publisher colophon

8 Noun Derivation


In chaps. 57 we examined the internal structure of various kinds of Palauan verbs by showing how verb stems can combine with many different affixes such as the verb marker prefix, the resulting state infix, the anticipating state suffix, etc. We also observed that while the internal structure of certain Palauan verbs is quite sim­ple, that of others is extremely complex. Thus, in 7.1 we discussed simple state verbs such as klou ‘big’, ungil ‘good’, etc., which con­sist of just a single morpheme, or meaning-bearing unit. Most of our time, however, was spent in explaining the internal structure of numerous types of complex verb forms, which contain two or more morphemes. For example, in 5.45 we saw that ergative verb forms such as mȩchuiu ‘be/get read’ are made up of two morphemes—the verb marker (mȩ-) and the verb stem (-chuiu ‘read’)—while imperfective verb forms like mȩnguiu ‘read’ have a basic structure which involves three morphemes—the verb marker (-), the imperfective marker (-ng-), and the verb stem (-chuiu ‘read’).

The internal structure of Palauan nouns, like that of Palauan verbs, can be simple or complex. As we might expect, simple nouns consist of just a single morpheme or meaning-bearing unit and include words such as the following:

(1)   mlai   ‘canoe, car’   babier   ‘paper, letter’
    ngau   ‘fire’   elȩcha   ‘now, today’
    chad   ‘man, person’   ngikȩl   ‘fish’
    daob   ‘ocean’   dȩrumk   ‘thunder’
    malk   ‘chicken’   kȩrrȩkar   ‘tree’

In contrast with the simple nouns listed above, complex nouns are derived by adding certain types of affixes to verb stems or to other nouns. Their internal structure therefore involves at least 188two (and sometimes more than two) morphemes. In the sections below, we will examine the main groups of Palauan complex nouns; some of these are derived with affixes that are already familiar to us, while others involve entirely new affixes.


In 7.8.2 we mentioned that many Palauan resulting state verbs and anticipating state verbs can function as nouns. Thus, the nouns listed below actually have the form of anticipating state verbs, which, as we saw in 7.8, are derived by adding the anticipating state suffix -(ȩ)l (or long vowel + l) to the verb stems of transitive action verbs. For purposes of comparison, the related transitive action verb (in its imperfective form) is also given:

(2)   Derived Noun   Related Transitive Action Verb (in imperfective form)
    kall    ‘food’    mȩnga    ‘eat’
    ilumȩl   ‘drink, beverage’   mȩlim   ‘drink’
    sȩlokȩl   ‘laundry’   mȩsilȩk   ‘wash’
    suobȩl   ‘homework, study’   mȩsuub   ‘study’

Whereas words like kall ‘food’, ilumȩl ‘drink, beverage’, and suobȩl ‘homework, study’ have come to be used exclusively as nouns (that is, they are no longer used as anticipating state verbs), sȩlokȩl can function either as an anticipating state verb meaning ‘is/needs to be washed’ or as a noun meaning ‘laundry’. If we assume that all of the derived nouns in 2 in fact functioned as anticipating state verbs during some earlier stage of the Palauan language, we can explain their present-day (obligatory or optional) use as nouns in terms of a shift in meaning. In other words, a noun like kall ‘food’ was originally an anticipating state verb meaning ‘is/needs to be eaten’; and as such, it was undoubtedly used to describe something that was expected to undergo (or had to undergo) the action of eating. For some unknown reason, however, this usage gradually died out, and instead kall came to stand for the thing which is to be eaten—namely, food. In the case of sȩlokȩl, the older usage as an anticipating state verb meaning ‘is/needs to be washed’ survived even after sȩlokȩl began to be used as a noun referring to the thing which is to be washed—namely, laundry.1

Since the words in 2 function as nouns, they can take any of the possessor suffixes (cf. 3.1). Therefore, we have forms like kall 189‘food’—kȩlek2 ‘my food’, ilumȩl ‘drink, beverage’—imȩlem3 ‘your drink’, sȩlokȩl ‘laundry’—sȩlȩkȩlel ‘his/her laundry’, suobȩl ‘homework, study’—subȩlir ‘their homework’, etc. Words like kȩlek ‘my food’, imȩlem ‘your drink’, etc. are necessarily complex nouns because they contain at least two morphemes—the noun stem and the possessor suffix; this is also true, of course, for all of the possessed nouns given in chap.3.

The nouns listed below are formally identical with resulting state verbs, which, as we saw in 7.7, are derived by placing the resulting state infix -(ȩ)l- after the initial consonant of verb stems of transitive action verbs. The words in 3a are used exclusively as nouns, while those in 3b can function either as nouns or as result­ing state verbs. The related transitive action verb (in its imperfec­tive form) is also provided.

(3)   Derived Noun   Related Transitive Action Verb (in imperfective form)
    a.   klȩbkab   ‘chain’   mȩngȩbkab   ‘chain’
        chȩlitakl   ‘song’   mȩngitakl   ‘sing’
        klȩngoes4   ‘meat or fish stew’   mȩlȩngoes   ‘cook (meat or fish)’
    b.   bloes   ‘injury from being shot’   omoes   ‘shoot’
        dȩlobȩch   ‘injury from being cut’   mȩlobȩch   ‘cut (with a knife, etc.)’
        blalȩch   ‘wound from a slingshot’   omalȩch   ‘hit (with a slingshot)’
        bletȩch   ‘injury from a stone’   ometȩch   ‘throw (a stone, etc.)’
        blurȩch   ‘wound from a spear’   omurȩch   ‘spear’
        chȩlat   ‘thing which is smoked, smoked fish’   mȩngat   ‘smoke (fish)’
        sȩlesȩb   ‘thing/place which is burnt’   mȩlesȩb   ‘burn’
        rruul5   ‘thing which is made/done’   mȩruul   ‘make, do’

Rather than describing the particular state resulting from actions such as cooking, shooting, burning, etc., words like klȩngoes, bloes, sȩlesȩb, etc. have (obligatorily or optionally) come to stand for the thing (or place) which is cooked, shot, burnt, etc. This latter usage is illustrated in the sentences below: 190

(4)   a.   Ng ngar ȩ ker a {bloes / blalȩch} ȩr kau?
        ‘Where {the place you’re shot / your slingshot wound}?’
    b.   Ng soak ȩ1 mȩnga a chȩlat.
        ‘I want to eat some smoked fish.’
    c.   Se ȩ1 sȩlesȩb ng sȩrsel a tȩchang?
        ‘That burned area there—whose garden is it?’
    d.   Ng kmal ungil a rrȩllem.6
        ‘The thing you’ve made is very nice.’

A small number of nouns with specialized meanings can be derived from verb stems by simultaneously adding both the result­ing state infix and the anticipating state suffix. In the nouns below, the resulting state infix is italicized and the anticipating state suffix is in bold type; and for purposes of comparison, the related transitive action verb (in its imperfective form) is also given.

(5)   Derived Noun   Related Transitive Action Verb (in imperfective form)
    chȩltuul   ‘smoked fish’   mȩngat   ‘smoke (fish)’
    llȩchukl7   ‘handwriting, drawing’   mȩluchȩs   ‘write, draw’
    kliokl7   ‘hole’   mȩngiis   ‘dig’
    bliull   ‘wrapped tapioca’   omail   ‘clothe, wrap’


In 3 above, we listed some Palauan nouns which are derived by combining the resulting state infix -(ȩ)l- with the verb stems of transitive action verbs. As we will see in this section, it is also possible to derive nouns by combining the infix -(ȩ)l- with the stems of intransitive verbs (mostly state verbs). These cases probably represent an expansion in the use of the resulting state infix, but since the derived nouns designate abstract qualities (cf. 2.2) and give no indication of the original resulting state meaning, it will be easier if we simply consider the -(ȩ)l- in question to be a “grammatical device” for deriving abstract nouns from intransi­tive verb stems.

In the examples below, an abstract noun is derived by infixing -(e)l- after the initial consonant of the verb stem, which occurs independently as a simple state verb: 191

(6) Derived Noun Related Simple State Verb
  blȩkeu ‘bravery’ bȩkeu ‘brave’
  kldung ‘good behavior’ kȩdung ‘well-behaved’
  dȩlȩngȩrengȩr ‘poor be­havior’ dȩngȩrengȩr ‘naughty’
  dȩlȩngchokl ‘way of life, living conditions’ dȩngchokl ‘sitting, seated’
  chȩldȩlȩkelȩk ‘blackness’ chȩdȩlȩkelȩk ‘black’
  klȩkool8 ‘game’ sȩkool ‘playful’
  blulak ‘lie’ bulak ‘deceitful, lying’
  chȩrrodȩch9 ‘noise’ chȩrodȩch ‘noisy’

The following abstract nouns are also formed by infixing -(ȩ)l- after the initial consonant of the verb stem, which must be preceded by the verb marker mȩ- in the corresponding state verb (cf. 6.1 and 7.1):

(7)   Derived Noun   Related State Verb
    klȩngit ‘sin’   mȩkngit ‘bad’
    klisiich8 ‘strength’   mȩsisiich ‘strong’
    klȩngakȩd8 ‘thinness’   mȩsȩngakȩd ‘thin’
    kleald ‘heat’   mȩkeald ‘warm, hot’
    chȩliuaiu ‘sleep’   mȩchiuaiu10 ‘sleep, be asleep’
    chȩlsa ‘business, matter’   mȩchȩsa ‘busy’

The use of some of the derived nouns in 6 and 7 is illustrated in the sentences below:

(8)   a.   Ng kmal mle klou a {blȩkeu / kldung} ȩr a irȩchar.
        ‘In earlier times a great many {brave / good} deeds were done.’
    b.   A dȩlȩngchokl ȩr a elȩcha ȩl taem a kmal mȩringȩl.
        ‘Life these days is very difficult.’
    c.   Ng dirk ngar ȩr ngii a klisichel a Droteo.
        ‘Droteo is still strong.’
    d.   Ng kmal klou a klȩngakȩd ȩr a chȩlsel a Sina.
        ‘There are a lot of poorly-nourished people in China.’11

There are quite a few Palauan state verbs referring to size or dimension which begin with k. This initial k- might have been some kind of meaning-bearing prefix at an earlier stage of the Palauan language, but now it no longer has any identifiable 192function. At any rate, state verbs referring to size or dimension can also be made into abstract nouns by infixing -(ȩ)l- after the initial k-, as in the following:

(9)   Derived Noun12   Related State Verb
    kllou    ‘size, thickness’    klou    ‘big’
    kldeb   ‘shortness’   kȩdeb   ‘short’
    kldidai   ‘height’   kȩdidai   ‘high’
    klȩmangȩt   ‘length, height’   kȩmangȩt   ‘long, tall’

The sentences below illustrate the use of some of the derived nouns in 9:

(10)   a.   Ng tela a klungel13 a kȩrrȩkar?
        ‘How thick is the tree?’
    b.   Ng tela a klȩmȩngȩtem?
        ‘How tall are you?’
    c.   Ng tela a klȩmȩngȩtel a kȩrrȩkar?
        ‘How long is the board?’
    d.   Ng ua ngara a kldidiul14 a kȩrrȩkar?
        ‘How high is the tree?’


As we will see in chap. 10, there is a special class of Palauan verbs known as reciprocal verbs. These verbs, which are formed with the reciprocal prefixes kai-, ka-, or kau-, designate actions which two or more people direct at each other simultaneously. It is possible to derive nouns from reciprocal verbs merely by infixing -l- after the initial k- of the reciprocal prefix. This -l- is undoubted­ly the shorter variant of the infix -(ȩ)l- discussed in 8.3 above: in other words, it is just a grammatical device for deriving abstract nouns from reciprocal verbs. Some typical derived nouns, together with the corresponding reciprocal verb, are given below:

(11)   Derived Noun   Related Reciprocal Verb
    klasoes ‘seeing/being with each other, relationship’   kasoes ‘see each other’
    klaingȩseu ‘helping each other’   kaingȩseu ‘help each other’
    klakoad ‘fighting, battle’   kakoad ‘fight with each other’
    klaodȩnge ‘mutual know­ledge’   kaodȩnge ‘know each other’ 193
    klaidȩsachȩl ‘race, com­petition’   kaidȩsachȩl ‘race, compete’
    klausȩchȩlei ‘friendship’   kausȩchȩlei ‘be friends’
    klaubuch ‘marriage’   kaubuch ‘be married’
    klauchad ‘blood relation­ship’   kauchad ‘be related’
    klaungalȩk ‘parent and child rela­tionship’   kaungalȩk ‘be related as parent and child’

The examples below show how some of the derived “reci­procal” nouns of 11 can be used in sentences:

(12)   a.   Tia ȩl klasoes ȩr kid a di me er a elȩchang e mȩrkong.
        ‘Our relationship is now over (having reached this point).’
    b.   Ng kmal ungil a klaingȩseu ȩr a rȩchad ȩr a Modȩkngei.
        ‘The way people in Modekngei help each other is really nice.’
    c.   Ng mla ȩr ngii a klakoad ȩr a Peleliu Club ȩr a kȩsus.
        ‘There was a fight at the Peleliu Club last night.’
    d.   A klaodȩnge ȩr a Toki mȩ a Droteo a kmal ungil.
        ‘Toki and Droteo know a lot about each other.’
    e.   Ng kmal ungil a klaubuch ȩr tir.
        ‘They have a very good marriage.’

As expressions like klasoes ȩr kid ‘our relationship’, klaubuch ȩr tir ‘their marriage’, etc. show, derived reciprocal nouns are un­ possessible—that is, they cannot take possessor suffixes (cf. 3.8). Therefore, if a possessor is to be mentioned, it must be introduced with a noun phrase of possession containing the relational word ȩr (e.g. ȩr kid ‘of us’, ȩr tir ‘of them’, etc.).


The word-initial consonant cluster kl- observed in all of the derived nouns of 9 and 11 and in some of the derived nouns of 6 and 7 should be distinguished from what is clearly a separate prefix kl(ȩ)-, which is also used to form abstract nouns from state verbs. The prefix kl(ȩ)- may originally have consisted of two parts (an initial element k- and the resulting state infix -l-), but now it functions as a single unit. Some abstract nouns derived with kl(ȩ)-, together with the corresponding state verb, are listed below:

(13)   Derived Noun   Related State Verb
    klȩkekȩre ‘smallness’   kekȩre ‘small’
    klȩkakȩrous ‘difference’   kakȩrous ‘different’ 194
    klungiaol15 ‘benefit, good­ness’   ungil ‘good’
    kldachȩlbai ‘skill’   dachȩlbai ‘skillful’
    klȩmȩdȩnge ‘knowledge (from study, etc.)’   mȩdȩnge ‘know’
    kldiull16 ‘pregnancy’   dioll ‘pregnant’
    klȩmȩra ‘truth’   mȩra ‘true’
    klȩngȩltȩngat ‘good for­tune’   ngȩltȩngat ‘fortunate’
    klȩngar ‘existence’   ngar ‘exist, be (located)’

As the examples in 13 illustrate, kl(ȩ)- is usually attached to simple state verbs, but in a few cases it is prefixed to complex state verbs like mȩdȩnge ‘know’ and mȩra ‘true’, which consist of the verb marker prefix mȩ- and a bound verb stem.

The derived nouns listed in 13 are typically used in sentences like the following:

(14)   a.   A omȩsuub ȩl tȩkoi ȩr a Merikel a klungiolek.
        ‘Studying English is to my benefit.’
    b.   Ng ua ngara a klȩmȩdȩnge17 ȩr kau ȩr a tȩkoi ȩr a Siabal?
        ‘How much Japanese do you know?’
    c.   A klȩngȩltȩngȩtel a Droteo, e ng mlo sȩbȩchel ȩl mo ȩr a Guam.
        ‘Droteo has had the good fortune of becoming able to go to Guam.’

The prefix kl(ȩ)- can also be added to certain nouns (usually human) to form another noun with a more abstract meaning, as in the examples below:

(15)   Derived Noun   Related Noun
    klȩchȩlid   ‘religion’   chȩlid   ‘god’
    klsȩchal   ‘manhood’   sȩchal   ‘man’
    klȩchad   ‘human life, way of life’   chad   ‘person’
    klȩngalȩk   ‘childhood’   ngalȩk   ‘child’
    klsensei   ‘being a teacher’   sensei   ‘teacher’
    kltoktang   ‘being a doctor’   toktang   ‘doctor’
    klobak18   ‘chiefs of a community’   rubak   ‘old man’ 195
    klodam   ‘relationship between male relatives’   odam   ‘brothers’
    klodos   ‘relationship between fe­male relatives’   odos   ‘sisters’

Some sample sentences containing the nouns of 15 are given below:

(16)   a.   A klȩchad er a elȩcha ȩl taem a diak lua ngar ȩr a mong.
        ‘Life these days isn’t like what it was a few years ago.’
    b.   A klsensei a diak lȩkirek ȩl ureor.
        ‘Being a teacher isn’t meant for me.’/‘I’m not suited to being a teacher.’


The prefix o- can be attached to verbs in two different ways, thus deriving two classes of nouns, one concrete in meaning and the other abstract (cf. 2.2). The o- to be discussed in this section should not be confused with another prefix o-, which, as we saw in 5.4 and chap. 6, is a variant of the verb marker. Even though the two prefixes o- are homonymous—i.e., identical in sound (or form)—they are distinct in function, since one (the verb marker) derives verbs and the other derives nouns.

Palauan instrument nouns are derived from the imperfective forms of transitive verbs simply by replacing the verb marker prefix mȩ- by the prefix o-. Instrument nouns are concrete nouns which designate the tool, implement, or utensil used in perform­ing a particular action. For example, from the imperfective verb mȩles ‘cut, slice’, we derive the noun oles ‘knife’, which is an instrument used for cutting. Some commonly-used Palauan instrument nouns, together with the corresponding imperfective verb form, are provided below:

(17)   Derived Instrument Noun   Related Transitive Verb (in imperfective form)
    olaml   ‘grass cutter, machete’   mȩlaml   ‘cut (grass)’
    oluchȩs   ‘pencil’   mȩluchȩs   ‘write’
    oriik   ‘broom’   mȩriik   ‘sweep’
    olamk   ‘razor’   mȩlamk   ‘shave’
    onges   ‘grater’   mȩnges   ‘scrape’ 196
    ongimd   ‘something to cut with’   mȩngimd   ‘cut (hair)’
    olasȩch   ‘axe, adze’   mȩlasȩch   ‘chop, carve’
    osib   ‘plow’   mȩsib   ‘plow’
    osongd   ‘comb’   mȩsongd   ‘comb’
    osaur   ‘something to tie with’   mȩsaur   ‘tie’

Since the instrument nouns above are derived from the imperfec­tive forms of transitive verbs19 by replacing the verb marker mȩ- with o-, they have the basic structure (prefix) o- + imperfective marker + verb stem.

Palauan action nouns are derived simply by adding the prefix o- to transitive or intransitive action verbs. These nouns designate actions or activities as abstract concepts and are used in certain grammatical constructions where nouns are required. In 18 below, the action nouns are derived from transitive action verbs, while those in 19 are derived from intransitive action verbs:

(18)   Derived Action Noun   Related Transitive Verb (in imperfective form)
    omȩluchȩs   ‘writing’   mȩluchȩs   ‘write’
    omȩlim   ‘drinking’   mȩlim   ‘drink’
    omȩnga   ‘eating’   mȩnga   ‘eat’
    omȩsuub   ‘studying’   mȩsuub   ‘study’
(19)   Derived Action Noun   Related Intransitive Verb
    omilil   ‘playing’   milil   ‘play’
    omȩrael   ‘travelling, trip’   mȩrael   ‘walk, travel’
    omȩngȩdub   ‘swimming’   mȩngȩdub   ‘swim’

In 19, the prefix o- has been added to intransitive action verbs which have the verb marker prefix mȩ- (or m-). If an intransitive verb contains the metathesized verb marker -(ȩ)m- or -o- (cf. 6.2), it cannot be used to derive an action noun with o-. Thus, from rȩmurt ‘run’ or rȩmos ‘drown’, we cannot derive nouns such as *orȩmurt ‘running’ or *orȩmos ‘drowning’, etc.

The derived action nouns of 18 and 19 are used in sentences like the following:

(20)   a.   A omȩluchȩs ȩl tȩkoi ȩr a Siabal a kmal mȩringȩl.
        ‘Writing Japanese is very difficult.’ 197
    b.   Ng soam a omȩlim ȩl rrom?
        ‘Do you like to drink liquor?’
    c.   Tia a delmȩrab ȩr a omȩsuub.
        ‘This is a room for studying.’
    d.   A omȩrolek ȩl mo ȩr a Siabal a kmal mle ungil.
        ‘My trip to Japan was great.’

In 20a, 20b, and 20d, the derived action nouns omȩluchȩs ‘writing’, omȩlim ‘drinking’, and omȩrolek ‘my trip’ (a possessed form of omȩrael ‘trip’) are part of the subject noun phrases omȩluchȩs ȩl tȩkoi ȩr a Siabal ‘writing Japanese’, omȩlim ȩl rrom ‘drinking liquor’, and omȩrolek ȩl mo ȩr a Siabal ‘my trip to Japan’. For more information about sentences like 20b, where the subject noun phrase has been shifted to the end of the sentence, consult 17.8. In 20c, the action noun omȩsuub ‘studying’ is part of the characterizational phrase ȩr a omȩsuub ‘of studying’ (cf. 3.89), which is a kind of relational phrase that characterizes the preced­ing noun (delmȩrab ‘room’) by describing its function.


The prefix ul(ȩ)-, which might be related to the past tense prefix ul(ȩ)- discussed in 5.3.2, is used to derive nouns that refer to what is left over from the activity specified by the related verb, generally waste products of some kind. Derived nouns of this type also require the imperfective marker and—for some unknown reason—the anticipating state suffix -(ȩ)l (or long vowel + l); furthermore, they involve several kinds of complex phonetic changes. As the examples below indicate, these nouns can only be derived from transitive verb stems:

(21)   Derived Noun   Related Transitive Verb (in imperfective form)
    ulȩngmúdȩl   ‘hair that is cut off’   mȩngimd   ‘cut (hair)’
    ullȩmáchȩl   ‘what is left over from chewing’   mȩlamȩch   ‘chew’
    ulȩllúmȩl   ‘disposable con­tainer after contents have been drunk’   mȩlim   ‘drink’
    ullȩsóngȩl   ‘bones, etc. left over from fish or meat’   mȩles   ‘slice’ 198
    ulȩnguótȩl   ‘debris from clearing ground’   mȩngiut   ‘clear (ground)’
    ullȩbákȩl   ‘wood shavings’   mȩlabȩk   ‘smooth (wood)’
    ulȩngáll   ‘inedible parts of food’   mȩnga   ‘eat’
    urrȩdíil   ‘remaining stalk’   mȩrad   ‘pick (flowers)’

All of the derived nouns in 21 are stressed on the syllable preceding the anticipating state suffix. As we saw in 7.8, certain full vowels found in the basic stem of a verb characteristically turn up in anticipating state verbs, where they come to appear in stressed syllables. Exactly the same phenomenon is observed in the forms above: thus, if we propose a basic stem like kimud (cf. 7.8, ex.31) for ‘cut’, we can explain forms like ulȩngmúdȩl ‘hair that is cut off’ vs. mȩngímd ‘cut (hair)’ in the following way. In ulȩngmúdȩl, the i of the basic stem kimud is deleted in an un­stressed syllable, while the u is maintained in a stressed syllable. In other words, ulȩngmúdȩl is derived by the following steps:

(22)   ulȩ + ng + kimúd + ȩl   (basic form = prefix ul(ȩ)- + imper­fective marker ng + verb stem kimud + anticipating state suffix -(ȩ)l) →
    ulȩ + ng + imúd + ȩl   (by deletion of verb-stem-initial con­sonant following imperfective marker) →
    ulȩ + ng + múd + ȩl   (by deletion of i in unstressed syl­lable)

By contrast, (imperfective) mȩngímd ‘cut (hair)’ involves exactly the reverse situation: in this word, the i of the basic stem kimud is retained because it is stressed, while the u is lost completely in an unstressed syllable. The derivation of mȩngímd is shown below:

(23)   mȩ+ ng + kímud   (basic form = verb marker prefix mȩ- + imperfective marker ng + verb stem kimud) →
    mȩ + ng + ímud   (by deletion of verb-stem-initial consonant following imperfective marker) →
    mȩ + ng + ímd   (by deletion of u in unstressed syllable).

Some of the other phonetic changes observed in the forms of 21 should also be familiar to us: for example, the full vowel e of the verb stem des ‘cut’ is reduced to ȩ (schwa) when unstressed in a form like ullȩsóngȩl ‘leftover bones’. Or, in urrȩdíil ‘remaining 199stalk’, the consonant cluster rr is due to assimilation. There are, however, certain phonetic alternations in 21 which we cannot explain and which seem to be irregularities: thus, the appearance of the full vowel o in ullȩsóngȩl ‘leftover bones’ is quite unexpected, since the related verb stem des ‘cut’ has no final vowel; and the alternation between the vowel clusters uo and iu in ulȩnguótȩl ‘debris from clearing ground’ vs. mȩngiút ‘clear (ground)’ is very unusual.


a.     A bilek a kirel ȩl sȩlokȩl.   ‘My clothes need to be washed.’
b.   Ng bȩtok a sȩlȩkȩlem?   ‘Do you have a lot of laundry?’

1. The two uses of sȩlokȩl are illustrated in the sentences below. In sentence a, sȩlokȩl is an anticipating state verb meaning ‘is/needs to be washed’, while in b, a possessed form of sȩlokȩl is used as a noun meaning ‘your laundry’.

2. In the possessed forms of kall ‘food’—i.e., kȩlek, kȩlel, kȩlem, etc.—the sequence ll is shortened to a single l.

3. In the possessed forms of ilumȩl ‘drink’—i.e., imȩlek, imȩlel, imȩlem, etc.—the whole syllable -lu- has been dropped. Such deletion of a complete syllable is very rare.

4. As perfective forms like songosii ‘cook it’ (cf. 6.3.j) show, the stem of this verb has an initial s—i.e., sȩngoes. The k in klȩngoes ‘meat or fish stew’ is due to a rather unusual phonetic rule which changes s to k before l (cf. 7.8, ex.32).

5. Recall (cf. 7.7) that the second r in rruul is due to assimilation of the resulting state infix l to the preceding verb-stem-initial r.

6. In the possessed forms of rruul ‘thing which is made/done’—i.e., rrȩllek, rrȩllel, rrȩllem, etc.—the long uu has rather exceptionally reduced to a ȩ (cf. the examples at the end of 3.4.2). In addition, the l has doubled (cf. 6.5.e).

7. Notice that the verb-stem-final s observed in mȩluchȩs ‘write, draw’ and mȩngiis ‘dig’ has changed to k before the l of the anticipating 503state suffix. Cf. 7.8, ex.32 and note 4 above.

8. Another instance of the rule changing s to k before l is observed in this word. Cf. notes 4 and 7 above.

9. The rr in this word is due to assimilation. Cf. note 5 above.

10. Recall that mȩchiuaiu can be either a state verb or an action verb (cf. 7.3).

11. This sentence means, literally, ‘The thinness (from poverty) in China is very great.’

12. Some of the derived nouns listed here and in 6 and 7 above are due to Mancill and Woods 1969:33–4.

13. In klungel and the other possessed forms of kllou ‘size, thickness’, one of the l’s is lost, the vowel cluster ou reduces to u, and ng is inserted before the possessor suffix (cf. 3.4.4).

14. While klȩmangȩt ‘length, height’ can refer to human beings (as in 10b) or to things (as in 10c), kldidai ‘height’ is restricted to things.

15. Notice the unusual insertion of the vowel cluster -ao- into this derived noun.

16. Notice that the o of the state verb changes to u in the derived noun.

17. While klȩmȩdȩnge refers to someone’s knowledge of things (e.g., language), klaodȩnge of 12d has to do with two (or more) persons’ knowledge of each other.

18. It is not very clear whether klobak and rubak are actually related words.

19. A rare case in which o- substitutes for the verb marker in an intransitive verb to derive an instrument noun is observed in osebȩk ‘wing’—suebȩk ‘fly’. In this example, the metathesized verb marker -u- of suebȩk (cf. 6.2) is missing in the derived instrument noun be­cause it has been replaced by the prefix o-.

Previous Chapter

7 State Verbs

Next Chapter

9 Causative Verbs

Additional Information

MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Creative Commons
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.