Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

D. G. Frantz


This thesis analyzes, from a Relational Grammar point of view, the usages of several verb suffixes of Southeastern Tepehuan that deal with the relationships among the central arguments of the predicate of a clause. The verb word in Southeastern Tepehuan contains all the information of tense, aspect, and mode, and is modified by adverbial elements of time, manner, and location. Nouns and pronouns can be used to identify one of the arguments; and conjunctions coordinate the resulting clause with, or subordinate it to, other clauses.

Only two affixes are used to denote person and number of the central arguments (terms) of the clause. The affix that identifies the (final) subject is an enclitic suffixed to the first constituent of the clause, and the affix that identifies the (final) direct object is the closest prefix to the verb stem. In intransitive clauses where the subject is the only term, or in transitive clauses where a direct object is also present, verb stems often occur without what is here called the applicative suffix. But in transitive clauses where an indirect object, benefactee, or comitative is also present, these latter terms are obligatorily advanced to the status of direct object of the clause, replacing the initial direct object. I will argue that this shift in grammatical relations is normally registered in the verb by the occurrence of the applicative suffix (and the benefactive suffix, if applicable), and this final direct object triggers agreement in the object prefix.

The overall picture of interclausal relationships in Southeastern Tepehuan is relatively simple. While there is no evidence of personal, non-reflexive passives, the use of an impersonal passive for unspecified subject is seen in the reflexive morphology in which no overt term bears the final subject relation. Further, no ascensions of terms from one clause to another have been found to exist; clause union is evident only for those relatively infrequent predicates that involve causation and adverbial motion, and for one form of the desiderative; and relative clauses have fixed forms following their heads.

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