Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More on Triqui reduplication

Back in December, I posted a quick summary of this interesting pattern on Triqui verbs to Facebook. The post read as follows:

So, I discovered a new pattern today. There is a process of partial reduplication on Triqui verbs that indicates something like an emphatic, but non-specific third person. The reduplicant is partially fixed, always containing tone /4/ and a coda /ʔ/, but the vowel identity (including nasality) is taken from the stem. The stem has to be marked with the non-specific 3rd person (which is marked by tone/glottal deletion).

/βĩ³/ 'to be/exist' > bĩ³-ĩʔ⁴
/a³βi³²/ 'to leave' > a³βi³-iʔ⁴
/tʃeh⁴/ 'to walk' > tʃe³-eʔ⁴
/a³tah³/ 'to say' > a³ta³-aʔ⁴   

Well, as it turns out, the pattern doesn't quite just signify an emphatic. It appears to be a way of marking a wish/blessing on someone, e.g. "May they do X." Thus, to state "May they eat" or "Que comerían", the form is /tʃa²=aʔ⁴/ and "May they run" would be /ku²nã²=ãʔ⁴/. The interesting thing about these new forms is that both of the verbs occur in the potential aspect. The unmarked, progressive/habitual form for 'run' is /u⁴nãh³/ and the perfective form for 'eat' is /tʃa⁴³/. So, it is not clear if this reading of these forms just derives from the fact that they are in the potential aspect. This reading also appears to differ from the hortative, e.g. /tʃa²=yũʔ¹/ 'Let's eat!' (Incidentally, this is different from the regular /tʃa²=ũh⁴/ 'We will eat ~ We are eating.')

So, the mysteries now are: (a) Is there some semantic consistency when reduplication is used on verbs with varying aspects? (b) Might we be able to tease apart just what this means with unmarked aspect?

On a related note, one of the things I've come to realize about Triqui clitic morphology in doing documentation is that there is a very productive system for marking vocatives (or perhaps just 'terms of address') in the language. I used to think that only certain words had distinct, lexicalized vocative forms, e.g. /nni³/ 'mother' vs. /nnãh⁴³/ 'mother!', but it turns out that most names, and even clitics can undergo this process. This is done by a process that looks eerily like the reduplicative system above. You take the word, e.g. /tʃu³be³/ 'dog' and just change it's tone to /4/ and add a coda /ʔ/, e.g. /tʃu⁴beʔ⁴/ as in something like 'Hey, dog, how are you?'. One can do this with proper names too, e.g. 'Enrique' is /li⁴ki⁴³/ normally, but would be /li⁴kiʔ⁴/ when referred to directly. I have a feeling there is some relation between emphatic forms (maybe this is the good term for it after all?) and direct terms of address, but just how the expression of a wish/blessing fits in here is a mystery.

Incidentally, I learned the above form for 'dog' through a story about a magical dog who learned how to grind corn and make tortillas for a man who went to farm. When the man came into the house, he had some conversations with this dog and had to address it directly.