-ti verber

M Launey mlauney at wanadoo.fr
Thu Sep 25 12:41:37 UTC 2014

Dear John and listeros

I’m puzzled by this translation -ti = « have ». I’m away for a week from my books, and I will check as soon as I can, but I can’t remember a single clear occurrence in the Classical Nahuatl corpus of a –ti verb meaning « have ».

To express « I have a mother », in the usual, straightforward sense, I know two ways. The most common one is ‘ni-nān-ê’ (or ni-nān-eh, if you like), i.e. something like « I’m mothered ». The other one, less frequent, is ‘on-câ (or oncah) no-nān’, lit. « My mother exists ». Milpa Alta and possibly quite a few other modern dialects have developed piya, originally « keep » or « have by/on oneself » (custodiar, o llevar encima) corresponding to most uses of Spanish « tener », and so in these dialects you would say ‘nicpiya nonan’. It may be the case that some modern dialects say ‘ninanti’, but again this lacks in Classical Nahuatl.

We also have to be careful about the so-called « meaning » of verbs like « have » or « be » in languages that do have such verbs. The fact that these verbs lack in many other languages, and that such languages nevertheless express pretty well the same notions and relations, shows that « have » or « be » actually mark a complex set of relations, and if we try to find what is common to these relations (for instance in « have a mother », « have a house », « have to » (as a duty or a necessity), « have s.o. do sth. » (causative sense) or « have read » (past perfect)), we come to abstract relations such as « mutual position of two entities or two notions ». So, although I do not remember so, it may be the case that some compound words NS (Noun Stem) + -ti can be translated by « have » in English, but it would certainly be an atypical subcase of the use of « have » in English, and certainly different from « have a mother » or « have a house », which are expressed by possessive nouns (in /-e’/ or /-wa’/) or with the existential oncâ.

There obviously is a dissymetry between –ti verbs based on animate vs. inanimate nouns. While cal-tia is amply attested in the corpus, I don’t think you will find cal-ti, and if you do, it will mean « be a house » which is nevertheless improbable (because a house is a house, and you can hardly introduce aspect « behave like a house »), or more likely « act in such a way that a house exists », i.e. « make a house », like tequiti « make the tequitl ». But I don’t remember having seen any of these uses of a possible cal-ti.

So you may be right is saying that –tia has to be analyzed –ti+ a, if this is the way I understand your claim that there are no direct transitive verbers (even if the case of –huia remains), but the semantic relation of –ti vs. –tia verbs is definitely not a causative, but rather an applicative one. Maybe we should again consider that all this sums up to abstract relations, and that –tia (or maybe just the final –a) does not basically mark causation, but the presence of an adjunct, a new participant to the process, that can be interpreted as a dative (in the case of applicatives) or a « « new » agent (in the case of causative).

Sorry to be long once more, but the issue is indeed interesting.

One more remark. I confirm the existence of an intransitive –tia in verbs like cemilhuitia, cexiuhtia « spend a (whole) day, a (whole) year ». I must confess I have no satisfying explanation so far.



> Message du 25/09/14 02:01
> De : "John Sullivan" 
> A : "M Launey" 
> Copie à : "Campbell R. Joe" , "list nahuatl discussion" 
> Objet : Re: [Nahuat-l] -ti verber
Joe (and me too because he taught me) distinguishes between two -ti verbing suffixes. One means "to become or to become like" the attached noun. And this verber takes the -lia causative suffix. So, for example:
tlacatl + ti = tlacati, “to become a person, to be born”, and tlacati + lia = tlacatilia, “to cause s.o. to become a person, to engender s.o.”
The other -ti verber means “to have s.t.” and it only takes the -a causative suffix. So: 
calli + ti = calti, “to have a house”, and calti + -a = caltia, “to cause s.o. to have a house, to provide s.o. with a house”. Many people get mixed up and think that -tia is a verber that means “to provide s.o. or s.t. with s.o. or s.t.”. And besides, i still don’t think there are any verbers that make transitive verbs directly.
The only -tia verber I’m aware of, although I think it will at some point be proved to have two morphemes, is the one that makes verbs related to time, such as cemilhuitia, etc.
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