Athabaskan Languages - Proto-Athabaskan - Morphology - Verb Template

Verb Template

Keren Rice (2000) offers a “Pan-Athabaskan” verb template that characterizes the complexity of verb morphology in the proto-language and the daughter languages.

disjunct domain # conjunct domain [ stem
preverb quantificational elements incorp-orates object 3 subj. % qualifiers subsituation aspect situation aspect viewpoint aspect 1 & 2 subject classifier root aspect suffixes
areal multiple iterative distributive d- n- gh- inceptive egressive conative achievement n- accomp-lishment s- semel-factive i- activity gh- imperf. perf. opt. future

The actual verb template of Proto-Athabaskan has not been reconstructed yet, as noted by Vajda (2010:38). Nonetheless, Rice’s generalization of the verb template based on various languages in the family is a reasonable approximation of what the structure of the Proto-Athabaskan verb might look like.

Rice’s is probably the newest attempt at a Pan-Athabaskan template, but it is not the only one. Kibrik (1995) and Hoijer (1971) also proposed templates which generalized across a number of Athabaskan languages. Hoijer’s proposal is missing several elements which were described in detail later, but Kibrik’s is not terribly different from Rice’s.

bound phrase disjunct domain # conjunct domain [ stem
proclitic oblique pronoun preverb various deriv. reflexive accusative iterative distributive incorporate number accusative pron. 3 nominative pron. % transitivity decrease qualifier inceptive conjugation mode 1 & 2 nom. pron. transitivity indicator root mode/aspect suffix enclitic

Kibrik only gives the zones rather than individual positions where the distinction matters. In addition, Kibrik did not give the domains and boundaries which have been added here for comparison.

A major distinction between the Kibrik and Rice versions is in the terminology, with Kibrik’s “Standard Average Athabaskan” maintaining much of the traditional Athabaskanist terminology – still widely used – but Rice changing in favor of aspectual descriptions found in wider semantic and typological literature. The terminology in comparison:

  • Rice (2000) “viewpoint aspect” = conventional “mode”
  • Rice (2000) “situation aspect” = conventional “conjugation”
  • Rice (2000) “subsituation aspect” ≈ Kibrik’s “inceptive”

Kari (1989) offers a rigorous foundation for the position class system that makes up the verb template in Athabaskan languages. He defines a few terms and resurrects others which have since become standard in Athabaskanist literature.

  • Position: a point or slot the verb template which hosts some number of morphemes which never cooccur. Some affixes may occur in multiple positions which are usually adjacent, but most morphemes are found in a single position. Kari (1989:435) gives the Ahtna ɣo- mode prefix and the s- qualifier as examples of multipositional morphemes.
    • Floating position: a position which seems to move around depending on the appearance or lack of other morphemes in the verb. Kari cites the Ahtna third person plural subject pronominal q- as occurring in three different locations "under highly constrained conditions" (Kari 1989:435).
  • Zone: a group of positions which are adjacent and semantically similar. Some previous descriptions of “position-subposition” are zones with positions within them (Kari 1989:435). The qualifiers are a type of zone, being made of at least two positions. The description by Krauss (1969) and Leer (2008) of the classifier as a three-morpheme sequence in Proto-Athabaskan technically makes the classifier a zone, but it is monomorphemic and often treated like a single position in the analysis of documented languages. Tlingit has a classifier approaching a zone although it is morphologically a single unit, and Eyak has a true classifier zone with two phonologically separate prefixes.
  • Domain: an area of zones and positions which is grouped together as a phonological unit.
    • Stem domain: a domain including the verb root and suffixes, and usually including the classifier.
    • Conjunct domain: a domain spanning from the classifier (may or may not be included) leftward to the object prefixes.
    • Disjunct domain: a domain spanning from the incorporated nouns to the preverbs, and not including any bound phrases that are considered to be word-external.
  • Boundary: a morphological division between zones and/or domains. Each boundary has an associated conventional symbol. Not all researchers describe all the boundaries for every language, and it is not clear that there is total agreement on the existence of all boundaries.
    • Disjunct boundary (#): the boundary between the disjunct and conjunct domains. Found in most Athabaskan descriptions.
    • Qualifier-pronominal boundary (=/%): the boundary between the qualifiers and the outer pronominals (3 subjects, objects, etc.). Kari proposed using = but since that symbol is often used for clitics, many authors (e.g. Rice 2000) have used % instead.
    • Conjugation-qualifier boundary (%): the boundary between the qualifiers and the conjugation prefixes. Not commonly used, especially with the loss of the % symbol to the qualifier-pronominal boundary.
    • Stem boundary ([): the boundary between the inner pronominals (1 and 2 subject) and the classifier.

Kari (1989) and elsewhere uses + to indicate morpheme boundaries. This convention has been adopted by some Athabaskanists, but many others use the more common – instead. Another innovation from Kari is the use of angle brackets to mark epenthetic segments, a convention which is not often used even by Kari himself.

Read more about this topic:  Athabaskan Languages, Proto-Athabaskan, Morphology

Other articles related to "verb template, verb, template":

Southern Athabascan Grammar - Verbs - Verb Template
... The prefixes that occur on a verb are added in specified order according to prefix type ... This type of morphology is called a position class template (or slot-and-filler template) ... Below is a table of a recent proposal of the Navajo verb template (Young Morgan 1987) ...

Famous quotes containing the word verb:

    The word is the Verb, and the Verb is God.
    Victor Hugo (1802–1885)