Interclausal relations in orizaba nawatl
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Interclausal relations in Orizaba Nawatl. (towards a preliminary initial beginning of a first stab at) A usage-based account David Tuggy SIL-Mexico. Orizaba Nawatl (ON). Orizaba Nawatl (ON) is spoken in the moun-tains south of the city of Ori-zaba, Veracruz, Mexico. Orizaba Nawatl (ON).

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Interclausal relations in Orizaba Nawatl

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Interclausal relations in orizaba nawatl

Interclausal relations in Orizaba Nawatl

(towards a preliminary initial beginning of a first stab at)A usage-based accountDavid TuggySIL-Mexico


Orizaba nawatl on

Orizaba Nawatl (ON)

  • Orizaba Nawatl (ON) is spoken in the moun-tains south of the city of Ori-zaba, Veracruz, Mexico.


Orizaba nawatl on1

Orizaba Nawatl (ON)

  • As many as 150,000 people speak a variety of closely-related dialects of the language.

  • The data used in this study, along with Spanish translations for them, were composed as illustrations for lexical entries in a dictionary

  • by Victor Hernández de Jesús, who is from San Juan del Río (officially Rafael Delgado), about 8 km. SE of Orizaba.


Usage based grammar

Usage-based grammar

  • As a “usage-based” theory, Cognitive Grammar claims that linguistic structures derive their specifications from the ways they are used.

  • The meaning of a structure, in particular, is a distillation of what is common to the cognitive structures shared by speakers and hearers in particular usages where the structure has occurred.


Usage based grammar1

Usage-based grammar

  • Meanings consist in expectations, of varying degrees of strength, that the common structure of previous usages will occur again.

  • They are also usefully thought of as instructions from the speaker to the hearer, to modify the current shared cognitive structure in accordance with those expectations.


Usage based grammar2

Usage-based grammar

  • A common misunderstanding arises from uncritical acceptance of the “container metaphor”which views words and other structures as “boxes” that “contain” their meanings.

  • This implies

    • that a meaning has a clear “inside” and an “outside”, and

    • that the meanings of neighboring structures are separate from it and will adjoin but not overlap it.

  • Both of these implications are basically wrong.


Usage based grammar3

Usage-based grammar

  • It is more helpful to think of meanings as windows on a vast network of inter-related ideas that the speaker and hearer have come to share.

  • Neighboring windows typically afford overlapping views; overlap of meanings is normal.

  • From a given window some specifications will be “in your face”, almost impossible to ignore.

  • Others will be far off, inconspicuous, and unlikely to be focused on.

  • But it is only a matter of degree of prominence (salience) which are central to the meaning and which are peripheral to what degrees.


Usage based grammar4

Usage-based grammar

  • In lexical, phrasal and clausal structures the meaning usually consists in an in-your-face “profile” (designated structure) which stands out as figure against a cognitive background (“base”).

  • Features intrinsic to the profiled element (“inside-the-box”) tend to be prominent or central to the meaning, while extrinsic (outside-the-box) features tend to be less so.

  • But these are only tendencies.


Usage based grammar5

Usage-based grammar

  • Sometimes extrinsic specifications are central.

  • For the word hat, the shape, color, and material are intrinsic. Yet they can vary widely.

  • The extrinsic relationship of being worn on a head is arguably a more salient (central), general and strongly-expected part of the meaning.


Usage based grammar6

Usage-based grammar

  • If it is fulfilled, almost anything can be called a “hat”.


Usage based grammar7

Usage-based grammar

  • For relational terms especially, the entities which are related, though in a sense extrinsic, are very prominent.

  • It is (probably) impossible to conceive of the relation without conceiving of them.


Usage based grammar8

Usage-based grammar

  • You cannot conceive of (temporal) “AFTER” without thinking of two events occurring sequentially.

  • The second of these events is given more prominence and is thus the “trajector” or subject; the preceding event is the “landmark” or object.


Usage based grammar9

Usage-based grammar

  • It is no accident that you do not (almost, you cannot) use the word after without syntactic neighbors which specify the nature of the trajector and landmark.


Usage based grammar10

Usage-based grammar

  • That is, after automatically brings with it the expectation of occurrence in a syntactic construction with a subject and an object.


Usage based grammar11

Usage-based grammar

  • This extrinsic relationship of after to its syntagmatic partners is highly central to it.


Usage based grammar12

Usage-based grammar

  • It is not, in principle, different in kind from other extrinsic specifications that, through usage, come to be associated with a form.


Usage based grammar13

Usage-based grammar

  • Hats go on heads, and after goes with an object and a subject, for much the same reason:

  • They constantly show up together.

  • Consistent usage entrenches the expectation of further such usage.


Inter clausal relations

Inter-clausal relations

  • After can be construed with a nominal (Thing) subject and object, or clausal ones (grounded Processes), in any combination.

  • E.g. one might say a nap after breakfast, or he slept after he ate.

  • (Or a nap after he ate, or he slept after breakfast.)

  • In any case, the subject is mentally located in time subsequent to the time of the object.


Inter clausal relations1

Inter-clausal relations

  • after is, accordingly, a unified “lexical item”

  • notwithstanding the fact that it is called a “preposition” when it has a nominal object, and a “subordinating conjunction” when it has a clausal object.

    • Clausal relators very often are useful relators of other kinds of structures as well.


Inter clausal relations2

Inter-clausal relations

  • After’s various usages are describable as nodes in the same kind of coherent schematic network that helps define other lexical items.

  • (This is far from an exhaustive account, of course. Non-temporal usages of after must fit in, also, for instance, or the after CLAUSE, CLAUSE constructions.)


Inter clausal relations3

Inter-clausal relations

  • The “subordination” imposed by after consists (largely if not entirely) in the lesser prominence accorded the object (landmark) as compared with the subject (trajector).

  • The hearer’s attention is directed to the subject clause in preference to the object clause.

  • This is not an absolute thing, however.

    • Like many other semantic specifications, it is an expectation that can be overridden.


Inter clausal relations4

Inter-clausal relations

  • This seems to happen especially easily at inter-clausal and higher discourse levels,

  • to the point that it becomes less than clear that “subjecthood” and “objecthood” are the right ways to talk about what’s happening.


Inter clausal relations5

Inter-clausal relations

  • At best they are instructions for default prominences, but both speaker and hearer know they may be overridden.

  • Usage that overrides them will become entrenched as the expectation (weighted largely according to frequency of the usage) that they may be overridden on other occasions.


Inter clausal relations6

Inter-clausal relations

  • It is a complex matter, and difficult to pin down, but it seems clear that

    • In clausal and smaller structures, you want to build a single coherent picture, with a single unambiguous profile.

    • Clear signalling of main vs. subordinate status is important to that end.

    • Langacker suggests, following Chafe (1994) and others, that a single clause prototypically (but far from inevitably) correlates with an “intonational group” (on the phonological side) and a “single attentional gesture” (on the semantic side).


Inter clausal relations7

Inter-clausal relations

  • As the complexity of multi-clausal structures increases, however

    • The “single coherent picture” prototype gradually gives way to a series of coherent pictures.

    • This is doubtless related to issues of processing time and cognitive processing capacity.

    • As it becomes less intrinsically important to achieve a single unambiguous profile,

    • a clear distinction between main and subordinate status becomes less normative.

    • Coordination, and other prominence arrangements such alternation or cession of control, become more common.


Inter clausal relations in orizaba nawatl

Inter-clausal relations in Orizaba Nawatl

  • As in any language, the system of interclausal relations in ON is very complex.

  • We will briefly examine the next-most-common relational mechanism, and then, even more briefly, the most common one.

  • First, some relevant facts about ON clauses:


Clauses in orizaba nawatl

Clauses in Orizaba Nawatl

  • In Nahuatl generally, and in ON in particular:

    • Verbs obligatorily carry pronominal prefixes for subject and (if transitive) primary object.

    • Any verb can function alone as a full clause.

    • Clausal subjects, objects, secondary objects, time expressions, etc., are in this sense “optional”.

    • NP’s with those functions are not marked morphologically or by position. One figures out their relation to the verb by what makes sense in the context.


Clauses in orizaba nawatl1

Clauses in Orizaba Nawatl

  • There are no infinitives or participles.

    • (Though there are some participle-like nominalized forms, they are not used like verbs or to form verbs.)

  • Full finite verbs are used where in Indo-European languages we might expect infinitives or participles.

  • This naturally increases the number of clausal combinations one is dealing with in comparable stretches of text.


Clauses in orizaba nawatl2

Clauses in Orizaba Nawatl

  • A number of clausal types have no verb. E.g. yi kaxtolli [already 15] means “it’s been two weeks”.

  • Adjectives and nouns can be used as clausal heads, meaning “be Adj/N”.

  • When used as clausal heads, they take the same subject prefixes as do verbs.


Verbless clauses in orizaba nawatl

Verbless clauses in Orizaba Nawatl

  • Since the 3rd person subject prefix is a zero, however, you cannot really tell if the prefix is there.

    • (Some analysts —Michel Launey, J. Richard Andrews—claim it always is. This is not easy to refute, of course! Launey uses the term “omnipredicativity”.)

  • So amehw̯an an-siw̯ameh(you.pl you.pl-women)can mean “you women” or “you are women”.

  • siw̯ameh(women) by itself can mean “women” or “they are women”.

  • weyi can mean “big”, “(a) big one”, or “s/he/it is big”.


Interclausal relations in orizaba nawatl

n

  • Orizaba Nawatl has an odd little morpheme: n.

    • It seems to behave, and is written at least by some, as a separate word. (It does not enter into neighboring word phonotactics, for instance).

    • It is the only word consisting of a single consonant.

    • (It was in in Classical Nahuatl and still is in some dialects. It is gone in others, including some ON variants.)

    • It is never stressed, though it is marginally syllabic.

  • Its most common usage is as a (sort of) definite article, modifying a following noun or NP.

    • You will see many cases of this usage in the examples.

    • Unlike the, it is commonly used with proper names, pronouns, and possessed nouns.


Interclausal relations in orizaba nawatl

n

  • It also functions as a rather versatile subordinating conjunction.

    • It may help to compare it with that in English, which is definite, and also a versatile subordinator.

    • Here are some of the kinds of subordinations it marks.

      • (Alternative suggested translations are given in square brackets at the end of the sentences’ translations.)


Relative n clauses

Relative n-Clauses

  • Like that, n is sometimes used for relative (adjectival) clauses

    (1)Nēw̯itzeh n tlakah n okichiw̯atoh n mikkatekochtli. there.they.come N men N they.went.to.make.it N dead.man’s.hole“There come the men who went and dug the grave.” [back from digging the grave]

    (2) Opeh kualani n konetl n okinapalohtoyabegan he.is.angry N child N she.was.hugging.himn Isabel okimatetexoh asta okimaeskixtih.N Isabel he.arm.bit.her until he.arm.bled.her“The kid that Isabel was holding in her arms threw a tantrum, and bit her hand/arm so hard that he made it bleed.”


Relative n clauses1

Relative n-Clauses

  • Sometimes it is a “headless” relative clause (in which case the n itself may be analyzed as head):

    (3) Seamechonnotza n ankimaw̯iw̯itlatoyah n Ignasyo we.talk.to.you.pl N you.pl.were.weeding N Ignacioinardohyoh.his.lily.field“We are talking to you who were weeding Ignacio’s Easter lily field.”

  • (One could also take the object pronoun amech- as head in this example)


Relative n clauses2

Relative n-Clauses

  • A particularly interesting case is that in which the relativized clause (if that is what it is) consists in a single adjective:

    (4)Xikillikan piltontli makamo kahkokui tell.him boy not.subjnct he.raise.itn etik n kuaw̯itl, welitis ahkolpatilawis.N heavy N woodhe.can.fut he.will.be.shoulder.twisted“Tell the boy not to lift the heavy log/firewood; he might strain/twist/dislocate his shoulder.” [the log that is heavy]


Subject n clauses

Subject n-Clauses

  • Again like that, n is often used on complement clauses, including subject clauses, object clauses, or others.

    (5) N teh iw̯an Lidio mach amechkokoh n antlahw̯ilitoyaN you and Lydio not it.hurt.you N you.went.to.irrigatesewa; ¿nelli?it.is.cold true?”It didn’t hurt you and Lydio that you went and irrigated the field in the cold, did it?” [to go and irrigate]

    (6) Asta nikan omokak n opitzin kamyón iyanta. until here it.was.heard N it.perforated truck its.tire“When the truck’s tire popped, it was audible clear over here.”


Subject n clauses1

Subject n-Clauses

  • Subject n-clauses are particularly frequent when the main clause is a non-verbal type.

    (7) Asta yisemi n okikuatekihkeh n Minerva until a.few.days N they.baptized.her N Minervaimichpokatzin.their.daughter”It’s been several days ago now that they baptized Minerva [and her husband]’s daughter.” [since they baptized]

    (8) Tlen tlakualnextia sakeh mach owih n okichihchihkeh. what beautifies.stuff just.like not difficult N they.did/built.it “The way they’ve fixed the place up, you’d think what they did was easy .”


Object n clauses

Object n-Clauses

(9)Niktlalia n anpixkakeh amotlallah, I.place.it N you.harvested your.fieldtlakah itech okse tlalli, Jaime. but.it.was in.it another land James “I thought that you all had harvested in your own field, James, but as it turns out it was the other field.”

(10) Mariana mach okikak n okillihkeh makamoMarian not she.heard.it N they.told.her may.it.not.bekichachalachili n kokochi n ikni.she.rattle.it.at.him N toy.car N her.sibling”Marian didn’t hear that they told her not to make noise to her brother with the toy car.” [them tell her, when they told her]


Complement n clauses

Complement n-Clauses

(11) ¿Kox yen poyohtenan amo kualli kahki whether it’s.she hen not good she.isn ayemo tlakixtia?N not.yet she.hatches?”Is it the sick hen that hasn’t hatched her chicks yet?” [Is the síck hen the one…]

(12)¿Keskintih okipalew̯ihkeh n Raúl n opixkak?How.many they.helped.him N Raul N he.harvested? ”How many helped Raul harvest?” [when he harvested]


Causal n clauses

Causal n-Clauses

  • A n-clause commonly expresses a cause.

    (13) Amikah mokuapitzinia n anmotlatlamuitlah, pipiltih.nobody he.bursts.his.head N you.pl.throw.yourselves, boys

    ”None of you boys better bust his head open because you are shoving each other around.” [the way you are shoving …]

    (14) Motla koxamo ilw̯ichiw̯as n kikitzkis treinta.your.uncle whether he.will.make.fiesta N he.will.take.it thirty.

    “Your uncle will probably throw a fiesta because he’s turning 30.” [for his 30th birthday]

    (15)Piltontli asta muitlalohtih n okittak ehekamalakotl. boy even he.went.running N he.saw.it whirlwind. “The boy took off running because he saw the whirlwind.” [when he saw, upon seeing]


Causal n clauses1

Causal n-Clauses

  • Causes come in a number of different flavors, including:

    • Negative causes / anticipated causes which are overcome.

      (16)Chikawak n pinyatahkomitl, mach pitzini n kimah. tough N piñata.pot, not it.bursts N they.hit.it“The pot inside that piñata is strong: it isn’t bursting even though they’re hitting it.” [from their hitting it, for all their hitting it]

    • Partial causes / contributing factors

      (17) Kihtow̯a n Alfonso kimasotlawa n imoruna he.says.it N Alphonse it.tires.his.hand N his.machete n kitehteki n kuaw̯itl.San nimantenmiki.N he.cuts.it N wood. just right.away it.edge.dies “Alphonse says his machete tires his arm out (especially) when / becausehe cuts firewood (with it). It goes dull very quickly.”


Causal n clauses2

Causal n-Clauses

  • Causes come in a number of different flavors, including:

    • Evidence (a result which causes you to conclude/comment)

      (18)¿Tleka yotimapatziw̯ik, Mikaela, n yititlapaka? why your.hand.deflated Michaela N already.you’re.washing“So, has the swelling gone down in your hand, that you’re washing clothes, Michelle?” [enough that you can wash]

    • Result (which may be grounds for conclusion)

      (19) Mach kualli ankitlalihkeh n libreta n opostek ipasta. not good you.pl.placed.it N notebook N it.broke it’s.cover “You put that notebook in crooked, so its cover got bent .”


Setting n clauses

Setting n-Clauses

  • Partial causes or contributing factors grade into setting descriptions.

    These also come in several flavors, including:

    • General situation

      (20)N mawiltiah n pipiltih, owehwetzki se, nes N they.are.playing N kids he.fell one, appearsome imahpilw̯an opatilawikeh.two his.fingers they.twisted“The kids were playing, and one fell and twisted a couple of fingers.” [as they were playing]

      (21)Yekin otipahtik n Isaak, n timawiltia futbol, just.now you.healed N Isaac N you.play football amo oksappa tikxipatilawis. not again you.will.foot.twist“You just got better, Isaac, and now you’re out playing soccer: (let’s hope you) don’t sprain your foot/ankle again.”


Setting n clauses1

Setting n-Clauses

  • More specifically, time

    (22)Elvia mach okinekia kamachalos n okipahmakakeh. Elvia not she.wanted.it she’ll.open.her.mouth N they.gave.her.medicine“Elvia wouldn’t open her mouth when they gave her her medicine.”[even though they were trying to give, so they could give]

    (23)Xikw̯ikakan moruna, antlixwitektiaskeh you.pl.take.it machete you’ll.go.chopping.weeds n antlakuilpachoskeh. N you’ll.bend.corn.over“Take your machetes; you should go along clearing the weeds away as you bend the cornstalks over.” (so the ears hang downwards and dry properly).


Setting n clauses2

Setting n-Clauses

  • Location

    (24)Ika se ma w̯ia, machkeh wehka n tlakow̯atin Luis; with one may he.go, not.like far N he.goes.to.buy Louis¿para tlen mow̯ikaskeh? for what they.will.take.each.other“It’s enough if one person goes; it’s not far to where Louis is going shopping; why should several go together?” [It’s not as if Louis is going a long way away to shop]


Mixed type n clauses

Mixed-type n-Clauses

  • Very often several types may be discerned in the same instance.

    • (Remember all the alternative translations of previous sentences.)

      (25)Ipah otitlaksaya n pipilolli, Samuel, on.it you.were.stepping N dangler Samuel mach otikittak n pepetlakatok. not you.saw.it N it.is.sparkling“You were standing/about to step on the earring, Sam; you didn’t see it sparkling (there)”


Mixed type n clauses1

Mixed-type n-Clauses

(25)Ipah otitlaksaya n pipilolli, Samuel, on.it you.were.stepping N dangler Samuel mach otikittak n pepetlakatok. not you.saw.it N it.is.sparkling“You were standing/about to step on the earring, Sam; you didn’t see it sparkling (there)”

  • The clause n pepetlakatok could be taken as

    • a relative (“which was sparkling”),

    • a negated cause (“even though it was sparkling”),

    • an object (“you didn’t see that it was sparkling”),

    • and perhaps others (“you didn’t see it sparkling there” … ).

  • This sort of indeterminacy is more common than not.


Mixed type n clauses2

Mixed-type n-Clauses

  • Similarly:

    (26)Weyi n okikxioperarohkah n Martín, big N they.leg.operated.him N Martinsanken neskayohtok.still it.is.marked “(Since) they’d done (such) a big operation on Martin’s leg, it’s still scarred.” [it is big where they’d operated]

    • The n-clause can be thought of as subject of weyi “it is big”.

    • It can also be thought of as the location of something (the incision) being big.


Mixed type n clauses3

Mixed-type n-Clauses

  • There is nothing to be surprised at in this.

  • Although the translations of these notions differ, and they doubtless differ somewhat in Nawatl speakers’ minds, they are in fact all marked simply by n.

  • There is something right about saying that n simply means “fit this clause into the other one”.

  • But there are some constraints about how the n-clause is fitted in.

  • Many kinds of adverbial clause meanings are not marked with n, for instance.


Nominal like n clauses

Nominal-like n-Clauses

  • Many of the functions of n-clauses which we’ve described are typically fulfilled by nouns or NP’s. Particularly

    • Subjects, objects and other complements

    • Time

    • Location

      are often expressed by nouns.

  • In fact, they are often expressed by n-N NP’s.


Nominal like n clauses1

Nominal-like n-Clauses

  • So there’s something right about seeing n in these usages as a nominalizing subordinator.

  • You might say it means “treat this clause as an NP, and fit it into the other clause as you would any other NP.”

  • This recognizes important parallels between n as an article and n as a conjunction.


Less clearly nominal like n clauses relative clauses

Less clearly nominal-liken-Clauses: Relative clauses

  • Relative clauses can be viewed as extensions from nominal usages (adjectives and nouns overlap), and/or

  • as extensions from cases where n introduces a single adjective (e.g. Sentence #4).


Less clearly nominal like n clauses causal n clauses

Less clearly nominal-liken-Clauses: Causal n-Clauses

  • Non-relational causes are typically accorded subject status.

  • Thus Causal n-clauses can be seen as a kind of extension from Subject n-clauses.

  • They can also be seen as extensions from the setting clause pattern, which also has clear nominal parallels.

    • As previously noted, settings grade into contributory factors or partial causes.


Causal n clauses3

Causal n-Clauses

  • In any case, they fit with (and overlap with) the cases where an NP is used to code a cause. For instance,

    (27)N kualli tiempo kualtzin xoxowitih n milloh.N good weather pretty it.gets.green N cornfield“Since the weather’s been so good, the cornfield’s greening up nicely.”[with the weather so good…, the good weather’s made the cornfield green up nicely, the weather’s been so good that …]


Subordination in n clauses

Subordination in n-Clauses

  • Clearly the normal pattern is for clauses marked by n to be subordinate.

  • But sometimes that is less than clear. E.g. (27), (20) and (21).

  • (20)N mawiltiah n pipiltih, owehwetzki se, nes N they.are.playing N kids he.fell one, appearsome imahpilw̯an opatilawikeh.two his.fingers they.twisted“The kids were playing, and one fell and twisted a couple of fingers.” [as they were playing]

    (21)Yekin otipahtik n Isaak, n timawiltia futbol, just.now you.healed N Isaac N you.play footballamo oksappa tikxipatilawis. not again you.will.foot.twist“You just got better, Isaac, and now you’re out playing soccer: (let’s hope you) don’t sprain your foot/ankle again.”


The meaning of n

The meaning of n

  • What can we say of the meaning of n?

    • It is, of course, a lexical item, though of the “grammatical” or “syntactic” subclass whose meaning consists largely in specifying the relationships of its syntagmatic neighbors.

    • Describing it necessitates/amounts to describing the construction(s) with which it is so closely associated.

  • The various meanings we have been discussing fit together in a schematic hierarchy of similarity relations, much like what we posited for after.

  • The following diagram attempts to show a few of those relationships.


The meaning of n1

The meaning of n

  • The phonological pole of the morpheme (/construction) is complex, in that it allows for the different orderings of n with the “main” structure it relates to.


The meaning of n2

The meaning of n

  • The semantic pole’s complexity allows for the different profiles of the subordinate structure marked by n and its different relations to different “main” structures.


The meaning of n3

The meaning of n

  • (Fitting in a few more of the meanings we have talked about …)


Zero marked clauses

Zero-marked clauses

  • Even more common than n for joining clauses in ON is parataxis

    • simply juxtaposing them, with no marker on either clause.

  • The functions of these paratactic constructions overlap greatly with those of n-clause constructions.


Zero marked clauses1

Zero-marked clauses

  • Specifically, zero-marked clauses may function as

    • relative clauses (28-30 on your handouts)

    • argument clauses (31-33)

    • conditional (“if”) clauses (34)

    • grounds clauses (35-36)

    • cause/reason/contributing factor clauses (36-38)

    • setting/time/location (39-40)

    • etc.


Zero marked clauses2

Zero-marked clauses

  • As with n, multiple possibilities for the same example are normal.

  • Often one of the clauses will be subordinate to the other, but

  • you can’t predict which it will be. You figure it out from the particular meanings.

  • (37-38) is a particularly nice pair from that standpoint.

    • (Victor’s translation had the reason clause as subordinate in both cases).


Zero marked clauses3

Zero-marked clauses

  • Zero-marked clauses are more commonly used than n-clauses for cases where no subordination is to be understood.

  • Where neither (and perhaps where either) clause can be taken as subordinate, it makes sense to talk of coordinate clauses.

  • They are, however, not marked differently from the cases where we might want to talk about subordination

    • —neither case is marked at all (except perhaps by intonational clues.)


Zero marked clauses4

Zero-marked clauses

  • Zero-marked clauses are of course a subset of zero-marked, juxtaposed entities.

  • Many other relations in ON are zero-marked, including:

    • Verb-argument and other verb-complement

    • Object-postposition

    • Noun-adjective

    • Verb-adverb

    • Noun- or verb-postpositional phrase

  • Obviously, the relations of the zero-marked clauses have important similarity (schematicity) relationships to these structures as well as to each other.


Zero marked clauses5

Zero-marked clauses


Clausal relations in on

Clausal relations in ON

  • Note how very similar the two diagrams are.

  • You are looking at the seamless interface between lexicon and (“pure”) syntax, even discourse-level syntax.

  • The differences both in meaning and in phonology between the n constructions and parataxis are minimal.

  • At the semantic pole, they are mostly differences of prominence, emphasis, or strength of expectation

    • e.g. of the expectation that one clause will be subordinate, or that neither will be.


Clausal relations in on1

Clausal relations in ON

  • In sum, two of the most common mechanisms for integrating clauses with each other in ON are

    • Mark one of them with n, usually meaning “fit this clause into the other (more prominent) one”

    • Juxtapose them, meaning “fit these two clauses together as seems best”.

  • These schematic “summary” meanings include more specific meanings such as “fit this clause in as modifier to a noun” or “fit it in as an evidential result of the other clause”.


Clausal relations in on2

Clausal relations in ON

  • It is interesting to contrast how ON works with how other languages deal with similar concepts.

  • It seems fair to say that ON is considerably less “directive” about how to fit clauses together than English or other Indo-European languages.


Clausal relations in on3

Clausal relations in ON

  • N this is interesting, it is of some practical importance as well.

  • N it gives me heartburn is N I am translating some document N is written in another language.

  • I do it in N natural Nawatl style, I will perhaps omit perhaps reduce to n most conjunctions they specify exactly how things will link up.


Clausal relations in on4

Clausal relations in ON

  • But N I am losing it meaning was in N original document. How can I guarantee it N Nawatl-speakers will inevitably come up with them the “right” linkages? I can’t.

  • All I can expect it is N they will try to figure it out a good way they will link things.

  • But that’s pretty good I can expect it.


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