Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session




From the introduction: "There are in Aztecan generally a number of verbal suffixes which function as causatives or as applicatives. (Applicatives often translate by "dative movement" structures in other languages.) Some of these suffixes are usually causatives, others are usually applicatives, but all function at times in both categories. All also function as verbalizing suffixes, mostly on nouns but often on adjectives and postpositions as well. in each case the suffix has a constant phonological shape and constant morphological properties such as position-class in the verb, conditioning of stem-formation rules, pattern of tense-formation, etc., which make it desirable to treat it as one suffix in spite of its different functions and meanings. This type of phenomenon occurs elsewhere (e.g. the Germanic prefix be- as in English be-speak, be-lie, be-friend, be-little, be-labor, and even be-low shows some very interesting parallels); see also Comrie (1981. 176). I will confine this discussion to a very few forms, all involving a single suffix, -tiya, which is one of a half dozen such suffixes in the dialect of Nahuatl (or Aztec) spoken in Tetelcingo, Morelos.


"An important theoretical problem such data raise is this: can causatives and applicatives and the various other structures associated with suffixes like -tiya be analyzed in such a way as to show their relatedness, accounting for the tremendous amount of overlap, or not? Most theories of syntax with which I am acquainted do not allow this: they force us to posit a cluster of accidentally homophonous suffixes which are quite separate from each other in terms of their meanings (if they in fact have any) and of their syntactic behavior."

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