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How TAM affixes work in North American languages

Posted: 2013-07-24, 21:26
by Trebor
Hi all,

Many North American indigenous languages are agglutinative, even polysynthetic, and I would like to know how those which you speak or are learning handle the following sentences:

(1) a. He must not leave.
b. He does not have to leave.

(2) a. He began to want to eat.
b. He wanted to begin to eat.

(3) a. He did not want to stop working.
b. He wanted not to stop working.
c. He wanted to stop not working.
d. He did not want to stop not working.
e. He did not stop wanting to work.
f. He stopped not wanting to work.
g. He stopped wanting not to work.
h. He did not stop wanting not to work.

NB: Interlinear glosses would be very helpful.

Thanks. :)

Re: How TAM affixes work in North American languages

Posted: 2013-07-24, 22:38
by hrhenry
I can't answer all your questions, but I can answer a couple as it relates to Ojibwe.
Trebor wrote:
(1) a. He must not leave.

Ojibwe has something called "conjunct", which would be used here. It would roughly translate to something along the lines of "that he not leave".
b. He does not have to leave.

The word for "maybe" is what would be used for this (along with the conjunct).
(2) a. He began to want to eat.
b. He wanted to begin to eat.

(3) a. He did not want to stop working.
b. He wanted not to stop working.
c. He wanted to stop not working.
d. He did not want to stop not working.
e. He did not stop wanting to work.
f. He stopped not wanting to work.
g. He stopped wanting not to work.
h. He did not stop wanting not to work.

Both start/begin and stop are preverbs that follow the tense preverb and but precede the main verb in Ojibwe. So the formula would be "want(ed)-start/stop-work". The "want(ed)" preverb changes according to present or past tense. In essence, you have two preverbs, the first indicating time/tense, the second indicating start/stop, then the verb root.

Negatives are formed the same way, but are surrounded with "No/not" and a final negative affix at the end of the verb.

I hope that's not too vague an answer. Truthfully, I've only been at Ojibwe for a year or so, on and off, and it's kicking my ass more often than not.

R.
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Re: How TAM affixes work in North American languages

Posted: 2013-07-24, 23:36
by księżycowy
I'll try to see what I can drum up for Lakota, but similarly to Henry, I've been doing Lakota off and on (mostly off lately). I'll still try to answer at least some of your questions though.

Re: How TAM affixes work in North American languages

Posted: 2013-07-25, 0:37
by Massimiliano B
I try to give a translation of the first sentence in Seliš (Montana Salish)

(1) a. He must not leave.

ta qs tam kʷ qs xuy

EDIT: I realize now that the sentence actually means "You must go/leave". I don't know how to build the negative form in this case. [end EDIT]

ta qs tam = it implies that the following action has to be performed. Ta/tam mean «not» and qs indicates a future action
= you-intransitive
qs = "future"
xuy = go

I've taken these informations from here:

http://salishworld.com/Charkoosta%20Lan ... -03-15.htm

Tomorrow or when I have time I'll try to translate the other sentences :)

Re: How TAM affixes work in North American languages

Posted: 2013-07-26, 7:51
by Trebor
hrhenry wrote:I hope that's not too vague an answer. Truthfully, I've only been at Ojibwe for a year or so, on and off, and it's kicking my ass more often than not.


Haha. Thanks for the info you passed along. I'm left wondering, though, whether Ojibwe grammar necessitates that (3:a-h) all remain ambiguous...

Re: How TAM affixes work in North American languages

Posted: 2013-07-26, 17:04
by hrhenry
Trebor wrote:Haha. Thanks for the info you passed along. I'm left wondering, though, whether Ojibwe grammar necessitates that (3:a-h) all remain ambiguous...

So, I checked with an Ojibwe-specific group on Yahoo groups to which I belong, and here is one answer I received:

"Perhaps don't lock yourself into literal translations of the English, with that
specific grammatical construction. The same idea conveyed by the second
sentence would be "He doesn't want to work anymore.""

This really confirms something that I'm learning over and over with Ojibwe - that is, that you really just can't literally translate. In other words, what we would convey in the past tense can easily be done with the present tense + "anymore".

There are other peculiarities that I've also hit upon with Ojibwe, especially when dealing with subordinate clauses and connecting words such as "because" (this words does not exist in Ojibwe, so you have to find other ways to deal with cause or reason).

EDIT: This discussion prompted me to write a blog post about it on my Ojibwe blog, which can be found here (it also contains the Ojibwe renditions of the positive and negative sentences): http://indoojibwem.blogspot.com/2013/07/expressing-want-or-willingness-in-past.html

R.
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