čtx̣ʷmncutn ɬu t – Particle t

This article provides information on the indicative particle, t. The indicative particle, t, marks: the intransitive object; the transitive subject; the ditransitive subject; the indirect object of intransitives, transitives, and ditransitives; and the adverb and adjective clauses. This information is for Salish language learners.

1           Predicate Clause –

The Salish predicate or predicate clause is the verb. In linguistics, a predicate is defined as, “the portion of a clause, excluding the subject, that expresses something about the subject.” A sentence in Salish is revolves around the verb. Salish sentences are referred to as thought streams. Salish thought streams are comprised of a main predicate clause and its subordinate clauses. The predicate clause contains the verb or verb phrase of the thought stream. A complete thought stream can be contained in a single word. Figure 1‑1 below show three different single-word predicates. The predicate is also called a verbal phrase. All clauses in a thought stream are subordinate to the main predicate clause. Depending on the verb, a thought stream can have an object clause, subject clause, indirect object clause, and modifying clauses that add information and refine preceding clauses. In complex thought streams, a subordinate clause can contain a predicate clause with its own subordinate clauses. Figure 1‑1 below represents the predicate clause.

Figure 1-1
es tixʷi tixʷis tixʷšis
S/he/it is acquiring S/he/it acquired it/her/him S/he/it acquired it/her/him for it/her/him

The event structure is the system, pattern, or order words/clauses follow governed by the verb or predicate clause. The verb is the heart of the event structure. The verb is also referred to as a predicate, a verb phrase, a verb clause, or a predicate clause. The base of all verbs is a root word. All root words are grammatically intransitive verbs and inherently have an unmarked 3rd person subject. All verbs without a transitivising suffix (-nt, –st, –ɬt, -ɬul,šit, ) are intransitive. In Salish, root words are of three valency types: monovalent, bivalent, ambi-valent. Valency describes semantic transitivity or the thematic relations of the arguments associated with the event structure of the predicate/verb. An argument is an expression that helps complete the meaning of a predicate/verb. The event structure is comprised of the predicate clause and its argument clauses. Grammatically, arguments are the object, subject, and indirect object. Thematically, arguments are the patient, agent, and theme. Each argument is contained in its own clause.

  • itš – S/he/it slept. Monovalent
  • k̓ʷul̕ – S/he/it did (s.t.). Bivalent
  • iɬn – S/he/it ate. Ambi-valent

The list above shows examples of the three valency types. Monovalent root words have one argument, the subject, and cannot take an object, therefore do not use the indicative particle, t. The verb in example 21 is bivalent. Its underlying structure (semantic transitivity) is intrinsically object-oriented.

A modifying clause specifies information relative to its adjacent clause or predicate. The adverbial clause and adjective clause are examples of modifying clauses. Both clauses are marked with the indicative particle, t, adjacent to its clause/verb. Adjective and adverbial clauses are stative.

1.1          Adverbial Clause –

Adverbial clauses modify the verb through a connective clause generally preceding the predicate/verb. The modifying clause is joined to the main predicate clause with the joining particle, u. Adverbial clauses are stative.

  1. i t aymt u es c̓oq̓ʷi – S/he is pointing angrily.
  2. miɬ t xʷɁit st̕šá u iɬn – S/he ate too many huckleberries.
  3. i t tn̓mus u es qʷlqʷelti – S/he is talking about nothing important.
  4. i t šept u es xʷisti ɬu ttw̓it – The boy is walking slow.

1.2          Adjective Clause –

The subject, object, and indirect object of a verb are nominal. The Adjective clause directly modifies nominals and nominal clauses of a thought stream. Adjective clauses can precede or follow the nominal clause. Adjective clauses are marked with indicative particle, t. Adjective clauses are stative.

  1. c̓oq̓ʷm ɬu sšen̓š i t kʷtkʷtunt – S/he pointed out the big rocks.
  2. es xʷisti ɬu ttw̓it i t šept – The slow boy is walking.
  3. i t k‍ʷ‍il – It is red. (responsing to a request for information on some topic)
  4. es npk‍̓‍ʷetk‍ʷ‍ i t k‍ʷ‍aliʔ – Yellow objects are poured in the water. (unspecified object is yellow)
  5. k̓ʷmiɁ kʷ epɬ qʷelm t sisyus, t yoyoot – Hope you have a song, a smart one, a strong one.
  6. nexʷ epɬ t šey̓ – S/he has the same.

2   Intransitive Event Structures –

The predicate or verb/verb phrase and its subordinate clauses comprise the thought stream. The event structure governs the way the event in the predicate and its clauses are expressed. Intransitive predicates/verbs are event focused. The intransitive event structure focuses on the verb’s inherent event as the primary clause. As illustrated in Figure 2‑1, the intransitive event structure is comprised of the predicate/verb clause (gray), the optional object clause (green), and the optional subject clause (purple). Each of the three clauses can be further refined with modifying clauses.

  1.   es ntelsi ɬu t p̓ip̓uyšn ɬu smɁem – The woman is wanting a car.
Figure  2-1
the verb’s
the verb’s
es ntelsi ɬu t p̓ip̓uyšn ɬu smɁem
She is wanting sub-info t It is a car sub-info She is a woman

The figure 2-1 above illustrates the regular word-order (Verb, Object, Subject, VOS) with verb argument marking and literal translation. The regular word order pattern is represented in Pattern 1 below.

Objects and subjects can receive focus by introducing them in a joined clause structure. These two forms are shown in the patterns below. The clauses are joined to the predicate/verb with particle, u. Pattern 3‑4 is an irregular pattern. It represents an out of order object insertion into the thought stream.

Pattern 2 – Object focused intransitive
ɬu t Object u Intr. Verb ɬu Subject
Pattern 3 – Subject focused intransitive
ɬu Subject u Intr. Verb ɬu t Object

The intransitive verb phrase order is VOS as shown in regular Pattern 1. Patterns 2 and 3 represent a joined clause structure putting emphasis on either the subject as in 3, or the object as in 2. Both patterns have two clauses joined with particle, u. Pattern 4 is in an order with a self-corrected object insertion. This irregular order can arise if the subject were formed in the mind prior to the object and in haste the subject is uttered first and self-corrected with an object insertion. Patterns 2 and 3 can also be the product of the mind forming the subject or object prior to the action of the verb.

In bivalent and ambivalent root words, the object of the intransitive verb phrase is indicated with the indicative particle, t. The object is either a single-word nominal or a nominal phrase. In regular formation, the object, optionally marked with a clause subordinator particle, ɬu, is always adjacent to the verb. As well, the subject never goes between the verb and object. First and second person verb phrases indicate the subject with pronoun prefixes on the verb; and do not require a subject clause (pronoun words are used for added emphasis in the subject position). Pronoun prefixes are, čn/qeɁ (I, we), for 1st person singular/plural, and, /p (you, you all), for 2nd person singular/plural.

In the examples below, šešutm, girl, is the subject of the verb sust, to drink, while nt̕iškʷ, sweet liquid, is the object. Below, example 2 has emphasis on the subject while example 3 has emphasis on the object, all the others maintain emphasis on the act of drinking.

Aspect and tense do not change the VOS order or object and subject markings. Aspectually, example 4 is stative, 5 is continuative, and 6 is completive. Example 6 is past tense, while 4 and 5 are present tense. The examples below illustrate the uniformity of the VOS order and the object and subject markings through different forms of aspect and tense.

The following examples are in the regular intransitive event structure pattern as shown in Pattern 1. The object in the examples below are single-word nominals. Objects can also be nominal phrases.

Intransitive Imperative

Intransitive imperatives operate in the same manner as the intransitive event structure. Imperative verbs that can have an object mark the object with the indicative particle, t.  Bivalent and ambi-valent verbs can take an object in the imperative form. Notice the subtle changes in clause particles and their meaning.

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