyi (be carried)

3.      yusi (turn) → yusiɛ (be turned)

d.      The Causative extension changes some intransitive verbs into transitive verbs and means ‘make/cause to do/be X’.

                                                               i.      CAU is marked by the verbal suffix – after coda vowels and –ndí after coda consonants.

1.      muutsi (be frightened) → muutsilí (frighten)

2.      siam (be standing) → siamndí (stand up, prop up)

3.      (give) → kálí (extract, take away)

e.      The Applicative extension increases the verbal argument by adding a patient.  The semantic territory covered by this extension is considerable, but can be summarized as denoting an action or state with reference to a patient (usually animate). 

                                                               i.      APP is marked by a verbal suffix appearing in it’s fullest form as –naŋ. 

                                                             ii.      Other possible forms depending on the previous segments are:

1.      After most coda consonants

a.      verbs ending (m,n,k) –aŋ,

b.      verbs ending –ŋ appear as –naŋ (tiuŋtiunaŋ)

c.       verbs ending –l appear as –ndaŋ, following the normal rule –l + (nasal) → -nd

2.      After vowels the suffix vowel (a) assimilates to some degree:

a.      i,e +

b.      ɛ +

c.       a +

d.      ɔ,o,u + ɔŋ

e.      however – + → -iɛŋ

                                                            iii.      Some interpretations are as follows:  for, to, because of, for the benefit of, to the detriment of, within the sight or hearing of someone, with the awareness of someone, seeming like or appearing to someone as, etc.

1.      yňŋ (surpass something) → yňnaŋ (appear to someone to surpass something)

2.      ŋ (shout) dɛnaŋ (shout to someone or at something)

3.      (grab something) → sánaŋ (grab something for someone)

4.      fɛŋa (move) → fɛnaŋ (move through or by) (irregular form)

f.        The Comitative extension indicates a state or action occurring in the company of another animate; “together with someone”.

                                                               i.      COM is marked by the verbal suffix –ma.  The nasals (m,n) assimilate to –mba.

1.      dii (eat) → diima (eat together, eat with)

2.      bɔndɔ (be tall) → bɔndɔma (be tall with, be as tall as)

3.      mbala (strive) → mbala (strive with, help)

g.      The Locative extension indicates slightly different meanings when used with stative or dynamic verbs.

                                                               i.      LOC with dynamic verbs indicates directionality: at, to, from, into, upon, until etc. a place or time depending on the verb.

                                                             ii.      LOC with stative verbs (usually in conjunction with PLU) indicates duration until a referenced time.

                                                            iii.      LOC is marked by the high-toned suffix –(nd)(d)ó with the following realizations:

1.      After CV or CV.V verbs → –ndó: toondó, ciendó

2.      After –n → -: hundó

3.      After (m,ŋ) → –mndó, -ŋndó: siamndó, hiɔŋndó

4.      Assimilation of coda l → -ndó: tiɛltiɛndó

5.      After CVCV, CV(V)CV or CVCV(V) verbs → -: fulɛdó, kiasadó, kɔciadó 

                                                           iv.      Location words (place, object, or locational demonstrative) are treated as objects of the verb, appearing directly after the verb.

1.      u hundó ńcɛ - he come.LOC NM.field - “he comes from the field”

2.      u bɛndó otsɛli masia – she put.LOC NM.house NM.oranges – “she put in the house the oranges”

h.      The Reflexive extension indicates reflexive or reciprocal action, depending on whether the subject is singular or plural.

                                                               i.      RFX is marked by the suffix –nu, with only a few exeptions:

1.      After coda n,k(rare) -ndu

2.      Does not assimilate after l – tiɛltiɛlnu

                                                             ii.      RFX with a singular subject indicates reflexive action: tiɛl (agree) → u tiɛlnu (agree with oneself; decide)

                                                            iii.      RFX with a plural subject indicates reciprocal action: tiɛl (agree) → ya tiɛlnu (agree with each other; come to an agreement)

i.         Verb extensions may be stacked.  The meanings are logically combined with the semantics of the verb stem.

                                                               i.      Since PLU is not marked by a suffix as are all the others, it frequently combines.

                                                             ii.      The suffixal extensions combine in this order: STEM [STA] [CAU] [APP] [COM] [LOC] [RFX]

 

Ideophones

 

1.      Tseeyo makes wide use of a class of words which are largely marginalized by European languages – ideophones.  They can be defined as “A vivid representation of an idea in sound. A word, often onomatopoeic, which describes a predicate, qualificative or adverb in respect to manner, colour, sound, smell, action, state or intensity.” (Doke 1935)  In Tseeyo ideophones take a largely adverbial role but unlike adverbs in most languages do not display any morphology.

a.      Ideophones typically appear at the end of a sentence or phrase, but also may directly follow the word they are describing.

 

Other parts of speech

 

1.      Circumpositions are widely used to enclose adpositional phrases, much like parentheses.

a.      Spatial relationships are often described using circumpositions such as tí.

b.      Usage is similar to the LOC verb extension, but constituent order is different.

c.       Compare the following:

                                                                i.      Circumposition: tí - ‘at or in a place or object’. 

1.      u bɛ masia ti otsɛli gɛ́

2.      she put NM.oranges at NM.house in

3.      “she put the oranges in the house”

                                                              ii.      LOC verb extension: -

1.      u bɛndó otsɛli masia

2.      she put.LOC NM.house NM.oranges

3.      “she put in the house the oranges”

 

2.      Conjunctions work very similarly in Tseeyo as in English.