15 May 2008

Tlingit classifier

While pondering the verb “study” and how it could be translated into Tlingit, I realized something neat about the Tlingit classifier in loanwords. There’s a book titled Aan Aduspelled X’úx’ which is a guide to basic Tlingit literacy for native speakers. Notice that aduspelled there. It could be analyzed as a-du-0-spelled which is |3ABS-3PL.ERG-CL[−D,0,−I]-spell|, with a zero classifier. But it could also be analyzed as a-du-s-pelled which is |3abs-3pl.erg-CL[−D,s,−I]-spell|, which has an S classifier.

If this analysis was workable, then maybe “study” could be borrowed similarly. In fact, “study” would be a better potential borrowing because it more closely fits Tlingit phonemics. So perhaps yéi kḵwastádi “I will study”, broken down as yéi-ga-u-ḡa-x̱a-s-tádi |THUS-GA-IRR-GHA-1SG.ERG-CL[−D,s,−I]-study|. I’ll have to run it by a native speaker to see if they like it.

It could be however that I’m abusing the S classifier, and that things like aduspelled have unproductive paradigms. Something more for the fieldwork questions pile.

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