The Person-Marking Affixes in Chhatthare Limbu

By Tumbahang, Govinda Bahadur | Contributions to Nepalese Studies, January 2011 | Go to article overview

The Person-Marking Affixes in Chhatthare Limbu


Tumbahang, Govinda Bahadur, Contributions to Nepalese Studies


Introduction

The conjugation of a verb for a single tense indicates 11 categories of person. The broad division of person is made into first, second and third, and the number into singular, dual and plural. Inclusive versus exclusive distinction is there in the first person dual and plural. There are some problems to separate person markers from number and case markers. For example, the third person plural refers both to person and number, and its agentivity or subjectivity is determined by the type of the verb it occurs with. It functions as a subject if it occurs with an intransitive verb, and as an agent if it occurs with a transitive verb.

Person-marking affixes

Prefixes

There are three prefixes which mark first person, second person and third person. They are discussed in the following subheadings.

The first person morpheme

Basic morph       : 
Label             : 1INCL

The prefix marks the first person inclusive but it does not denote whether it is a subject, agent or object. The suffixes, which follow it in the affixal string, determine its agency, subjecthood or objecthood. When co-occurs with the dual marker suffix <-[c.sup.h]i> and plural marker suffix <-i> it serves as an intransitive subject as in (1) and (2) or a transitive object as in (3 and (4).

   (1) a-lok-[c.sup.h]i
   IINCL-run- DLS
   'We run.'

   (2) a-lokk-i
   1INCL -run- PLS
   'We run.'

   (3) a- lcm-[c.sup.h]i
   1INCL-beat-DLO
   'He beats us.'

   (4) a- lcps -i
   1INCL-beat-PLO
   'He beats us.'

In (1) the prefix is the first person inclusive marker and the suffix <-[c.sup.h]i> is a dual marker. These two affixes together constitute a first person dual inclusive subject of an intransitive verb lok 'he runs' whereas in (3) they mark first person dual inclusive object. Similarly, the prefix in combination with the plural suffix <-i> forms the first person plural inclusive subject in (2) whereas it functions as the first person plural inclusive object in (4).

When co-occurs with the third person object <-u>, it functions as an agent.

   (5) a-lcm- [c.sup.h]-u
   1INCL-beat-DLA-3O
   'We beat him.'

   (6) a-lcm-[c.sup.h]-u- si
   1INCL-beat-DLA-30-3NSGO
   'We beat them.'

   (7) a-lcps-u- m
   1INCL-beat-3O-1PLA
   'We beat him.'

   (8) a-lcps-u-m-si-m
   1INCL-beat-3O-1PLA-3NSGO-1PLA
   'We beat them.'

In (5) and (6), the first person prefix in combination with the dual suffix <-[c.sup.h]> and in (7) and (8), the first person prefix together with first person plural agent suffix <-m> constitute first person dual and plural inclusive agents respectively. The first person inclusive marker occurs in Phedappe Limbu (vanDriem 1987:77) and Panthare Limbu (Wiedert and Subba 1985:135) and in Tamarkhola Limbu (Michailovsky 2002:).

The second person morpheme

Basic morph           : 
Label                 : 2

The prefix marks the second person but it does not denote whether it is a subject, agent or object. The suffixes, which follow it in the affixal string, determine its agency, subjecthood or objecthood. When < ka- third person object suffix <-u>, it functions as an agent. Its singularity is unmarked.

   (9) ka-lcps-u
   2-beat-3O
   'You beat him.'

   (10) ka-lcm -ma
   2-beat-1SGO
   'You beat me.'

In intransitive verb conjugation, the prefix indexes second person subject in the affixal string. Its singularity is unmarked but duality and plurality are marked by <-[c.sup.h]i> and <-i.> respectively as in (11), (12) and (13).

   (11) ka-lok
   2-run
   'You run.'

   (12) ka-lok-[c.sup.h]i
   2-go-DLS
   'You go. … 

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