2.1.3. Spatial and discourse demonstratives

Tokana does not have demonstratives like English this, that, these, those. Instead, determiners fulfill the function of demonstratives. E.g., te halma may mean "the book", "this book", or "that book", depending on context.

In order to make explicit the spatial demonstrative force of the determiner, the deictics lhai "here" and lhon "there" may be added:

te lhai
"this one"  (lit. "it here")
lhon    "that one"  (lit. "it

Lhai and lhon are treated as modifiers within the noun phrase; if the phrase contains a lexical noun, the deictic will follow the noun:

ne mikal lhai
"this boy"  (lit. "the boy here")
ne mikal lhon     "that boy"  (lit.
"the boy there")

In place of lhai and lhon, the 'discourse deictics' lhakmi and lhaisi may also be used. Lhakmi marks the noun phrase as referring to something previously mentioned in the discourse, while lhaisi introduces a new referent into the discourse:

ne mikal
lhakmi     "that boy"
                    or "the
previously-mentioned boy"
                    or "the boy we've
been talking about"

te sliahte lhaisi
"the following story"

Note also the following adverbial expressions which incorporate lhakmi and lhaisi:

omi            "thus, in this/that way, by
this/that means"
omi lhakmi
"that's how..., it's in that (just-mentioned) way that..."
omi lhaisi     "this is how..., in the
following way, as follows"

"therefore, for this/that reason"
lhakmi    "that's why..., it's for that (just-mentioned) reason
talh lhaisi    "this is
why..., for the following


Omi  lhaisi          lehua temiohanò
thus following:(one) ought fix-Subj-the:Abs roof
"This is
how one ought to fix the roof..."
or "The roof should be fixed in
the following way..."

Ne      Sakial teusu
tonia,   ha talh            lhakmi         huaitama
the:Abs Sakial
very  friendly so for:that:reason just-mentioned like-I:NA
"Sakial is
very friendly, and that's why I like him"

In the context of discourse reference, the adverbial element tos "thus, so" should also be mentioned. This element is used at the beginning of a sentence to refer back to (the content of) the sentence which immediately preceded it in the discourse. For example:

eta  kahpat   sù:    Tos  itsena         Han imai
today come fall-Dep rain   thus say-Pst-the:NA Han me:Dat
"It's going to rain today: That's what Han told me

Na      Mothe uonia      hostanat,
su tos opana        Sakiale
the:Erg Mothe be:good:at dance-Dep or so
think-the:NA Sakial-Dat
"Mothe is a good dancer, or so thinks
or "Mothe is a good dancer, or at least that's what
Sakial thinks"

In the first example, tos refers back to the sentence Iaslò eta kahpat sù "It's going to rain today", identifying that sentence as Han's utterance. In the second example, tos denotes the sentence Na Mothe uonia hostanat "Mothe is a good dancer", indentifying it as the content of Sakial's opinion.

2.2. Noun morphology

In Tokana the citation (or 'unmarked') form of the noun is the ergative/absolutive case form, which usually consists of a bare stem, e.g. mikal "boy", halma "book". (In the case of those nouns whose stems end in h, the h is dropped in the citation form, e.g. suh- "rain" > .) In this section I discuss the different ways in which this unmarked form may be modified. In 2.2.1 I consider number marking on nouns (or lack thereof). In 2.2.2 I discuss reduplication on noun stems. In 2.2.3 I discuss the diminutive and augmentative prefixes ki- and to-. And in 2.2.4 I present the case paradigms for nouns.

2.2.1. Number marking on nouns

Nouns in Tokana are not morphologically marked for number. Thus whether a noun phrase is singular or plural is indicated only by the form of the determiner.

halma     "the book"
halma    "the books"

Non-specific noun phrases, which lack a determiner (see 2.1), are thus ambiguous between a singular and plural interpretation. E.g. halma, without a preceding determiner, can mean either "some book (or other)" or "some books (or other)":

Na Han malhe halma         "Han read a
book" or "Han read books"

If it is necessary to specify the number of a non-specific noun phrase, a quantifier (such as es "one" or sepe "some, a few") must be used:

Na Han malhe es
halma      "Han read a book"
Na Han
malhe sepe halma    "Han read some

Although number is not regularly marked on nouns in Tokana, there are a few nouns which may be regarded as 'inherently' plural. The most common of these are tenù "people" and lati "children". These nouns can only occur with plural determiners - e.g. lati takes the plural definite determiner sa in the following example:

Sa         lati     lalieha   itai
the:Pl:Erg children play-Prog the:Dat field-Dat
children are playing in the field"

The inherently plural nouns tenù and lati are not etymologically related to koin "person" and mikoin (or pyi) "child", which can occur with either singular or plural determiners.

Note in addition that many body part nouns have a special dual form (characterised by the suffix -ie):

'Singular'                Dual

"lung"           hunkie
"(pair of) lungs"
"eye"            inie 
"(pair of) eyes"
"leg"            kalie
"(pair of) legs"
"foot"           kustie 
"(pair of) feet"
"kidney"         meletie
"(pair of) kidneys"
"hand"           molie 
"(pair of) hands"
"wing, fin"      monie
"(pair of) wings/fins"
"arm"            nalhie 
"(pair of) arms"
"ear"            nulie
"(pair of) ears"
"breast"         sianie 
"(pair of) breasts"

For example:

Mothè     yma  inie kote
the:Dat Mothe-Dat have eyes
"Mothe has black eyes"

One body part noun, mosie "shoulders, upper back", only has a -ie form (there is no noun *mos or *mosa which refers to a single shoulder). Note also the following pairs:

ahkame   "full sibling"           ahkamie   "(pair of) twins"
tsan     "body, thing, object"    tsanie    "pair, couple,

Crucially, these -ie forms are not plurals, but 'collective' nouns which denote a pair of objects. They occur with a singular determiner when referring to a single pair, and with a plural determiner when referring to multiple pairs:

iniema       "my eyes"    (i.e. my pair of eyes)
ten iniekma     "our eyes"   (i.e. our
pairs of eyes)

2.2.2. Reduplication

In addition to their simple stem form, most nouns have a reduplicated stem, which is formed by copying segments of the simple stem and then prefixing them to that stem. The rules for forming the reduplicated stem are as follows: If the simple stem begins in a single consonant, copy and prefix that consonant together with the following vowel:

Base stem      Reduplicated

halma          hahalma 
his            hihis
katia          kakatia

Only the first vowel of the simple stem is copied, even if that vowel is a glide or part of a diphthong:

lalauni               "rabbit"
pypyi          "child"
titien                "son"

If the simple stem begins in a consonant cluster (e.g. st, sl, kl), then only the first consonant of the cluster is copied:

sesten                "deer"
sisliahte             "story,

If the simple stem begins in a vowel, then that vowel is copied, and is separated from the base by an epenthetic h:

akot           ahakot
eithe          eheithe

The reduplicated stem has a generic or collective interpretation. Normally a reduplicated noun denotes the kind, type, species, etc., to which the entities referred to by the simple stem belong. E.g. compare koin "person", kokoin "humankind, people (in general)"; eithe "horse", eheithe "horses (taken as a species)"; halma "book", hahalma "books (in general, when thought of as a type of object)". Reduplicated noun forms are inherently specific, and thus require an overt determiner - usually a singular one:

Na      titiò
iasa lhes
the:Erg cow:Redup eat  grass
"Cows eat

Ne      liliany
the:Abs snake   be:afraid-I:NA
"I am afraid of

2.2.3. The diminutive and augmentative prefixes

To form a diminutive noun, the prefix ki- (or kih- before vowels) may be added to the noun stem:

Stem       Diminutive form

peilan     kipeilan           "little
naka       kinaka 
"little rock"
ikei       kihikei
"little dog"

Diminutive nouns are frequently used as epithets for young children. (Among the Tokana, children are not given official names until age twelve, when the Naming Ceremony is performed.)

Augmentatives may be formed by adding the prefix to- (or toh- before vowels):

Stem       Augmentative form

kotu       tokotu             "large
eithe      toheithe
"big horse"
suhu       tosuhu
"strong wind"

The augmentative prefix is especially common with stative participles - i.e., nouns formed from stative verbs, used to modify other nouns (see section 3.9.2). Here to- may be translated very:

"big one"            luhme
"old one"
totohmi    "very big
one"       toluhme    "very old

katia totohmi     "a very big
katia toluhme     "a very old

2.2.4. Case marking on nouns

When a noun phrase contains a noun as well as a determiner, the noun is marked for case, in 'agreement' with the case of the determiner. However, the noun paradigm is somewhat less elaborate than the determiner paradigm: Only the oblique cases (dative, instrumental, ablative) are marked overtly, while ergative and absolutive case are both represented by the unmarked form of the noun.

Case on nouns is indicated by endings. The basic forms of the endings are:

Dative          -e
Instrumental    -ne
Ablative        -u

To illustrate these endings, consider the following paradigm for kal "man":

   singular  plural
 absolutive  ne kal "the man"  se kal "the men"
 ergative  na kal "the man"  sa kal "the men"
 dative  inai kale "to/at the man"  isai kale "to/at the men"
 instrumental  inan kalne "with the man"  isan kalne "with the men"
 ablative  inaul kalu "from the man"  isaul kalu "from the men"

When a case suffix is added to a noun stem, there are certain phonological changes which affect either the stem or the suffix itself (or both). These changes create a number of variations of the basic paradigm which can be listed according to the final sound of the stem. There are seven patterns to consider:

(1) If the stem ends in a consonant or a V + i diphthong (viz. ai, ei, oi, yi), then the endings are added without any changes. This is shown for kal "man" above, and below for ikei "dog":

   singular  plural
 absolutive  ne ikei  se ikei
 ergative  na ikei  sa ikei
 dative  inai ikeie  isai ikeie
 instrumental  inan ikeine  isan ikeine
 ablative  inaul ikeiu  isaul ikeiu

(2) If the stem ends in a stressed vowel, then the underlying final h of the stem surfaces before a case suffix, as illustrated for napè "daughter":

   singular  plural
 absolutive  ne napè  se napè
 ergative  na napè  sa napè
 dative  inai napehe  isai napehe
 instrumental  inan napehne  isan napehne
 ablative  inaul napehu  isaul napehu

As discussed in section 1.2, this h shows up not only before case endings, but whenever the stem has a suffix attached to it:

ne napè        "the
ne napehma     "my

(3) If the stem ends in a, y, or o, the dative ending -e becomes -i, in accordance with the rule of vowel raising (section 1.3). This is illustrated below for malka "wolf":

   singular  plural
 absolutive  ne malka  se malka
 ergative  na malka  sa malka
 dative  inai malkai  isai malkai
 instrumental  inan malkane  isan malkane
 ablative  inaul malkau  isaul malkau

(4) If the stem ends in e, then the e of the stem and the e of the dative suffix merge to become a single stressed vowel (see section 1.2). This is illustrated below for tene "steep hill":

   singular  plural
 absolutive  te tene  ten tene
 dative  itai tenè  itene tenè
 instrumental  itan tenene  itenne tenene
 ablative  itaul teneu  itenul teneu

(5) If the stem ends in i preceded by a consonant, then the i lowers to become e before the ablative ending -u. This is illustrated with sati "meal, food":

   singular  plural
 absolutive  te sati  ten sati
 dative  itai satie  itene satie
 instrumental  itan satine  itenne satine
 ablative  itaul sateu  itenul sateu

(6) If the stem ends in u preceded by a consonant, then the u lowers to become o before the dative and ablative suffixes, while the -e of the dative raises to become -i (as in (3) above). This is illustrated with uosu "smooth flat stone":

   singular  plural
 absolutive  te uosu  ten uosu
 dative  itai uosoi  itene uosoi
 instrumental  itan uosune  itenne uosune
 ablative  itaul uosou  itenul uosou

(7) If the stem ends in a V + u diphthong (viz. au, eu, ou, yu), then the -u of the ablative ending lowers to become -o, as shown below for ulau "testicles":

   singular  plural
 absolutive  te ulau  ten ulau
 dative  itai ulaue  itene ulaue
 instrumental  itan ulaune  itenne ulaune
 ablative  itaul ulauo  itenul ulauo

Note that, when preceded by a vowel, the instrumental suffix -ne shortens to -n before a possessive clitic determiner (section 2.1.2). When preceded by a consonant, however, -ne does not shorten:

itan ukune
"with the axe"    itan konomne
"with the hammer"
itan ukunma
"with my axe"     itan konomnema
"with my hammer"
itan ukunkima 
"with our axe"    itan konomnekma
"with our hammer"

Similarly, with nouns of type (4) above, the è of the dative becomes ei before a possessive clitic determiner. Consider the following examples with eithe "horse":

inai eithè       "on the
inai eitheima    "on my
inai eitheikma   "on our

2.3. Noun compounds

Noun compounds may be productively formed by juxtaposing two or more nouns. Note that in Tokana, modifying nouns follow the head noun (this is the opposite of the English order). For example:

lai   ilme
euti pokot
light moon        egg  turtle
"turtle('s) egg"

suhu heut
tieliaka  palahta upam
wind north        caregiver tree
"north wind"      "apple tree

In compounds, only the first noun (called the "head noun") receives case marking; the other nouns remain in their unmarked form:

Kima   hostane   itai    laie      ilme
dance-Pst the:Dat light-Dat moon
"We danced in the

Na      iha   uthme    pami isai
tieliakai     palahta  upam
the:Erg woman give-Pst food the:Pl:Dat
caregiver-Dat tree     apple
"The woman gave food to the apple tree

Noun compounds are quite common in Tokana, given that compounding is the principle means by which nouns are modified. Note for example that Tokana does not have modifying adjectives (such as large in the large house). Instead, there is a productive process by which nouns can be formed from verbs that carry adjective-like meanings. For instance, from the verb kaila "be hot" we can form the noun kaili "hot one, thing which is hot". This noun may then enter into a compound construction with one or more other nouns:

te      mas
the:Abs soup thing-which-is-hot
"the hot

(Te mas kaili may be thought of as literally "the soup which is of the 'hot-one' kind".)

As with ordinary noun compounds, it is the first noun which receives oblique case marking. Constructions of this type are discussed further in section 3.9.2:

Ani    teune   ipalà it
ai    mase     kaili
he:Erg put-Pst herb  the:Dat soup-Dat
"He put herbs in the hot

Note also that, since quantifiers are treated as nouns morphologically, quantified noun phrases have the structure of compounds, where the quantifier is the head noun. This is shown by the fact that the quantifier, and not the noun it quantifies, receives case marking (see section 2.5.2). For example, in the following sentence, it is the quantifier ante "many", and not the quantified noun lati "children", which agrees with the determiner for dative case:

Na      iha   uthme    pami isai       antè
the:Erg woman give-Pst food the:Pl:Dat many-Dat
"The woman gave food to the many

2.4. Relative clauses

Relative clauses are clauses which serve to modify - or delimit the reference of - a noun. For instance, in the noun phrase the man who I met yesterday, the relative clause who I met yesterday modifies the noun man. In Tokana, relative clauses are not marked in any special way, but instead have the form of ordinary embedded clauses (with dependent order marking on the verb; see section 3.3.1). Relative clauses follow the noun they modify, as in English:

ne      iha   supohit      ne      kauen
woman kill-Dep:Pst the:Abs chicken
"the woman who killed the
lit. "the woman that (she) killed the

ne      kauen   supohinna
the:Abs chicken kill-Dep:Pst-the:NA woman
"the chicken
which the woman killed"
lit. "the chicken that the woman killed

In the first example, iha "woman" bears the subject relation to the verb "kill" in the embedded clause; while in the second example, kauen "chicken" bears the object relation to the embedded verb. In each case, this relation is indicated merely by a gap - i.e. the absence of an overt subject or object, respectively, in the embedded clause.

In some cases the relation between the modified noun and the clause which modifies it is marked by a determiner rather than a gap - e.g. when the noun corresponds to a possessor or the object of a preposition in the embedded clause. This is illustrated below:

iha   kuolinkima         ne      suhpana
the:Abs woman
meet-Dep:Pst-we:NA the:Abs brother-her:NA
"the woman whose brother we
lit. "the woman that we met her brother"

ne      iha   pusukinma          homa  meile
the:Abs woman make-Dep:Pst-I:Erg bread honey
"the woman who I made honeybread for"
lit. "the
woman that I made honeybread for her"

In each of these sentences, the clitic determiner -na "her" inside the relative clause refers back to the noun iha "woman". This element -na can be thought of as a relative-clause internal 'placeholder' for the noun being relativised - almost like a variable:

"the woman x (such that) we met x's brother"

"the woman x (such that) I made honeybread for x"

Consider also the following example, which is perfectly grammatical in Tokana, although the English translation is rather awkward:

ne      iha   untsepunakma         ni
the:Abs womanwonder-Dep:Cpl-we:NA Qu
"the woman who we wondered if she would get
i.e. "the woman x such that we wondered if x would get

Here the placeholder for iha is -n, the absolutive clitic form of the determiner ne/nai. In this case the placeholder marks the subject of soloina "get married", which is embedded under untsepa "wonder".

In addition to 'restrictive' relative clauses, which delimit the reference of a noun, Tokana also has 'appositive' relative clauses, which merely add additional information about the noun. These are discussed briefly in section 2.5.1.

2.5. Subclasses of nouns

In this section I present certain groups of nouns which require special discussion. In 2.5.1 I discuss interrogative/indefinite operators. In 2.5.2 and 2.5.3 I discuss quantifiers and numerals. And in 2.5.4 I discuss nouns which denote spatial and directional relations (many of them equivalent to prepositions in English).

2.5.1. Interrogative/indefinite operators

Tokana has a set of words which do double duty both as interrogatives (who, what, where, etc.) and as indefinites (someone, something, somewhere, etc.). For convenience I will refer to these words as operators. Morphologically speaking, all operators are nouns, in that they take case endings and may occur with determiners. A list of these operators is given below:

             Interrogative meaning
Indefinite meaning

"what, which"               "some, something,
mamà         "what, what
kind (of)"      "some, some kind (of)"
mà tsaka     "what kind/type (of)"
"some kind/type of"
"who"                       "someone, one"

melh         "where"
"when"                      "sometime"
ymiohpa      "why"
"for some reason"
"how, in what way"          "somehow, in some way;

miante       "how much,
how many"        "some amount"
mianton      "how many (people)"
"some number (of people)"
"how long, how much time"   "(for) some

When used as indefinites, operators generally occur after the verb (i.e. within the verb phrase), as shown in the following examples:

miò pesit        ten        talakma
is who take-Dep:Pst
the:Pl:Abs coin-my:NA
"Someone took my money"
lit. "There's
someone that took my money"

Na      Elim
inlotka   stelhme  mà
the:Erg Elim yesterday find-Pst
"Elim found something yesterday"

Elim inlotka   stelhme  mà   tsaka kopo
the:Erg Elim
yesterday find-Pst what kind  pot
"Elim found some kind of pot

Se         iha   ete
the:Pl:Abs woman go-Pst where-Dat
"The women went

Inai    Mafè     kas nelhuha
the:Dat Mafe-Dat now leave-want why
"Mafe wants to
leave now for some reason"

When operators are used as interrogatives, the question particle ni (section 5.4.2) must appear before the verb. Interrogative operators occur immediately in front of ni (in what is known as the operator position; see section 5.1.3). When an operator which ends in a vowel occurs adjacent to ni, the two words contract as follows:

         +  ni  >  
mamà        +  ni  >   mamà'n
miò         +  ni  >   miò'n
        +  ni  >   imè'n
+  ni  >   miomi'n
ymiohpa     +
ni  >   ymiohpa'n
(im)miante  +
ni  >   (im)miante'n

N.B.: In the case of the last three forms, stress falls on the penultimate syllable rather than the final syllable (e.g. miómi'n, ymióhpa'n). This shows that attaching -'n to an operator does not cause stress to shift rightwards (compare -'n with the clitic determiner -n, which does trigger a stress shift: hiéla "see" vs. hielán "see him/her").

Similarly, when preceded by an operator ending in a consonant but followed by the focus prefix i-, ni contracts to n'. Examples of this are given below.

Compare the sentences below, which contain interrogative operators, with the ones above containing indefinites (see sections 3.6.4 and 5.1.3 for an explanation of why the prefix i- is attached to the verb in these sentences):

Miò'n  ipesete
who-Qu Foc-take-Pst-the:Pl:Abs coin-my:NA
"Who took my

Na      Elim mà'n    istelhme
the:Erg Elim what-Qu Foc-find-Pst yesterday
"What did
Elim find yesterday?"

Na      Elim mà
tsaka kopo n'istelhme      inlotka?
the:Erg Elim what kind  pot
Qu-Foc-find-Pst yesterday
"What kind of pot did Elim find

Se         iha   melh
the:Pl:Abs woman where Qu-Foc-go-Pst
"Where did the
women go?"

Ymiohpa'n inelhuhana
Mafè     kas?
why-Qu    Foc-leave-want-the:NA Mafe-Dat
"Why does Mafe want to leave

For additional discussion of interrogative questions, see section 5.1.3 below.

Operators are also used to head relative clauses in constructions like the following:

(ne)    miò kuolinko
the:Abs who meet-Dep:Pst-you:NA yesterday
"(the one)
who you met yesterday"
lit. "the who that you met

(te)    melh  fisehthimankima
the:Abs where plant-Dep-we:NA barley
"(the place) where we
plant barley"
lit. "the where that we plant

Operator-headed relative constructions can be used as the arguments of verbs, just like other noun phrases:

Imai  iona
miò kuolinko            inlotka
I:Dat know who
meet-Dep:Pst-you:NA yesterday
"I know who you met

Ami   kuoponen
miò kuolinko            inlotka
I:Erg talk:with-Pst-the:Abs
who meet-Dep:Pst-you:NA yesterday
"I talked to the (one) who you met

Te      melh  fisehthimankima uet
piakunupun inumitka
the:Abs where plant-Dep-we:NA barley flood-Cpl
"The (place) where we plant barley was flooded last

These constructions are also used where English uses appositive relative clauses (as opposed to restrictive relative clauses). Compare the following:

Ne      Han, ne      miò kuolinko            itka,
kohmia     imai
the:Abs Han  the:Abs who meet-Dep:Pst-you:NA then
lover-Pred me:Dat
"Han, who you met earlier, is my lover"

Ne      koin   kuolinko            itka kohmia
the:Abs person meet-Dep:Pst-you:NA then lover-Pred
"The person who you met earlier is my

In the second sentence, the relative clause restricts the reference of koin "person" to a particular individual, i.e. the one who you met earlier, as opposed to someone else. In the first sentence, ne Han already refers to a particular individual, and the apposed noun phrase ne miò kuolinko itka "the one who you met earlier", merely serves to give additional information about that individual.



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