3.8.5. Causative verbs

There are a handful of transitive verbs in Tokana, called causatives, which require an ergative subject (or an instrumental subject, in the case of inanimates; section 2.1.1) and an embedded clause complement containing a verb in the resultative order (section 3.3.2). Such verbs denote a complex event whereby one participant acts upon another to bring about a particular action or situation. For example:

Na      Sakial lohke    siespeuna        Mafe te
the:Erg Sakial make-Pst write-Res-the:NA Mafe the:Abs
"Sakial made Mafe write the letter"
or "Sakial got
Mafe to write the letter"

This is literally "Sakial made that Mafe writes the letter". Here the resultative clause siespeuna Mafe te kihun "that Han (would) write the letter" denotes the event resulting from Sakial's actions. Verbs of the causative class include:

lohka       "make, cause"
panlohka    "force, compel"
suka        "do, make, use"
nana        "let"
mela        "help"
telania     "keep, hold"
tema        "have, bring

I give examples of each of these verbs below. In the accompanying descriptions, the term causer refers to the subject of the causative verb, while causee refers to the subject of the resultative verb (e.g., in the sentence above, Sakial is the causer and Mafe is the causee).

(1) Lohka is a semantically neutral causative verb, equivalent to make or cause in English, while panlohka indicates a certain amount of coercion, and is thus closer to force. Panlohka is used when the causer is exerting pressure on the causee, and/or the causee is acting against his/her will. Both verbs require that the causee be animate. With panlohka the causer must also be animate, although lohka may take an inanimate subject (marked with instrumental case):

mikal lohke    hesuleuna      kimi
the:Erg boy   make-Pst
cry-Res-the:NA baby
"The boy made the baby cry"

Itan     lhonkone        lohke    hesuleuna
the:Inst loud:noise-Inst make-Pst cry-Res-the:NA baby
loud noise made the baby cry"

Kima   panlohke
klohteuneuna            Han te      katia ie   eupat
force-Pst put:in:order-Res-the:NA Han the:Abs house with
"We forced Han to straighten up the house by

The verb lohka can also take a clausal subject denoting an event. Here again the subject is in the instrumental case. Compare the following example with the sentences above:

Itan     lakanna         ikei lohke    hesuleuna
the:Inst bark-Dep-the:NA dog  make-Pst cry-Res-the:NA
"The barking of the dog made the baby

(2) The verb suka normally means "to do", "to make", or "to work". When used as a causative verb, it indicates an event whereby the causer physically manipulates the causee so as to bring about the action or state denoted by the embedded verb. The causee is generally inanimate, often a tool:

Ami   suke     tasiheu   uslaute  te
I:Erg make-Pst stand-Res edge-Dat the:Abs book
"I made
the book stand on end"

Ami   suke     limeui
iosokne  te      hitol
I:Erg make-Pst open-Res-the:NA key-Inst
the:Abs door
"I used the key to open the door"
or "I got the
key to open the door"

The second sentence above describes a situation whereby my manipulating the key caused it to open the door.

(3) Nana corresponds closely to English let or leave, while mela corresponds to help and telania corresponds to keep:

Kima   nane
we:Erg let-Pst sleep-Res-they:NA
"We let them

Ami   nane      limeue
I:Erg leave-Pst open-Res-the:Abs window
"I left the
window open"

Kima   mele     sikespeuna
Sakial te      yli
we:Erg help-Pst harvest-Res-the:NA Sakial the:Abs
"We helped Sakial harvest the grain"

Kima   telanie  sukeuna         Sakial immiote
we:Erg keep-Pst work-Res-the:NA Sakial whole:time
"We kept Sakial working all day"

Itan     iasapine    ohui  telania hulieu
eating-Inst fruit keep    healthy-Res
"Eating fruiting keeps one

(4) Tema has a 'weak' causative meaning. It denotes an event whereby the causer acts (usually indirectly, perhaps also unintentionally) to bring about an action or state. This verb corresponds quite closely to causative have in English:

Ami   teme
uhkuoleun             Han elh ne      Elim
I:Erg have-Pst
Refl-meet-Res-the:Abs Han and the:Abs Elim
"I had Han and Elim

Note the use of tema with the modal suffix -uh- in the following examples:

Imai  temuha    klohteuneuko            te
I:Dat have-want put:in:order-Res-you:NA the:Abs house
want you to straighten up the house"
lit. "I want to have (that)
you straighten up the house"

itule     temuhanko            nieuma?
what-Qu Foc-would
have-want-Dep-you:NA do-Res-I:NA
"What would you have me

3.8.6. Ditransitive verbs

Ditransitive (or three argument) verbs are verbs which take a subject, object, and indirect object. Ditransitives in Tokana generally take an ergative subject, an absolutive (or clausal) direct object, and an oblique indirect object (usually a dative or ablative phrase). Verbs of this class include uthma "give", lasta "send", teuna "put, place, take", itsa "say, tell":

Na      Han uthme    talak inai
the:Erg Han give-Pst coins the:Dat father-Dat
gave money to (his) father"

Na      Han laste
kihun  inai    ahtè
the:Erg Han send-Pst letter the:Dat
"Han sent a letter to (his) father"

Na      Mafe teunete                 talak itai    hime
the:Erg Mafe put/take-Pst-the:Pl:Abs coins the:Dat inside-Dat
"Mafe put the money in the box"

Mafe teunete              talak itaul   himu       akot
the:Erg Mafe
put/take-Pst-the:Abs coins the:Abl inside-Abl box
"Mafe took the money
out of the box"
lit. "Mafe took the money from inside the

Na      Elim itsema        siespinna
Sakial te      kihun
the:Erg Elim say-Pst-me:NA write-Dep:Pst-the:NA
Sakial the:Abs letter
"Elim told me that Sakial wrote the
or "Elim said to me that Sakial wrote the

3.8.7. Transitivity alternations and the prefix iok-

Tokana is a language in which arguments of verbs may be freely dropped, if their referents are unknown, arbitrary, recoverable from context, or irrelevant to the situation in which the sentence is uttered. For instance, the following pairs of sentences show that objects can be dropped if their denotation is very general, or can be inferred from context:

Na      Mothe
iasiha   homa
the:Erg Mothe eat-Prog bread
"Mothe is eating

Na      Mothe iasiha
Mothe eat-Prog
"Mothe is eating"

ikei kilhtem
the:Erg dog  bite-Pst-me:Abs
"That dog bit

Na      ikei kilhta
the:Erg dog
"That dog bites

Alternations of the following sort - where a given verb may or may not take an overt ergative- or instrumental-marked agent - are particularly common:

Na      mikal tsitspè
the:Erg boy   smash-Pst-the:Abs pot
"The boy smashed the

Te      kopo tsitspe
the:Abs pot
"The pot (was) smashed"

mikal limè             hitol
the:Erg boy   open-Pst-the:Abs
"The boy opened the door"

hitol lime
the:Abs door  open-Pst
"The door (was)

Itan     kahpisuhne    muohfi
piakunupunte         talpe
the:Inst rainfall-Inst heavy:one
flood-Cpl-the:Pl:Abs field
"The heavy rainfall flooded the

Ten        talpe
the:Pl:Abs field flood-Cpl
"The fields (were)

Na      kal suehkiospè
the:Erg man burn:down-Pst-the:Abs house
"The man burned
the house down"

Te      katia
the:Abs house burn:down-Pst
"The house (was) burned

Sentences such as Te katia suehkiospe are ambiguous between a 'passive'-type reading ("The house was burned down"), where the action has an implied agent, and an 'inchoative'-type reading ("The house burned down"), where there is no implied agent and the action is viewed as having happened spontaneously.

Notice that the form of the verb does not change when the agent argument is dropped: Tokana does not have a passive construction like English, where the patient is 'promoted' to subject position and the agent is 'demoted' to the status of an optional by-phrase (e.g. The house was burned down by the man). The discourse effect of passivisation - namely, to foreground a non-subject argument - can be achieved in Tokana simply by moving the object or some other argument to a position in front of the verb called the topic position (section 5.1.4). This is shown in the following example. Notice that the case form of the determiner makes it clear which noun phrase is the subject and which is the object:

Te      katia
suehkiospena          kal
the:Abs house burn:down-Pst-the:Erg
"The house, the man burned (it) down"
or "The house was
burned down by the man"

The closest thing to a passive morpheme in Tokana is the prefix iok- (section 3.6.2), which may be attached to a verb stem to indicate an indeterminate or arbitrary agent:

Arb-open-Pst door
"Someone opened a door"

Te      hitol ioklime
the:Abs door
"The door was opened"
or "The door, someone
opened (it)"

The iok- form of the verb is not exactly analogous to the English passive, however: First of all, when iok- is attached to the verb, it is not possible to express the agent by means of a by phrase. Secondly, only agentive verbs - that is, verbs which take ergative subjects and express a conscious, volitional action - may take the iok- prefix. And finally, iok- may be attached to intransitive as well as transitive verbs, as shown below. Intransitive verbs cannot by passivised in English.

Iokmuelhiha    itai    katiai
Arb-sleep-Prog the:Dat
"Someone is sleeping in the house"

Ihutka     anteumi      iohkostane
a:great:deal Arb-dance-Pst
"There was much dancing last

3.9. Derivational morphology

In this section I discuss affixes which serve to change the lexical class (part of speech) of the word or stem to which they attach. In 3.9.1 and 3.9.2 I consider different ways of deriving nouns from verbs. And in 3.9.3 I discuss the formation of stative verbs from nouns.

3.9.1. Gerunds

There are various suffixes which may be attached to verbs to form nouns. These suffixes are completely productive (i.e. they may attach to any verb), and the resulting forms are extensively used. Below I discuss gerunds, while in 3.9.2 I discuss participles.

Gerunds (that is, noun phrases which denote generic actions or states) are derived by attaching the suffix -pi to the unmarked form of the verb:


fiha        "be
fihapi      "being young,

Negative gerunds, formed by suffixing -otipi to the verb stem, are also occasionally attested:

"be happy"
kestapi     "being
happy, happiness"
kestotipi   "not
being happy, unhappiness"

Gerunds formed with -pi/-otipi normally take an overt singular determiner (just like generic noun phrases; cf. 2.2.2). The examples below show how gerunds are used in sentences:

sihanapi henkakma
the:Abs swimming enjoy-we:NA
"We enjoy

Te      tsaka hostanapi teusu
the:Abs kind  dancing   very  difficult
"That kind of
dancing is very difficult"

Gerunds derived using this suffix may take direct objects, usually non-referential noun phrases. This is shown in the example below, where tieliapi "taking care of" takes ohte "soil/land" as its object. (Gerunds may not take subjects, however.)

Itai    okai       Tokana, te      tieliapi    ohte teusu
the:Dat people-Dat Tokana  the:Abs taking:care soil very
"To the Tokana, taking care of the land (i.e. farming) is
very important"

Gerunds are prohibited from taking clitic determiners (section 2.1.2). Thus when a gerund takes a referential object, the independent form of the determiner must be used (section 2.1.1):

Te      tieliapi    te      ohte lhai ialai
the:Abs taking:care the:Abs land here have-the:NA
"Taking care of this land is the responsibility of
(lit. belongs to) my clan"

(Notice that in the expression te tieliapi te ohte lhai "taking care of this land" does not include an element equivalent to of in English.)

Note that gerunds (e.g. te tieliapi ohte "farming, taking care of land") do not refer to particular events or situations occurring at particular times, but rather types of events or situations. Noun phrases denoting specific events/situations, rather than generic ones, have a very different structure: These consist of a singular inanimate determiner followed by an embedded clause (with dependent order marking on the verb; 3.1.1):

te      muntanne          Sakial
drunk-Dep-the:Abs Sakial
"Sakial's being drunk"
or "the
(fact) that Sakial is drunk"

te      puniunana
Sakial itai    Kemothasie
the:Abs travel-Dep:Cpl-the:NA Sakial
the:Dat Kemothasi-Dat
"Sakial's having travelled to

These are literally "the that Sakial is drunk" and "the that Sakial has travelled to Kemothasi", respectively. Such constructions have the distribution of regular noun phrases (i.e. they may be subjects, objects, topics, etc.). For example:

muntanne          Sakial oukutama
the:Abs drunk-Dep-the:Abs Sakial
"Sakial's being drunk troubles

3.9.2. Participles (nominalisations)

There are three sets of suffixes - the non-absolutive, the absolutive completive, and the absolutive incompletive - which may be attached to verb stems to form participles (or nominalisations). I list these suffixes below, together with examples formed from the verb iasa "eat":


Non-absolutive         -aka    iasaka
    "eater, one who eats"
Absolutive compl.      -oi     iasoi      "thing which has been
Absolutive incompl.    -i
iasi       "thing which is/would be


Non-absolutive         -otika
iasotika   "one who does not eat"
Absolutive compl.
-otoi   iasotoi    "thing which has not
been eaten"
Absolutive incompl.    -otè
iasotè     "thing which would not be

A participle in Tokana is a noun which refers to one of the participants of the action denoted by the verb from which it is derived (see below). Like all nouns, participles require determiners when used to refer to specific individuals. For example:

ne iasaka
"the eater, the one who eats"
iasoi     "that which has been eaten"
"the thing which has been eaten"

Participles inflect for case like regular nouns. Example paradigms are given below (cf. section 2.2.4; notice that -otè becomes -otei- when it occurs non-finally):

   positive  negative
 absolutive / ergative  iasaka  iasotika
 dative  iasakai  iasotikai
 instrumental  iasakane  iasotikane
 ablative  iasakau  iasotikau

   positive  negative
 absolutive / ergative  iasoi  iasotoi
 dative  iasoie  iasotoie
 instrumental  iasoine  iasotoine
 ablative  iasoiu  iasotoiu

   positive  negative
 absolutive / ergative  iasi  iasotè
 dative  iasie  iasoteie
 instrumental  iasine  iasoteine
 ablative  iaseu  iasoteiu

For verb stems ending in an i glide, the absolutive incompletive -i becomes (or -ei- non-finally). For example, from the verb mitia "light, weak" (with the stem miti-), we can form the absolutive incompletive participle mitiè "light one, weak one", with the following paradigm:

   positive  negative
 absolutive / ergative  mitiè  mitiotè
& nbsp;dative  mitieie  mitioteie
 instrumental  mitieine  mitioteine
 ablative  mitieiu  mitioteiu

The meanings of the different participles are discussed below:

(1) Non-absolutive participles denote the agent/experiencer of an action. They may be formed from any verb, transitive or intransitive, which takes an ergative, instrumental, or dative subject:

uhna     "sing"            uhnaka     "singer, one who sings"
kesta    "be happy"        kestaka    "one who is happy"
uima     "love"            uimaka     "lover, one who loves"
kaiha    "kill"            kaihaka    "killer, one who kills"
kypesa   "search for"      kypesaka   "searcher, one who

(2) Absolutive participles denote the patient/theme (i.e. the absolutive argument) of an action or state. The absolutive completive is used with eventive verbs, transitive or intransitive, to indicate the patient or theme of a completed action:

"open"            limoi
"that which is open / has been opened"
kaiha    "kill"            kaihoi     "one who has been killed"
lhalhta  "roast"           lhalhtoi   "that which has been
itskana  "arrive"
itskanoi   "one who has
tioka    "die"
tiokoi     "one who has

The absolutive incompletive is used with eventive verbs to indicate the patient/theme of a potential or hypothetical action, and is also used with stative verbs:

pata     "be tall"         pati       "one who is tall, tall
klota    "be fast"
kloti      "one who is fast, fast
tolha    "stand"
tolhi      "one who stands / who would
sepa     "drink"
sepi       "that which can be

For example:

Lhimoti     iakme sepi
be here-Neg any
"There is nothing to drink here"
lit. "Here
(there) isn't any

Participles may be used as referring expressions by themselves (e.g. ne uastaka "the one that flies, the flying one", te tsitspoi "the thing which has been broken, the broken one"). More often, however, they modify another noun as part of a compound:

peilan uastaka    "the flying bird, the bird which
te kopo tsitspoi     "the
broken pot, the pot which has been broken"
eithe tiokoi      "the dead horse, the horse which has
maka lhalhtoi        "roasted
meat, meat which has been roasted"

When the participle is formed from a stative verb (e.g. elifa "be beautiful", muelhoksa "be tired"), the result is functionally equivalent to a modifying adjective in English:

katia elifi
"a beautiful house, a house which is beautiful"
ne pyi muelhoksi     "the tired child, the
child who is tired"

Normally the participle follows the noun it modifies (as in noun compounds generally; see section 2.3). However, if the modified noun is being focused, then the participle may precede it. Compare the following noun phrases:

te katia
elifi      "the beautiful house"
elifi katia      "the beautiful house"

(as opposed to some other beautiful object)

Here, the first noun phrase refers to some house which happens to be beautiful, while the second noun phrase refers to a beautiful object, taken from a set of beautiful objects under discussion, which is distinguished from the others by being a house.

As in all noun compounds, it is the first noun of the compound (the head noun) which receives case marking in oblique noun phrases, while the other nouns remain in their unmarked form. This is shown below (note that lisa "beautiful, handsome" is used with animates, while elifa "beautiful", in the examples above, is used with inanimates):

Ani    uthmè            halma inai    kale
he:Erg give-Pst-the:Abs book  the:Dat man-Dat
"He gave the book to the handsome man"

Ani    uthmè            halma inai    lisie
he:Erg give-Pst-the:Abs book  the:Dat handsome:one-Dat
"He gave the book to the handsome man" (e.g. as opposed to
the handsome boy)

In the first sentence, it is the underived noun kal "man" which carries the suffix -e (in 'agreement' with the dative case determiner inai; cf. section 2.2.4), while the participle lisi remains unmarked. In the second sentence, it is the fronted participle that receives dative case marking, while kal remains unmarked.

As the following examples illustrate, participles may be formed not only from bare verb stems, but also from verb stems which carry modal/aspectual suffixes, the reflexive prefix, or relative marking (sections 3.6.1-3.6.3):

muelha           "sleep"
muelhoina        "begin to sleep"
ne muelhoinaka   "the one who is beginning to

paua             "bathe,
ukpaua           "bathe
se ukpaui        "the ones
who bathe themselves"

"be old"
anliunehta       "be
ne anliunehti    "the
older/oldest one"

Ne   Sakial ne      kal
anliunehti itai    pule
the:Abs Sakial the:Abs man oldest:one
the:Dat village-Dat
"Sakial (is) the oldest man in the

Note finally that a handful of stative verbs have irregular absolutive participles. For instance, the participial form of kila "be small" is not kili, but kiho "small one". The following list gives the most common irregular forms:


fiha     fihu       "young
iena     ian        "good
kila     kiho       "small
kuema    kuehmi     "bad
liuna    luhme      "old
toma     tohmi      "big


te katia tohmi    "the big house"
ne iha luhme      "the old woman"
ne pyi fihu       "the young

These irregular forms are not used when the verb stem is in the relative form, or has a modal or aspectual suffix attached to it. Instead, the regular form (e.g. kili) is used:

te kiho           "the small one"
te kiloini        "the one which is becoming
te ankilehti      "the
smaller/smallest one"

3.9.3. Nominal predicates

As I mentioned in section 3.7.3, predicate nominal constructions in Tokana may be formed with the copula he "be":

Ne      Han he ne      suhpama
the:Abs Han is
the:Abs brother-my:NA
"Han is my brother"

Ne      suhpama       he ne      Han
brother-my:NA is the:Abs Han
"My brother is

In these examples, the copula he 'links' two specific noun phrases, ne Han and ne suhpama, and indicates that they have the same referent (i.e. "Han" and "my brother" are the same person).

However, if one wishes to express the idea than an individual has the property of belonging to a certain class of objects, a different strategy is normally used for forming nominal predicates. This strategy involves attaching the verbal suffix -a to the noun stem, thereby creating a derived stative verb. For instance, from the noun stem mikoin "child" we can form the verb mikoina "be a child", as in the following sentence (observe that mikoina, like most stative verbs, takes an absolutive case subject):

Ne      napehna         Mothe eima
the:Abs daughter-the:NA Mothe still child-Pred
daughter is still a child"

When -a is attached to a noun stem, the stem may undergo certain phonological changes. There are six patterns to consider:

(1) If the noun stem ends in a consonant or a glide, then -a is added without any changes:

koina        "be a person"
aihnota      "be gold, be made of gold"
pyi       pyia         "be a

(2) If the stem ends in a stressed vowel, then the underlying final h surfaces before -a:

là        laha         "be a
napè      napeha
"be (someone's) daughter"

(3) If the noun stem ends in a, then an h is inserted before -a:

halma     halmaha      "be a book"
malka     malkaha      "be a

(4) Stem-final i and e become an i glide before -a:

pami      pamia        "be food"
tene      tenia        "be a steep

(5) Stem-final o and u become a u glide before -a:

kilu      kilua        "be (someone's)
talo      talua        "be
king, be the king"

(6) For nouns which end in a non-low vowel preceded by a glide, an i glide is inserted before -a:

inie      inieia       "be

Derived nominal predicates take the full array of tense/aspect, negation, and order morphology, and can also host clitic determiners. In other words, they behave exactly like underived stative verbs. This is illustrated by the paradigm for pyia, given below:

   positive  negative
   simple  non-past  pyia  pyioti
 completive  pyiun  pyiotun
   dependent indic.  non-past  pyiat, pyian-  pyiotia
 completive  pyiuna  pyiotuna
   dependent subjunc.  non-past  pyiano  pyiotio
 completive  pyiuno  pyiotuno
  resultative  pyieu  pyioteu
  imperative  pyio  pyiefe


Nai     pyioti
she:Abs child-Pred-Neg any:longer
"She is not a child
any longer"

Imai  iona pyiotian
I:Dat know child-Pred-Neg-Dep-she:Abs any:longer
know that she is not a child any longer"

Also, compare the following pair of examples, where the second sentence contains a nominal predicate in the resultative order serving as the complement of the causative verb lohka "make, cause" (cf. section 3.8.5):

Ne      Sakial talua
the:Abs Sakial
"Sakial is (the) king"

lohke    talueun               Sakial
we:Erg make-Pst
king-Pred-Res-the:Abs Sakial
"We made Sakial (be)

Some nominal predicates - e.g. those denoting personal and familial relationships - may take (dative case) arguments:

Ne      iha
lhon  ammiana            Elime
the:Abs woman there
mother-Pred-the:NA Elim-Dat
"That woman is mother to Elim"
"That woman is Elim's mother"

kunahunma             kete antè     ume
friend-Pred-Cpl-me:NA for  many-Dat year
"They were friends of mine
for many years"

Imai  ne     lhon
I:Dat he:Abs there Foc-husband-Pred
"That person is my
lit. "To me, that one is a

(Notice that in the last example above, the focus marker i- has been prefixed to sokala "be a husband", due to the fact that ne lhon is being focused; see 3.6.4 and 5.1.2.)

Nominal predicates sometimes occur as adverbial modifiers to other verbs (section 4.1.3), as in the following idiom. Here, ie pokotat "(with) being a turtle" is an adverbial expression which describes, in metaphorical terms, the manner of sleeping:

Ani    muelha ie   pokotat
he:Erg sleep  with
"He sleeps like/as a turtle" (i.e. He sleeps

3.10. Degree words

As their name suggests, degree words indicate the degree to which a particular property holds, the frequency or intensity with which a particular activity is carried out, or the extent to which a particular situation has been achieved. A list of degree words is given below (notice that several of these words are derived from quantifiers by adding the suffix -umi; cf. section 2.5.2):

anehteumi      "more, more so"
anteumi        "much, very, very much so, a
lot, a great deal"
"all, all the way, thoroughly, completely"
lhoteumi       "partly, partially; part
miomi          "how much; to
some degree"
mioteumi       "all,
all the way, thoroughly, completely"
"enough, sufficiently"
"almost completely, very nearly"
"so, so much, this/that much; how"
sepeumi        "somewhat, more or
teteumi        "rather,
teusu          "very, much, a
tsamaumi       "mostly, for the
most part, largely"
"a little, a little bit, slightly"
tsuò           "too"
tsuohanteumi   "too much, too much
tsyi           "not
tsyianteumi    "not
tuiaketsuò     "not
too, not too much"
"almost, nearly, just about"

Degree words occur in a fixed position, immediately preceding the verb. Many degree words may be used with either stative or eventive verbs:

anteumi kesta      "be very
anteumi hostana    "dance a

tsema ohyina       "be a
little sad"
tsema hostana
"dance a little"

Others are used primarily with one or the other. For instance, the major difference between tsuò and tsuohanteumi (or between tsyi and tsyianteumi) is that the former is used with stative verbs while the latter is used with eventive verbs:

Nai    tsuò ampata
he:Abs too
"He is too tall"

tsuohanteumi utiana
he:Abs too:much     come:close
"He is
coming too close"

Recall from section 3.6.3 that mulh, tsuò (and tuiaketsuò), and tsyi require the following verb to occur in the relative form (prefixed with an-):

Nai mulh anliuna           "He is old
Nai tsuò anliuna
"He is too old"
Nai tuiaketsuò
anliunoti   "He is not too old"
tsyi anliuna           "He is not old

Recall also from section 3.6.4 that when a focussed element or interrogative word occurs in the preverbal focus position (5.1.2) or the operator position (5.1.3), and a degree word is also present, the focus marker i- attaches to the degree word rather than the verb. Compare the following:

Ne      lihpana       tsuò
the:Abs sister-his:NA too  Rel-young
"His sister is too

Ne      lihpana       itsuò
the:Abs sister-his:NA Foc-too Rel-young
"It's his
sister who is too young"

In the second sentence, ne lihpana "his sister" is being focused. Here, i- is prefixed to the degree word tsuò "too much" rather than to the verb amfiha "be young".

Additional examples of degree words are given below:

Nai    omi
he:Abs so/how handsome
"He's so handsome!"
"How handsome he is!"

Te      kopo
mioteumi   tsatsun
the:Abs pot  completely full-Cpl
"The pot
was completely full"

Mai   nula liunat, temai
anehteumi henkà         hostanapi
I:Abs grow old-Dep then
more:so   enjoy-the:Abs dancing
"The older I get, the more I enjoy
lit. "I grow older, then (I) enjoy dancing more

Suehten            ie   nanat     lhoteumi
iaseue          homa
go:away-Pst-he:Abs with leave-Dep partially
eat-Res-the:Abs bread
"He went away, leaving the bread partially



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