Ronc Tyu/Word formation

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Word formation

Compounding

New nouns are preferably created through head-initial compounding, using both nominal and verbal stems as the second, dependent element of the compound. The resulting lexical entries usually behave as single phonological words, which, however, have two full syllables and are thus written with a hyphen: yàe-sin ‘musical instrument’. Compounding of more than two elements is not attested.

  • hli-zèi ‘grass snake’ ← hli ‘snake’ + zèi ‘grass’
  • rèi-rae ‘honey’ ← rèi ‘juice, sap’ + rae ‘bee(s)’
  • vòc-swín ‘brideprice’ ← vòc ‘price, value’ + swín ‘marriage’
  • yàe-kàc ‘travois, sledge’ ← yàe ‘tool’ + kàc ‘bear, carry’

A significant number of established compounds contain elements which do not occur as free-standing words of their own. These bound morphemes can appear both as the dependent element (as in oc-ngòa ‘flint stone’, cf. oc ‘rock(s), stone(s)’ but non-existent *ngòa) or as the head element (as in po-tóun ‘pestle’, cf. tóun ‘crush, grind’ but non-existent *po). A few morphemes of the latter type are frequent enough to be on the verge of becoming derivational prefixes, for instance ngèa-, which appears in several inanimate nouns denoting a type of container, e.g. ngèa-kàc ‘bucket’ (cf. kàc ‘bear, carry’) and ngèa-póu ‘barrel’ (cf. póu ‘be closed’).

Another type of nominal word formation consists of fixed collocations of a head noun with one or more attributive verbs:

  • faonc krùo ‘leather’ (lit. ‘dry skin’)
  • tsou dźe ‘shelter’ (lit. ‘a safe place’)
  • tao gyào gwaec ‘tradesman’ (lit. ‘a man who offers and acquires’)


New verbal meanings are preferably expressed with serial verb constructions (SVC), which are described in more detail later in this document. When used lexically, SVC may be regarded as a form of compounding which connects two or more phonologically independent verbs that represent different semantic aspects of the same action. Serial verb constructions usually do not have a clear syntactic head. Instead, their components are ordered according to the iconic order of subevents, with the additional rule that intransitive verbs must precede transitive ones.

  • gyè té ‘sit down’ (lit. ‘shift one's position and sit’)
  • tò kòun ‘sneak’ (lit. ‘be silent and move around’)
  • nyu ndźei ‘recognize’ (lit. ‘see and know’)
  • lá lei ‘craft, create’ (lit. ‘build and decorate’)
  • fi mó śea ‘cover sth. completely’ (lit. ‘wrap, cover, and hide’)
  • yenc gyáe nyu ‘dream’ (lit. ‘sleep, imagine, and see’)
  • fyao bwìn soc gónc ‘take care of, raise (children)’ (lit. ‘pour, wash, give, and feed’)

Morphological derivation

Ronc Tyu is a strongly analytic language which does not make much use of morphological derivation to create new lexical elements. However, a number of derivational prefixes do exist, with varying levels of productivity. (In all of these, V denotes a reduced vowel |ə| which harmonizes with the stressed syllable of the word.)

Verbalization

Causative verbs can be formed from other verbs by prefixing rV- and replacing single stem-initial voiceless obstruents (including the phonetic affricates tl ts tś tr) with their voiced counterparts. This type of derivation is fairly common; however, verbs created in this way are syntactically defective and can appear only in serial verb constructions.

  • ragá ‘bend’ ← ‘be crooked, be bent’
  • ravae ‘drop’ ← fae ‘fall’
  • ridźí ‘hollow out’ ← tśí ‘be hollow’
  • rubóu ‘close’ ← póu ‘be closed’
  • ruguo ‘annoy, bother’ ← guo ‘be angry’
  • ruhrùn ‘fix, repair’ ← hrùn ‘be whole, be complete, be functional’

There are also a few lexicalized irregular causative verbs, e.g. reanc ‘please sb.’ ← yonc ‘be happy’.


Intensive verbs can be formed from other verbs by CV(N) reduplication. Only the first consonant of the stem is repeated, except that the clusters hl hr hx hm hn hnr hng reduplicate the resonant instead of the glottal fricative, and the clusters tl ts tś tr dl dz dź dr behave like single segments under reduplication. The optional nasal appears when the stem contains a nasalized vowel and begins with an obstruent (which becomes voiced in this case) or with a semivowel.

  • dandáen ‘dismiss, reject, repudiate’ ← táen ‘doubt’
  • drundronc ‘exhaust oneself’ ← tronc ‘struggle, toil’
  • laláo ‘examine, study’ ← láo ‘watch, look at’
  • mamaenc ‘fall in love with’ ← maenc ‘like, consider attractive’
  • mimbíc ‘turn the tables; change a situation completely’ ← mbíc ‘turn, rotate, twist, knead, mold’
  • yinyèanc ‘grieve, mourn’ ← yèanc ‘be sad’


Achievement verbs may be formed from stative verbs by prefixing ng- before vowels and semivowels (with /ŋj/ surfacing as ny), ngg- before liquids and sibilants (which will become voiced), a homoorganic nasal before other obstruents (which will become voiced), and ngV- before nasals and consonant clusters beginning with a nasal or h.

  • ndzáo ‘learn (mental knowledge)’ ← tsáo ‘be wise’
  • nggráon ‘speed up’ ← ráon ‘be fast, be quick’
  • nggruc ‘slow down’ ← sruc ‘be slow’


Adjective-like stative verbs which name an associated quality may be formed from nouns by prefixing dVm- before vowels and semivowels, dVmb- before liquids and sibilants (which will become voiced), dVN- (with a homoorganic nasal) plus voicing before other obstruents, and dV- before nasals and consonant clusters beginning with a nasal or h. In a few cases, verbs of this type are formed from the plural or singulative stem of the noun instead of the unmarked singular or collective.

  • danggae ‘be cruel, be bloody’ ← xae ‘blood’
  • dimbléi ‘be cloudy (of weather)’ ← léi ‘clouds’
  • dumbwáo ‘be welcoming, be hospitable’ ← fyao ‘friend’, pl fwáo

Nominalization

Nouns referring to a human subject of a verb (usually in a habitual sense) can be formed from the verb stem by prefixing zVm- before vowels and semivowels, zVmb- before liquids and sibilants (which will become voiced), zVN- (with a homoorganic nasal) plus voicing before other obstruents, and zV- before nasals and consonant clusters beginning with a nasal or h.

  • zamblá ‘craftsman’ ← ‘build, create, manufacture’
  • zandźa ‘inhabitant (of)’ ← tśa ‘dwell at, live in’
  • zimí ‘unmarried young adult’ ← ‘be separate, be on one's own’
  • zinggéc ‘musician’ ← kéc ‘play (music)’
  • zumbron ‘storyteller’ ← ron ‘recite, tell (a story)’

The prefix can also be added to the passive form of transitive verbs, referencing a human patient:

  • zihtric ‘victim’ ← dric ‘attack’, pass htric
  • zuhxònc ‘survivor’ ← xònc ‘save, rescue’, pass hxònc


Instrument nouns and names for tools and other inanimates can be derived from verbs (or more rarely from other nouns) by prefixing d- before vowels, semivowels, liquids and sibilants (which will become voiced), and dV- plus obstruent voicing before all other consonants.

  • dadào ‘atlatl (spear-thrower)’ ← tào ‘throw’
  • dagàc ‘handle (for carrying)’ ← kàc ‘carry’
  • dihmi ‘clasp, brooch, fibula’ ← hmi ‘squeeze, pinch’
  • dinyù ‘lock’ ← nyù ‘door, gate’
  • dudźoc ‘grate, grill’ ← dźoc ‘oven’
  • dunó ‘chisel’ ← ‘notch, indentation’

The prefix can also be added to the passive form of transitive verbs, referencing a concrete result noun:

  • dahsào ‘mixture’ ← zào ‘add, mix in’, pass hsào
  • didyúc ‘topic (of conversation)’ ← tyuc ‘talk about’, pass tyúc
  • duhrù ‘talisman’ ← ‘bless’, pass hrù


Location nouns can be formed from both nouns and verbs by prefixing hng- before vowels and semivowels (with /hŋj/ surfacing as hny), hVngg- before liquids and sibilants (which will become voiced), hVN- (with a homoorganic nasal) plus voicing before other obstruents, and hV- before nasals and consonant clusters beginning with a nasal or h.

  • hanào ‘ritual site’ ← nào ‘perform (a ceremony)’
  • hindzic ‘camp’ ← tsoc ‘tent’, pl tsic
  • hinggec ‘fireplace’ ← kec ‘fire’
  • hngoc ‘quarry, stone pit’ ← oc ‘rock(s)’

Another option for forming location nouns uses the prefix źV- (which reduces to ź- before vowels and causes immediately following voiceless obstruents to become voiced). It can only be added to noun stems though.

  • źindlíc ‘the shaman's garden’ ← ndlíc ‘magical herbs’
  • źiźenc ‘wind burial platform’ ← śenc ‘ashes’
  • źundúc ‘battlefield’ ← ndúc ‘battle, skirmish’


Diminutive nouns and endearment terms can be formed from other nouns by prefixing mVn- before vowels and semivowels, mVnd- before liquids and sibilants (which will become voiced), mVN- (with a homoorganic nasal) plus voicing before other obstruents, and mV- before nasals and consonant clusters beginning with a nasal or h.

  • mahtsao ‘blade’ ← htsao ‘knife’
  • mandaoc ‘foal’ ← taoc ‘male horse, stallion’
  • manggác ‘puppy’ ← kác ‘male dog, hound’
  • mindzìnc ‘calf’ ← zìnc ‘cow’


Augmentative nouns can be formed from other nouns by prefixing u- (or o- if the stressed syllable of the word contains one of the vowels a ae ao) and voicing any directly following voiceless obstruent.

  • omàc ‘large village, town’ ← màc ‘village’
  • udlúnc ‘meeting of villages’ ← tlúnc ‘party, celebration, social gathering’
  • udou ‘world’ ← tou ‘land’
  • ugwac ‘queen, matriarch’ ← kwac ‘woman’


Honorific nouns, often with religious connotations, can be formed from other nouns by prefixing zu- (or zo- if the stressed syllable contains one of a ae ao) and voicing any directly following voiceless obstruent.

  • zomae ‘stag’ ← mae ‘deer’
  • zudźòa ‘prayer cave’ ← tśòa ‘cave, cavern’