Finally, the long awaited second post is here!
Something that I wanted to write today is probably out of the ordinary. While socialising with family and friends during a cool and beautiful afternoon, one of my niece who is in Form Three asked me if there is an equivalent of the Dusun Language structure corresponding to the plural form in English.
She was brought up in a Dusun family but her first language wasn’t Dusun. Her parents talked to all their children in Tambunan Malay – a term I invented to refer to the kind of Malay language spoken by Dusuns in Tambunan. The accent of the Tambunan Malay is of course much akin to the Dusun one.
Here are some examples:
- Dusun: Moi oku hiiiilo. [I am going there/to that place] (an extended stressing of the “hi” syllable, particularly the vowel “i” is to show the longer distance to the place he is traveling, a shorter stress denotes a short distance)
- Dusun Malay: Saya mau pigi saaana. (the stressing is almost identical)
- Dusun: Moi oku hilo. (No extended stress indicating a short distance.)
- Dusun Malay: Saya mau pigi sana.
Now, coming back to the question of noun inflection in Dusun, I responded to her that there is no similar or equivalent noun inflections in the Dusun language, or does it?
English noun inflections:
- Plural forms are usually indicated by adding “s” or “es” to the base/stem – maps, matches, pads, boys, glasses.
- Noun possessive morphemes also have the same addition to the stem – the boss’s mistress, the table’s end.
Now, let me examine the Dusun noun inflections, but first what is the definitionof the terminflections? Basically, they are inflectional morphemes which signal grammatical information such as number (plural), tense, possession and so forth. They are thus often called bound grammatical morphemes and exhibit no change of meaning after inflection.
- walk vs. walks
- toy vs. toys
They never change the syntactic category of the words or morpheme which they are attached.
- walk vs. walked or walks (V–> V)
- boy vs. boys (N –> N)
- eat vs. eating (progressive) (V–>V)
- Kitut and Gimbuar took the girls home.
- Nowit di Kitut om ih Gimbuar minuli ih kosumandakan / tongondu / tanganak. (Root: sumandak, circumfix – ko and an – girls, no change in meaning so this is an inflectional morpheme)
- The children were in the hut.
- Hilo(d) suang sulap it tanganak. (root: tanak, infix – nga – children,no change in meaning so this is an inflectional morpheme)
The Dusun language does have the equivalent plurals but they are formed through affixation of bound morphemes – suffix, infix, prefix and perhaps circumfix. It will a bit awkward to add “s” or “es” to the base of Dusun words such as sumandaks (girls) and kusais (boys). LOL!
Root: tanak (child)
- tanganak – children (Inflectional morpheme – noun plural, no change in meaning)
- sanganak – the mother or father (Derivational morpheme – noun singular, changed in meaning)
- kotanak-tanak – being childish (Derivational, partial reduplication – adjective, changed in meaning)
Root: tondu (girl/woman)
- konduan – women (Inflectional – noun plural, no changed in meaning)
- tongondu – women (Inflectional – noun plural, no changed in meaning)
- kotondu-tondu – being feminish (especially to a male) – (Derivational, partial reduplication – adjective, changed in meaning)
- mintondu-tondu – (purposely) acting like a girl – Derivational, partial reduplication – adverb, changed in meaning as in “Mintondu-tondu ih Gamanuk mamanau”.
- It’s hers.
- Disio lo. (disio = hers or his, Dusun has no genitives)
- The base form of disio is isio or dau.
- An inflected disio but not in dau
- as in dau bo lo.
- This is my dad’s car.
- Korita tapa ku ti. (tapa – dad, no inflection)
Normally in English, verb inflections occur on the present tense morphemes when the subjects are in the third person singular. Similar inflections also occur on the past tense and the past participle morphemes of both regular and irregular verbs.
Root: poibok – drive
- Gutuk drives a car.
- Popoibok isio korita. (Inflection, prefix “po“, drive – no change in meaning))
- Gutuk drove a car yesterday.
- Pinopoibok ih Gutuk korita konihab/koniab. (Inflection, prefix “pino“, drove – no change in meaning)
- Gutuk has driven the car.
- Nokopoibok no ih Gutuk dilo korita. (Inflection, prefix “noko“, - driven, no change in meaning)
Root: takad – climb (the hill, mountain)
- She Climbs the mountain everyday.
- Takad isio lo nuluhon tikid tadau. (No inflection)
- She climbed the mountain last Sunday.
- Tinumakad isio lo nuluhon dit Hari Minggu. (Inflection, infix “inum“, – climbed, no change in meaning)
- She has climbed the mountain.
- Nakatakad no isio lo nuluhon. (Inflection, prefix “naka“, – has climbed, no change in meaning)
Alright, clearly from the examples above, Dusun verb inflections do occur within the past tense and past participle structures, however they can never be inflected in the present tense.
Our next discussion will be on the inflections of adverbs and adjectives. Feeling bored anybody?
Noun and Verb Inflection
Tagged with: car • Change • Classroom Talk • derivational • equivalent • First language • Grammatical Morphemes • hilo • Inflection • inflectional morphemes • Inflections • Language Structure • Malay language • mau • Morph • Niece • Nieces • Noun • Oku • Pigi • Plural Form • saya • Socialising • sumandak • Syllable • Syntactic Category • Tambunan • Vowel
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