Tlingit Verb Dictionary
Part 2: Introduction
The first four sections of this introduction are intended to explain the basic arrangement of part 2. The later sections go into more detail and are mostly concerned with the parts of the sentence other than the verb word. A fuller and more systematic grammatical treatment of these features and others will be found in the appendix.
Stem and Theme
The Tlingit verb contains a part called the stem, the meaning of which may be modified by other parts (called derivational prefixes in grammar) put at the beginning of the word. This is similar to the way in English ad-, re- and super- are put before the stem -vise to give the verbs advise, revise and supervise. These full words advise, revise and supervise correspond to what is called the theme in Tlingit grammar. The Tlingit theme may include more than one derivational prefix. English is similar in this way also: to the English stem -pose, the prefixes com- and im- may be added to give the verbs compose and impose, and to each may be added a second prefix to give de-com-pose and super-im-pose.
Other parts (called inflectional prefixes and suffixes) may be added to the Tlingit theme, but these do not give new words, just as in an English dictionary advise, advises, advising, advised are considered to be just different forms of the same word. (See Appendix, section 3 for a fuller discussion of the theme.)
A theme always contains at least two parts, stem and extensor, and may also contain one, two or three theme prefixes. The last part of the theme is always the stem and the part immediately before that is the extensor (‘classifier’ in Athapaskan terms). There are sixteen extensors and eight of these will be found in use in the diagramatic representation of the themes. (See Appendix, section 4 for a description of the extensors and for the meaning of the extensor given in the theme.)
A Tlingit theme is written with hyphens between the parts; for example, the theme x‘a-li-tseen has a stem -tseen, an extensor li-, and a theme prefix x’a-. In this particular case the theme makes a full word (if a tone is written on the stem): x’alitseen it’s expensive. But not all themes are full words: x’a-di-taan is a verb meaning speak, but other parts (inflectional prefixes) have to be added to make it a full word: x’awditaan he spoke. (See Appendix, section 3.1 for further details on these.)
The Listing of the Stems
The stems are arranged in accordance with the following listing of the Tlingit alphabet: .ee .ei .oo .aa .i .e .u .a h hw y w n d t t’ dz ts ts’ s s’ j ch ch’ sh dl tl tl’ l l’ g gw k kw k’ k’w x xw x’ x’w g gw k kw k’ k’w x xw x’ x’w.
Tlingit verbs change their shape something like English verb stems may (for example, speak, spoke; take, took; write, wrote), but in Tlingit the changes are much more regular than they are in English and are typical of the majority of verbs. In Tlingit, the vowels pair up for thses changes, ee with i; ei with e; oo with u; and aa with a. In the following example (of ee pairing with i), the stem has the shape heen in the first expression and hín in the second:
át-k’ axaaheen I believe; át-k’ axwaahín I believed .
The tone on the stem may change (also in regular patterns) as well as the vowel (see Appendix, section 2.1)
The first of each vowel pair (that is, ee, ei, oo, and aa) are termed the ‘long’ vowels. In quoting the stem of a verb it is the long vowel which is written, and without tone. For example, the stem for the verb in the example above is quoted as heen, with the long vowel ee and without tone. This is so except in the case of those comparatively few stems which never change their shape (see Appendix, section 2.2). In these cases, they are quoted with the tone written on the stem and with whatever vowel they always contain, be it ‘long’ or ‘short’. It may be noted in passing that all two-syllable stems are in this non-changing category.
Where two stems are of the same shape, they are distinguished by a raised numeral after the stem; for example, heen1 occurs in themes connected with believing, and heen2 occurs in themes to do with water. The distinctions in certain cases may need revision (in some cases, the pattern of stem changes (see Appendix, section 2.1) may show where this is necessary).
Arrangement of the Entries
Under each stem, the verb expressions are grouped in accordance with the theme they contain.
The simpler themes are put first under each stem; a theme containing no theme prefix comes before any theme containing the theme prefix ka- but no other theme prefix; any themes containing the theme prefix ya- (but none besides ka- and ya-) follow next; finally come any themes containing the remaining theme prefixes. These latter theme prefixes are arranged in accordance with the listing of the Tlingit alphabet in the previous section. Within these groupings dependent on the theme prefixes, ordering is by the extensor, broadly according to the same alphabetical listing: ya- before di-, before si- and dzi-, and so forth.
A theme may be transitive, intransitive, stative, or impersonal (see Appendix, section 3.3), and this, where known, is given in parentheses immediately following the theme; for example, x‘a-li-tseen (st). When it is not known, the parentheses are left empty. Occasionally the contents of the parentheses are queried; this is where it has seemed worthwhile to make a hypothesis on the evidence available. When the contents of the parentheses are not queried, it is not expected that further evidence will modify the classification, especially if the theme is claimed to be transitive.
Following each theme, different expressions containing that theme are given. Immediately following the expression, its meaning is given in English, in one or more phrases. When these words or phrases are separated by commas, they should be taken together in understanding what the Tlingit verb expression means, each phrase being understood only in senses which will not exclude the sense of any other within the group. Generally on of the words contained in one of the phrases will be underlined; it is under that word that an example of that expression with that sense will be found in Part 1.
When the English phrases or words are separated by semicolons (;), this symbolizes that two or more senses of a Tlingit verb expression are distinguished. In this case, there are generally as many underlined words as there are senses distinguished. Explanations in parentheses will generally apply to all the different senses of one expression or even of the one theme. The following is an example:
ka-ya-tee (tr): carry, take (round object); lie2; load (a gun), put a bullet in; haa- + ka-ya-tee bring; kaa jee- + ka-ya-tee give, take to , hand to
This entry describes the following three expressions, of which the first has three senses:
ka-ya-tee2 (tr): (1) carry, take (round object)
(2) lie2 (round object)
(3) load (a gun) (with a round object), put a bullet in
haa- + ka-ya-tee2 (tr): bring (round object)
kaa jee- + ka-ya-tee2 (tr): give, take to, hand (round object) to
In Part 1 of the dictionary, examples of this theme entering into these expressions will be found under the words carry, lie2, load, bring, give. (The raised numerals here distinguish different senses of the English words, as explained in the Introduction to Part 1; for example, lie has the senses tell a lie1, and lie2 at rest.)
This dictionary might have been made a dictionary of Tlingit verb themes, but there are a fair number of cases in which the verb must always be used with some word or words besides the verb word itself; these groups of words are called verb expressions. For these it is not enough to give the theme alone.
In addition to the expressions in which the verb always must be used with another word or words, there are also expressions where the verb theme commonly is used with other words to give a particular sense. The dictionary has been expanded to include expressions of this type. It is by no means exhaustive of such expressions however.
The word or words that are used with a particular verb word may be inside or outside the verb phrase (see Appendix, sections 6 and 7 for details on the composition of the verb phrase and other phrases). When an expression contains phrases other than the verb phrase alone, a plus sign (+) is written between the phrases.
The Symbol A for an Adverbial Phrase
The symbol A is used to represent any adverbial phrase. An adverbial phrase is any adverb, adverb phrase or its equivalent. By the equivalent of an adverb phrase is meant any nominal or locative phrase, marked or unmarked, or a marked demonstrative, directional or pronominal (see Appendix, section 7.5 for the marking of phrases) that is grammatically substitutable for an adverb phrase.
If the meaning of a verb expression is dependent upon a particular choice of A, then that specific phrase will be given in the representation of the expression. The use of the symbol A in the representation of an expression indicates, therefore, that more than one adverbial phrase has been found to occur at that point, giving the same general sense of the verb expression.
An example of a verb theme which must always be used with some other word outside the verb phrase itself is the theme ya-tee1. This theme must always be used with an adverbial phrase and this fact is shown by the theme ya-tee1 always being represented with either a preceding A or a preceding specific adverbial phrase.
When the adverbial phrase used in conjunction with the theme ya-tee1 is not specified, the expression is represented as A + ya-tee1 and may be given the general meaning be (a certain way). Examples of this expression in use are:
ch’a gáa yatee it’s better (improved)
waa sá yatee? how is it/would it be O.K.?
Examples of specified adverbial phrases used in conjunction with the theme ya-tee1 are:
kaa tóon + ya-tee1. care about, be concerned about, be affected by
a yáx (sim) + ya-tee1 be like
a eetee-nax + ya-tee1 need, lack, require
These, of course, might be considered to be included in the expression A + ya-tee1, but have been listed separately in the dictionary chiefly on the basis of near equivalence to some English expression.
The Symbol A- For a Marked Phrase
When the symbol A is followed by a hyphen, this represents a phrase or word which is followed by a marker. Such a marker is either locational, subjectival, complemental or adunctival (see Appendix, section 7.1 for the forms of the markers). In writing, the marker is joined to the last word of the phrase by a hyphen (except in a few cases where it is conventionally dropped, for example: a káx’ for a ká-x’).
Phrases or words followed by a marker are almost entirely of two main groups: directional, locative or locative phrase, and pronominal, noun or nominal phrase. No attempt has been made in the dictionary to symbolize a distinction between these groups.
The use of a specific phrase plus a hyphen, or of A plus a hyphen, parallels the use of symbols for the unmarked adverbial phrase above. That is, when a particular locative are nominal (or its equivalent) must be used to give a particular sense, then that locative or nominal is specified in the representation of the expression, as in the following example (in which the phrase is nominal in the first and locative in the other three):
kaa eitóox- + ya-xeex choke
kaa daa- + ya-si-taak care for, take care of, look after
x’éi- + shu-ya-taan close hinged door (also abstract, season, etc.)
shoo- + a-di-.aak1 fix fire, build fire (using wood)
When A- is used in the representation of the expression (whether the marker is specified or not), then more than one locative or nominal (or its equivalent) has been found to give the same general sense.
If the marker is locational, the marked phrase may be either an outer or an inner locational phrase (see Appendix, section 7.5). If outer, the locational marker is constant for all forms of the verb; if inner, then generally this marker depends on the form of the verb. An inner locational phrase is shown in the representation of the verb expression by a hyphen not followed by a marker. The following are examples of expressions containing inner locational phrases:
A- + ya-taan cover (esp. pot, etc.), put lid on
A- + li-tsaak connect, stick in, plug in
A- + ya-shoo1 extend, stretch, reach to
In the four examples with specified nominal or locative phrase given in the preceding paragraph, all the phrases were inner (shown by the hyphen with no following marker).
In the following examples, the marked phrases are not inner locational phrases and the marker is specified in each case. The markiers are: -dax and -x’ (both locational), -x (complemental), -gaa (adjunctival), and -ch (instrumental) respectively:
A-dax + ya-taan uncover, take off lid
A-x’ + yei + ya-.oo1 put, leave (several objects...)
A-x (compl) + si-tee1 be (member of a set)
A-gaa + ku-ya-shee1 search for, look for, hunt for, seek
A-ch (instr) + si-xwein shovel
The particles called markers are listed in Appendix, section 7.4. They are hyphenated to nouns and adverbs, and generally to locatives, but the hyphen is omitted in the case of á, ká, and yá when the locative is in its basic form.
The locational marker -x’ is not always pronounced; when it is not, a short vowel in the locative is replaced by its long counterpart. The first tow columns in the following table give the forms of nine common locatives with the marker -x’ when the marker is pronounced and when it is not. In the other three columns, the same locatives are given with the locational markers -x, -t, and -dei:
Locative Marker -x’ -x -t -dei
á áx’ or áa áx át aa-dei
yá yáx’ or yáa yáx yát yaa-dei
daa daa-x’ or daa daa-x daa-t daa-dei
tú tóo-x’ or tóo tóo-x tóo-t tóo-dei
jee jee-x’ or jee jee-x jee-t jee-dei
shú shóo shóo-x shóo-t shóo-dei
shá sháa sháa-x sháa-t sháa-dei
ká káx’ or káa káx kát káa-dei
x’é x’éi-x or x’éi x’éi-x x’éi-t x’éi-dei
When a locational marker occurs with a pronominal, a ‘buffer’ ee- occurs between the pronominal and the marker, except when the pronominal and the marker, except when the pronominal is xat, ku or a. These three are given in the table below, thogether with doo, which is representative of the other pronominals:
xat xáa-x’ or xáa xáa-x xáa-t xaa-dei
ku kóo-x’ or kóo-x kóo-x kóo-t koo-dei
a áx’ or áa áx át aa-dei
doo doo ée-x’ or doo ée doo ée-x doo ée-t doo ee-dei
(Note: the marked forms of the pronominal a sound the same and are written the same as the marked froms of the locative á.) These forms are used in the representation of the expressions. Note that the complemental marker -x has the same form as one of the locational markers but is distinguished from it by writing A-x (compl).
The locational marker -dax may be pronounced -x with the locatives á, ká, and yá; the locative and marker together then have the forms aa-x, kaa-x, and yaa-x, respectively.
Not all markers are hyphenated to another word, but only those which do not carry their own tone. One marker which does carry its own tone is een. Following the pronominals a and ku, the pronominal and marker together have the forms aan and koon respectively. Where koon is found in the representation of some verb expressions, nominal substitutions can be made for the pronominal.
Two forms which occur only rarely in expressions contain the markers een and -ch. The forms are tóon and tóo-ch, which probably consist of the noun (kaa) toowoo (a person’s) mind and the markers (rather than the locative tú and the markers).
Directionals in Verb Expressions
The most commonly used directionals are listed in the appendix, section 6.1. They will be found in a few representations of verb expressions, either outside the verb phrase with a marker, or in the verb phrase unmarked. If outside the verb phrase and marked, the marker is invariable for all forms of the verb.
If the directional is in the verb phrase, then its form, in many cases, is dependent on the form of the verb word; in those cases it is equivalent to an inner locational phrase. The directional yan is one that will be found quite often in the representation of the verb expression and that is equivalent to an inner locational phrase. Either yan, yax, or yan-dei will be found with different forms of the verb; for example, if the verb expression is yan si-nee, the following forms are possible:
yan at woosinée he finished (doing something)
yax at sanee he finishes (every day, say)
yán-dei at gooxsanée he will finish
(at is the indefinite object pronominal).
Other directionals are invariable or may have two or three forms, depending on the form of the verb. In the case of the directional kei, in certain expressions, every form of the verb will either be used with the directional kei or the verb prefix ga- (see Appendix, section 5.1). Such an expression is kei ya-tee2 (if the expression has the meaning pick up and take, rather than carry). This is indicated by writing kei ya-tee2 . Where kei is written in an expression, this pattern is probably always followed, at least for the sense given.
Pronominals in Verb Expressions
In the section concerning the arrangement of entries, it was said that verb themes could be transitive, intransitive, stative, or impersonal (see also Appendix, section 3.3). This classification tells us whether or not a subject pronominal prefix may be used in any verb word, and whether or not an object pronominal prefix may be used in any verb word, and whether or not an object pronominal word may be used immediately before the verb not an object pronominal word may be use immediately before the verb not an object pronominal word may be used immediately before the verb word in the verb phrase. (The pronominal words are listed in Appendix, section 6.2.) It does not tell us whether any pronominal may be used outside the verb phrase (in adverb, locative or nominal phrase). In fact, a verb that is transitive in English may be translated in Tlingit by an intransitive verb theme and an adverb or locative phrase which contains a pronominal having reference to a second participant. An example is the English blame, translated by the expression kaa káa + ka-si-haa (in):
ee káa kaxwsiháa I blame you
In the representation of a verb expression, kaa represents the position (in an adverb, locative or nominal phrase) at which a pronominal, noun, or nominal phrase which has reference to a person may be substituted. Similarly, a represents the position (in an adverb, locative or nominal phrase) at which a pronominal, noun or nominal phrase which is not restricted in having reference to a person may be substituted.
kaa (or its alternate form ku) and a may also be used as object pronominal words in the verb phrase but are not represented in this position in a verb expression unless they are not substitutable (see Appendix, section 3.4). (If they are substitutable, then this is accounted for in the classification of transitive, intransitive, stative and impersonal.) Examples of expressions containing object pronominals which are not substitutable are a-dzi-kaa1 (in) and A-x’ + a-ka-dli-xeetl’ (in):
atoodzikaa we’re lazy
áa akooxdlixéetl’ I’m afraid of it
In a few verbs, the pronominal prefix doo- fourth is always used, without any possibility of substitution. An example is doo-ya-nook2 (st):
woodoowanúk it (wind) is blowing
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