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

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Wed Nov 10 19:06:37 UTC 2004

On Wed, 10 Nov 2004, Rankin, Robert L wrote:
> 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.

The argument is more syntactic than semantic.  Nothing about the semantics
of the forms argues for -ka < ka DEM, I agree.

> 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 would argue that the -ka formative was not added to a non-stative verb
to stativize it, but sometimes appears with things that were once simply
adjectives, because those forms often occurred in syntactic contexts
(predications) where a predicative ka followed them.  Thus the only
relicts of ka-less forms are the reflexes of these stems in languages
where the stems lack -ka.  The forms with -ka have it as a relict of
ocurring before (enclitic?) predicator ka in predicative contexts, while
the forms without -ka reflect the original stem preserved from
non-predicative contexts or simply not having picked up the ka attachment
from those contexts where it co-ocurred.

It's even possible that the hypothetical predicative ka didn't occur in
the dialects of PS that lead to the languages in which the ka-less forms
occur.  I think forms lacking ka are not random, but occur consistently in
certain languages, e.g., Winnebago.

Obviously there's some sort of reanalysis involved.  The ka goes from
being a functional mark of predication next to an adjective in a predicate
to being part of a predicating stative verb.  There might well have been
other kinds of stative verbs around already to facilitate the reanalysis.

Putting it another way, the -ka is picked up like a burr from a context
where burrs occur as result of frequenting that context, rather than added
derivationally to create a certain result.  I suppose the distinction is a
bit moot.  You could call it a derivational suffix for forming statives
from adjectives if you classed the underlying stems as adjectives.  On the
other hand there are no surface adjectives in the Siouan languages where
-ka is a formant.  Or anywhere else in Siouan as far as I am aware.

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