Montana Salish is a VOS or VSO language, but not strictly and not always. In fact, with transitive verbs in the past tense the personal pronouns subject are at the end of the verb, but some of them are at the beginning:
1) ƛ̓éʔenten ɫu šešutm
= "I looked for the girl". Literally, the meaning is: looked-(her)-I the girl. The word ƛ̓éʔenten
means "looked-(3.obj.)-1.pers.sing. subj.". The final letter -n is the subject. Third person singular object is always understood. That's why I wrote it in brackets. The particle ɫu
indicates a secondary particular object, and šešutm
2) ƛ̓éʔentes ɫu šešutm
= "He/she looked for the girl" (literally: looked-(her)-he/she the girl). The word ƛ̓éʔentes
means "looked-(3.obj.is understood)-3.pers.sing. subj.". The final letter -s is the subject.
If a separate agent is added it comes after the object and it's marked with t
:ƛ̓éʔentes ɫu šešutm t sqélixʷ
= "The Indian looked for the girl".
3) qe ƛ̓éʔentem ɫu šešutm
= "We looked for the girl". In this sentence, the particle qe
together with the suffix -m
of the verb ƛ̓éʔentem
indicate the first person singular subject. Third person singular object is understood. So, part of the subject is before the verb. The first person plural pronoun is the only that appear before the verb
Sometimes it is the object that is put at the beginning:qʷo ƛ̓éʔentexʷ
= "You looked for me". Here, the first word qʷo
is the first person singlar object, and the suffix -xʷ
means "you". [Here, the sentence is exactly the same as in Italian: "mi cercasti", with "mi" = me, "cerc-" = looked and "-asti" = you
When a verb is used in its intransitive form, the subject is always before the verb, except in the third person singular and plural:čn ƛ̓éʔem t šešutm
= I looked for the girl (čn
= I)kʷ ƛ̓éʔem t šešutm
You looked for the girl (kʷ
= you)ƛ̓éʔem t šešutm
= "Looked (he/she is understood) for the girl"
If a separate agent is added it comes either after the object or before it and it's marked with ɫu
. It is never before the verb:ƛ̓éʔem t šešutm ɫu sqélixʷ
= "The Indian looked for the girl". Literally: looked girl-object Indian-subject.
orƛ̓éʔem ɫu sqélixʷ t šešutm
= "The Indian looked for the girl" (literally: looked Indian-subject girl-object)
That's what I've understood after one year of irregular study of the language