Parts of Speech


(N-N, A-N) Nouns can compound: they may be prefixed directly with other nouns or with adjectives.
(N-ga/nu N) They may modify each other in a genitive relation using the case particles ga or nu.
(Dem N, RC N) They may be preceded by modifying demonstratives or relative clause constructions.
–> Noun is last in the head-final NP.
Closed classes of pronouns and demonstratives can also function as NPs.
Diagnostics for N/NP:
  1. The word can function as an argument in the sentence with a case particle directly following (e.g. Kani-a, hitu-u).
  2. Direct inflection is prohibited; when a noun is a predicate, inflection instead comes on the aux verb ai (e.g. mayu aitigaa ‘if I were a cat’)
  3. The word can be pluralized with -mmi.
  4. The word can’t directly take -gi ‘looks like’ (e.g. *mayugi, instead mayu nu mmarigi ‘looks like a cat’)


Verbs can be combined directly with some types of inflection.
A small but important piece of morphology is the -i suffix, which converts verb roots to participles/converbs. This allows them to link/chain with other things like auxiliary verbs or additional derivation/inflection.
Diagnostics for verbs:
  1. Can’t directly be an argument in a sentence; needs to compound with a noun (fau-munu) or use some other morphology (e.g. -i suffix in buduri ‘dance’, from budui).
  2. Takes verbal inflection like -tai without requiring fu or ai to host it (fau-tai).
Notes on auxiliary/light verbs:
  • A restricted set of verbs can link directly with -i stem/participle form of another verb. (They do not need a conjunction like -hii/-hidu).
    • E.g. umui-ui ‘is feeling/thinking – omotteiru’ rather than umu-hidu-ui
  • Usually verbs of existence (ui, ai, nyaan), verbs of motion (itsI, hai, fuu), other (assI).


Bare adjectives can compound, but they cannot head the compound. (e.g. A-N, not *A-A, *N-A).
Adjectives can be predicates or modifiers (of either N or V).
Adjectives rarely take verbal inflection directly. They either require -fu (as in ffa nyaan) or -kai.
     *except see Baa haan ‘I am not fast / watashi wa hayakunai’
Different adjectives have different patterns of use. E.g. some use the derivational suffix -gi when they are modifiers.
Diagnostics for Adj:
  1. The word alone can’t be an argument. Munu or another noun is needed (e.g. bakamunu ‘young person / wakamono’).
  2. Inflection comes on -fu (as in ffa nyaan) or -kai (e.g. -kaitigaa, -katai).
    • Considering the attested ku<fu sound change, maybe fu and kai can be linked diachronically/theoretically. If so, fu/kai could be considered a light/aux verb head.
  3. Can’t head a compound.
*Note: different adjectives have different patterns; we listed the most prototypical properties. Some might not require morphology to modify V (yagumi) and others might need morphology to modify nouns (zImi).
In general, adjectives seem to be a class of elements with properties in between verbs and nouns. They able to inflect like verbs using less morphology than nouns, but they don’t have clear participle forms created with the -i suffix like verbs do.
Some words can modify verbs and adjectives, or don’t otherwise fit clearly into a class (e.g. muitu ‘very, とても’). These words cannot take the adjectival inflection markers -fu or -kai.
Prototypically, adjectives can modify nouns and other adjectives without changing morphologically, but require -fu to modify a verb (that is, to perform an adverbial function).
Other Parts of Speech
We investigated other parts of speech proposed by Hayashi only very minimally.
We left these to be discussed by the case-marking group.
Final particles
Hayashi lists a number of final particles. These can be loosely defined as modal or discourse-related particles (conveying information about sentential force and speaker/addressee attitudes) located at the end of the sentence, after the verb hosting inflection.
These are listed below based on the order of morphemes when multiple particles co-occur.
  • Level 1
    • =hazI (daroo, INFER)
    • =byaa(n) (kana)
  • Level 2
    • =ga (ka, YNQ)
    • =na (ka, WHQ)
  • Level 3
    • =do (yo)
    • =sammi (deshoo)
    • =sa (yo)
    • =dara (nandayo)
    • =darassu (deshoo)
  • Level 4
    • =tindo (daroo da)
    • =cha (tte, QUOT)
    • =yo (yo) – co-occurs with sa, sammi, dara, darassu, ga
    • (=a)=da (no gloss)
    • =suudai (janaika)
  • Level 5 (most final)
    • =i (ne) – co-occurs with hazI, all level 2, all level 3
Questions for future work:
  • Where is the line drawn between modal inflection (like –gamata) and particles included here (-hazI)?
  • What are the different functions of the different particles glossed as yo? Each seems to have different co-occurrence properties, but are there more differences?
  • What information about speaker/addressee attitudes does each convey, more precisely? What are their acceptable contexts of use?
There are few simplex conjunctions; see the case particles page for morphemes which can link various types of phrases. Some words functioning as conjunctions include:
  • mai ‘too, also (mo)’ – a postposition?
  • hii, hidu ‘and’ – connects A, V; derived from -hii (INSTR, -de) and du (FOC)
    • Oono-shiishii=ya  tuba-hidu budu-i-tai. ‘Ono-sensei ran and danced.’ (V&V)
  • ayaisuga ‘but’ – connects clauses; derived from the light verb ai and suga ‘but’
These include fillers, responses and other discourse related particles that are not strictly final.
  • naugara, naura – nanto iuka – how do I say this
  • unu, kanu(i) – sono, ano (ne) – (demonstratives)
  • mme, mmya – mou
  • uyahai – hora?
  • ira – ??

Some Derivational Morphology

 -gama  -chan ‘DIM’ Phrase-level suffix that can be used with N, A, V-i, possibly Adv?
ex.     Kara=a ba-ga ffa-gama ‘He is my kid.’ (child-DIM)
ex.     Kara=a haa-gama. ‘He is kinda fast.’ (fast-DIM)
ex.     Yuku-i-gama samatii. ‘Please rest a little.’ (rest-i-DIM)
ex.     hiicha-gama ‘a little, sukoshi’ (?-DIM)
 -gi  -sou ‘looks like’ Suffix that can be used with A (bare) or V (-i form) to create an adjective.
ex.     nyuuta-gi-kai-tigaa ‘if (they’re) sleepy-looking’
ex.     Kary=aa haa-fu uuga-i-gi. ‘He seems like he swims quickly.’

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