A Grammatical Description of the Early Classic Maya by Daniel A. Law

By Daniel A. Law

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In addition, Tikal Stela 4, which dates to about two centuries later than the Hauberg Stela, seems to spell out the unreduced form [ta-u-BAAH] ta ubaah. The explanation of this might be in the function of each collocation. tubaah is, in fact, a type of compound preposition meaning simply ‘to (a person)’. One could hypothesize then, that the unreduced for ta ubaah is unreduced because it refers to the literal meaning 56 ‘to/at/on his head’, and not the ‘grammaticized’ preposition. Because of its exceptional nature, however, it might be best to consider the ta-u-baah example on Tikal Stela 4 an example of hyperanalysis on the part of the Classic scribe.

All of these are perhaps best seen as suprasegmental, thus explaining their unique treatment in the Classic Maya orthography (for a discussion of conventions used to capture these features see Houston et al. 1998, Wichmann 2004, and Robertson et al. 2004). The bipartite nature of the passive of transitive roots is clear from the fact that the -aj suffix is elsewhere a generic intransitivizer (discussed below—see Lacadena 2003), whereas when it is affixed to transitive roots, it is clearly passive.

It is unsurprising, then, that this would come to mark certain types of intransitive roots, such as the root och ‘to enter’, in the phrase ochoy ‘It entered’, by Colonial Ch’olti’. 2 INTRANSITIVE ROOTS Intransitive roots, in addition to their morphological behavior, can be semantically defined. An intransitive verbal root only involves one entity in the action it expresses. For example, in several Ch’olan-Tzeltalan languages, including Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ch’ol, and Chontal, the word way is an intransitive root meaning ‘to sleep’.

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