Monday, 24 December 2018

"word order" of Inuktitut

English and French have a Subject-Verb-Object word order encoded into their grammars (disregarding syntactic considerations for the moment). Inuktitut is different in that it has both a case (noun phrases) and mood  (verb phrases) 'marked' grammar.

For instance, the ending for moods is determined by the pronominal endings (ie, pronouns): 'I am...'; 'you are...'; 'they are...':

'I am running'  ulluktunga   'running I am'

'you are happy'  quviasuktutit  'feeling happy you are'

'she sees'  takujuq  'seeing he is'

We can then complete this grammar by (optionally/necessarily) marrying a nominal case (noun phrases) with a verbal mood (verb phrases) for transitive sentences.

'I see a person'  inungmik takujunga  'person a + seeing I am' (accusative + declarative)

'did you (just) arrive in Iqaluit?'  Iqalungnut tikippit?  'Iqaluit (plural) to arrive you (now)?' (allative + interrogative)

Now the trick is to encode the 'adverbs' (tense/aspect/polarity* (ie negatives) for verb phrases) and 'adjectives' (for noun phrases).

We can now (after more verb moods in this series) explore these syntactic elements.

*Inuktitut is preponderantly a 'verb-mood' language

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