Verbs: Overview

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[edit] Verb classes

In Algonquian languages, verbs are classified for the number (i.e. transitive vs. intransitive) and animacy (i.e. animate vs. inanimate) of their arguments. (Bloomfield, 1946; 94-5). This gives us four main groups, shown in the table below. VAI refers to an intransitive verb with a single animate argument. VTA refers to a transitive verb with two animate arguments. VII refers to a transitive verb with an animate subject and an inanimate object; VTI refers to an intransitive verb with a single inanimate argument.

Algonquian verb classes
Intransitive Transitive
Animate VAI VTA
Inanimate VII VII


[edit] Mode

'Mode describes the speaker's attitude toward a situation, including the speaker's belief in its reality, or likelihood.' (Payne, 1997; 244) In each class, there are a variety of different mode's which can be expressed. Most of them can be expressed in different tenses and in the affirmative or negative. Below is a table, based on Pacifique's grammar (as translated in Lesson 10 in Hewson & Francis, 1990), that summarizes these observations using the first conjugation of VAI with third person agreement.

mode tense +/- teluis- 'name' gloss
Indicative present + teluis-it 'her/his name is...'
- mu teluis-iwk 'her/his name isn't...'
past + teluis-iss/ip/isp 'her/his name was...'
- mu teluis-iwksɨp 'her/his name wasn't...'
future + tluis-itew 'her/his name will be...'
- ma' tluis-iwk 'her/his name will not be...'
Imperative + tluis-ij 'let her/his name be...'
- mu tluis-iwj 'let her/him not be named...'
'When...' (Subjunctive) present + teluis-ijl 'when her/his name is...'
- mu teluis-ikwl 'when her/his name isn't...'
past + teluis-itek 'when her/his name was...'
- mu teluis-ikwek 'when her/his name wasn't...'
'If...' (Subjunctive) present + tluis-ij 'if her/his name is...'
- mu tluis-iwk 'if her/his name isn't...'
past + tluis-iss 'if her/his name was...'
- mu tluis-iwksɨp 'if her/his name wasn't...'
pluperfect + tluis-isn 'if her/his name had been...'
- mu tluis-iwksɨpn 'if her/his name hadn't been...'
Conditional present + teluis-iss 'her/his name would be...'
- mu teluis-iss 'her/his name would not be...'
past + teluis-isoqq 'her/his name would have been...'
- mu teluis-isoqq 'her/his name would not have been...'
Subordinative wtluis-in 'that her/his name is...'
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