Person and Number morphemes

Volker Gast gast at ZEDAT.FU-BERLIN.DE
Mon Nov 5 08:26:11 UTC 2001

Some Mayan languages are of this type. Here is one example:


ch-i-bat 'I go', ch-i-bat-otik 'we (incl.) go'
ch-a-bat 'you go', ch-a-bat-ik 'you (pl.) go'
ch-bat 'he goes', ch-bat-ik 'they go'

j-tot 'my father', j-tot-tik 'our (excl.) father'
a-tot 'your father', a-tot-ik 'your (pl.) father'
s-tot 'his father', s-tot-ik 'their father'

Best regards


On Sat, 3 Nov 2001, Jordan Lachler wrote:

> Greetings,
> I am looking for references to languages which have both person and number
> argument marking on the verb, and/or person and number marking for
> possessor on the noun, but where these categories are not combined in the
> same portmanteau morpheme, and are instead expressed by separate morphemes.
> This is the case in Keresan languages, for example, where the transitive
> verb (and the possessed noun) has the following basic structure:
> 	Person + Object/Patient # + Stem + Subject/Agent #
> So, for instance, consider the following forms:
> (Note: + is used to represent a barred-i)
> si.u.m'eek'um'e            "I am watching him"
> si.u.m'eek'um'e.sraty+     "we (dl) are watching him"
> si.u.m'eek'um'e.shi        "we (pl) are watching him"
> Here, the prefix si- indicates 1st person subject and a third person object
> (as well as Factual mode), the prefix -u- indicates a singular object,
> followed by the stem -m'eek'um'e- "watch someone/something", followed by
> either "zero" for singular subject, -sraty+ for dual subject, or -shi for
> plural subject.
> Likewise with the verb stem -kacha "see someone/something".
> si.u.kacha	"I saw him/her"
> si.y'uu.kacha	"I saw them two"
> si.w'aa.kacha	"I saw them (3+)"
> Here, the prefix si- again indicates a first person acting on a third
> person in the Factual mode, followed by either -u- for a singular object,
> -y'uu- for a dual object, or -w'aa- for a plural object, followed by the
> stem -kacha.
> A similar pattern is found with possessed nouns.
>'a    "his/her buttock(s)"
> g.u'u.much'a   "their (dl) buttocks"
> g.uw'a.much'a  "their (pl) buttocks"
> Here, the prefix g- indicates a third person possessor, followed by either
> the prefix -au- for a singular possessor, -u'u- for a dual possessor, or
> -uw'a- for a plural possessor, followed by the noun stem -much'a "buttock(s)".
> (These patterns hold pretty well for transitive verbs and possessed nouns,
> but intransitive verbs are a different story.)
> If anyone knows of references to similar phenomena in other languages, I
> would appreciate hearing about them.  I'll post a summary of responses to
> the list.
> Thanks very much!
> -<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-
> Jordan Lachler
> Department of Linguistics
> University of New Mexico
> lachler at

Volker Gast
FU Berlin
Institut für Englische Philologie
Goßlerstraße 2-4
14195 Berlin

Tel.: 030/838 72314

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