Dendana/Vuuyin Zayxa/Syntax

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Noun phrase

  • shift from head-initial to head-final over the years
  • case markers and some adpositions precede head (adpositions slowly getting reinterpreted as case markers?)
  • other adpositions as well as numbers follow
  • what to do with modifiers??


Basic clauses



  • a A V
  • ne saqsa PERF.1S.ABS sneeze 'I sneezed'
  • naq mozone saqsa PERF.3S.ABS-DEF stranger sneeze 'The stranger sneezed'
  • Note: sentences without overtly expressed objects are also treated as intransitive:
  • ne thuq PERF.1S.ABS eat 'I ate'
  • Additionally, some objects undergo pseudo-incorporation, which basically means that they can't take articles or modifiers, and that the subject is treated as absolutive:
  • ne tho se PERF.1S.ABS hand wash 'I washed my hands'


  • a A NEG-V
  • ne masáqsa PERF.1S.ABS NEG-sneeze 'I didn't sneeze'
  • noq mozone masáqsa PERF.3S.ABS-DEF stranger NEG-sneeze 'The stranger didn't sneeze'
  • Again, sentences without overtly expressed objects are also treated as intransitive:
  • ne mathúq PERF.1S.ABS NEG-eat 'I didn't eat'
  • Note that clauses with pseudo-incorporation are treated as transitive when negated.



  • E a A V
  • zoé na thuq ERG.1S PERF.3S.ABS eat 'I ate it'
  • zoé nov nayu thuq ERG.1S PERF.3S.ABS-INDEF noodles eat 'I ate noodles'
  • zoq mozone nov nayu thuq ERG-DEF stranger PERF.3S.ABS-INDEF noodles eat 'The stranger ate noodles'
  • It is possible to drop the ergative argument as well, creating a passive-like construction:
  • nov nayu thuq PERF.3S.ABS-INDEF noodles eat '(Someone) ate noodles / Noodles were eaten'


  • E part.a A NEG-V
  • zoé mo mathuq ERG.1S PART.3S.ABS NEG-eat 'I didn't eat (it)'
  • zoé mov nayi mathuq ERG.1S PART.3S.ABS-INDEF noodles NEG-eat 'I didn't eat noodles'
  • zoq mozone mov nayi mathuq ERG-DEF stranger PART.3S.ABS-INDEF noodles NEG-eat 'The stranger didn't eat noodles'
  • The pseudo-passive construction also works here too:
  • mov nayi mathuq PART.3S.ABS-INDEF noodles NEG-eat 'Noodles weren't eaten'
  • Again, clauses with pseudo-incorporation are treated as transitive when negated, although the incorporated noun still can't take modifiers or articles:
  • zoé ma tho mase ERG.1S PART.3S.ABS hand NEG-wash 'I didn't wash my hands'
  • Another alternative is to keep the tense inflection with a construction a E part.a A NEG-V, where the first absolutive pronoun agrees with the ergative argument instead.
  • ne mo mathuq PERF.1S.ABS PART.3S.ABS NEG-eat 'I didn't eat (it)'
  • ne mov nayi mathuq PERF.1S.ABS PART.3S.ABS-INDEF noodles NEG-eat 'I didn't eat noodles'
  • noq mozone mov nayi mathuq PERF.3S.ABS-DEF stranger PART.3S.ABS-INDEF noodles NEG-eat 'The stranger didn't eat noodles'
  • This doesn't work for the pseudo-passive construction.
  • ne ma tho mase PERF.1S.ABS PART.3S.ABS hand NEG-wash 'I didn't wash my hands'

Copular clauses


  • new copula from demonstrative?
  • *tse > se
  • use absolutive case for both arguments
  • ABS (X) Y se
  • sonà khequq aúhe se (STAT.3P.ABS one.PART son-1S.GEN COP) 'one of them is my son'
  • xa aúhe se (STAT.3S.ABS son-1S.GEN COP) 'he is my son'
  • zero copula with adjectives
  • ABS (X) adj
  • xa ako (STAT.3S.ABS sweet) 'it is sweet'


  • copula from something or other? (aux + particle fusion?)
  • ma- + tson- > maqsona, maqson
  • use partitive pronoun if none of some group are ...
  • otherwise use non-partitive pronoun
  • PART.ABS (X) Y maqson
  • ABS (X) Y maqson
  • mâ khequq aúhe maqson (PART.3P.ABS one.PART son-1S.GEN NEG.COP) 'none of them are my son'
  • xa aúhe maqson (STAT.3S.ABS son-1S.GEN NEG.COM) 'he is not my son'
  • adjectives use zero copula + partitive pronoun
  • PART.ABS (X) adj
  • ma ako (PART.3S.ABS sweet) 'it is not sweet'

Existential clauses

  • usually take the stative-habitual absolutive pronouns


  • mpɛ 'sit' has grammaticalized into a generic existential copula npe.
  • xav oqínq pe 'there is salt' (STAT.3S.ABS-INDEF salt sit)


  • null copula plus partitive absolutive pronoun?
  • often seen with indefinite marking on the noun phrase
  • mav oqíq 'there isn't any salt' (PART.3S.ABS-INDEF salt)

Predicative possession

  • X stays with Y / X sits with Y? (depends on temporary/more permanent possession) Where X is in the absolutive and 'with' is comitative?
  • 'stay' is inó (from ǝno in BN), 'sit' is npe (from mpɛ in BN)
  • fené xov minq pe 'I have bread (right now)' (COM.1S STAT.3S.ABS-INDEF bread sit)
  • fené xav vazevo inó 'I own a spoon' (COM.1S STAT.3S.ABS-INDEF spoon stay)
  • For negative versions, the verb can optionally be omitted.
  • fené mov minq monpe 'I don't have bread (right now)' (COM.1S PART.3S.ABS-INDEF bread NEG-sit)
  • fené mav vazevo mainó 'I don't own a spoon' (COM.1S PART.3S.ABS-INDEF spoon NEG-stay)
  • fené mov miq 'I don't have bread' (COM.1S PART.3S.ABS-INDEF bread)
  • The stative-habitual and partitive absolutive pronouns are the only ones licensed in these types of clauses.

Imperative and hortative sentences

  • Development from auxiliaries of 'want', 'should' to create a separate declension from absolutive pronouns?

Questions and answers

Polar questions

  • the absolutive pronoun moves to the end of the sentence
  • no âta (PERF.2S.ABS sweat) 'you sweated'
  • âti no? (sweat PERF.2S.ABS) 'did you sweat?'
  • In double-absolutive pronoun sentences with negative transitive clauses,

Tag questions

  • development of the negative auxiliary into a tag question end-of-sentence particle?
  • ma < ma


  • do we want to make this have syntactic movement? wh-pied piping with inversion or something would be fun.

Clausal comparatives

  • how do they work in BN again?

Complex clauses

Adverbial clauses

Complement clauses

  • Sentences containing complement clauses of verbs of speaking or thinking work differently from basic sentences. What happens is that the agent of the main clause is treated as an absolutive argument, and the complement clause is treated as a separate sentence but nominalized with (probably the word for 'thing') at the very end. The complement clause can be placed at the beginning of the sentence or the end, but is usually at the end due to VZ's preference for placing heavy constituents at the end of a sentence.
  • Also e < rɛ is used as the beginning marker for any complement clause.

Relative clause

Syntactic movement

Extraposition and shifting

  • tl;dr big things move right

Pragmatic movement

  • preverbal focus position, antitopic backing, movement of absolutive pronoun to indicate focus (like the Cushitic selector?)