Stative Formant -ka (was Re: affixes vs. enclitics)

Rankin, Robert L rankin at
Wed Nov 10 15:56:46 UTC 2004

You'd have a hard time convincing me that it's possible to relate -ka to
demonstrative elements of any kind.  Cognacy involves more than just
resemblant syllables, and -ka cannot be said to have any real semantics.
I don't even accept it fully as something we could label 'stative verb
formative', although it cooccurs with some statives.  Personally, I'd
want to see specific active verb roots that have been "stativized" or
that have clear stative counterparts, where -ka is the sole
distinguishing factor.  If the process was even once productive, there
should be relic forms stashed somewhere.  It may be possible to find
them, but I don't recall ever running across any.

I agree with John, of course, that there is a cline between word,
clitic, affix and mere phoneme.  Our article in the Word book ed. by
Dixon and Aikhenvald goes into detail on that.  But I see no relic
evidence for including -ka of *htaNka in that.

> One assumes that either this is some kind of stem-formant or
alternatively, something easily lost.  I tend to prefer the former
explanation.  If it is a stem-formant, a reasonable possibility is that
it is *ka 'yon' acting more or less as a clause final marker and then
absorbed into the verb.  I recall that demonstratives sometimes become
copulas in other language families, but I don't recall the examples.
The ka-formant strikes me as something like that.

  *ihtaN ka      =>  *htaNka
   big   that         it's big

> Not all stative verbs have this formant where it occurs in some, but
perhaps not all stative verbs have the same sort of origin.

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