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Classical Nahuatl

Classical Nahuatl. Transitive Verbs. TRANSITIVE VERBS. Present Tense of Transitive Verbs. Up to now we have seen two types of Predicates: nominal predicates and intransitive predicates.

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Classical Nahuatl

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  1. Classical Nahuatl Transitive Verbs


  3. Present Tense of Transitive Verbs • Up to now we have seen two types of Predicates: nominal predicates and intransitive predicates. • Each of these predicates have in common the fact that they both possess a subject and do not have a complement. • Transitive verbs, which we will analyze now, are verbs which have both a subject and an object.

  4. In Nahuatl, the direct object is marked by an object prefix which is situated in the word directly following the subject prefix. For Example for the verb “itta” “to see”: Nimitziita {I see you} mitziita {he, she, it sees you} Niquiita {I see him, her, it} Quiita {He, she, it sees him, her, it} Tinechiita {You see me} Namechitta {I see you all} Tiquitta {You see him, her, it} Niquimitta {I see them} Nechiita {He, she, or it sees me} Titechiita {You see us}

  5. As you see in the previous verb, the object prefixes are:

  6. These prefixes are the same for all verbs in all times. Before the vowel a of –amech- we evidently have the form of the subject prefix without the “I” (namechiita “I see you all”) or (tamechittah “We see them”) Unlike what happens with the subject, a plural object does not need a plural suffix. Verbs in Nahuatl agree in number with the subject, not the object

  7. Quiita {He, she it, sees him, her, it.} Quimitta {He, she, it sees them} Quiitah {They see him, her, it} Quimittah {They see them} NOTE: The reflexive forms of verbs utilize special prefixes…So you would never have Ninechitta {I see myself}

  8. The 3rd person –qu- is only one of the possible 3rd person particles for object pronouns. Before a vowel or consonant that is not “e” or “i”, it is written as “c”. Example (verb ana {to trap, make a prisoner”}) Nimitzana {I trap you/ I take you prisoner} Nicana {I trapped him, her it, I took him, her, it a prisoner} Nimitztlazotla {I love you} Nictlazotla {I love him, her, it}

  9. Just like the n-, y, t the object prefix –qu- also often uses a helping vowel. There are two cases when this happens: 1). When the verb root begins with a consonant and the subject is in the 2rd person. Example: cana {he traps, takes a prisoner} Quitlazotla {he, she, it loves} (*ctlazotla is impossible).

  10. 2). The verb root begins with a consonant and the subject is in the 2nd person plural which takes the form “an-”…This helps to avoid three internal consonants. Ancanah {You all trap him, her, it} Anquitlazotla {You all love him, her, it} NOTE: That anctlazotla is impossible

  11. Indefinite Prefixes • Sometimes the speaker may want to use a transitive verb, but not specify a specific subject. • This is done in Nahuatl by using prefixes that generally mean “someone” or “something.” • Nitetlazotla {I love someone, some people} • Nitlacua {I eat something}

  12. -te- Is the indefinite prefix used for people meaning “someone” -tla- is the indefinite prefix used for non-humans (things or indefinite animals) These prefixes say nothing about number or plurality. They are translated depending on the specific case

  13. Examples • Ni-te-ana Niteana {I take a prisoner} or {I take prisoners} • Ni-tla-caqui Nitlacaqui {I hear something(s)} • Ni-te-itta Niteitta {I see people}

  14. Exceptions • When using the –tla- particle, when the root of the Nahuatl verb begins with “i” and is followed by 2 consonants, the “i” disappears. • Ni-mitz-itta {I see you} • Ni-tla-tta {I see something(s)} • Ni-qu-itoa {I say it} • Ni-tla-toa {I say something(s)} • Ni-qu-icuiloa {I paint it, I write it} • Ni-tla-cuiloa {I paint/write something(s)}

  15. The same is not true for the –te- indefinite particle • Ni-te-itta {I see someone/people} • Ni-te-itoa {I speak to someone}

  16. Word order in transitive sentences in Nahuatl • 1). When the subject is expressed by a name and not only a simple pronoun particle, we usually have the order V-S (verb-Subject) or S-V (Subject-Verb). • The first manner (V-S) is the neutral form, and the second S-V is used to emphasize or mark the subject.

  17. The same rules are observed with the compliment. • We usually have the neutral form being Object-Verb (O-V): • Niquitta in calli {I see the house} • Ni-qu-itta in cal-li

  18. But, you can also make the object the central theme or emphasize it by reversing the word order. • In calli niquitta {The house, I see it}

  19. If we have both a subject and an object, then the most common word order in Nahuatl would be V-S-O (Verb-Subject-Object) Quitta in cihuatl in calli {The woman sees the house} Literally {She sees it, the woman, the house}

  20. Emphasizing the object is possible in nahuatl, but not common: In calli quitta in cihuatl {the house, she sees it, the woman} It is also possible to see the order S-O-V In cihuatl in calli quitta {The woman, the house, she sees it} The word order of Object-Subject-Verbs is not used in Nahuatl NEVER: in calli, in cihuatl quitta {The house, the woman, she sees it}

  21. Examples • Quicua nacatl in cihuatl • {the woman eats meat} • Quichihua calli in Pedro • (Chihua-to make, build, construct) • {Pedro constructs houses}

  22. Quimitta cocohuah in pilli • {The child sees several serpents} • In cihuatl quicua nacatl • {The woman (she) eats meat}

  23. Niquitta in pilli {I see the child} • Here in pilli is the object, because there is a first person subject and a third person object. The same with: • Nechitta in pilli {The child sees me} • But if both the subject and the object are in the third person:

  24. Quitlazotla in pilla • This can mean either: • {He, she it loves the child} or • {The child is loved by he, she it}

  25. Quitlazotlah in pilli {They love the child} Quintlazotla in pilli {The child loves them} Quitlazotlah in pipiltin {They love the children} But there is ambiguity about the meaning of the following: Quintlazotlah in pipiltin It could mean {They love the children} or {The children loves them} You can avoid this ambiguity by using the O-V-S word order

  26. In cihuatl quitta in pilli • {the women sees the child} • And it does not mean “The woman, the child sees her”

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