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The Structure of Seri

Stephen A. Marlett

This is my 1981 doctoral thesis (University of California, San Diego) with only minor corrections.
Some chapters contain postscript notes which refer the reader to later publications that draw on or
expand on the topic of those chapters.
My special thanks go to Linda Brock for volunteering to keyboard the original thesis.

This thesis is dedicated to the memory of two people on whose shoulders I have had the privilege to
stand: Flora S. Marlett and Edward W. Moser.

Table of Contents
The Structure of Seri............................................................................................................................. i
Table of Contents.................................................................................................................................. ii
List of Abbreviations........................................................................................................................... vi
Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ vii
Postscript to the Introduction............................................................................................................. ix
Introduction to the grammar................................................................................................................x
Abstract ................................................................................................................................................ xi
Chapter 1 Phonemes and Certain Low-level Processes......................................................................1
1.1. Phonemes.....................................................................................................................................1
1.2. Low-level processes.....................................................................................................................3
1.2.1. Post-tonic lengthening ..............................................................................................................3
Postscript to Chapter 1 .......................................................................................................................18
Chapter 2 Prefix Morphology and Morphophonemics ....................................................................19
2.1. Overview of prefix morphology ................................................................................................19
2.2. Mood prefixes............................................................................................................................19
2.3. Morphophonemics of mood prefixes .........................................................................................26
2.4. Person prefixes ..........................................................................................................................31
2.5. Miscellaneous verb prefixes ......................................................................................................39
2.6. Nominalizers..............................................................................................................................55
2.7. Noun prefixes ............................................................................................................................64
2.8. Frozen and nonproductive prefixes............................................................................................70
2.9. Rule ordering summary .............................................................................................................73
Postscript to Chapter 2 .......................................................................................................................74
Chapter 3 Suffix morphology and morphophonemics .....................................................................75
3.1. General suffixes.........................................................................................................................75
3.2. Stress-bearing suffixes...............................................................................................................79
3.3. Switch reference markers ..........................................................................................................79
3.4. Suffixes occurring primarily on nominals .................................................................................80
3.5. Auxiliary verb particles and related items .................................................................................82
3.6. Conjunctive and subordinating suffixes and particles ...............................................................85
3.7. Suffix and particle order ............................................................................................................88
Chapter 4 Stem morphology and morphophonemics.......................................................................89
4.1. Subject number agreement.........................................................................................................89
4.2. Action number marking.............................................................................................................95
4.3. Morphophonemics of number suffixes ......................................................................................97
4.4. Stem suffixes ...........................................................................................................................104
4.5. Noun pluralization ...................................................................................................................106

Chapter 5 Irregular verbs.................................................................................................................110
5.1. Stress-retracting verbs .............................................................................................................110
5.2. The verbs come and go ............................................................................................................115
5.3. The verbs /-CC/ know and /-GG/ give .........................................................................................115
5.4. Pseudo-short low vowel roots..................................................................................................116
Postscript to Chapter 5 .....................................................................................................................116
Chapter 6 Topics in Seri phonology.................................................................................................117
6.1. The abstract consonant ............................................................................................................117
6.2. Interpretation of phonetic vowel length...................................................................................122
Postscript to Chapter 6 .....................................................................................................................123
Chapter 7 The noun phrase ..............................................................................................................124
7.1. Definite articles........................................................................................................................124
7.2. Indefinite articles .....................................................................................................................126
7.3. Demonstratives ........................................................................................................................126
7.4. Relative clauses .......................................................................................................................127
7.5. Adjectives ................................................................................................................................128
7.6. Quantifiers ...............................................................................................................................128
7.7. Material....................................................................................................................................128
7.8. Coordinate noun phrases..........................................................................................................129
7.9. Compounds..............................................................................................................................129
7.10. Pronouns ................................................................................................................................130
7.11. Relational nouns ....................................................................................................................131
Postscript to Chapter 7 .....................................................................................................................135
Chapter 8 Word order and foregrounding......................................................................................136
8.1. Basic word order......................................................................................................................136
8.2. Foregrounding strategies .........................................................................................................136
8.3. Postposing rules.......................................................................................................................139
8.4. Interrogatives ...........................................................................................................................140
Chapter 9 Nominalizations and complementation..........................................................................142
9.1. Nominalizations as main clauses .............................................................................................142
9.2. Nominalizations as oblique clauses .........................................................................................143
9.3. Nominalized object complements and Equi.............................................................................143
9.4. Pseudo-complements ...............................................................................................................145
Chapter 10 Transitivity.....................................................................................................................148
10.1. First person singular subject prefix........................................................................................148
10.2. Infinitive prefix......................................................................................................................148
10.3. Second person imperative......................................................................................................149
10.4. First person plural imperative ................................................................................................149

10.5. Nonfuture action/oblique nominalizer ...................................................................................149
10.6. First person restrictive ...........................................................................................................149
10.7. Coalescence ...........................................................................................................................149
10.8. Unspecified subject prefix .....................................................................................................149
10.9. The object marker ..................................................................................................................150
Chapter 11 Subject raising ...............................................................................................................151
11.1. Arguments that a downstairs subject is the final upstairs subject ..........................................152
11.2. Arguments that the downstairs clause is not a final 2 ............................................................154
11.3. Arguments for a raising analysis ...........................................................................................155
11.4. Raising of non-final subjects .................................................................................................158
11.5. Other uses of the prefix “X” ..................................................................................................158
Postscript to Chapter 11 ...................................................................................................................159
Chapter 12 Advancements................................................................................................................160
12.1. 3-2 Advancement in absence of notional 2............................................................................160
12.2. 3-2 advancement in ditransitive clauses.................................................................................162
12.3. The notion “3” .......................................................................................................................165
12.4. Personal passives ...................................................................................................................170
12.5. Impersonal passives ...............................................................................................................172
12.6. The object marker /K-/ ............................................................................................................180
Postscript to Chapter 12 ...................................................................................................................183
Chapter 13 Clauses with unspecified direct objects .......................................................................184
Chapter 14 Augmented verbs ...........................................................................................................188
14.1. Impersonal verb plus experiencer ..........................................................................................188
14.2. Stative verb plus experiencer.................................................................................................189
14.3. Sensory verb without experiencer..........................................................................................190
14.4. Causative construction...........................................................................................................191
14.5. “Help” construction ...............................................................................................................192
14.6. Other ......................................................................................................................................193
Chapter 15 Switch reference ............................................................................................................195
15.1. The notion ‘first subject’ .......................................................................................................196
15.2. Switch reference and the Final 1 Law....................................................................................198
15.3. Switch reference and coreference ..........................................................................................199
15.4. Adjacent clauses ....................................................................................................................200
15.5. Finite “relative” clauses .........................................................................................................201

Postscript to Chapter 15 ...................................................................................................................201
Chapter 16 Text .................................................................................................................................202
Postscript to Chapter 16 ...................................................................................................................219
Appendix 1 Verb paradigms.............................................................................................................220
Appendix 2 Irregular verb paradigms.............................................................................................225
List of References ..............................................................................................................................227

List of Abbreviations
ABIL abilitative
ABS absolutive
AUG augment
AUX auxiliary particle
Cho chômeur
D detransitivizer
DECL declarative
DIST distal
EMPH emphatic
FOC focus
IMP imperative
INF infinitive
INTERR interrogative
IRR irrealis
M mora
MULT multiple action
NEG negative
NOM nominalizer
O object
Ob oblique
OM object marker
P possessive; predicate relation
PASS passive
pl / PL plural
PRO pronoun
PROX proximal
REST restrictive
RL realis
s / SG singular
S subject
SR switch reference
US unspecified subject
UT unspecified time
X times

The name Seri, of Spanish origin according to Gilg (di Peso and Matson 1965), is used today to refer
to the remnant of what was six or more large groups comprised of loosely organized units speaking
perhaps three mutually intelligible dialects (Moser 1963, Spicer 1962, Griffen 1961, Bahre 1967).
While these people’s nomadic way of life in an inhospitable area of Mexico shielded them for
centuries, devastating outside pressures eventually had their impact, reducing the Seri numerically as
well as linguistically (McGee 1898, Spicer 1962, Sheridan 1979). By the year 1920, fewer than two
hundred speakers, consisting primarily of only one dialect group, remained (Moser 1963). Fortunately,
however, just as they had adapted themselves to their harsh physical environment (see references
under Felger and Moser), the Comcaac [MQ0M#¸ Ö M] people, as the Seri call themselves, have shown
their ability to control to a great degree the ever-encroaching technological world. Livelihoods based
on fishing and fine artistry (Ryerson 1976), as well as a strong ethnic pride, have enabled them to
continue as a coherent cultural entity. Today virtually all Seri, whose population has more than
doubled in the past twenty-five years, live on the Seri ejido in the coastal area west of Hermosillo,
Sonora, and speak Seri as their first, if not only, language.
The relationship of Seri to other languages is uncertain, although general consensus places it
within the Hokan stock as an isolate with closest affiliation to the Yuman family (Kroeber 1915, 1931;
Langdon 1974; Crawford 1976). Comparative studies so far have been cursory at best, and further
investigation is necessary.
The first known work on the Seri language began with the arrival of Adamo Gilg, a Moravian-
born Jesuit priest. Gilg attempted to learn the language, and apparently compiled a Seri vocabulary list
and didactic grammar during the last decade of the seventeenth century (Di Peso and Matson 1965).
Unfortunately, these valuable documents are not known to exist at present.
A few vocabulary lists were composed during the nineteenth century. The following information
regarding them is from McGee 1898. Diego Lavandera sent the Mexican government a very short list
in 1850 to disprove belief that Seri was a dialect of Arabic. United States Boundary Commissioner
John Bartlett made a second, longer list in 1852. A list obtained by D.A. Tenochio around 1860 was
used by Francisco Pimentel in his classification of the Seri language. Alphonse Pinart made yet
another list in 1879 which was used by Albert Gatschet (1883) in his comparison of Seri and the
Yuman languages. Joaquin Loustaunau made an extensive list in 1885 for the government of Mexico.
In 1898 W. J. McGee published a vocabulary list (collected by himself in 1894) in his report for the
Smithsonian. All of these vocabulary lists were written in Spanish with the exception of Bartlett’s and
McGee’s, which were in English.
The hunter and naturalist Charles Sheldon (1979) visited the Seris in the winter of 1921-22.
Besides making careful and objective anthropological observations, Sheldon compiled a short
vocabulary list (unpublished). A. L. Kroeber spent six days with the Seri people in 1930, but his
linguistic interests were primarily comparative rather than descriptive (Kroeber 1931).
The first comprehensive linguistic work on the Seri language began with the arrival of Edward and
Mary (Becky) Moser in 1951. Under the auspices of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and in
cooperation with Mexico’s Secretaría de Educación Pública, the Mosers completed the first phonemic
analysis (1965) and developed a practical orthography which has been used for the publication of
various books in the Seri language, including a small dictionary (1961). Other aspects of the language
which were described include noun pluralization (Moser and Moser 1976), and switch reference
(Moser 1978b). In addition, the Seri language has been used extensively in procuring data for various

ethnographic and ethnobotanical publications (see references under Moser, Bowen and Moser, and
Felger and Moser), and in the publication of books of the New Testament.
By human standards this significant work was prematurely interrupted by the death of Edward
Moser in 1976. A wealth of carefully, even tediously, collected data, accumulated and organized over
more than twenty-five years, was left. As my soon-to-be mother-in-law inherited other new
responsibilities, it came about that I would compile this grammar. The grammar itself is based on data,
often reanalyzed, collected by the Mosers. It will be noted that my analysis of the phonology of Seri
differs from that of Moser and Moser 1965 due to the different framework in which the work was
conducted. Much of the syntactic analysis is based on fieldwork which I did between 1976 and 1981 to
supplement and verify Mosers’ notes. This fieldwork was supported in part by grants from the Office
of Graduate Studies and Research, University of California at San Diego, and the National Science
Foundation (grant no. BNS-8001985). I also gratefully acknowledge the receipt of a research
assistantship under David Perlmutter through a National Science Foundation grant to the University of
California at San Diego, and a dissertation fellowship from the University of California at San Diego.
I hope that I have indicated sufficiently the profound debt I owe to the work of Edward and Becky
Moser; I have also profited immensely from discussions with Becky Moser, whose intimate
knowledge of the language has been invaluable. I thank her for her patience with me. Deepest
gratitude is due to all those people who so willingly taught me their language, especially Roberto T.
Herrera Marcos (born ca. 1917) who worked closely with Edward Moser for many years and has also
been my main teacher. I also appreciate having been able to work with his son Lorenzo Herrera
Casanova and with Sergio Méndez Méndez.
I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to all those at the University of California, San
Diego, who contributed in different ways to my training in linguistics. Special thanks go to the
members of my committee, Margaret Langdon, David Perlmutter, and Sanford Schane.
Finally, I thank my family, especially my wife Cathy, for their unfailing support and

Postscript to the Introduction
In the past fifteen years the linguistic and anthropological work on Seri has continued. Since the
linguistic work will be referred to in the postscripts to later chapters, I mention here only the
anthropological publications.
An impressive amount of information about the plants of the Sonoran desert and their uses by the
Seri people appeared in the ethnobotany by Felger and Moser (1985). A presentation of the kinship
terms appeared in Moser and Marlett (1989).
Cuéllar, José Arturo. 1980. La comunidad primitiva y las políticas de desarrollo (El caso seri).
Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Felger, Richard, and Mary B. Moser. 1985. People of the desert and sea: ethnobotany of the Seri
Indians. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Moser, Mary B. and Stephen A. Marlett. 1989 Terminología de parentesco seri. Anales de
Antropología 26:367-88. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Introduction to the grammar
This thesis describes, in varying degrees of detail, the structure of the Seri language. In particular, it
includes the major aspects of the segmental phonology, the morphology, and the syntax of the
language. The attempt is made to present the facts as lucidly as possible while maintaining the
explicitness and precision that are provided by describing the facts within some theoretical framework.
It will be seen that many times, however, the frameworks do not provide much help, due primarily to
the scope of the facts.
The phonology is described mainly within the framework of standard generative phonology.
Basically, it is assumed that, where possible, morphemes have one underlying representation. Spell-
out rules provide the segmental string, applying from the root outward. A linearly ordered set of
phonological rules, some with morphological conditioning, apply to this string to produce the phonetic
representation. Unless otherwise stated, the rules are word-level. This framework permits the
extraction of what seem to me to be significant generalizations and helps to elucidate the complex
morphological structure. To be sure, however, many potentially interesting areas are not explored.
To a great degree the morphology and syntax is purely descriptive. Certain aspects are dealt with
explicitly within the framework of relational grammar, with which some familiarity is presumed. This
framework, unlike others which were also examined, provides the notions which are necessary for the
statement of significant generalizations with respect to the distribution of morphemes. Comparison
with other frameworks has not been a major goal of this thesis, however; such is left up to the reader
or to be the topic of future studies.
The final chapter of the thesis consists of a Seri legend. The orthography used in this chapter and
the rest of the thesis might be characterized as partially phonemic and partially morphophonemic.
In this and the following paragraphs, some general characteristics of the Seri language are outlined
in traditional terms. Seri is an SOV language which is quite synthetic in structure. By means of
prefixes on the verb such things as subject person and number, object person and number, oblique
person, negation, unspecified subject, unspecified object, passive, causative, imperative, and mood are
indicated, among other things. By means of suffixes is indicated subject and action number as well as
a variety of other things which defy broad classification. (Root-internal changes also indicate subject
and action number.) Nominalized verbs of various types are formed through the use of nominalizing
An outstanding characteristic of Seri verb morphology is the amount of allomorphy which exists.
Even after the allomorphs which can be accounted for by phonological rules are eliminated, it is often
the case that two, three, four, or more suppletive allomorphs remain, with a variety of types of
conditioning environments. Allomorphy dependent on the superficial transitivity of the clause is
Seri nouns are not marked for case. Numerous definite articles exist which are historically derived
from verbs and which indicate position or direction of movement of the item.
Nominalized verbs are common since embedded clauses, both relative and complement, are
obligatorily nominalized. They also occur commonly in dependent and independent clauses. Personal
and impersonal passive clauses (all based on transitive verbs) occur. The impersonal passives occur
under either of two conditions: one, when the notional object is plural; two, when an oblique nominal
occurs in the clause. The switch reference system indicates a change in subject (usually notional
subject, but see chapter 15) between clauses of certain types.

The structure of Seri, a Hokan language of north-western Mexico, is described. Included are the major
aspects of the segmental phonology, the morphology, and the syntax. An analyzed text is also
The phonology is described mainly within the framework of standard generative phonology.
Chapter 1 presents the phonemes and low-level rules. Morphophonemic rules are presented in the
chapters dealing with the affixes. This analysis differs in many important respects from an earlier,
structural analysis of the phonology. It is argued that Seri has both long and short vowels in addition to
vowel clusters, that it does not have geminate consonants, that nasalization is predictable, and that
glottal stop functions as a sonorant. Arguments are also presented (in chapter 6) in favor of an abstract
underlying consonant, the features of which cannot be determined synchronically.
Chapters 2, 3, and 4 present most of the prefixes and suffixes which occur in the language as well
as the rules accounting for their allomorphs. By means of prefixes on the verb such things as subject
person and number, object person and number, oblique person, negation, unspecified subject,
unspecified object, passive, causative, imperative, and mood are indicated, among other things. By
means of suffixes is indicated subject and action number as well as a variety of other things which
defy broad classification. The essentials of the complicated root-internal changes which also indicate
subject and action number are also explained. Nominalized verbs of various types are formed through
the use of nominalizing prefixes. An outstanding characteristic of Seri verb morphology is the amount
of allomorphy which exists. Even after the allomorphs which can be accounted for by phonological
rules are eliminated, it is often the case that two, three, four, or more suppletive allomorphs remain,
with a variety of types of conditioning environments. Allomorphy dependent on the superficial
transitivity of the clause is common.
Chapter 5 discusses the characteristics of irregular verbs, primarily stress-retracting verbs.
Chapters 7, 8, and 9 discuss the make-up of the noun phrase, word order, foregrounding,
nominalization, and complementation. Nouns are not marked for case. Numerous definite articles exist
which are historically derived from verbs and which indicate position or direction of movement of the
item. The dominant word order in the clause is SOV. Nominalized verbs are common since embedded
clauses, both relative and complement, are obligatorily nominalized. They also occur commonly in
dependent and independent clauses.
Chapter 10 discusses the notion of transitivity which is necessary to account for numerous facts in
Seri. It is shown that a definition of transitivity with respect to the clause is necessary. Since the
framework chosen for the presentation of certain aspects of Seri syntax is relational grammar, it is
shown that the notions of transitive/intransitive strata provided in that framework, together with
certain proposed universals and analyses, make correct and interesting predictions about the syntax of
Chapter 11 discusses the subject raising construction in Seri which, together with the switch
reference marking system (chapter 15), provides an argument for the unaccusative hypothesis and the
notion ‘first subject’.
Chapter 12 discusses clauses involving 3-2 advancement and passive clauses. Personal and
impersonal passive clauses (all based on transitive verbs) occur. Arguments are presented in favor of a
bistratal analysis of passive clauses in general and an advancement analysis of impersonal passives.

Chapter 1
Phonemes and Certain Low-level Processes

1.1. Phonemes
The following segments are the significant segmental units in Seri. The status of the parenthesized
consonants will be discussed below.
stops R V M(M9)
fricatives H[–] U U½ Z :
(W)   (:9)
nasals O P
lateral resonant (N)
glides [ !
abstract (Q)
Vowels KKÖ QQÖ
G [3^] GÖ [3^Ö] CCÖ

Loanwords from Spanish also include the flap T. Recent loans also involve other Spanish consonants.
Moser and Moser 1965 gives evidence for the contrasting sounds listed above except for the abstract
consonant, which will be discussed below. Other differences between this phonemic inventory and
that of Moser and Moser 1965 will also be noted below.

1.1.1. The plain stops

According to Moser and Moser 1965, the plain stops “contrast at labial, dental, velar, and glottal
points of articulation” (p. 53). Glottal stop will be treated in this thesis as a glide, however, for reasons
that will become apparent below. Usually unaspirated in utterance-final position, the stops “vary freely
to unreleased or nasal release,” except M which is “usually unreleased following a vowel” in this
position, and slightly aspirated when following a consonant in this position. (See Moser and Moser
1965 for discussion of the fronted and backed allophones of the consonants.) Contiguous identical
consonants are pronounced as a long consonant. In the case of stops, this means that the articulators
are simply held longer before release.

1.1.2. The fricatives

According to Moser and Moser 1965, the fricatives contrast at labial, alveolar, alveopalatal
retroflex, velar, and back velar points of articulation. The lateral fricative has a voiced offglide before
a vowel. The back velar :, as well as :9, “feature marked trilling of the uvula” (p. 53). The fricative
W is slightly spirantized voiceless w.

1.1.3. The round consonants

The round consonants M9, :9, and W contrast taxonomically. In the majority of cases, however, they
can be shown to be derived from underlying sequences of /MQ/, /:Q/, and /QZ/ (or /QM/) respectively.
The syncope rule is discussed in §4.1.2. Some occurrences of /:9/ are generated by a rule of
coalescence by which /(:)Q + Q/ become (:9)C. This rule is discussed in §2.3.5. Nevertheless, a few
instances of each of these segments cannot be derived synchronically by any rule and therefore these

segments are included in the inventory of segments above.
According to Moser and Moser 1965, the offglide of M9 is “voiced before vowels and /[/,
voiceless otherwise,” although it is noted that “in utterance final position the labialization of /M9/ is
barely released, if at all” (53). The offglide is not always noticeable before strident consonants, as
some faulty transcriptions in Moser and Moser 1965 testify. They also note that for some speakers M9
is optionally pronounced as [M9] utterance finally. I take this to be the aspirated release noted for plain
stops above. It is also noted that “/:9/ has a slight voiced off-glide before vowels; before consonants
or silence it is voiceless throughout. The labialization may be actualized as simultaneous lip rounding
rather than off-glide” (pp. 54-55). W may also have a voiced offglide before a vowel.
Moser and Moser 1965 posits a contrast between the unit M9 and the sequence MW. I claim,
however, that this contrast is spurious. What was claimed to be /MW/ I demonstrate should actually be
analyzed as /M9Z/. See §1.2.13.

1.1.4. The nasals

The nasals contrast at labial and dental points of articulation. Moser and Moser 1965 also posited a
velar nasal phoneme, but it is shown below that virtually all occurrences of velar nasals are derivable
from O. See §§1.2.7-9.

1.1.5. The voiced lateral

The contrast between the voiced and voiceless laterals is virtually lost in modern Seri. Words with the
voiced lateral are rarely found and are typically place names or words in which voiced and voiceless l
alternate, the variant with   being the more common. Two words in which a voiced lateral occurs
without any alternation are :RCNG" O G M, a species of cone shell, and NCO5, a species of fish. While it
appears that the contrast between N and   is marginal today, the historical development of this situation
is unclear.

1.1.6. The abstract consonant

A case is presented in §6.1 for positing an abstract underlying consonant, the features of which cannot
be determined synchronically. The symbol Q has been arbitrarily chosen to represent this segment.

1.1.7. The vowels

I have posited long as well as short vowels, whereas Moser and Moser 1965 analyzed the long vowels
as geminates. The evidence against the latter interpretation will be summarized in §6.2. I posit
underlying long vowels only in the following three positions: root[C0___, root[C0V___. and in certain
prefixes (for reasons discussed in chapter 2). These positions are directly correlated with the placement
of primary and secondary stress. Underlyingly long vowels are shortened in direct relation to the
degree of stress that occurs on them phonetically.
The vowels G, GÖ, C, and CÖ function phonologically as low vowels and the others as nonlow, as
will be seen repeatedly in chapter 2. The vowels also divide into front and back vowels with respect to
all phonological rules. As described in Moser and Moser 1965, K is a high close front vowel which
tends to vary freely with [K v] in unstressed single vowel position. It is sometimes backed to [G" ] before
:. What is represented as G(Ö) is a mid open front vowel which has a phonetic quality varying between
['] and [3]. Although in some circumstances a higher variant occurs, Q(Ö) is typically a mid close back
vowel. An Q has a definite tendency to glide when it occurs before a low vowel, and sometimes before

a high vowel, under conditions that have not yet been investigated. C(Ö) is a “low open central vowel”
(p. 55). There is no glottal or aspirate onset before utterance initial vowels. There is also no
transitional phenomenon separating vowels which occur in clusters. Sequences of identical vowels are
articulated as one long vowel.

1.1.8. Features
The following features will be used to refer to the segments of Seri.
R V M M9 H W U   U Z : : N O P ! [ Q
½ 9
syllabic – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
sonorant – – – – – – – – – – – – + + + + + ?
consonantal + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + – – ?
labial + – – – + – – – – – – – – + – – – ?
coronal – + – – – – + + + – – – + – + – – ?
high – – + + – + – – + + – – – – – – + ?
back – – + + – + – – – + + + – – – – – ?
nasal – – – – – – – – – – – – – + + – – ?
round – – – + – + – – – – + – – – – – – ?
continuant – – – – + + + + + + + + + – – – + ?
lateral – – – – – – – + – – – – + – – – – ?
voiced – – – – – – – – – – – – + + + – + ?

syllabic + + + + + + + +
low + + + + – – – –
(high) – – – – + + – –
back + + – – – – + +
long – + – + – + – +

The feature [high] is redundant but is used in at least one low-level rule.

1.2. Low-level processes

Several low-level processes will be discussed below, the effects of which will not be represented in
surface forms in later chapters.

1.2.1. Post-tonic lengthening

Consonants and vowels are noticeable lengthened under certain conditions. Lengthened consonants are
often 150-230 msecs. long in normal speech, which is one and a half to two and a half times longer
than unlengthened consonants. Lengthened vowels are 250-350 msecs. in length, which is two to four
times longer than short stressed vowels and much longer than stressed long vowels. The length is
directly correlated with the degree of stress which occurs on the stressed vowel.
A consonant is lengthened if it follows a stressed vowel nucleus of a certain type and precedes a
vowel. The stressed vowel nucleus referred to may be composed of a single vowel (long or short) or a
short vowel followed by another short vowel. Likewise, a vowel is lengthened if it follows the same
type of vowel nucleus and a single consonant and precedes a consonant. If a short vowel can be
characterized as being one mora (M), and two short vowels as one long vowel consisting of two

morae, the rule can be more easily stated. The rule, given as (1), also correctly states that if a long
vowel is lengthened, such as for indicating intensity (very), the post-tonic lengthening will not occur.
There is one condition on these lengthening processes: The segment to be lengthened may not be part
of a suffix. The final segment of the environment may occur in a following word, however.
(1) Post-tonic Lengthening:
[αsyllabic] → [+long] / M (M) <C> ____ (##) [-αsyl]
[+str] <+syl>
Condition: The substituendum may not be part of a suffix.
This rule is intended to have the following expansionÖ
(2) a. [+syl] → [+long] / M (M) C ___ (##) C
b. [-syl] → [+long] / M (M) ___ (##) V
No lengthening occurs when the vowel or consonant is followed by any other environment. The
following words illustrate the operation of this rule on both post-tonic consonants and vowels.
(3) !C" : QZ → [!C" : ÖQÖZ] shore
" : QVC → [" : ÖQÖVC] sea currents
:G" Ö PQZ → [:G" Ö PÖQÖZ] hummingbird (sp.)
MVC" O -K!C → [MVC" O ÖK!C] It is a man.
The following examples illustrate that lengthening occurs when the stressed nucleus consists of two
distinct vowels.
(4) M-Q¸ K RC -KO → [MQ¸ K RÖCÖ KO] what is crossways
M-Q¸ G MG -MCO → [MQ¸ G MÖGÖ MCO] what hangs down
MVQ¸ K :C → [MVQ¸ K :ÖC] desert whiptail lizard
The following examples illustrate that stressed nuclei with more than two morae do not condition
Post-tonic Lengthening.
(5) M-Q-M-Q¸-KÖ:-K!C → [MQMQ¸ K Ö:K!C] He is winning.
M-C" Ö Q -K!C → [MC" Ö Q K!C] It is fluted.
MC" Ö KZQZ → [MC" Ö KZQZ] manta ray
MCV" Ö KZC → [MCV" Ö KZC] duck (sp.)
[!C:M!G" Ö Ö Q] somewhat reddish (intens.)
The following examples illustrate that a) the segments to be lengthened must be in the same word as
the stressed vowel, b) they need not belong to the stem or to the same morpheme as the stressed
vowel—some prefixes occur post-tonically due to stress retraction (see chapter 5), c) they cannot
belong to a suffix, and d) the conditioning consonant or vowel may be in the next word.

(6) a. !C" K MQR → [!C" K MQR] the wind
U-C" Ö MC-!C → [UC" Ö MC!C] She will grind it.
b. OQ¸ -M-CÖ-V → [OQ¸ M ÖCÖV] who come
M-C" O -CÖ  → [MC" O ÖCÖ ] Don’t accompany him!
c. M-C" Ö -VKO → [MC" Ö VKO] who grinds (mult.)
MQ¸ Ö -VCZ → [MQ¸ Ö VCZ] guitarfish (pl.)
d. " -VQ MKZ → [" V ÖQÖMKZ] his eye
This lengthening rule provides supportive evidence for the componential analysis of words. The
fact that the form MC" K :CZ what is strong/difficult is phonetically [MC" K :CZ] supports the analysis that
the stem -CK:CZ is composed of the bound root -CK plus the suffixes -:-C: (cf. §4.4). This process also
provides evidence for the analysis of stem allomorphs of both nouns and verbs to be developed in
chapter 4. The following forms illustrate this matter.
(7) Singular Plural
U½ C MC" Ö O [U½ C MC" Ö OÖCÖ M] female youth
U½  " Ö R [U½  " Ö RÖKÖ M] male youth
!C" : [!C" : ÖCÖZCO] water
:V" Ö R [:V" Ö RÖQÖ M] sea shell (sp.)
RQ¸ Ö UZ [RQ¸ Ö UÖKÖ MC] fishing line
MQ¸ Ö   [MQ¸ Ö  ÖQÖ QZ] carrying net
The lexical forms of these nouns should be analyzed as /U½ C MCÖOC/, /UKÖRK/, and /:VKÖRQ/, etc., for two
reasons: first, the post-tonic vowel is not predictable; second, the post-tonic vowel cannot be analyzed
as part of the suffix because suffix vowels do not lengthen.
Post-tonic Lengthening is not completely automatic since a large number of loanwords from
Spanish do not undergo it. Instead, the stressed vowel is usually lengthened.
(8) [VQ¸ Ö TQ] bull
[RCU½ C " Ö VQ] shoe
[VTQ¸ Ö MK] automobile
It may be easily shown that Post-tonic Lengthening is productive in spite of the data in (8). One way to
indicate disbelief in Seri is by using the appropriate intonation and adding the suffix /-a/ to a word.1
The interrogative suffix /-ya/ also often follows and is included in the following examples.
(9) UVC" M UVC" M -C-[C pumice

Other superficial exceptions to Post-tonic lengthening also exist for which a similar explanation is
possible but for which the case is less clear.
(i) M-QKVQO which are five
M-CKVQO who speaks
M-CÖVQ who fights
Such exceptions, as well as the nonphonetic restrictions on Post-tonic lengthening, are probably
what led Moser and Moser (1965Ö62) to posit geminate clusters in phonemic contrast with single
consonants in medial position.

The effect of this morpheme is to change a word such as stak into something equivalent to the English
Pumice? Ha! or Pumice, my eye!. The phonetic realization of UVCM-C-[C is as expected: [UVC" M ÖC[C]. If
a consonant cluster immediately follows the stressed vowel nucleus (which has the same restrictions as
for Post-tonic Lengthening), however an a is infixed following the first consonant of that cluster, as
shown below. (This rule also provides one piece of evidence that /M9/ and /:9/ are units at the level at
which it applies.)
(10) !C" U V [!C" U ÖCVC[C] stone
RVMC" O P [RVMC" O ÖCPC[C] lobster
[G" M VU½ [[G" M ÖCVU½ C [C] Yaqui
!C" : 9  [!C" : 9ÖC C[C] clam (sp.)
MVQ¸ K M MC [MVQ¸ K MÖC MC[C] lizards (sp.)
M-" M 9V [M" M 9ÖCVC[C] they who kill
Therefore the morpheme also triggers the following infixation rule. 2
(11) a-Infixation (morphologically-triggered)Ö
∅ → C / M (M) C ___ C
Condition: The first C may not be suffixal
This rule feeds Post-tonic Lengthening, but the a itself does not lengthen; I assume this is because as
an infix it is treated like a suffix. And just as suffix consonants cannot undergo Post-tonic
Lengthening, so this functionally-related infixation rules does not insert a vowel after a suffix
consonant, as illustrated by the following forms.
(12) U½ C " Ö - MC [U½ C " Ö  MC[C] caves

1.2.2. Glottalization and Nasal-Glottal metathesis

A sequence of a consonant followed by glottal stop is realized phonetically as a glottalized version of
the consonant. This process is observed in the phonetic realization of sequences of M9 plus !:
M9-!-CÖ-U Give him/her (something) to drink! [M9CÖU]. The labialization is what leads into the
articulation of the vowel.
A nasal consonant and a following glottal stop metathesize. 3 (That metathesis and not coalescence
is involved is established in §2.4.1.). This metathesis applies with some variability across the stronger
(13) K-O-!GÖ -K!# → [K!OG" Ö  ÖK!C] It is not red.
KO-!GÖ  → [K!OG" Ö  ] It is red.
K!-U-CÖ-R:9 -KO !C-!K → [K!UC" Ö R:9NKO!C" ! K] ~ [K!UC" Ö R:9NK!OC" ! K] I will break it.
MVCO !KO-MQR → [MVC" O !" 0 MQR] that man
The relative ordering of the glottalization rule and the metathesis rule is probably a moot point since a
glottalized nasal and a glottal-nasal sequence are indistinguishable. In §2.4.1 this fact takes on more

2 This suffix is most likely a reduced form of the auxiliary particle !C (cf. $3.5.1).
3The examples in (13) all involve m. Since P is not used as a prefix in Seri, metathesis involving n
would necessarily involve a stronger intervening boundary. It is attested, however.

1.2.3. Rounding and Velarization
Back consonants become round when they follow a round consonant. This phrase-level, iterative
process is illustrated by the forms in (14).
(14) M-U½ Q :9M → [MU½ Q :9M9] which are four
U-:CRWZ MC-!C → [U:C" R W M9C!C] He will tremble.4
M9-:Q-RCPU½ : → [M9:9QRC" P U½ : ] He ran like him!
CP:9M-CÖ-VKMRCP → [CP:9M9CV" M RCP] who works a lot
When was it launched?
Forms such as [M9VQÖVQZ] Was it dried up? show that other consonants do not become round.
(15) Rounding (phrase-level, iterative):
C → [+round] / C ___
[+bac] [+round]
What might be considered the same process as Rounding applies when a R follows M9. The R
becomes M9, the resulting geminate cluster being realized as a long segment. This velarization of the R
occurs much less across word boundaries, however, unlike Rounding. The examples in (16) illustrate
these facts.
(16) a. M9-RQ-RCPU½ :  → [M9M9QRCPU½ : ]
when he runs like him...
if you are going to kill him
The rule is formalized as (17).
(17) Velarization:
C → [+rd ] / C ___
[-son] [+bac] [+rd ]
[+lab] [-cnt]

1.2.4. Diphthongization
As described in Moser and Moser 1965, a vowel immediately preceding a round consonant in the
same word becomes a diphthong; a nonlow round offglide agreeing in the feature [high] with that
vowel is inserted. Some examples are given in (18) and the rule is formalized in (19). 5
(18) !C:9  → [!C " Q :9 ] cherry stone clam
M-K-M9-V → [M" W M9V] they who kill it
!C-MGWZM → [!CMG " Q 9M9] firewood
!CÖM9-KÖ-HR → [!CÖM9" Ö HR] his arrival there

4 The Z of U:CRWZMC!C deletes by a rule which is discussed in §1.2.13.

5I assume that the diphthongization is not noticeable following a round vowelÖ !QM9 [!QM9]
wood. The offglide does not figure into the mora count with respect to Post-tonic lengthening.

(19) Diphthongization:
∅ → [-syl ] / V ___ C
[+son] [αhi] [+rd ]
[-cns ] [-rd ]
[αhi ]
[-lo ]
[+rd ]

1.2.5. Nasalization
Nasalization is noncontrastive in Seri. Nasalized vowels are derived by the interaction of two rules.
Nasal lenition (20) feeds a rule that subsequently nasalizes nonconsonantal continuants which follow
the nasal glide resulting from that rule. The formulation of the lenition rule as given in (20)
presupposes rules of syllabification which will not be developed here.
(20) Nasal lenition: m becomes α following a tautosyllabic back stop.
(21) Nasalization:
[–cns] → [+nas] / [–cns ] ___
(22) M9-OKÖ-HR → [M9Y  Ö HR] He is coming to him.
MOKMG → [MY  M ÖG] person; Seri
K!-U-MO-CÖK !C-!C → [K!UMY C ÖKC!C] I won’t do it.
K-V-CMOQ MC → [KVC" M OQ MC] Did they put it?
Moser and Moser observed the lenition rule as it was spreading through the lexicon and the speech
community, and they contrasted forms to which the rules had applied with forms to which the rules
had not yet applied. Therefore they considered nasalization phonemic, although considerable
alternation was noted (1965:55). Since then, the rules have generalized to the entire lexicon for
younger speakers.

1.2.6. m-Assimilation
• A word-initial m or an m following an unstressed vowel assimilates to the general point of
articulation of a consonant that follows it.6 This process and others to be described below generate
virtually all occurrences of [0] in the language. It appears to apply less obligatorily to word-final
(23) m-Assimilation (phrase-level):
O → [αpoint] / ## (!) ___ C
V [αpoint]
The effect of this rule is illustrated by the following forms. The optional glottal stop is necessary for
forms such as (24f).7

6 It is not clear what is the actual point of articulation of a nasal before [.

7This complication would be avoided if, as François Dell has suggested (p.c.), the glottal and nasal
had coalesced into one unit before (23) applied. This possibility is discussed further in §2.3.4. As the
phonetic transcription of (24f) shows, I perceive the nasal as being syllabic in this position.

(24) a. K-O-CÖ → [KOC" Ö ] who is not grinding
b. K-O-RKÖ → [KOR" Ö ] who is not tasting it
c. K-O-UKÖ → [KPU" Ö ] who is not smelling it
d. K-O-[CÖ → [KP[C" Ö ] who does not own it
e. K-O-MCÖ → [K0MC" Ö ] who does not look for it
f. OC-!-O-U½ C :9 → [OC!PB U ½ U ½ C " : 9] I am talking to you.
g. M-KÖ:CO-V → [M¸ Ö :ÖCÖPV] who fear it

h. MQÖVRCOMK! → [MQ¸ Ö VRC0MK!] the sardine (sp.)

i. :CÖO-U-KÖP!C-!C → [:C" Ö PU" Ö PÖC!C] He will return soon.
The m in the root /-OUKU" Ö P/ pitiable never assimilates, however.
(25) [OQOUKU" Ö P] He is pitiable.
[MCOUKU" Ö P] he who loves
Other morpheme-internal O’s assimilate. The exceptional nature of /-msis"Ön/ is therefore especially
(26) MQOMC" Ö M → [MQ0MC" Ö M] people; Seris
!COMCPQ" Ö P → [!C0MCPQ" Ö P] pan
An underlying n does not assimilate to labial or velar points of articulation.
(27) U-QÖ-OGPMC-!C → [UQ¸ Ö OGPMC!C] He will winnow
UK-KÖUMCPMC-!C → [U" K ÖUMCPMC!C] It will be hard.
An m which is preceded by a stressed vowel (in the same word) does not assimilate.
(28) U-KÖOMC-!C → [U" Ö OMC!C] He will sleep.
U-CÖ-U½ K ÖOMC-!C → [UCU½  " Ö OMC!C] It will be nice.
Old word lists indicate that in the 19th century this assimilation rule did not exist. Pinart (1879) and
Bartlett (1852) both give komkak for MQOMC" Ö M [MQ0MC" Ö M] people; Seris. McGee (1898), however,
gives kun-kak. For VQOMQZM9-M-KÖ! [VQPMQZM9M9" Ö !] which are seven, Pinart gives tomkaXkue,
and Tenochio (1860) gives tomkuikcui. For MQOMCKÖ [MQ0MC" K Ö] old woman, however, McGee gives
kunkaié and Tenochio konkabre.8

1.2.7. The verb /-oÖm/ lie

The m of the commonly used verb /-QÖO/ lie, be prone assimilates even when the preceding vowel is
stressed. Compare the following forms.
(29) lie swallow (unspec.)
[MQ¸ Ö OÖK!C] [MQ¸ Ö OÖK!C] He is ...
[MQ¸ Ö P[C] [MQ¸ Ö O[C] Is he ...?
[UQ¸ Ö 0MC!C] [UQ¸ Ö OMC!C] He will ...

8 See the preface for information regarding these word lists which are reprinted in Hernández 1902.

These facts might be accounted for by a minor rule which would apply only to the verb /-QÖO/ lie, or
this verb could be marked as a positive exception to m-Assimilation.

1.2.8. Other occurrences of [0]

There are two (other) interesting positive exceptions to the m-Assimilation rule. Phrases serving as
demonstratives are composed of a locative plus an article. The underlying form of there is seen in the
form !KOK-V-C" M CV: leaving it there... (there OM-RL-leave). In a demonstrative expression the stress
occurs on the locative morpheme.
that=one there he=went
There he went.
MVC" O !¸ O -MQR → [MVC" O !" 0 MQR]
that man
Obviously the problem is that the m has assimilated to the velar point of articulation even though the
preceding vowel is strongly stressed. These demonstratives are also unusual in that they are exceptions
to Post-tonic Lengthening. The a-Infixation rule is able to apply to these forms, separating the [P] from
the conditioning consonant.
(31) [MVC O !" 0 ÖCMQRC[C] That man, my eye!
It is not clear how these facts should be accounted for.
The second positive exception is the name of a certain species of duck [MVQ¸ Ö 0M], which is
obviously onomatopoetic.9

1.2.9. Backing
Another rule generating [0] is characteristic of younger speakers especially. By this rule an m
following an unstressed vowel becomes [0] when it occurs before pause. This rule could be stated as
in (32). It does not apply to n.
(32) Backing:
O → 0/ V ___ ||
Thus words like MQÖVRCO sardine (sp.) are usually pronounced [MQ¸ Ö VRC0] utterance finally. Words
such as !GUGP ironwood do not have such alternates.

1.2.10. Influence of secondary stress on rules affecting m

The assimilation and backing rules are blocked by secondary stress which is assigned by three rules.
The first rule assigns secondary stress to a vowel immediately following a vowel with primary stress.
(I will discuss primary stress placement in chapter 2.)
(33) V → [2 stress] / V ___
[l stress]

9One other occurrence of a velar nasal that is not derived by any regular rule is in the (almost
onomatopoetic) verb meaning to speak wrong. In this case it is a labialized velar nasalÖ
[UC!" W 09M9C!C] He will say it wrong. This lexical item refers to Nasal lenition (20).

Therefore U-C" Ö QOMC-!C he will beg becomes [UC" Ö Q O MC!C] :GRG M9[C" K O-VQZ they threw him in the
sea becomes [:G" R ÖGÖM9[C O VQZ]. m-Assimilation (23) does not apply.
Secondary stress is also generated during compound word formation, including the formation of
some idioms. In compound words the stress on the first member is reduced, resulting in a loss of
vowel length.
(34) :Q¸ Ö R Bursera microphylla
" -P  its hands
[:Q R " P  ] Bursera hindsiana
PC" Ö R:C buzzard (sp.)
M-Q" O he who throws at it
[PC R :CMM" O ] who has poor luck begging
There are many other obviously compound words although they may have undergone further
phonological change, most commonly the loss of a consonant or vowel in a cluster.
(35) :G" R G sea, tide
CPQ in
MC" Ö [ horse
:G R GPQMC" Ö [ mythological sea creature
M-C" Ö M9  which are big
:Q R MC" Ö M9  Bursera laxiflora
:RCPC" Ö OU seaweed
[:RCPC O UC" Ö M9 ] sargassum
!C-MC" Ö O husband
M-MC" Ö who looks for it
[!CMC O MMC" Ö ] bird (sp.)
It should be noted that in words such as :RCPCOUC" Ö M9  above, the m follows a vowel with secondary
stress and thus does not assimilate to the following consonant. It is expected that as the internal
structure of compound words becomes more opaque, the m-Assimilation rule will apply. A possible
example pointed out to me by M. Moser is the initial unanalyzable sequence in the words in (36).
(36) :QOMC!" Ö HV [:Q0MC!" Ö HV] oregano bush
:QOMC!Q¸ K Z [:Q0MC!Q¸ K Z] Opuntia reflexispina
:QO:G" U ½ K U½ 10 [:Q0:G" U ½ Ö KÖU½ ] ocotillo
More obvious are the examples in (37), all of which have the sequence (morpheme (?)) !CO- which
has to do with fire (cf. !COC" M campfire).
(37) !COMCPQ" Ö P [!C0MCPQ" Ö P] pan
!COMG" Ö [!C0MG" Ö ] skewer
!COMC" Ö :CV [!C0MC" Ö :ÖCÖV] smoke
Higher level rules do not regard vowels with secondary stress as stressed vowels; therefore in
subsequent chapters [-stress] means the absence of primary stress.

10 According to M. Moser (p.c.), this word has an idiolectal variantÖ OQ:G" U ½ K U½ .

1.2.11. i-Lowering
A high front vowel is lowered when it is followed by a low vowel (only a will occur in this position—
cf. §1.3.3).
(38) i-Lowering:
K → [+lo] / ___ V
(39) K-OK-CÖO → [KOG" C ÖO] They said to him.
K-UK-CÖ  → [KUG" C Ö ] He will order him.
K-CÖZ → [G" C ÖZ] its vertebra
!K-CU½ → [!G" C U½] my mother’s father
M-QP" C Ö: → [MQPG" C Ö:]11 whoi washes hisi hands
Words such as M-" V C what is sharp/pointed show that this lowering rule does not apply if the vowels
are not contiguous.

1.2.12. e-Raising
The speech of younger Seri speakers can be partially characterized by a rule which applies less
frequently in the speech of older speakers. A post-tonic G becomes K under the following conditions.
(40) e-Raising (optional):
G → K / i C0 ___
As far as I know, in all cases there is only one consonant separating the vowels. An G does not occur
immediately following K nor with a consonant cluster separating it from the K.
(41) MOKMG [MY  " M ÖK] person; Seri
M-KÖRG [M" Ö RÖK] what is good
O" Ö -OG [O" Ö OK] It is all gone.

1.2.13. x-Lenition and x-Deletion

A velar fricative lenites to [W] after M9. The only example of this lenition process which I know of is
in the word !C-[C" M 9Z [!C[C" Q M9W]. This is the word on the basis of which Moser and Moser (1965)
set up a contrast between /M9/ and /MW/ (cf. §1.1.3). The application of a-Infixation (11) !C[C" M 9Z is
the evidence for underlying Z and not W: [!C[C" Q M9ÖCZC[C] Anklebone, my eye!.
In §4.3.5 it is argued that some forms have a near surface representation ending in WZM. These are
phonetically [WM9]. The Z is also absent in other forms which I write as ending in WZ (cf. (14)
above). The rule which accounts for these facts is not the same as the lenition process described above,
and is not a low-level rule. This is shown by the fact that, unlike the Z in !C[C" M 9Z anklebone, the Z of
the following types of words cannot be made to appear phonetically by means of the rule of a-
Infixation (11): MKVG" WZM who is thin, MC" WZM what is dry, and M" WZMKO which barks (repeatedly) at

11 I am positing underlying /KC/ for morpheme internal sequences of [GC] also since there is a rule
that changes the sequence GC to GG. (cf. §2.7.1). In § additional justification for this is found
with respect to certain morphemes at least.

1.2.14. Degemination
Nonnasal geminate clusters as well as clusters such as MM9 tend to degeminate when the second
consonant is not followed by a stressed vowel. (The effects of degemination have not been shown in
the phonetic representations above.) Degemination has applied in the examples in (42) but not in those
in (43).
(42) K!R-R-CÖ!-C" Ö R  → [K!RC!C" Ö R ] when I am cold...
U-!C" O QMMC-!C → [U!C" O ÖQÖMC!C] It will be dark.
RQ-RCPU½ : -: → [RQRC" P U½ : ] if he runs...
(43) K-O-OQMG" Ö RG-!C → [KOOQMG" Ö RÖGÖ!C] He is not sick.
U½ K Ö:M-MC" R → [U½  " Ö :MMC" R ] thing that flies (airplane)
U-!COQMM-G" Ö -[C → [U!COQMMG" Ö [C] Will it be night?

1.2.15. Sibilant assimilation

An U assimilates to a following U½. (As far as I know, the sequence U½ U is not generated by any processes
in the language.) Therefore when the U of the independent irrealis prefix is followed by a root
beginning with U½ , it also becomes U½: U-U½ C V:!C-!C [U½ U ½ C V:C!C] It will be thorny.

1.2.16. Phrase and clause stress

I have already mentioned that underlying as well as derived vowel length is in direct correlation with
the degree of stress which occurs. One process affecting stress is the way in which compound nouns
are formed (cf. §1.2.10).
Another factor affecting the degree of phonetic stress is the rule which reduces primary stress on
words in a phrase except for the final primary stress. The phrase :" M CMQOMC" Ö MM-O" U RCM(things
Seris NOM-resemble some) some Indians has the most noticeable stress on the word kmis. The degree
of post-tonic lengthening on :KMC and the contrastive vowel length on MQOMC" Ö M are reduced
significantly. In noun phrases the tendency is to maintain the right-most primary stress while reducing
the others, as was the case in compounding.
The stress on the verb of a dependent clause is commonly reduced, apparently obligatorily so,
when it is immediately preceded by a stressed particle with which it is associated semantically. (Many
of these are the relational nouns discussed in §7.11.) The stress in (44a) is on iti, in (44b) on !ant, in
(44c) on ano. The stress in (44d) is retained on the verb since another morpheme occurs between the
particle and the stressed morpheme of the verb.
(44) a. " V KO -R-QÖO if you lie on it...
b. !C" P VO R -QÖO if you lie down...
c. U½ C Ö!MKZC" P QRQ Ö -U½ M KO when the sun goes in (sets)...
d. KVKO-U-MC" O -QÖO!C-!C You shouldn’t lie on it!

1.2.17. Other
For other details of the phonetics of Seri, including basic intonation patterns, see Moser and Moser
1965. Kroeber’s (1931) claim that Seri is a tonal language is incorrect.

1.3. Phonotactics
Discussion of the consonant and vowel clusters of Seri was the primary focus of Moser and Moser
1965. In this section I will present some of the facts in a different way as well as present some new
observations. 12

1.3.1. Initial consonant clusters

As many as four consonants can be observed to occur together in word-initial position (preceded by
pause), as illustrated by the word M9-U-:VCOV there will be many.... To my knowledge, all of these
(which are few) involve some verb form with the third person oblique prefix (cf. §2.4.3). They are
therefore a restricted type of variation based on the more common three-consonant clusters which will
be discussed below.
I will discuss clusters in terms of the following classes: stops (S), fricatives (F), nasals (N), and
glides (G) (including glottal stop). I will ignore the voiced lateral. The attested utterance-initial two-
consonant clusters are listed in (45).
(45) Attested Unattested
The unattested clusters all involve an initial sonorant. The following observation holds true for all
surface forms.
(46) A sonorant-consonant sequence is always preceded by a vowel.13
Either of two epenthesis rules, discussed in §2.3.4 and §2.3.6, applies to potential violations of this
Of the sixty-four possible initial three-consonant clusters, only a few actually occur. They are
shown, with some examples in (47). While most arise through verb inflection, some are attested in
monomorphemic words.

12 Many of the results of Moser and Moser's study would have to be changed under the revised
phonological analysis presented in this thesis. For example, they counted [M9] as two consonants
whereas it is clearly only one, M9. They also have utterance-initial clusters beginning with glottal stop.
As far as I can tell, however, these glottal stops are either preceded by an epenthetic i (cf. §2.3.4) or
not present at all phonetically.
13The form [OC!P U ½ U ½ C " : 9] I am talking to you is not accomodated by a strict interpretation of this
generalization. The nasal is syllabic, however, as was noted in §1.2.6.

(47) SSS : RVMCOP lobster
M-R-MQÖ-[Q they who taste it
SSF : M9-V-U½ K OR:C Was it moldy...?
SSN : V-MOCÖOCV Is it a female?
SSG : M9-V-[GÖPQ Did he have a face like him?
M9-V-!GÖ  Was it red...?
SFS : V-:VCOV Was it a lot?
M-U½ -MQÖ-OV they who like it
SFF : M-U½ : QM he who hacks at it
SFN : M-:PQKU what is cluttered
SFG : M9-U-[GÖPQ He will have a face like him.
M9-U-!GÖOV It will stink...
FSS : U-MVCOQV It will be a male.
:RMKO  (nickname)
FSN : U-MOCÖOCV It will be a female.
FFS : U-:VCOV It will be a lot.
I assume that the remaining clusters which do not violate (46), namely FFF, FSF, FFG, FSG, and FFN
are accidental gaps.

1.3.2. Final consonant clusters

As many as four consonants can be observed to occur together in word-final position (preceding
pause). These will be discussed below. First I will discuss two-consonant clusters which occur in final
position. The attested and unattested clusters are listed below. 14
(48) Attested Unattested
Of the unattested clusters, the three involving nasals are the most relevant since such clusters are
generated as the result of Syncope (cf, §4.1.2). A rule inserting i (cf. §4.3.6) is the most common way
in which such clusters are prevented from surfacing. The following observation holds true for all
surface forms.
(49) The consonants of a coda agree in nasality.
Since it is not likely that the absence of glide-final clusters is accidental, the following generaliza-
tion is stated.
(50) Glides occur only contiguous to a vowel.

14The glide y does not occur in any coda clusters. In fact, it does not occur at all as a syllable coda
except in the loanword MCÖ[ horse. Therefore the glides referred to in (48) are all glottal stops.

Were it not for the fact that a syllable can end in a cluster consisting of two nasals, one could say that
sonorants occur only contiguous to a vowel. Such a generalization would make (46) and (50) both
Of the possible three-consonant clusters, only the following are attested word-finally.
(51) SSF : [GMVU½ Yaquis
-CRVZ be wide
FS : VCM M porpoises
-CRZM wear around neck
FF : -MCR:  be sour
MGÖRU  sand crab
U GÖPC" R U½ Z heron (sp.)
FF : -CHU½ : be lightweight
-CÖU½   : 15 cough
SS : -CUMV lung
SF : MQHVZ coral snake
-C:R: be mad at
FS : !C: M arrow points
-CUZM white lice
SF : -COVZ tendon
-CÖPR: return home
FS : -VCO M temple (of head)
-COZM bring
FF : -KP : be empty
FF : -RGÖ!U½ : be shallow
-OK!U½ : slip
FS : -CÖ-O" !  M make smooth (pl.)
GSF : K-V-C!V-: when they saw it...
The absence of the clusters SSS, NSS, and GSS is probably an accident. The observations noted above
account for the remaining clusters which do not occur.
To any dependent verb with three final consonants could be added the suffix /-:/ (cf. §3.1.7),
creating a four-consonant cluster: K-RQÖ-OZM-: if he brings it.... A nominalized verb (cf. §2.6.1) could
also be followed by the definite article MK! (cf. §7.1) which has the allomorph [M] in utterance final
position. This construction would add another consonant to any final cluster. An example is
[MCÖPR:M] (NOM-return the).16

15Utterance-finally this cluster occurs as [U½ :  ] the Cluster P :, as in MKP : what is empty does not
exhibit this metathesis, however.
16The four-consonant clusters occurring stem-internally that I know of all involve a W followed by
xkÖ -QÖ!WZM be upright (pl.), -VKÖRWZM squeeze, -CÖ!" O WZM overturn (pl.), and :VCOC" R WZM

1.3.3. Vowel clusters
A few observations will be made here with respect to unattested vowel clusters. Moser and Moser
1965 notes that the cluster ae does not occur. A more general constraint is perhaps in force, however,
since the cluster C" C0G does not occur either (cf. §2.3.5), while CC1G" does occur. (See also §6.1.1.)
Moser and Moser 1965 notes also that only one occurrence of the cluster ei was found:
[!CVG" K MVK0] rag. However, this is a compound based on !-CÖ-VCK (loin)cloth and KÖ-∅-MVKO (3P-NOM-
be=cut) piece of. Other than in this word, the sequence does not occur phonetically, although it does
occur phonologically. See § 2.7.1.
I have personally observed that pretonic G does not occur and that where it is expected (cf. §2.3.5
and §4.1.4) a occurs instead.17 Important exceptions to this generalization are the first and second
person oblique prefixes (cf. §2.4.3). Except for these prefixes and the independent pronouns, the vowel
G(Ö) appears to be restricted to either of the following positions:
___ C1 ___.
I have also observed that the sequence ia does not occur morpheme-internally underlyingly, with
only one exception, /-KCÖO/ be spacious. The sequence arises through the juxtaposition of morphemes
and as a result of a minor ablaut rule, however. This sequence does not even occur phonetically word-
internally.18 Word-internal sequences of KC surface as [GC] (cf. §1.2.11) or [K[C] (cf. §5.3). Also, the
sequence KG does not occur on the surface. Finally, with the exception noted above, the sequence KV
does not occur morpheme-internally in underlying representations where V is a vowel other than K(Ö).19
Derived sequences of the latter type do occur, however, as in !" -QPCO my hat, from underlying

rainbows. The x does not occur phonetically in this position, however, and so these are not good
examples of four-consonant clusters (cf. §1.2.13).
17 One exception is the common pronunciation of !K-MG" M V my parent-in-law which is [!GMG" M V].
18This sequence arises with certain suffixes and particles, however, such as those noted in Moser
and Moser 1965Ö !CK-C" Ö -!C it is really windy, K-U-CÖK!C-!C [KUC" Ö KC!C] he will do it.
19 Moser and Moser 1965 incorrectly analyzed root-initial sequences of yV as iV. They are most
definitely consonant-initial roots as prefixation patterns indicate.

Postscript to Chapter 1
A somewhat more conservative position about the place of the round consonants is taken in
Marlett 1988. This article also presents a much more complete discussion of the syllable structure of
Seri. I also now am convinced that W should be understood phonologically as a labialized velar
fricative, Z9, as suggested by an anonymous IJAL referee sometime in the past.
The abstract consonant is discussed in Marlett 1981 and Marlett and Stemberger 1983. The latter
proposes that the abstract consonant facts should be analyzed as resulting from an empty consonant
I have observed since writing this thesis that Velarization (17) is not obligatory for all speakers of
The pronunciation of the word mentioned in note 17 actually has a lengthened e [æ] in the first,
unstressed syllable, which is very odd since vowels are not contrastive in unstressed position, and are
not long in pre-stress position.
Finally, I have decided in more recent technical publications to use the symbol æ rather than e for
the low front vowel since it is too easy for readers to incorrectly interpret the short-hand
representations that were used earlier. I also regret the choice that I made in the thesis of trying to
write words at an intermediate phonological representation which is probably likely to be
misinterpreted in various ways. For example, the representation of [PV] as mt in those places where we
know that the nasal comes from an underlying m is too likely to be misunderstood as being
phonetically [OV].
Marlett, Stephen A. 1981. The abstract consonant in Seri. Proceedings of the Berkeley Linguistics
Society, pp. 154-165.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1988 The syllable structure of Seri. International Journal of American Linguistics
Marlett, Stephen A., and Joseph P. Stemberger. 1983. Empty consonants in Seri. Linguistic Inquiry

Chapter 2
Prefix Morphology and Morphophonemics

2.1. Overview of prefix morphology

Finite verbs in Seri are minimally marked for person and number of the final subject and direct object
(if any), for person of oblique nominals (with certain conditions), and for mood. (The agreement rules
are given more precisely in §2.4 and developed in later chapters.) Other verb markings which occur as
prefixes on finite verbs include: directionals (cf. §2.5.14); object marker (OM) (cf. §2.5.1); unspecified
subject (US) (cf. §2.5.11); negative (cf. §2.5.2); first person restrictive (cf. §2.5.9); passive (cf. §2.5.5);
detransitivizer (D) (cf. §2.5.4 and chapter 13); an augment prefix (cf. §2.5.6 and chapter 14) which
indicates a causative meaning, among other things; and a prefix meaning times (X) (cf. §2.5.10 and
chapter 11). Imperative and infinitival forms, which involve special prefixes, have the same structure
as finite verbs except that the following prefixes do not occur on them (cf. §§2.5.3,7-8): subject prefix,
object marker, unspecified subject, and first person restrictive. The negative prefix also never occurs
on infinitival forms. The structures of nominalizations are slightly different and are discussed in §2.6.
The relative order of these prefixes is given in (1).20
(1) Obliq.-Direct.- Object - Subj.-Mood - Neg.- First - Pass. - Augment - root
Marker  Restr.
Imperative Detr. X times
Object Infinitive Subject
The brackets in (1) indicate some of the restrictions on these morphemes.
The mood prefixes, which structurally and semantically form a class, are discussed in the next

2.2. Mood prefixes

The prefixes in (2), which indicate primarily mood, occur on finite verbs. (Discussion of the
imperative mood is postponed until §2.5.7.) One of these prefixes occurs on every finite verb.
(2) Realis21
(Neutral) /V-/ (RL)
Emphatic /:Q-/ (EMPH)
Distal /[Q-/ (DIST)
Proximal /OK-/ (PROX)
Abilitative /VO-/ (ABIL)
(Dependent) /RQ-/ (IRR)
(Independent) /UK-/ (IRR)

[New footnote: This diagram corrects an error in the dissertation, in which the unspecified
subject prefix was incorrectly placed preceding the negative prefix.]
I use the terms realis/irrealis basically in the same sense as actual/potential. Parameters which do
not affect these moods in Seri are negation and interrogation. Both realis and irrealis clauses therefore
occur negated and as questions. Were it not for certain uses of the mood prefixes, it would be possible
to view the distinction as nonfuture/future.

I use the term dependent clause to refer to a finite clause which cannot normally stand alone
grammatically as a complete sentence. Adverbial clauses in English would be considered dependent
clauses by this definition. Complement clauses are excluded from classification as dependent or
independent since these are nominalized in Seri. The only mood prefixes which occur on finite verbs
in dependent clauses are the neutral realis /V-/ and the dependent irrealis /RQ-/. The prefix /V-/ also
occurs on verbs in independent clauses.
In the following sections I will illustrate briefly the usage of the mood prefixes. In §2.3 I will
discuss the rules which account for their allomorphs.

2.2.1. Neutral realis

The realis prefix /V-/ is the most neutral of all the realis prefixes. It is the only mood prefix which
occurs in both independent and dependent clauses. It is the only realis prefix used in questions. It
occurs with the negative prefix, unlike the proximal realis. It is the only realis prefix used in dependent
clauses. When it occurs before a non-interrogative verb in an independent clause, however, a suffix
generally also occurs. The examples in (3) illustrate the use of this prefix in dependent clauses, those
in (4) its use in interrogative clauses, and those in (5) its use in non-interrogative independent
(3) a. !CRMK!V-Q:K OC [Q-R-C!KV
deer the RL-die SR DIST-PASS-eat
When a deer died (was killed), it was eaten.
b. /OK-OCVZ/
air the outside RL-stand-UT PROX-hot
When the air comes out, it is hot.
c. /OK-QÖO/
RL-sleep there PROX-lie
He’s lying there sleeping.
d. /O-V-KÖO /KMC-KÖO/ /OK-∅-COU½ Q /
2sS-RL-sleep although INF-sleep 2P-NOM-want the
Although you slept, your desire to sleep didn’t leave you.
e. /!R-[Q-KÖO/
RL-rain SR lsS-DIST-sleep
While it rained I slept.

When the underlying form of a verb is different from the intermediate form given in an example,
it is given in slashes above the intermediate form. The underlying form of the verb stem will not be
given, however.

f. /OK-!GÖOV/
RL-die PROX-stink
When it died it stank.
g. /[Q-CU½ M CO/
days RL-three SR DIST-arrive/PL
They arrived three days ago.
still RL-AUG-work-o
Is he still working?
b. U½ Q V-R-CK
how RL-PASS say
What is it called?
yesterday the 2sS-RL-AUG-stroll
Did you take a stroll yesterday?
d. V-O-CHR
Didn’t he arrive?
(5) a. /KMC-Q-C!KV/ /!-V-O-COU½ Q -!Q/
INF-D-eat lsS-RL-NEG-want-!o
I don’t want to eat.
b. /!KO-V-O-CCZ-!Q/
lPRO chief K!K lsO-RL-NEG-know/PL-!Q
Although I was chief, they don’t know me.
c. /V-OK-GÖ/
RL-NEG-arrive V-PROX-say
Hei didn’t arrive, hej said.
d. /V-RQMV-!K/
much RL-full-!K
How full it is!
e. /V-CRVZ-C-!C/
It is wide!

f. /K-V-O-QCMVKO-!Q/
cholla the — NOM-small the OM-RL-NEG-touch-!Q
Children don’t (shouldn’t) touch the cholla cactus!

2.2.2. Emphatic realis

The prefix /:Q-/ indicates a nonfuture action or state which the speaker is emphatically asserting (not
questioning).23 The clause is always independent.
(6) a. /OQ-:Q-O-CÖ/
KO-:Q¸ -O-CÖ
He’s not coming!
b. U½ K Ö: U½ Q !-:Q-O-C!KV
thing a lsS-EMPH-NEG-eat
I haven’t eaten a thing!
c. /:Q-CÖR N/
It’s cold!
d. /:Q-QKV/
much lP-spirit down EMPH-descend
I am very happy!

2.2.3. Distal realis

The prefix /[Q-/ signifies that the action took place in the past, generally a more distant action in terms
of time or distance than one marked by the prefix /OK-/ described in §2.2.4. It is also used in clauses
indicating habitual action. This prefix does not occur in interrogative or in dependent clauses.
(7) a. U½ K Ö:K-R:CUKMC!V-CU½ Q ZOC-:[Q-R-C!KV
thing 3P-flesh the/FOC RL-alone SR-UT DIST-PASS-eat
Only meat was eaten.
b. /!KO-[Q-[QZ/
!CRKUMK!CP:9!KO-" [ -[QZ
tobacco the much lsO-DIST-give/PL
They gave me lots of cigarettes.
c. /!R-V-KÖO/ /!K-[-QVZ/
lsS-RL-sleep lP-NOM-arise all the/FOC-UT

Interestingly, there is a suffix of this same shape which adds emphasis to an assertion about a
future event (cf. §3.1.1).

coffee the lsS-DIST-drink
After sleeping, arising, I always drink coffee.

2.2.4. Proximal realis

The realis prefix /OK-/ indicates that the event described in the clause has already occurred or that it is
presently occurring. This prefix does not cooccur with negation. It occurs only in affirmative, non-
interrogative independent clauses, as in (8). (This and the distal realis prefix do occur, however, in a
highly restricted type of adverbial clause, as described in §§3.6.3-4.)
(8) a. /!R-OK-GÖGZKO/
lsS-PROX-old lPRO now-?
Now I am old.
b. /K-∅-CMVKO/ /!-OK-MCÖ/
bread the 3P-NOM-be=cut the lsS-PROX-look=for
I look for pieces of bread.
c. /!-OK-CM9/ /!K-Q-C:MKO/ /OK-KÖRG/
deer the lsS-PROX-kill lP-NOM-throw PROX-good
I killed deer; I was a good shot.

2.2.5. Abilitative irrealis

The prefix /VO-/ signifies that the event related by the clause, which must be yet in the future, is able
to or is permitted to transpire. An imperative meaning is often implied. The clause is always
independent, non-negative, and non-interrogative.
(9) a. !CPV RQ-HKÖ VC VO-CÖ!-:CR
land IRR-? SR ABIL-PASS-dig=up
Tomorrow it can be dug up.
OK, untie me!
c. /!C-VO-Q-MQÖU½ : / /OK-GÖ[Q/
!-VMO-Q-MQÖU½ : :C! O-GÖ[Q
1plS-ABIL-D-rob and PROX-say/PL
“Let’s rob,” they said.
d. /!KU½ K -OK-CK /MQ-OC-VO-QKÖ/
thus-FOC 1plO-PROX-say there 3Ob-2plS-ABIL-be/PL
Thus he told us: “You all stay there!”

2.2.6. Dependent irrealis
The irrealis prefix /RQ-/ occurs on verbs in dependent clauses which relate unaccomplished events,
future or past. The events in (10a-e) are future, and those in (10f-i) are past.
(10) a. /RQ-CR/
boojum a land a 3P-on IRR-stand SR
If there is a boojum tree somewhere,
2sS-IRR-see near 3Ob-2P-NOM-move concessive
if you see it, even though you move near it,
3P-trunk a 2sS-IRR-NEG-AUG-be=cut
you shouldn’t cut its trunk,
stone a 3Ob-2sS-IRR-NEG-hit AUX-DECL
you shouldn’t hit it with a stone.
2sS-IRR-eat-UT 2sS-IRR-sick AUX-DECL
If you eat it, you will get sick.
now IRR-night SR
When it is night (i.e., tonight),
fiesta land IRR-NEG-sit NOM-say/D-INTERR
won’t there be a fiesta?
d. /RQ-CR:C/
days IRR-three SR
When the days are three (i.e., in three days),
2PRO 3Ob-IRR-leave/PL NOM-say/D-INTERR
will you (pl.) leave?
e. /!-RQ-QÖMVC/
OM-IRR-spear SR 1sS-IRR-look=at I=wish
How I would like to see him spear it!

f. /!KO-RQ-CÖ /
!KO-" R -CÖ K-O-CVC:-K!C
1sO-IRR-accompany NOM-NEG-go-DECL
He didn’t go with me.
g. /RQ-CÖ-U½ K ÖO-CÖ/
R-CÖ-U½ K ÖO-CÖ!C:[Q¸ - O-CÖ
IRR-AUG-like-true just DIST-NEG-be
It wasn’t very pretty.
some 1plS-IRR-bring/PL 3Ob-1plS-IRR-sell/PL and AUX
If we brought some (lobsters) back,
we intended to sell them.
lobster a IRR-abundant SR 1P-NOM-NEG-kill/PL-DECL
We didn’t kill many lobsters.

2.2.7. Independent irrealis

The prefix /UK-/ signifies that the event related by the clause has not yet occurred. In an independent
clause, a verb marked with this prefix must be followed by one of a variety of suffixes or particles (cf.
§3.5), as shown in (11). Verbs with this prefix also occur in a very restricted type of complement
clause, exemplified in (10h) and discussed in §9.4.
(11) a. /!R-UK-O-CR:VKO-:Q/!R-UK-O-CVC:/
I’m not going to pack! I’m not going to go.
Of course he’ll work.
c. /UK-U½ C V:-:Q/
OK-P  MK! U-U½ C V:-:Q
2P-fingers the IRR-have=thorns-EMPH
Your fingers will get thorns in them.
d. /!-UK-CO:Q/
OQUK!-U" Ö -O:Q!C-[C
again 1sS-IRR-say AUX-INTERR
Shall I say it again?

e. /K-UK-CM9/
OM-IRR-kill IRR-!o
He will kill it perhaps.
just now 1sS-IRR-gather=torote-first
Now first I will gather torote.
horse that NOM-NEG-die CTF
If that horse had not died (been killed).
only 1plS-IRR-have-fingers-UT
we would have been emptyhanded,
/!C-UK-CU½ M CO/
camp 1plS-IRR-arrive/PL AUX-DECL people the IRR-all-UT
we would have returned to camp, all of the people.

2.3. Morphophonemics of mood prefixes

A considerable amount of allomorphy exists with respect to the mood prefixes. In this section I will
discuss the allomorphy that is not already handled by the rules in chapter 1 (such as m-Assimilation
and Nasalization). Some rules, which will be noted, are presented here in a simple form and will be
revised in succeeding sections.24 None of the rules, while not restricted to these particular prefixes,
applies to suffixes. In later sections, repeated reference is made to rules presented here since these
rules account for allomorphy of numerous other prefixes as well. The discussion of primary word
stress is included here since this is important with regard to prefix morphology. A paradigm of
representative verbs is given in (12) with representative mood prefixes. The object marker /K-/ occurs
on the transitive verbs since they are cited in third person (cf. §2.5.1).
Underlying forms are posited for both roots and prefixes which will allow for the simplest
phonological and morphological rules. Since, as will be seen in later sections, the grammar of Seri
pays strict attention to the phonological shape of the roots, the motivation for these underlying forms
is considerable. With respect to what the underlying representations are, therefore, there is no question
(12) Realis Abilitat. Emphatic Irrealis root gloss
a. Short low vowel
VG" O G VOG" O G :Q¸ Ö OG U" Ö OG -GOG used up
VC" K :CZ VOC" K :CZ :Q¸ K :CZ U" Ö :CZ -CK:CZ hard
KVC" R  KVMOC" R  K:Q¸ Ö R KU" Ö R -CR sew basket

24 The order of presentation has nothing to do with the order in which the rules apply. Rule
ordering is summarized in §2.9.

b. Consonant
KVO" U  KVMQOO" U  K:QO" U  KUO" U  -OKU resemble
c. Nonlow back vowel, intransitive
VQ¸ V Z VOQ¸ V Z :9C" V Z UQ¸ V Z -QVZ arise
VQ¸ Z QU½   VOQ¸ Z QU½   :9C" Z QU½   UQ¸ Z QU½   -QZQU½   flee
d. Other vowel
KVQ¸ Ö P KVMOQ¸ Ö P K:Q¸ Ö P KUQ¸ Ö P -QÖP carry
KV" Ö  KVMO" Ö  K:" Ö  KU" Ö  -KÖ hear
V" U  VO" U  :" U  U" U  -KU raw
VG" Ö OKZ VOG" Ö OKZ :G" Ö OKZUG" Ö OKZ -GÖOKZ move slowly

2.3.1. Primary word stress

The primary stress of a word in Seri generally occurs on the first vowel of the root. This rule pertains
to both nouns and verbs, as well as other multisyllabic forms.
(13) Primary stress: V → [+stress] / root[C0___
Of course, as a result of compounding and fossilization of forms, there are numerous lexical items
which must be marked to receive stress idiosyncratically.

2.3.2. Short Low Vowel Deletion

If a verb root begins with a short low vowel (a or e) and is preceded by a vowel-final prefix, the root
vowel deletes, the stress being carried by the vowel which remains.25
(14) Short Low Vowel Deletion: V + V ⇒ [+str] ∅
1 [+str] 1 2
[+lo ]
Some derivations are given in (15).
(15) IRR-warm IRR-strong IRR-go
Stress RQ-OG" M G RQ-C" K :CZ UK-C" V C:
SLV Del ______ RQ¸ - K:CZ U" Ö -VC:

25 While the perseverance of the stress is reflected in the formalization of this rule, it is assumed
that this should follow automatically and therefore should not have to be written into the rule.

When Short Low Vowel Deletion results in a nonlow stressed vowel followed by a consonant, the
stressed vowel lengthens considerably, as in U" Ö VC:.26 I assume this lengthening is a result of the
deletion of the short low vowel. Lengthening does not occur, however, when the prefix vowel is the
object marker (cf. §2.5.1). When the short low vowel is the first vowel of a noun root (cf. §2.7),
lengthening occurs only on a few forms. Due to the complicated conditions governing this
compensatory lengthening, I will not attempt to formalize the rule.

2.3.3. Vowel Deletion

Whenever a prefix vowel is followed by a vowel that is not a short low vowel, the prefix vowel
deletes. (See also, however, §2.5.1 and §2.5.3.)
(16) Vowel Deletion: V → ∅ / ___ + V
(17) IRR-sleep OM-DIST-stir IRR-raw DIST-yawn
The form RQK:CZ in (15) shows that Vowel Deletion (16) must be disjunctively ordered with Short
Low Vowel Deletion (14).
The operation of these rules provides the first two pieces of evidence for the interpretation of most
phonetically long root-initial vowels as long underlying vowels and not geminate vowel clusters. Short
Low Vowel Deletion (14) would have to be complicated considerably under the latter analysis. To be
specific, the rule would have to be reformulated as below.
(18) Short Low Vowel Deletion': V Vi C ⇒ [+str} ∅
1 [+str] Vj 1 2 3
[+lo ] 3
The derivations of [CÖZM he yawned (cf. (17) and RQK:CZ (if) he is strong (cf. (15)) under this
analysis would be as follows.
Stress [Q-C" C ZM RQ-C" K :CZ
SLV Del ______ RQ¸ - K:CZ
VD (17) [-C" C ZM ______
Not only does this analysis require an ad hoc complication to SLV Deletion (14), it also
incorrectly predicts that geminate vowel sequences cannot be distinguished from long vowels. It can
be argued, however, that a few geminate vowel clusters occur. The verb /-CCÖ / order and /-CC/ know,
for example, have vowel sequences which contrast phonologically (but not necessarily phonetically)
with long low vowels. Thus /K-RQ-CCÖ / yields KRQ¸ C Ö  and /K-:Q-CC/ yields K:Q¸ C , etc. In addition, one
of the morphological changes performed on verb stems to make them plural is to replace an K by CÖ.
The plural forms of /-CK/ tell and /-CKÖ:/ leave are /-CCÖO/ and /-CCÖ:/ respectively. Again the language
is able to distinguish geminate vowels from long vowels: /K-[Q-CCÖO/ they told him gives K[Q¸ C ÖO and
/K-[Q-CCÖ:/ they left it gives K[Q¸ C Ö:. The evidence for long vowels is summarized in §6.2.

26 A low vowel does not lengthenÖ /KMC-CVC:/ (INF-go) → KMC" -VC:.

2.3.4. i-Deletion and i-Epenthesis
The i’s of the prefixes /UK-/ and /OK-/ delete when they precede a consonant.27
(20) /UK-OGMG/ → UOGMG (IRR-lukewarm)
/OK-OGMG/ → KOOGMG (PROX-lukewarm)
The K of the object marker /K-/, discussed in §2.5.1, also deletes before a consonant if it is preceded
by a consonant (but cf. §2.4.3). Since the verbalizing prefix /K-/ (cf. §2.5.12) and the K’s of the
possessive prefixes /!K-/ and /OK-/ do not delete under the same phonological conditions, the
restriction is stated in the following rule that the second consonant must be part of a form
subcategorized as a verb.
(21) i-Deletion: K → ∅ / C ___V[C
The subcategorization prevents the K from deleting in nominalized forms such as the followingÖ
(22) N[!K N[∅ V[RKÖ]]] my tasting it
An K is inserted in the realis form in (20). This insertion takes place when a nasal consonant is
followed by a consonant and preceded by either a pause boundary or a consonant. If the nasal is
preceded by a word ending in a vowel, the insertion does not take place. The rule is tentatively given
as (23) and will be revised slightly in §2.4.1. It is fed by i-Deletion (21).28
(23) i-Epenthesis (phrase-level)Ö
∅ → K/C ___ C C
Derivation (24) illustrates the application of i-Epenthesis when the first consonant is in the same word
as the nasal consonant. Two K’s are inserted by (23) in this example.
(24) 1sS-PROX-run
i-Epen K!RKORCPU½ :

2.3.5. Coalescence and Fronting

When the morphemes /:Q-/, /[Q-/, and /RQ-/ are followed by an Q (long or short), the vowels coalesce
to form a short a if and only if the clause in which the verb occurs is superficially intransitive. (When
the clause is transitive Vowel Deletion (16) applies (cf. (12) and (17)). The coalescence of the two
vowels also has a side effect on the : of the prefix /:Q-/: it becomes [+round]. The allomorph /:9/
arises only as a result of this rule.
(25) DIST-cry IRR-arise EMPH-arise
The rule is given as (26).

27 The underlying vowels show up in the forms in (12a).

28 As noted in §1.3.1, a sonorant-consonant sequence is always preceded by a vowel on the surface.

(26) Coalescence: C V + V ⇒ <+rd> ∅ [+lo ]
<+bac> [+rd] [+rd] 1 2 [-lng]
1 2 3 3
Condition: the clause must be superficially intransitive.
(Transitive verbs prefixed by the “detransitivizer” /Q-/ (cf. §2.5.4 and chapter 13) occur in superficially
intransitive clauses and provide the proper environment for this rule. Additional facts relating to
Coalescence (26) are discussed in §2.5.4.)
Coalescence (26) feeds a fronting rule that changes stressed C’s to G’s. Note especially example
(27) Fronting: C → G / ___ C0 G
(28) a. [G" U GVC it jiggled < /[Q-QÖUGVC/
b. [G" G R: it flapped < /[Q-QGR:/
c. [CMG" Ö G: he cut hair < /[Q-Q-MGÖG:/

2.3.6. o-Epenthesis
When the prefix /VO-/ is followed by a consonant, an Q is inserted before the O, bleeding i-Epenthesis
(29) ABIL-fly
o-Epenthesis also applies in the following form, being fed by i-Deletion (21).
(30) OQOUKU" Ö P he is pitiable < /OK-OUKU" Ö P/
The application of this rule is also illustrated by verbs prefixed with the negative morpheme /O-/ (cf.
§2.5.2). The rule is tentatively given as (31). This rule and i-Epenthesis (23) will be discussed and
revised in §2.4.1.
(31) o-Epenthesis: ∅ → Q / C ___ C C

2.3.7. k-Epenthesis
When the prefix /VO-/ is preceded by any other prefix (except the oblique prefixes—cf. §2.4.3), a k is
inserted following the V.
(32) 1pS-ABIL-go/PL 1sS-ABIL-fly
The application of this rule is also illustrated by other prefixes and the negative morpheme (cf.§2.5.2).
The rule, formulated in such a way that it must be ordered before o-Epenthesis since it is not bled by
that rule (cf. (32)), is given as (33).
(33) k-Epenthesis: ∅ → M / [+seg] C ___ C +
[+cor] [+nas]
The nasal consonant must be part of a prefix. As (34) shows, k-Epenthesis does not apply if the nasal
is root-initial.

(34) OM-RL-resemble

2.3.8. Other rules

There are a few more rules that create allomorphs of the mood prefixes, but these are more properly
dealt with in chapter 5 since they apply only to irregular verbs.

2.4. Person prefixes

In this section I will present the three sets of person markers that occur on finite verb forms. (The
possessive prefixes occur on nominalized verb forms and are discussed in §2.7.2). The relative order
of these prefixes is: Oblique-Object-Subject.

2.4.1. Subject person prefixes

A verb agrees in person with the (final) subject of the clause. The subject person markers are as
(35) 1 singular !- ~ !R-
2 singular O-
1 plural !C-
2 plural OC-
Third person is unmarked. The allomorphy of the first person singular subject prefix is suppletive and
is conditioned by the superficial transitivity or intransitivity of the clause (cf. chapter 10). The
allomorph /!R-/ occurs on simple intransitive verbs, detransitivized verbs (cf. §2.5.4 and chapter 13),
and in passive clauses. The allomorph /!-/ occurs elsewhere. i-Epenthesis (23) applies when this prefix
is not preceded by a vowel and therefore must be revised. It must also be revised such that the i not be
inserted following the glottal stop in (36i-j) and o-Epenthesis (31) must be revised so that it does not
apply in the derivation of forms such as (36k-m).
(36) a. K!-:Q-VKU I pointed at it!
b. K!R-:9C-VKU I pointed!
c. K!R-[Q-R-CU½ V I was tattooed.
d. KO-V-KÖ Did you hear it?
e. V-CHR Did he arrive?
f. !C-VMO-C : We can go
g. OC-V-QÖMVCO Did you look at it?

h. V-CU½ M CO Did they arrive?
i. K!-O-RKÖ I tasted it.
j. K!-O-MCÖ I am looking for it.
k. K!R-KO-RCPU½ : I am running.
l. K!R-KO-!CM I am blind.
m. O-KO-!CM You are blind.
The epenthesis rules can be revised as shown below.
(37) o-Epenthesis: ∅ → Q / Ci ___ C C
Condition: Ci is not part of a person prefix.
The condition is necessary to prevent this rule from applying in (36k). Furthermore, the
application of this rule must be iterative right to left since the UR /!R-UK-O-OUKU" Ö P/ I will not be
pitiable yields K!RUMOQOUKU" Ö P and not *K!RUMQOQOUKU" Ö P. o-Epenthesis applies before
(38) i-Epenthesis (phrase-level)Ö ∅→i/ C ___ (!) C C
The fact that this rule applies in the derivation of forms such as /OK-!GÖ / (PROX-red) KO!GÖ 
[K!OGÖ ] it is red is evidence that ! is a distinct segment at this level.29

Therefore, it is not possible to have a context-free rule coalescing !O or O!. Such a rule would

make the metathesis rule of §1.2.2 unnecessary as well as eliminate the need to write optional glottal
stop in i-Epenthesis (38) and m-Assimilation (23) (§1.2.6). (The low-level glottalization rule of §1.2.2
would apply after i-Epenthesis.)
As pointed out in §7.1, the UR of the definite article MK! (as it is consistently represented in
examples in this thesis) is actually M!. The i is inserted by rule (38). The examples below illustrate the
application of (38) on the phrase-level. Note that two glottal stops degeminate before i-Epenthesis (38)
(i) /!CUVM!!-OK-MCÖ/ → [!C" U VMK!P M C" Ö ]
stone the 1sS-PROX-seek
I am looking for the stone.
car the PROX-broken
The car is broken.

2.4.2. Object person prefixes
The verb agrees with the (final) direct object of the clause. (A more precise formulation of the
agreement rule is given in §12.3.) The object person prefixes are given below.
(39) 1 singular !KO- ~ !RQ-
2 singular OC-
1 plural !KU½ K -
2 plural OCU½ K -
(Some people use /!CU½ K -/ rather than /!KU½ K -/.) Third person is unmarked. The first person singular
object prefix is /!RQ-/ in imperatives, and is /!KO-/ elsewhere. The examples below show that the
object marker /K-/ (cf. §2.5.1) (not to be confused with epenthetic K’s) shows up when the subject and
direct object are both third person.
(40) a. !KO-KO-MCU½ P K It bit me.
b. K!RQ-∅-UCPZ Carry me on your back!
c. OC-V-C!Q Did he see you?
d. K-V-COZM Did he bring it?
e. !KU½ K -[QÖ-!Q He saw us.
f. OCU½ K -[QÖ-!Q He saw you (pl.).
g. OC-U-QÖMVCO-:Q You (pl.) should look at it/them.
h. K-V-QÖPGM Did they take them?
There are a few idiosyncrasies with respect to the object prefixes (see the chart in (46) for surface
forms). The first is that the O’s of the sequences /!KO + O +/ (1sO + 2sS), /!KO + OC +/ (1sO +
2plS), and /!KO + OK +/ (1sO + 2POSS) (cf. §2.7.2) degeminate whereas geminate nasals do not
generally degeminate (cf. §1.2.16). The O’s of the first person singular object prefix followed by the
mood prefix /OK-/ do not degeminate, for example. Therefore the morphemes in question must be
referred to explicitly in the degemination rule, given as (41).
(41) !KO + O K ⇒ 1 2 3 ∅ 5
123 4 C

/...MQÖ:MC!!-OK-CC/ → [MQ¸ Ö :MC!O" [ ÖC]

all the/FOC 1sS-PROX-know
I know all...

Rule (41) bleeds i-Epenthesis (38). The effects of rule (41) will not be represented in forms cited
hereafter, however.
Another idiosyncrasy is that the a of the second person plural subject prefix /OC-/ deletes when
that morpheme is preceded by the person prefix /!KO-/, as in (42a). In addition, the second person
singular object prefix which is normally /OC-/ occurs as /OCU½ K -/ when the subject of the verb is first
person plural, as in (42b).
(42) a. !KO-O-V-GÖ[QZ Did you (pl.) give (to) me?
b. OCU½ K -!C-O-KÖ:COV We fear you (sg. or pl.).
The following generalization holds true: If the (final) object person is singular and the (final) subject
person is plural, the singular/plural marking of both of these prefixes which occur will agree in
number with whichever is first person. The following rule, in which [+SG] means singular, [-SG]
means plural, [+1st] means first person, and [-1st] means second person, summarizes these facts.
[α1st] [-α1st] 1 2
[+SG ] [-SG ]
1 2
This rule affects only the shape of the prefixes which occur. It does not affect number agreement on
the verb. Rule (43) applies, however, irrespective of whether the subject or object person prefix
actually occurs. In (44a) the subject person prefix does not appear because the verb occurs in the
subject nominalized form. In (44b) the subject person is represented by a possessive prefix since the
verb of the complement clause is nominalized. In (44c) the subject person is represented by the
possessive prefix on an object nominalized form. In (44d) the subject person prefix does not appear
because an infinitival form is required. Nevertheless, in all four types of sentences, rule (43) applies,
changing the object prefix /OC-/ to /OCU½ K -/. Likewise in (45) the subject prefix /OC-/ is changed to
/O-/ even though the direct object prefix is replaced by an oblique prefix (because of the oblique
nominal penisiliÖna (cf. §2.4.4). 30
(44) a. !G OCU½ K -M-PQRVQNMC-!C
We are hitting you (sg. or pl.).
1P-NOM-tattoo/PL OM-PROX-want/PL
They want us to tattoo you (sg. or pl.).
c. OCU½ K -!" - [-GÖVKO-K!C
They are our gifts to you (sg. or pl.).

Rule (43) also applies in stress-retracting verbs (cf. chapter 5) in which plural subject prefixes
are always replaced by singular prefixes.
(ii) OCU½ K -!-" V -[QZ
Did we give it to you (sg.)?

INF-tattoo/PL 1plS-PROX-want/PL
We want to tattoo you (sg. or pl.).
penicillin the in 1sO-2plS-IRR-put/PL AUX-INTERR
Are you (pl.) going to inject me with penicillin?
The following chart gives the combinations of subject and object prefixes as they actually appear. 31
1s 2s 3s 1pl 2pl 3pl
O 1s — !KO- !KO-  !KO- !KO-
B 2s OC-!- — OC- OCU½ K -!C- OC-
J 3s !- O-  !C- OC-
E 1pl — !KU½ K -O- !KU½ K -  !KU½ K -OC- !KU½ K -
C 2pl OCU½ K -!- — OCU½ K - OCU½ K -!C- — OCU½ K -
T 3pl !- O-  !C- OC-

2.4.3. Oblique person prefixes

The verb also agrees with (final) oblique nominals. The forms given in (47) are used for singular
nominals and some plural nominals. Other forms are discussed in §7.11. (These involve the use of a
relational noun and the suspension of oblique agreement in most cases.)
(47) 1 !G=
2 OG=
3 MQ=
The = boundary is discussed below. Examples are given in (48).
(48) Final 3
cholla some 1Ob-IMP-bring
Bring some cholla to me!
He will show it to us.
c. !Q!TCMQÖ=∅-V CZ
donkey 3Ob-IMP-go
Go like a donkey.
Did he come to you?

31 Boxes marked with a dash require reflexive forms (cf. §7.10), as with third person when
coreference is to be indicated.

3P-NOM-sit the 3Ob-RL-return
He returned to the place where he was...
fire also a 3Ob-1sS-IRR-NEG-sit AUX-DECL
I'm not going to sit by a fire.
3Ob-1sS-IRR-cover=oneself AUX-DECL
I will cover up with it.
h. MQ=!R-[-CÖ-!KV
I was fishing with him.
i. CU½  M9=U-QQ M-GÖ-[C
what 3Ob-IRR-argue NOM-say-INTERR
What is she going to argue about?
j. OG=!R-[-CÖMQ
I have a house like yours.
k. U½ K Ö:U½ Q MQ=O-V-MO-CK:CZ-K!Q
thing a 3Ob-2sS-RL-NEG-strong-!o
You aren't strong with respect to anything.
l. K-!-CÖRNMK!MQ=!R-U-Q:K!C-!C
3P-NOM-cold the 3Ob-1sS-IRR-die AUX-DECL
I'm going to die from the cold weather.
m. MCOKU½  U½ Q M9=K-V-K: 
shirt a 3Ob-OM-RL-take
Did he trade it for a shirt?
The third person oblique prefix also commonly occurs on nominalized adverbial clauses such as
M9=KÖ-∅-!V CM (3Ob-3p-NOM-see/PL the) (upon) their seeing them (cf. §9.2). It is with such
nominalizations that two prefixes sometimes occur, as in MQ=PV=M9=K-U-MO-C" M -CÖ CM (3Ob-away-
3Ob-3P-IRR-NEG-US-move the) one's going away. To my knowledge, such double occurrences also
always involve verbs taking the directional prefix /PV-/ (§2.5.14).
Two oblique nominals which the verb does not agree with are the types of nominals represented
by the noun !C: water in (49a), and the noun U½ K :MC" O fish in (49b)
(49) a. !C:MK!M-RQMV-K!C
water the NOM-full-DECL
It is full of water.
b. U½ K :MC" O :-CÖ-UKÖ
fish EMPH-AUG-smell
It smells like fish.

There are three pieces of phonological evidence for claiming that the oblique prefixes are attached
by a boundary stronger than the formative boundary. First, these prefixes do not provide the
environment for k-Epenthesis (cf. §2.3.7), as illustrated by (50).
(50) M9=VO-CÖM9VKO He can cover up with it.
The stronger boundary would remove these prefixes from the structural description of that rule. The
directional morphemes (cf. §2.5.14) must be attached with this boundary also since they likewise do
not trigger k-Epenthesis.32
(51) MQ=PV=O-C" M -CÖ one went...; literally, one moved away toward it
A second piece of evidence for the stronger boundary is the fact that the form /MQ=/, which
shortens to M9 by a rule described below (54), does not condition i-Deletion (21) (cf. §2.3.4). 33
(52) M9=K-V-COZM Did he bring it to him?
Finally, the prefix /!G=/ does not condition the deletion of glottal stop in the form !G=!-RCPU½ :
(1Ob-IMP-run) Run like me!. See rule (84) in §2.5.5.
One reason for claiming that these forms are not separate words is that the o of /MQ=/ can take the
primary stress of the verb as a result of SLV Deletion (14).34
(53) VQOMK! MQ¸ Ö =∅-OZM < /MQ=∅-COZM/
money the 3Ob-IMP-bring
Take the money to him
A second reason is that a special boundary after /MQ=/ is needed for rule (54), providing additional
evidence that these prefixes are not attached with a formative boundary. The following rule, which in
effect applies only to this morpheme, feeds a context-free rule that coalesces back consonants and a
following W, yielding a round consonant (cf. §4.1.2). The sequence nominalizer /M-/ (cf. 2.6.1) plus
detransitivizer /Q-/ (cf.§2.5.4) does not undergo this rule (cf. M-Q-MQÖ:C who babysits) because the
special boundary is not present.

1(54) o-Spirantization: Q → W / M__ = ( . . . . C <C1> if ) V

[-str] +cns

32 Margaret Langdon has pointed out to me that it may not be necessary to posit the = boundary
after both the oblique prefix and the directional prefixes, but rather one = boundary before the object
prefix slot in the verb complex.
33 Since /MQ=/ ends in a vowel lexically, it could alternatively be claimed that rule (54) follows
Accordingly, that rule should be restated with an optional stronger boundary before the short low
Also see §2.5.14 for examples where the sequence MQ=PV does in fact turn up as a separate word.

This rule devoices and spirantizes an unstressed o when it follows k and precedes the special boundary
followed by a vowel, a single consonant followed by a vowel, or a consonant cluster whose first
member is an oral, nonback consonantal segment. The following forms illustrate the operation of this
(55) a. M9=U-RCPU½ : he will run like him.
b. M9=V-RCPU½ : did he run like him?
c. M9=[Q-RCPU½ : he ran like him
d. M9=!-CÖ-U Give it to him to drink!
e. M9=M-CÖ-U he who gives it to him to drink
f. CP M9=CKU½ M V Come in (pl.)!
in IMP/go/PL
g. MQÖ=∅-OZM Take it to him!
h. MQ=O-U-CÖM9VKO you will cover up with it
i. MQ=!R-UCÖM9VKO I will cover up with it
j. MQ=M-QO-RCPU½ : Don't run like him!
This rule precedes o-Epenthesis since it is not bled by that rule (cf. (55j)).
There are two other reasons for claiming these forms to be prefixes and not separate words. They
have a fixed position with respect to the verb; they never occur elsewhere. And finally, the third
person form conditions a special suppletive allomorph of the imperative prefix (cf. §2.5.7).

2.4.4. Oblique nee object prefixes

The generalization given above for the object and oblique prefixes do not account for the (b) sentences
in (56-58) because an oblique prefix occurs when an object prefix is expected and the expected third
person oblique clitic does not appear.
(56) a. OC-!-U-PKR !C-!C
2sO-1sS-IRR-hit AUX-DECL
I will hit you (with a closed fist).
stick that 2Ob-1sS-IRR-hit AUX-DECL
I will jab you with that stick.
(57) a. CPQ!KO-UKÖ-!!C-!C
in 1sO-IRR-put AUX-DECL
He will inject me.
penicillin the in 1Ob-IRR-put AUX-DECL
He will inject me with penicillin.
(58) a. :GRGMQOMQ=PV=K-U-QÖU½ K !C-!C
sea the 3Ob-away-OM-I1RR-take AUX-DECL
He will take him into the sea.

sea the away-2Ob-IRR-take AUX-DECL
He will take you into the sea.
The sentence that might be expected for (56b), given the generalizations of the previous sections, is
(59) *!G!GVKMQO M9=OC-!-U-PKR!C-!C
stick that 3Ob-2sO-1sS-IRR-hit AUX-DECL
I will jab you with that stick.
Note also that the oblique prefix /MQ=/ in (58a) precedes the directional prefix, but the prefix /OG-/ in
(58b) follows it. Given this fact and the fact that the sequence oblique prefix followed by object prefix
never occurs on the surface, I propose that a morphological rule such as the following is part of the
grammar of Seri. It will convert the expected sequence */MQ=!KO-/ to /!G-/, and */MQ=OC-/ to /OG-/.
To account for (58b) it must also change sequences such as */MQ=PV=OC-/ to /PV=OG-/. Hence the
variable X is included.35
(60) [+OBLIQUE] = X [αPerson ] ⇒ ∅ 2 3 [αPerson ]
1 2 3 [+OBJECT] 1 [+OBLIQUE]
4 4
This rule eliminates an unacceptable morpheme sequence while preserving an overt marking of an
oblique nominal through the change in form of the marking for the object nominal. Since the output of
rule (60) does not affect the boundary following the object prefix, it predicts that the oblique prefix
nee object prefix will condition k-Epenthesis (cf. §2.3.7). Example (61) shows that this prediction is
borne out.
(61) VCNMC!OG-U-MO-CU½ V !C-!C
ember the/FOC 2Ob-IRR-NEG-tattoo AUX-DECL
He will not tattoo you with charcoal.
This characteristic distinguishes “derived” oblique prefixes from “basic” oblique prefixes.

2.5. Miscellaneous verb prefixes

In this section I will discuss other prefixes that occur on the verb, except nominalizing prefixes (which
are discussed in §2.6) and some frozen prefixes (cf. §2.8). Since the distinction between derivational
and inflectional prefixes is not very clear in Seri, if the distinction exists at all, no attempt is made to
categorize these prefixes.

2.5.1. Object marker

The prefix /K-/ (not to be confused with epenthetic K’s) occurs on finite verbs when there is both a third
person (final) subject and a third person (final) direct object. (This generalization will be revised in
§12.6.) It directly precedes the mood prefix in finite forms. Accordingly, the object marker occurs in
(62c) and (62f).

35 As would be expected by the way the rules are formulated, rule (60) bleeds rule (41).
(iii) KVC" M  -KRK!G-OC-U-MO-C!V!C-!C
3Ob/1sO-2plS-IRR-NEG-see/PL AUX-DECL
You (pl.) will never see me again.

(62) a. !CRVMQ!-[QÖ-!Q I already saw it.
b. !CRVMQO-[QÖ-!Q You already saw it.
c. !CRVMQK-[QÖ-!Q He/She/It already saw it.
d. !CRVMQ!C-[QÖ-!V We already saw it.
e. !CRVMQOC-[QÖ-!V You (pl.) already saw it.
f. !CRVMQK-[QÖ-!V They already saw it.
g. !CRVMQOC-!-[QÖ-!Q I already saw you.
h. !CRVMQ!KO-O-[QÖ-!Q You already saw me.
i. !CRVMQOC-[QÖ-!Q He/She/It already saw you.
This prefix also occurs on (subject) nominalized forms (cf. §2.6.1) when the final stratum is
transitive, regardless of the person of the direct object.
(63) /!KO-M-K-CU½ V /
!KO-M-" - U½ V he who tattoos me
In such forms it usually deletes by i-Deletion (21) or Vowel Deletion (16), however, and thus appears
superficially primarily only when followed by a root beginning with a short low vowel, as in (63)
(64) a. /M-K-VKU/
M-VKU he who points at it
b. /M-K-CÖHM/
M-CÖHM he who pounds it
One other place in which this morpheme surfaces in subject nominalized forms is before roots with
short high front vowels, such as /-KU½ K / defeat: M-K-KU½ K he who defeats him. This morpheme is an
exception to Vowel Deletion (16) in just those cases.
The object marker does not undergo the lengthening that generally is associated with Short Low
Vowel Deletion (cf. §2.3.2); note that the stressed vowel is short in (63).

2.5.2. Negative
The negative prefix is /O-/. The numerous allomorphs are derived by rules already discussed:
k-Epenthesis (33) and o-Epenthesis (37) (and in chapter 1, m-Assimilation, Glottal-nasal metathesis,
and Nasal lenition). It directly follows the mood prefix.
(65) a. RQ-O-CVC: if he doesn't go....
b. /V-O-RCPU½ : /
V-QO-RCPU½ : Didn't he run?
c. /O-V-O-CC/
KO-V-MO-CC Don't you know it?

d. /K-V-O-RKÖ/
K-V-MQO-RKÖ Didn't he taste it?
Complex sentences which involve negation, such as those in (66), involve dependent irrealis clauses
followed by an independent, negative clause.
(66) a. U½ K Ö:M-KÖ-UC:U½ Q !CMK:R-KÖ!
thing NOM-have-spirit a somewhere IRR-be
!KU½ K -RQ-U½ C :9!C-U-CÖV" M RCPVC!KU½ K -K-O-C!-K!C
1plO-IRR-talk=to 1plS-IRR-work AUX 1plO-NOM-NEG-say-DECL
Nobody told us to work.
3P/fruit on IRR-be SR OM-RL-NEG-see-!Q
He didn't see any fruit on it.

2.5.3. Infinitive
The infinitive prefix has two suppletive allomorphs: /KMC-/ occurs in superficially intransitive clauses,
and /K!C-/ (plus an ablauting of an immediately following vowel) in superficially transitive clauses.
The ablaut rule is given below, as well as examples. (The final C of these prefixes often deletes, of
course, by Vowel Deletion (16).)
(67) Ablaut (minor rule)Ö V → [+lo ] / + ___
[-lo] [-lng]
(68) a. KMC-OGMG to be lukewarm
b. KM-Q-VKU to point (detrans.).
c. KMC-R-CU½ V to be tattooed
d. K!C-RK to taste
e. /K!C-QÖMVC/
K!-CMVC to look at
f. /K!C-KÖR/ to carry on head
g. /K!C-QÖP/ to carry
Ablaut (67) feeds Fronting (27), as in (68g); the root of this verb is /-QÖPGM/, and the G conditions the
fronting of the ablauted QÖ before it deletes by Syncope (cf. §4.1.2). Ablaut (67) feeds the backing rule
discussed in §4.4.4. Thus an ablauted pretonic K surfaces as C rather than as G: /K!C-K-VCOV/ K!-C-
VCOV(INF-have-sandal) to have sandals, /K!C-KVCN!C" Ö / K!CVCN!C" Ö to buy. It is also important to note
that the vowel of an object or oblique prefix does not delete by (16) before an infinitive or possessive
(69) OC-K!C-U½ V (2sO-INF-tattoo) to tattoo you
OC-K!C-VKU (2sO-INF-point=at) to point at you

2.5.4. Detransitivizer
Most transitive verbs are marked by the prefix /Q-/ (plus Ablaut) if the notional object is unspecified.
(The syntax of these verbs is the topic of chapter 13.) The verb is superficially intransitive.
(70) a. V-Q-VKU Is he pointing?
b. V-Q-UCPZ Is he carrying (someone) on his back?
c. /V-Q-CR/
V-QÖ-R Is she basket-sewing?
d. /OK-Q-C!KVKO/
O-QÖ-!KVKO He is eating.
This morpheme also causes a root-initial high vowel to lower and shorten; it will therefore be marked
[+Ablaut (67)]. The Q itself will delete by Vowel Deletion (16) in the following cases.
(71) a. /V-Q-KÖR/
V-GR Did she carry on head?
b. /V-Q-KPZ/
V-GPZ Did he yell?
c. /V-Q-KU½ K /
V-GU½ K Did he defeat?
This o also feeds Coalescence (26), as seen by the following examples.
(72) a. /:Q-Q-CUPK/
:9C-UPK She roasted!
b. /:Q-Q-VKU/
:9C-VKU He pointed!
Coalescence does not apply in the derivation of detransitivized verbs with roots beginning with high
front vowels, however, as seen by the following examples.
(73) a. /:Q-Q-KÖR/
:-GR She carried on head!
b. /:Q-Q-KPZ/
:-GPZ He yelled!
c. /:Q-Q-KU½ K /
:-GU½ K He defeated!
It is not possible to prevent Coalescence from applying by ordering it after Vowel Deletion (16) since
that would bleed it in all derivations. It is not clear how this would be best handled, but I propose
(following a suggestion by G.H. Matthews) that the following ad hoc rule applies before Coalescence,
bleeding it in the crucial cases.
(74) Q → ∅ / + ___ + V
[-lo ]
This rule also predicts that any prefix having the shape /Q-/ will pattern similarly. This prediction will
be shown to be true in §2.6.2. An argument will be given in §2.5.7 that this vowel is present in the
underlying form.

I have found only one verb beginning with Q with which this prefix can be used: /-QK/ delouse.
(75) a. /V-Q-QK/
V-Q-CK Did he delouse?
b. /:Q-Q-QK/
:9C-CK He deloused.
In the derivation of toai Ablaut bleeds Coalescence, indicating the order in which these rules must
apply. In neither form does the Q delete by Vowel Deletion (16), however. Since another morpheme,
the object nominalizer (cf. §2.6.2), has an allomorph /Q-/ with an ablaut trigger which likewise does
not delete by Vowel Deletion (16), I propose that the following rule be added to the grammar.
(76) A morpheme with the shape /Q-/ that is marked [+Ablaut (67)] is also marked [-Vowel
Deletion (16)].
A few simple verbs are detransitivized without using this morpheme.
(77) Transitive Detransitivized
M-K-KZ M-CKZ he who brings water

M-K-O9Z M-CO9Z he who hunts

M-K-VCZM M-CVCZM he who vomits
The root /-CQO/ beg for is detransitivized by replacing the short a with a long C: M-CÖQOhe who
begs. The root /-C/ grind, a stress-retracting verb (cf. §5.1), is detransitivized by removing the stress-
retraction feature: /M-K-CÖ/ " M C he who grinds it, /M-CÖ/ MCÖ he who grinds.
Finally, there is no evidence that verbs whose stems begin with long low vowels use the
morpheme /Q-/ when used intransitively.36 If Q were present in the string at the time Coalescence
applied, it would feed that rule; the form :CÖHMHe pounded! (*:9CÖHM) shows that it does not.
Assuming the Q is present underlyingly, however, rule (74) might be revised to delete this morpheme
prior to the application of Coalescence in this case also.
(78) Q → ∅ / + ___ + V
[–lo ]

[+lo ]
[+lng ]

2.5.5. Passive
The passive prefix has two suppletive allomorphs: /R-/ (plus Ablaut (67)) before vowel-initial roots,
and /CÖ!-/ elsewhere, including before prefixes (but see (80) below). (Passive constructions are dis-

36 Accordingly, augmented verbs (cf. §2.5.6) typically do not show evidence of having been
prefixed with o. But the o does occur before the allomorph /M-/, as in M-Q-M-CÖKZhe who causes
(unspecified) to sway.

cussed in §§12.2-3.)
(79) a. V-R-CR Was it sewn (basket)?
b. V-R-CÖQ Was it passed (place)?
c. /V-R-KU½ K /
V-R-GU½ K Was he defeated?
d. /V-R-QÖP /
V-R-CP  Was it stirred?
e. V-CÖ!-MCU½ P K Was he bitten?
f. V-CÖ!-CÖ!-KVCZ Was it made to burn?
I am aware of two vowel-initial roots which take the allomorph /CÖ!-/; Ablaut (67) also applies.
They are: /-QÖU½ K / take and /-KVC !C" Ö / buy/sell. 37
(80) /MQ=PV=[Q-CÖ!-QÖU½ K / he was taken to the sea
sea the 3Ob-away-DIST-PASS-take
Many, but not all, verbs whose roots begin with a long low vowel undergo a shortening rule when
the passive morpheme precedes. The verbs in (81a) have underlying long vowels which shorten, while
those in (81b) have underlying long vowels which do not shorten. The verbs are cited in the subject
nominalized form (cf. §2.6.1).
(81) a. !C-R-CVZ what was pounded
!C-R-CMC what was entrusted
!C-R-CHM what was pounded
!C-R-CK 38 what was made
!C-R-CV what was cooked (in the ashes)
b. !C-R-CÖKU: what was cleaned
!C-R-CÖKV what was followed
!C-R-CÖQ which (place) was passed
(Also see §2.5.6 for some cases involving augmented verbs.) Apparently every verb root beginning
with a long low vowel will have to be marked for whether or not it undergoes the following minor
(82) Passive shortening: V → [–lng] / PASS + ___
I am claiming that the second allomorph of the passive prefix has a long vowel in its underlying
form even though it is short phonetically. The same claim will be made for the various allomorphs of

37For examples of the latter: !G=[-CÖ!-CVC !C" Ö (3Ob/1sO-DIST-PASS-sell) I was sold it. (an
impersonal passive form of the verb /-KVC !C" Ö /. see §12.3.1 and §12.5); and !-CÖ-VC !C" Ö (NOM-PASS-
buy) what was bought. It is not clear why the surfacer form of the latter is as it is rather than
*!CÖ!CVC !C" Ö since rule (91) does not apply.
38The root for do/make in passive forms is actually quite clearly with a long iÖ [!CRC" K Ö]. This is
presently unaccounted for.

the augment prefix discussed in §2.5.6. The reasoning is the following: these vowels behave like long
vowels in all cases and never like short low vowels. Positing long underlying vowels therefore results
in the simplification of several rules and enables us to express a generalization. The fact that these
vowels are short phonetically follows automatically since, as stated in chapter 1, vowel length is
directly related to stress. It is automatically predicted, therefore, that unstressed prefix vowels will be
short phonetically. At this point I will give only one reason why long underlying vowels should be
posited for these prefixes. Other arguments will be presented in later sections when the pertinent data
are introduced. Each of these arguments is, in addition, an argument for positing long vowels in Seri
rather than geminate vowel clusters.
The first argument is that the vowel of the passive prefix does not delete by Short Low Vowel
Deletion (14). Compare:
(83) a. Short low vowel /[Q-CHR/
[QÖ-HR he arrived
b. Long low vowel /K-[Q-CÖHM/
K-[-CÖHM he pounded it
c. Passive prefix /[Q-CÖ!-MCU½ P K/
[[C!MCU½ P K] he was bitten
Unless the passive prefix has an underlying long vowel, the operation of Short Low Vowel Deletion
will have to be restricted to root-initial short low vowels. While this modification is not unreasonable
in itself, the fact that a number of not identical modifications similar to this would have to be made to
other rules as well argues in favor of the abstract analysis.
The glottal stop of the passive prefix deletes under the following conditions:39
(84) !-Deletion: ! → ∅ / ! V ___ + C
(85) a. /!C-CÖ!-UCPZ/
!-CÖ-UCPZ who was carried
b. /!K-!-CÖ!-MCU½ P K/
!K-!-CÖ-MCU½ P K my being bitten

2.5.6. Augment
The augment prefix occurs in various constructions which are discussed in more detail in chapter 14. It
is most commonly used in “causative” and “benefactive” constructions, from which are drawn the
examples cited below. This prefix has several allomorphs which are basically suppletive. (There are a
few verb roots on which different derived verbs are formed by affixing different allomorphs of the
augment. These do not provide convincing evidence that different morphemes are involved, however.)
The spell-out rule for the most common allomorphs of this morpheme is given in (86).

39Although the rule is given as a general phonological rule, I do not know of any other morphemes
to which it applies. It does not apply, for example, to the form M-CÖ!-C" Ö !PKZ he who makes it quiver.

(86) AUGMENT ⇒ CÖ / ___ C
CÖ / ___ [a class]
M [+Ablaut (68)] / ___ [M class]
CÖM / ___ V
[+lo ]
CÖM / ___ [CÖM class]
CÖ! / ___ V
The only allomorph which occurs before consonant-initial roots is /CÖ-/ (cf. (87a-b)). Before a number
of roots, all of which begin with a short low vowel, the allomorph /CÖ-/ also occurs (cf. 87c-d). Before
a small number of vowel-initial roots the allomorph /M-/ occurs (cf. 87e-f); this allomorph also triggers
Ablaut (67). Before the majority of short low vowel-initial roots, however, the allomorph /CÖM-/ occurs
(cf. 87g-i). When the root is that of a lexically transitive verb, an o occurs as a link morpheme
immediately following it.40 The allomorph /CÖM-/ also occurs before a few o-initial roots (cf. 87j-k).41
Elsewhere the allomorph /CÖ!-/ occurs (cf. 87l-m).
(87) a. -CÖ-RQMV fill
b. -CÖ-PGÖRPK make stooped
c. /-CÖ-CMU:/
-CÖ-MU: awaken (tr.)
d. /-CÖ-C!KV/
-CÖ-!KV feed; fish
e. -M-CU½ : tear
f. /-M-KÖVM/
-M-GVM drip
g. -CÖM-CPQZ burn
h. -CÖM-CKUMCP make hard

40 I assume that the insertion of this link morpheme occurs after the spelling out of the augment
prefix. The rule would look as below.
(iv) ∅ → Q / +(CÖ)M + ___ + Vtr[
Thus /M-CÖM-CV KO/ (NOM-AUG-stoke) → MCÖMQ¸ Ö V KO he who helps to stoke it, and /MQ=!R-U-Q-
M-COZM/ (3Ob-1sS-IRR-D-AUG-bring) → MQ!RUQMQ¸ Ö OZM I will betray him.
41 The allomorph /CÖM-/ also occurs unexpectedly before the root /-CÖ KO/Ö M-CÖM-CÖ KO he who
plays with it.

i. /-CÖM-Q-CO:/
-CÖM-QÖ-O: accuse
j. -CÖM-QÖP-:-QV help carry
k. -CÖM-QÖMVC show
l. -CÖ!-CÖU dissolve
m. -CÖ!-QK  make blue
Even this complicated distributional statement is incomplete, however. The augmented form of a
derived verb root such as /-K-VCÖUK/ have name is formed by replacing the initial K with /CÖ-/: /-CÖ-VCÖUK/
name (tr.). This process also extends to morphologically opaque verb roots with stress on the second
syllable: /-KVC" Ö !C/ be ready, /-CÖVC" Ö !Q/ make ready; /-K:Q¸ P Z/ be loose, /-CÖ:Q¸ P Z/ loosen. A few o-
initial roots have augmented forms which appear to be formed by a special ablauting of the initial
(88) a. -QÖURQZ be spotted -CÖURQZ write; draw
b. -QÖHKP pass by -CÖHKP move household
c. -QKRZ be crossways -CKRZ put crossways
d. -QÖRQV be paid -CKRQV pay
The “benefactive” form of /-CÖURQZ/ write; draw, which is itself an augmented form (cf. 88a), is
formed by adding the allomorph /CÖ!-/ to the root /-QÖURQZ/; /-CÖ!-QÖURQZ/ help write (*make spotted).
No form is “augmented” twice.
Augmented forms are problematic morphologically in at least two more respects. A few
augmented forms, all of which have stress on the first syllable superficially, take the allomorph /R-/ of
the passive, in violation of the generalization given in §2.5.5 according to which the allomorph of the
passive is /CÖ!-/ before prefixes.
(89) Base Augmented Passive
a. -CMU: -CÖ-MU: -R-C-MU: be awake
b. -CMVKO -CÖ-MVKO -R-C-MVKO be cut
c. -CUQV -CÖ-UQV -R-C-UQV borrow
d. -CR:9 KO -CÖ-R:9 KO -R-C-R:9 KO broken
It is not clear how these facts should be handled. One possibility would be to alter the analysis of the
augment in these verbs; rather than a prefix, it could involve a lengthening or ablaut of the root-initial
vowel. Another possibility would be to claim that the augmented forms are lexicalized without the
prefix boundary. Note that the passive forms all involve the shortening of the low vowel by Passive
shortening (82). If the augmented forms are not entered as units in the lexicon, the roots of these verbs
will have to carry a marker indicating that when augmented they undergo Passive shortening.

42 In all cases the derived low vowel acts like a long vowel, but in (88c-d) it is phonetically short.
The i in the augmented form of /-QÖRQV/ is also anomalous.

Augmented forms are problematic morphologically in that they form their stems and plural
differently from the base verbs quite often. These facts are discussed in chapter 14.
It is claimed that the vowels of these prefixes are underlyingly long for the same reasons as for the
passive prefix. It is not a very abstract analysis in this case, however, because when the augment prefix
/CÖ-/ precedes a short low vowel-initial root, as in (87c-d), it will receive the primary stress of the word
and remain phonetically long. The allomorph /CÖ!-/ also remains long in forms such as -C" Ö !-CÖ  (-
AUG-accompany) since the root /-CÖ / is a root that retracts the primary stress to the preceding syllable
(cf. chapter 5).
Spell-out rule (86) provides another argument for not interpreting phonetically long vowels as
geminate vowel clusters. The clause specifying the environment for /CÖM-/ would have to be
complicated in the same way as shown in (18) above if geminate vowel clusters are posited rather than
long vowels.
The vowel of the augment prefix deletes in the example in (90a), but no vowel deletes in (90b-d).
The rule is given as (91).43
(90) a. /V-CÖ!-CÖM-Q-CU½ K :-QV/
V-CÖ!-M-QÖ-U½ K :-QV Was he caused to cut it?
b. V-CÖ!-CÖ!-KVC: Was it made to burn?
c. /!K-!-CÖ!-MCU½ P K
!K-!-CÖ-MCU½ P K my being bitten
d. U-CÖ!-CVC !C" Ö it will be bought
(91) V → ∅ / V C ___ C +
[–str] [+lo] [+cns]
!-Deletion (84) is fed by rule (91) when the latter deletes the vowel of the augment prefix in forms
such as the following.
(92) /!C-CÖ!-CÖM-CVC:/
!-CÖ-M-CVC: who was caused to go

2.5.7. Second person imperative

The second person imperative has several suppletive allomorphs. The following spell-out rule, with
ordered clauses, specifies the various shapes of this prefix. 44

43Given the formulation of the rule as in (91), it is not clear why the a deletes in the passive of
/-CKRQV/ (-AUG/paid)Ö V-CÖ!-KRQV Was it paid?
44Rule (60) must apply before (93) since the allomorph of the imperative morpheme which occurs
when a third person oblique and the first person singular object cooccur is /!-/. An example is
!G-!-CÖUKVKO (3Ob/1sO-IMP-fool) Fool me!

(93) Second Person Imperative ⇒

∅ / First Person Singular Object ___

M / ___ Negative
∅ / Third Person Oblique ___ V
[+lo ]
M / ___ V
[+lo ]
∅ [+Ablaut (68)] / ___ V and the clause is superficially intransitive
[+lo ]
! / ___
The imperative prefix is /∅-/ when it is preceded by the first person singular object prefix /!RQ-/.
(94) a. K!RQ-∅-UCPZ Carry me on your back.
b. K!R-∅-QÖMVC Look at me!
c. K!R-∅-KÖRZM Wrestle me!
d. K!RQÖ-∅-U½ V Tattoo me!
e. K!RQ-∅-O-QÖMVC Don't look at me!
When the imperative prefix is followed by the negative morpheme (and not preceded by /!RQ-/, the
allomorph /M-/ occurs.
(95) a. M-O-CVC: Don't go!
b. M-O-Q-VKU Don't point!
c. M-QO-VKU Don't point at it!
d. MQ-M-QO-RCPU½ : Don't run like him!
The allomorph /∅-/ occurs also when the imperative morpheme is preceded by the third person
oblique prefix and directly followed by a short low vowel.
(96) a. /MQ=∅-COZM/
MQÖ=∅-OZM Take it to him!
b. /MQ=∅-CVC:/
!Q!TCMQÖ=∅-VCZ Go like a donkey!
Before such vowels when not preceded by the third person oblique prefix, the imperative morpheme
has the shape /k-/.
(97) a. M-CVC: Go!
b. M-GOGP Winnow it!
c. !G=M-CU½ M CO Come (pl.) to me!
Except for the cases already mentioned above, when the vowel following the imperative morpheme is
not a high front vowel and the clause is superficially intransitive, the allomorph /∅-/ plus Ablaut (68)
(98) a. /∅-QKV/
CKV Dance!

b. /∅-QÖU/
CU Sing!
c. /∅-Q-KPZ/
GPZ Shout!
d. /∅-Q-UCPZ/
C-UCPZ Carry on your back!
e. /∅-CÖPR:
CÖPR: Go home!
f. /∅-QVGZC/
GVGZC Stagger! (cf. Fronting (27))
The imperative prefix is /!-/ elsewhere.
(99) a. !-KÖO Sleep!
b. !-QÖMVC Look at it!
c. !-CÖHM Pound it!
d. /!-OCK/
K!-OCK Be quiet!
e. /!-MCÖ/
K!-MCÖ Look for it!
f. /!-!GÖVKO/
K!-!GÖVKO Lope!
These facts provide evidence for the claim that the vowels of the augment prefix are underlyingly
long, although they are short phonetically. This analysis predicts that the allomorph /M-/ will not occur
with augmented verbs, and the allomorph /∅-/ will not occur when augmented verbs are preceded by
the third person oblique prefix. Rather, the allomorphs /∅-/ and /!-/ respectively are predicted to
occur. The following data bear out these predictions.
(100) a. !-CÖ!-QK  Make it blue!
b. /∅-CÖ-C!KV/
∅-CÖ-!KV Fish!
c. /MQ=!-CÖM-Q-CU½ K :-QV/
M9=!-CÖM-QÖ-U½ K :-QV Make him cut it!
Unless underlying long vowels are posited, the pertinent clauses of spell-out rule (93) will have to be
complicated to refer to root-initial short low vowels only.
This spell-out rule also provides an argument for positing the underlying form /V-Q-KPZ/ for VGPZ
(RL-D-shout) even though the Q must be deleted by an ad hoc rule (cf. (78)). The underlying
representation predicts that the corresponding imperative will take the zero allomorph and not the /!-/
allomorph since the vowel immediately following is a back vowel. If the Q were not present in the
underlying representation, the spell-out rule would have to contain an extra clause that would look
something like (100).

(100) ∅ / the verb is detransitivized
This clause would have to be ordered to follow the clause that gives the allomorph /∅-/ [+Ablaut].
Clearly, a generalization is being missed.

2.5.8. First person plural imperative

The first person imperative prefix has two suppletive allomorphs: /UC-/ [+Ablaut] when the clause is
superficially transitive, and /UMC-/ when the clause is superficially intransitive.
(101) a. UC-RMQÖ[Q Let's taste it!
b. /UC-CÖKU½ K /
U-CÖKU½ K Let's make it!
c. /UC-CO:QZ/
UC-O:QZ Let's say it!
U-CMVCO Let's look at it!
U-GPGM Let's carry them!
U-GOQUCO Let's beg for it!
g. UMC-OCK: Let's be quiet!
UM-CÖPKR:CV Let's go home!
i. /UMC-QÖU½ C /
UM-QÖU½ C Let's talk!
UM-Q-KVQ MC Let's eat!
When the negative morpheme follows this prefix, the negative morpheme is moved to follow the s
of the imperative prefix. The rule, given as (102), precedes all phonological rules, and is illustrated by
the forms in (103). It feeds o-Epenthesis (37).
(102) U (M) C + O + ⇒ 1 4 2 3
1 2 3 4
(103) a. /UC-O-CU½ K CZM/
UOCU½ K CZM Let's not cut it!
b. /UMC-O-Q-CU½ K CZM/
UQOMQÖU½ K CZM Let's not cut!
UQOMCÖVKMRCP Let's not work!

2.5.9. First person restrictive
The typical first person singular subject prefix /!(R)-/ is omitted when the first person restrictive prefix
occurs. (For the position of the latter, see (1).) This prefix typically occurs in conjunction with the first
person restrictive pronoun !CV3¸ Ö . It has two suppletive allomorphs: /MCÖ-/ when the final stratum is
intransitive, and /CÖ-/ (plus Ablaut (67)) when the final stratum is transitive. 45
(104) a. /UK-O-MCÖ-CVC:/
As for me, I won't go.
As for me, I will stand up.
c. /UK-MCÖ-R-CU½ V /
As for me, I will be tattooed.
d. /UK-O-CÖ-C!KV/
As for me, I won't eat it.
As for me, I won't eat.
f. /UK-CÖ-RKÖ/
As for me, I will taste it.
just PROX-1REST/look=at
......I think; lit., ...I look at it
h. /UK-CÖ-KPZ/
As for me, I will yell at him.

45 Margaret Langdon has made the interesting observation that the segment M turns up with
significant frequency in the intransitive allomorphs of morphemes in Seri. While this segment is not a
separate morpheme synchronically, it may be assumed that it was at some earlier stage of the

2.5.10. Times
In chapter 11 I argue for a raising analysis of the “times” construction. The prefix which occurs in this
construction when raising is involved and also in age and “doubling” constructions (also discussed in
chapter 11), has two suppletive allomorphs: /CÖ!-/ before the roots /-CV:Q/ many and /-KR:C/ few, and
/CÖ-/ plus Ablaut (67) elsewhere.46
(105) a. -CÖ!-CV:Q many times
b. /-CÖ-CU½ Q /
-CÖ-U½ Q once
c. /-CÖ-QÖMZ/
-CMZ twice
d. -CÖ-U½ Q :9M four times
The age construction and the “times” construction differ, however, when certain numbers are
involved. These numbers all involve the verb /-KÖ!/ be in simple constructions. In the age construction,
either this verb or the verb /-C!/ do may be used, as in (106a-b). In the “times” construction, only the
verb /-C!/ prefixed by /CÖ-/ may be used, as in (106c).
(106) a. !CPVVQOMQZM9=V-KÖ! Is he seven years old?
b. !CPVVQOMQZM9=K-V-C! Is he seven years old?
c. Q:KÖ-∅-!VQOMQZM9=V-CÖ-! Did he do thus seven times?

2.5.11. Unspecified subject

When the (final) subject of a verb is not overtly specified in the clause, the prefix /MC-/, which I
will call the Unspecified subject prefix, occurs. See (1) for its position.
(107) a. /UK-O-MC-OKÖ!/
somewhere IRR-NEG-US-not=exist AUX-DECL
One won't die.
b. /[Q-MC-MKÖ!/
on DIST-US-be
One, (speaker included) used to live on it (the island).
c. /MQ=V-MC-CÖ-C!KV/
If one fishes with it...

46I am not perfectly content with this analysis, however, since the derived vowel of (105c) seems
phonetically long to me, just as it is in (105b).

IRR-US-go/PL 1plIMP-look=at/PL
Let's go look at it.
It is not necessarily the case that the final subject of the clause is unspecified semantically; the persons
who go in the first clause of (107d) are the same as those in the second clause. Both verbs are marked
for plural subject agreement. This prefix does not occur in finally transitive clauses. In such cases a
passive structure occurs instead. 47
This prefix is also used with the third person possessive prefix. See §2.6.3 and §2.7.2.

2.5.12. Verbalizer /K-/

A transitive verb meaning have X, where X is a noun, can be made out of certain noun stems (both
native and borrowed) by prefixing the noun stem with /K-/. As noted in §2.3.4, this K does not delete by
e-Deletion (21). The derived verb may also occur detransitivized.48
(108) a. /!-UK-K-MCRQV/
K!-U-K-MCRQV!C-!C I will have/put on a jacket.
1sS-IRR-have-jacket AUX-DECL
b. !-K-VCOV
IMP-have-sandal Put on your sandals.
c. /M-K-CUC:/
M-KÖ-UC: one who is alive
d. /M-K-COV/
M-K-OV one who has breasts
e. M-K-!G!G one who has stick; chief

2.5.13. Verbalizer
A stative verb can be formed from certain nouns by simply affixing verb morphology.
(109) a. -!CKV be bloody
b. -!QÖRCVZ be wavy (sea)

47 In a sentence such as If one is bitten..., a noun such as MOKMG person is used as the final subject.
person IRR-PASS-bite SR-UT
Thus VKVCOV Is he wearing sandals? and KVKVCOV Is he wearing them (as sandals)? are both


c. /-!C-C:U½ /
-!C-:U½   be irritable
d. -!GUGP be rigid
Before a derived noun the prefix /K-/ must be used to form the derived verb.
(110) -K-M-QÖRQ  be dark

2.5.14. Directionals
Two directional prefixes occur before a few verbs. They are /OQ=/ toward and /PV=/ away. These
prefixes, like the oblique prefixes, are attached with a stronger boundary (cf. (51)). The roots with
which they occur include: /-CÖ/ move, /-KÖP/ return, /-QÖU½ K / take, and /-QKV/ descend. The o of /OQ-/
deletes by Vowel Deletion (16) as well as by a rule that is discussed in §5.2 where other idiosyncrasies
of these verbs are discussed. It remains in (111a-b) only because the primary stress is retracted from
the root to the prefix.
(111) a. OQ¸ = M-CÖ he who comes
b. OQ¸ = !-CÖ Come!
c. KPV=" M -CÖ he who goes
O=KM-KÖP to return
e. /OQ=M-QKV/
KO-M-QKV that which descends
f. /OQ=!-QÖU½ K /
KO=!-QÖU½ K Bring it! (i.e., Give it to me!)
g. MQ=PV=M-QÖU½ K he who takes it away
h. OQ=M-MGÖV: he who brings it
Since the Q of /OQ=/ can delete by Vowel Deletion (16), as in (111d), that rule must be
reformulated to allow the stronger boundary to be present. The O of this prefix also obligatorily
metathesizes with a following glottal stop (cf.§1.2.2).

2.6. Nominalizers
Nominalized verbs are ubiquitous in Seri sentences. Most embedded clauses are nominalized, as well
as many dependent and independent clauses. Some of the basic facts will be discussed below. Other
aspects of nominalizations will be discussed more fully in chapter 9.

2.6.1. Subject (nonfuture) nominalizer

When the (final) subject of a nonfuture relative clause is coreferential with the head noun, a
nominalized form of the following structure occurs.
(112) Oblique-Dir.-Object-NOM-OM-NEG- PASS - AUG - root
This is the only nominalized form in which the object marker (OM) occurs.

The nominalizing prefix, which I call the subject nominalizer, has three suppletive allomorphs.
The allomorph /K-/ occurs when followed by the negative morpheme, as in (113); /!C-/ occurs when
followed by the passive morpheme, as in (114); /M-/ occurs elsewhere, as in (115).
(113) a. /K-K-O-C!KV/
K-O-C!KV who doesn't/didn't eat it
b. /K-O-Q-CR/
K-O-QÖ-R who is/was not basket-sewing
c. K-O-CVC: who doesn't/didn't go
d. K-O-R-C!KV what is/was not eaten
e. K-O-CÖ!-UCPZ who is/was not carried on back
(114) a. !C-R-C!KV what is/was eaten
b. /!C-R-KU½ K /
!C-R-GU½ K who is/was defeated
c. /!C-R-QÖP /
!C-R-CP  what is/was stirred
d. /!C-CÖ!-UCPZ/
!-CÖ-UCPZ who is/was carried on back
e. /!C-CÖ!-CÖM-CVC:/
!-CÖ-M-CVC: who is/was caused to go
f. /!C-CÖ!-CÖ!-KVC:/
!-CÖ!-CÖ!-KVC: what is/was made to burn
(115) a. M-CVC: who is/was going
b. /M-K-CR/
M-K-R who is/was sewing it
c. /M-K-CÖHM/
M-CÖHM who is/was pounding it

Chapter 13 briefly discusses the syntax of clauses with unspecified direct objects. Chapter 14
discusses the syntax of clauses with verbs preceded by the “augment” prefix. No one syntactic or
semantic generalization is found to describe all of the occurrences of this prefix.
Chapter 15 discusses the switch reference (change of subject) marking system. It is shown that it is
neither a change of surface or deep subject which is marked. A notion of ‘first subject’ is proposed.
Chapter 16 is a morpheme by morpheme analysis of a text consisting of one hundred multiclause
Two appendices of verb paradigms are included.

d. /M-Q-CR/
M-QÖ-R who is/was basket-sewing
e. /M-K-CÖM-CVC:/
M-CÖM-CVC: who is/was making him go

2.6.2. Object (nonfuture) nominalizer

When the (final) direct object of a nonfuture relative clause is coreferential with the head noun, the
object nominalized form occurs. The structure is the same as that given in (112) except that a
possessive prefix precedes the nominalizer. The possessive prefix indicates the final subject of the
relative clause. The object nominalizer has the following suppletive allomorphsÖ
(116) Object Nominalizer ⇒
∅ / ___ Negative
QMQ / ___ [class QMQ]
! / ___ K +
∅ / ___ V
[–lo ]
[ / ___ V
[+lo ]
Q [+Ablaut (68)] / ___
Before the negative morpheme a zero allomorph occurs. (The object nominalized form with third
person subject is therefore identical superficially with the negative subject nominalized form discussed
in §2.6.1, and may in fact be the historical source for that form. The forms are synchronically distinct
(117) a. OK-∅-O-GOGP what you don't/ didn't winnow
b. K-∅-O-COU½ Q what he doesn't/didn't want
c. !K-∅-O-QÖMVC what I don't/didn't look at
Before two verbs the allomorph /oko-/ occurs.
(118) a. /!K-QMQ-C!Q/
!-QMQÖ-!Q what I see/saw
b. /OK-QMQ-CC/
O-QMQ-C what you know/knew
Before the prefix /K-/ (cf.§2.5.12) the allomorph /!-/ occurs.

(119) a. OK-!-K-!C:9  what you have/had as a spoon
b. OK-!-K-MCOKU½ what you have/had as a shirt
This allomorph is expected to occur before any prefixal K. It in fact also occurs before the morpho-
logically aberrant stem /-KVC !C" Ö / buy/sell which has primary stress on the last syllable: !K-!-KVC !C" Ö
what I sell/sold.
Before high front root vowels a zero allomorph occurs.
(120) a. /!K-∅-KR/
!-∅-KR what I straighten/straightened
b. /!K-∅-KÖ/
!-∅-KÖ what I hear/heard
c. /OK-∅-KÖM/
O-∅-KÖM what you plant/planted
Before long low vowels the allomorph /[-/ occurs. This allomorphy provides another argument
that the allomorphs of the augment prefix begin with underlyingly long vowels.
(121) a. /!K-[-CÖU½ K /
K!-[-CÖU½ K what I carry/carried
b. /OK-[-CÖM-Q-CU½ K :-QV/
KO-[-CÖM-QÖ-U½ K :-QV whom you help/helped to cut
Elsewhere the allomorph /o-/ plus Ablaut (68) occurs.
(122) a. /!K-Q-MGUGZM/
!-Q-MGUGZM what I gnaw/gnawed
b. /!K-Q-CHOQZ/
!-QÖ-HOQZ what I gather/gathered (firewood)
c. /K-Q-RKÖ/
Q-RKÖ what he tastes/tasted
O-Q-CMVC what you look/looked at
e. /OK-Q-QK/
O-Q-CK whom you delouse/deloused
One exception to the latter is the singular stem of own/have (cf. §2.7.2 for discussion).

2.6.3. (Nonfuture) Action/oblique nominalizer

The nonfuture action/oblique nominalized form has numerous uses, which are discussed below. The
structure of this nominalized form is the same as that given in (112) except that a possessive prefix,
indicating the final subject, precedes the nominalizer. The rule deleting the K of the possessive prefix
before the nominalizer /[-/ is discussed in §2.7.2. The allomorphs of this nominalizer are as shown in

(123) Action/oblique Nominalizer ⇒

!K / ___ Stand

∅ / ___ V
[+lo ]

! / ___ Passive
[ [+Ablaut (67)] / ___ V and the clause is superficially intransitive 49
[+lo ]

! / ___
This nominalizer has the shape /!K-/ before the verb /-CR/ stand.
(124) /K-!K-CR/
things 1P-with 3P-NOM-stand the
the people who were with me
This morpheme has a zero allomorph before other verbs which begin with short low vowels and
when followed by a consonant.
(125) a. /!K-∅-CU½ K :/
!KÖ-∅-U½ K : my cutting it
b. /!K-∅-GOGP/
!KÖ-∅-OGP my winnowing it
c. !K-∅-MQÖ:C my babysitting him
d. !K-∅-O-CU½ K Z my not cutting it
e. /!K-∅-R-KV C/
!K-∅-R-GV C my being poked
The allomorph /!-/ occurs before the vowel-initial allomorph of the passive morpheme.
(126) /!K-!-CÖ!-MCU½ P K/
!K-!-CÖ-MCU½ P K my being bitten
The allomorph /[-/ with an ablaut trigger occurs when the following morpheme begins with a
(long) low vowel or a back vowel and the clause is superficially intransitive.
(126) a. /!K-[-QVZ/
K!-[-CVZ my arising

49 A notable exception is the verb /-CÖR / be cold which takes the allomorph /!-/.

b. /OK-[-Q-CU½ K :/
KO-[-C-U½ K : your cutting
c. /K-[-CÖ!U½ : /
[-CÖ!U½ : his sneezing
The action nominalizer is /!-/ elsewhere.
(127) a. !K-!-KR my straightening it
b. !K-!-KÖR my carrying it on my head
c. !K-!-QÖMVC my looking at it
d. !K-!-CÖHM my pounding it
This nominalization is the one which occurs a) in complement clauses, b) in relative clauses when
neither the (final) subject or direct object of the relative clause is coreferential with the head noun, c)
as a nominal meaning the way in which ... and d) as a nominal referring to the fact of the action or
state. The following examples illustrate these uses. The nonfuture mood of this nominalization is not
relevant in its use in complement clauses.
(128) a. UCÖTCMK!U½ K Ö:U½ Q M9-OK-!-CÖ-!KVK!-OKÖ-OU½ Q
the thing a 3Ob-2P-NOM-AUG-eat 1sS-PROX-want
I want you to feed Sarah something.
the somewhere 3P-NOM-not=exist the year PROX-two
Juan died two years ago.
land on shore 1P-NOM-arrive/PL that NOM-PASS-say
The place where we beached—called Komi:s...
d. MCPQ¸ C CP!KÖ-∅-!MC
boat in 1P-NOM-be
the boat that we were in
boat the well land 3Ob-3P-NOM-PASS-put the
with respect to the boat's being piloted
This nominalization is also used to refer to more abstract notions.
(129) a. K-∅-MCO his life
b. /K-∅-CK:CZ/
K-∅-K:CZ his strength
c. K-!-KUK  his youth
d. !CM:M9-K-∅-OKÖ! his death
somewhere not=exist

e. /MQ-K-!K-CR/
!CR:M9-K-!KÖ-R his birth
outside stand
f. OK-∅-OQMGRG your sickness
g. K-∅-MQU½ K O the heat
h. K-!-CÖR  the cold
i. K-∅-!COQM the night
If the person involved is not specified, the prefix /MC-/ (cf. §2.5.11) occurs before the root.
(130) a. K-∅-MC-OCVZ fever
b. K-∅-MC-OQMGRG sickness
c. /K-∅-MC-CKVQO/
K-∅-MC-KVQO speech; word
d. /K-∅-MC-CK:CZ/
K-∅-MC-K:CZ strength
e. K-∅-MC-RKVQ  indigestion
This nominalization is also used in relative clauses to explicate the purpose for which the head
noun is used. If the verb is intransitive, the unspecified subject prefix occurs, as in (131). If the verb is
transitive, the relative clause must passivize, as in (132).
(131) a. /K-∅-MC-CÖM9VKO/
U½ K Ö: K-∅-M-CÖM9VKO blanket
thing 3P-NOM-US-cover=oneself
b. /K-∅-MC-Q-C!KV/
U½ K Ö:KVKK-∅-M-QÖ-!KV plate
thing on 3P-NOM-US-D-eat
c. /K-∅-MC-Q-CR/
U½ K Ö:K-∅-M-QÖ-R awl
thing 3P-NOM-US-D-sew=basket
d. K-∅-MC-OQVGV sinker

e. /K-∅-MC-Q-MQ:C/
K-∅-M-Q-MQ:C lullaby
f. /K-∅-MC-QÖU/
K-∅-M-QÖU song
(132) a. /K-∅-R-KOV/
GÖPKOK-∅-R-GOV whetstone
knife rub
b. !G-!GK-∅-R-CMQVKO axe
wood chop
c. /K-!-CÖ!-MCRVC:/
!G-!GK-!-CÖ-MCRVC: drill
wood pierce
d. /K-!-CÖ!-HCKP/
U½ K Ö:CPK-!-CÖ-HCKP wrapper
thing in tie=up

2.6.4. Future nominalized forms

The irrealis prefix /UK-/ occurs in all future nominalizations in the position where the nonfuture
nominalizers occur in other nominalized forms. The auxiliary particle MC (cf. §3.5) follows these forms
when they occur in relative clauses. The object marker /K-/ does not occur with these nominalizations.
(133) a. /UK-CVC:/
UKÖ-VC:MC who will go
b. /UK-O-CVC:/
U-O-CVC:MC who will not go
c. /UK-CUK/
UKÖ-UKMC who will drink it
d. /UK-O-CUK/
U-O-CUKMC who will not drink it
e. /UK-Q-C!KVKO/
U-QÖ-!KVKOMC who will eat
f. /UK-R-C!KV/
U-R-C!KVMC which will be eaten
g. /UK-O-R-C!KV/
U-QO-R-C!KVMC which will not be eaten
The future forms in (134) are what correspond to the nonfuture object nominalized forms. These
differ from other nominalizations, however, in that they are identical to finite irrealis forms. Subject
person prefixes occur instead of possessive prefixes. These are therefore not nominalized forms
structurally. The auxiliary particle !C follows these forms.

(134) a. /!-UK-O-CUK/
K!-U-MO-CUK!C which I will not drink
b. /!C-UK-CUKQZ/
!C-UKÖ-UKQZ!C which we will drink
c. /K-UK-MCV: C/
K-U-MCV: C!C whom he will bite
OC-U-QÖPGM!C which you (pl.) will carry
The forms in (135) are future action/oblique nominalized forms.
(135) a. /!K-UK-CÖM9VKO/
!K-U-CÖM9VKO!C what I will cover up with
b. /OK-UK-CU½ M CO/
OK-UKÖ-U½ M CO!C that you (pl.) will be coming
c. /!K-UK-C!MC/
CP!K-UKÖ-!MC!C that we will be in
in exist
!G-!GK-U-R-CMQVKO!C what wood will be chopped with
wood 3P-IRR-PASS-chop AUX
e. /K-UK-CÖ!-CÖ!-QÖRQ /
!CÖVMQKCPK-U-CÖ!-CÖ!-QÖRQ !C what torote will be made black in
torote the in 3P-IRR-PASS-AUG-black AUX

U½ K Ö:K-U-M-CÖ-OQKÖZ!C thing that one will mend with
thing 3P-IRR-US-AUG-encircled AUX
U½ K Ö:K-U-CÖ-OQKÖZ!C thing that he will mend with
thing 3P-IRR-AUG-encircled AUX

2.6.5. Hybrid forms

A type of hybrid form—one which has characteristics of both finite and nominalized forms—occurs
before the phrase !C:V-C!-QKÖ!C:O-CÖ (just RL-PASS-feel just PROX-be) as if .... (This is the only
context in which these hybrid forms occur, so far as I know.) While the verb of a negative clause
occurs in a simple nominalized form, as in (136),
(136) OK-∅-O-C!KV!C:V-C!-QKÖ!C:OC
it is as if you were not eating

the verb of a non-negative clause occurs in the subject nominalized form with a subject person prefix
before it. The object marker occurs in two places—before the nominalizer, as if the form were finite,
and after the nominalizer, as if the forms were nominalized. The forms in (137) are the hybrid forms.
(137) a. /!-M-K-C!KV/
K!-M-K-!KV I ate it.
b. /K-M-K-C!KV/
K-M-K-!KV he ate it
OC-M-K-KVQZ you (pl.) ate it
d. /!R-M-Q-CR/
K!R-M-QÖ-R I am basket-sewing
This form is even more bizarre in that the “active” allomorph /M-/ of the subject nominalizer occurs
before the passive morpheme in personal passives (cf. §12.2). The expected “passive” allomorph /!C-/
occurs before the passive morpheme in impersonal passives, however. (138a) is an example of a
personal passive and (138b) is an impersonal passive.
(138) a. /O-M-R-CU½ V /
KO-M-R-CU½ V you were tattooed
b. OCU½ K -!C-R-CU½ K VKO you (pl.) were tattooed

2.7. Noun prefixes

There exists little inflection on nouns in Seri compared to that occurring on verbs. The only prefixes
which occur are discussed below.

2.7.1. Absolutive prefix

Inalienably possessed nouns always occur with either a possessive prefix or the absolutive prefix
which is /!C-/ with most nouns, as in (139a-b), but /!CR-/ with some kinship terms, as in (139c). These
nouns consist almost entirely of two types: they either have consonant-initial stems, as in (139a), or
putatively short low vowel-initial stems, as in (139b). (In the latter case, the root-initial vowel will
never show up. The stress will occur on the prefix vowel as a result of Short Low Vowel Deletion
The allomorph /!CR-/ occurs with kinship roots beginning with the short low front vowel G (with
perhaps one exception). The allomorph /!C-/ occurs with all other roots.

(139) a. !C- KV head
!C-PCK  skin
!C-PGÖOZ nose ornament
!C-R:CUK flesh
!C-VCUV tooth
!C-VCÖK loin cloth
!C-[C: belly
!C-U½ O KÖ-V mother's brother
b. /!C-CPQ /
!C-PQ  hand and arm
/!C-CR /
!C-R  tongue
/!C-COQU½ /
!C-OQU½ heart
!C-: liquid; sap
!C-QPCO hat
!G-OG camp; home
c. /!CR-GOCU½ /
!C-R-GOGU½ father's mother
!CR-GG father
/!CR-GCU½ /
!CR-GGU½ mother's father
!CR-GVG mother
but seeÖ
!CR-CMQO wife
Two additional rules are needed. Rule (140) will front the C of roots such as /-GOCU½ / father's
mother when an G precedes (in a counterbleeding order with i-Lowering, cf. §1.2.13). The a of these
roots surfaces when the G deletes by Short Low Vowel Deletion (14) following a prefix vowel.
(140) Fronting: C→ G / G C10 ___
The i of !CRGG father (m.s.) lowers by the following ruleÖ
(141) i-Lowering: K → G / G ___
This rule also applies in the derivation of the form [UG" Ö G] Let's hear it!. The imperative prefix /UC-/
causes the ablaut of the first vowel of the root /-KÖK/, and (141) lowers the second vowel. The Kof a

prefix also lowers following the e of an oblique prefix: /!G=K!C-GU:9/ !G=K!-GU:9 [!G!G" U :9] to hide
it from me.

2.7.2. Possessive prefixes

The following possessive prefixes occur on both noun stems and nominalized verbs.
(142) Set A Set B
1st !K- ~ !C- ~ !CVK- !K-
2nd OK- ~ OC- OC-
3rd K- C-
Set B possessive prefixes occur on all kinship roots, as in (143b), and Set A possessive prefixes occur
elsewhere, as in (143a).
(143) a. !K- KV my head

!K-VQ my eye
OK-PCK  your skin
OK-OCU your body hair
K-R:CUK his/its flesh
[C: his/its belly
b. !K-OCÖM my older brother (f.s.)

/!K-CRCU½ / my father's father

OC-P[CÖM your older brother
OC-OCU½ your father's mother (m.s.)
OC-K your father
C-OCÖM her older brother
C-VC his/her mother
It is important to discuss the rule by which the K of a possessive prefix deletes before [, as in
/K-[C:/ [C: its belly, and /!K-[CPQ¸ Ö RZ/ K![CPQ¸ Ö RZ my fist. First of all, only the K of the possessive
prefixes and the verbalizing prefix /K-/ have, as in /M-K-[GÖP/ (NOM-have-face) M[GÖP who has a face,
delete before [. The examples in (144) show that the object marker /K-/ and the i of the plural object
prefixes do not delete before [.

(144) a. /K-[Q-C!C/
K-[QÖ-!Q He saw him.
b. /!KU½ K -[Q-C!Q/
!KU½ K -[QÖ-!Q He saw us.
The K’s of the possessive prefixes do not delete before any [, however. As noted above, they delete
before the [ of a noun stem. They also delete (when unstressed) before both the action/oblique and the
object nominalizers /[-/, as in /!K-[-QVZ/ i!yatx my arising, except when an oblique prefix precedes
the K (of the third person possessive prefix) as in (145). (145d) shows that the deletion takes place
when a directional prefix precedes the K.
(145) a. VQM M9=K-[-CKÖCM
there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL the
their being there
b. M9=K-[-CVZCM
3Ob-3P-NOM-arise the
his arising
c. /MQ=!K-[-QVZ/
3Ob-1P-NOM-arise the
my arising
d. /OQ=K-[-QKV/
toward-3P/NOM-descend the
its descending
They also do not delete before the initial [ of a verb root, as in /!K-∅-[CÖK/ !K[CÖK my traveling, and
/K-∅-[C:C/ K[C:C its being pregnant. 50 The rule deleting K can be formalized as in (146).
(146) i → ∅ / Z ___ X[ Y
Conditions: X J V, Z J Oblique prefix
The distinction between kinship and nonkinship forms is illustrated even more strikingly by the
various forms of the verb /-CÖ / accompany (cf. chapter 5). The subject nominalized passive form is
!C-R-C" ! CÖ  who is/was accompanied, spouse. The form !K-[-CÖ  (1P-NOM-accompany) means the one
whom he/she accompanies respectively. The kinship relation for second and third person is expressed
by the forms OCÖ and CÖ . If the latter are to be derived from the verb /-CÖ /, however, an object
nominalizer other than the expected /[-/ must be posited for the kinship forms in the second and third

50The i deletes in the morphologically aberrant object nominalized forms of /-[CÖ/ own which are
discussed in §2.7.4. The i does not delete before this verb root in the action nominalized form
!K-∅-[CÖ my owning it.

The allomorphs /!C-/ and /OC-/ for the first and second person possessive in set A occur only
when the possessor is plural and it is following by [, regardless of whether the [ is part of the root or a
(147) a. /OC-[-Q-CKVQZ/
OC-[-C-KVQZ your (pl.) eating
b. !C-[CPQ¸ Ö R  our fists
c. OC-[CPQ¸ Ö R  your (pl.) fists
The morpheme /!CVK-/ for first person singular possessive occurs when exclusive possession is
indicated (cf. !CVG" Ö , the first person restrictive pronoun, and §2.5.9).
(148) a. !CVK-VCUVK-:CÖK the root of my tooth
tooth 3P-root
b. !CVG" Ö !CV-[CÖ-!C It's mine.
The possessive prefixes do not otherwise indicate number since plural inalienable nouns generally
indicate plural possessor as well.
(149) a. !K- KV my head
b. !K- KVMQZ out heads
Where plurality of possessor and plurality of noun do not coincide, additional forms generally exist, as
shown in (150).
(150) a. /!K-CVQ/
!K-VQ my eye
b. /!K-CVQZ/
!K-VQZ my eyes
c. /!K-CVQ MQZ/
!K-VQ MQZ our eyes
An unspecified possessor may be indicated by the unspecified subject prefix /MC-/ (which will
always appear on the surface as k) before the third person possessive prefix.
(151) a. /MC-K- KV/
M-K- KV one's head
b. /MC-K-VQZ/
M-K-VQZ one's eyes
c. /MC-K-CR /
M-K-R  one's tongue

2.7.3. Root types

Almost half of the primary kinship stems begin with M.

(152) a. -MCÖM daughter's child (f.s.)
b. -MGOGU½ husband's mother (f.s.)
c. -MCOCU½ son's wife
It is possible that explanation for this fact is to be found in the reanalysis of nominalized verbs. Some
kinship relations are still expressed through verbs.
(153) a. /OK-Q-[CMZ/
O-Q-[CMZ the one you call sibling
b. /OK-∅-KÖMGV/
O-∅-KÖMGV the one you carried in your womb
c. /!KO-M-K-CÖU½ K /
!KO-M-CÖU½ K the one who carried me—my father
d. /!KO-M-K-K-CRCU½ /
1sO-NOM/OM-have grandfather
the one who has me as grandfather—my grandchild
the relationship expressed by (153d) has an alternate, !K-MKRCU½ (1P-grandson), which provides a clear
clue to the probable origin of other M kinship stems.
More than half of the body part stems begin with y following by a low vowel.
(154) a. -[C: belly d. -[GU½ Z scales
b. -[CÖR neck e. -[GÖUM rattles
c. -[CPQ¸ Ö RZ fist f. -[CVQ¸ Ö V:9  kidney
The fact that in a number of these roots the stress occurs on the second syllable indicates that the
sequence [C is segmentable historically.
As I have already mentioned, nearly all vowel-initial roots begin with a short low vowel. 51

2.7.4. Possession of alienable nouns

Possession of alienable nouns is indicated by a relative clause meaning which X owns. A nominal
possessor, if any, precedes the noun.
the car 3P/NOM/own the where RL-be
Where is Cimalon's car?
b. /!K-[CÖ//!-[Q-CÖU½ K /
U½ C Ö!!KRK!-[CÖMK!!-[-CÖU½ K
watch EMPH 1P-NOM/own the 1sS-DIST-carry
the 3P/NOM/own the also 1sS-PROX-carry

51 The only root that I know of which begins with a vowel other than a short low vowel and which
also occurs with the absolutive prefix is the root /-GÖM/ daughter (m.s.).

I took my own watch; I also took Juan's watch.
c. /!K-Q-[CÖV/
boats 1P-NOM-own/PL the somewhere EMPH-not=exist/PL
Our boats are lost!
The forms of the relative clauses with plural subjects given in (157) are regularly derived
nominalized forms of the verb /-[CÖ/ own. This verb is a typical verb in that it may occur as the main
verb of a clause, as in (156).
(156) /O-V-O-[CÖ/
NOM-PASS-string=beads a 2sS-RL-NEG own
Don't you have any beads?
(157) /!K-Q-[CÖV/
!-Q-[CÖV which we own
O-Q-[CÖV which you (pl.) own
Q-[CÖV which they own
The forms of the relative clauses with singular subjects, given in (158), are irregular in that the
nominalizer does not appear and the K of the prefix deletes (cf.. (146)).
(158) /!K-[CÖ/
K!-[CÖ what I own
KO-[CÖ what you own
[CÖ what he/she owns
A few alienable nouns, generally personal items, may be prefixed by the possessive prefixes. They
include: MCPQ¸ C boat, GÖPKOknife, VCÖUC cup, !CO" Ö IQ friend, RCU½ C " Ö VQ shoe, UC!OG" Ö U orange,RGÖP
shoulder yoke, VQO money, !CKV blood, and MCOKU½ shirt. Apparently almost any noun could be so
prefixed under special conditions; some plant names are compounds of the form X its-Y where Y is not
a typically possessed noun.

2.8. Frozen and nonproductive prefixes

2.8.1. Stative /m-/

A very high percentage of verb stems beginning with m in present-day Seri are stative verbs. A few

examples are given below.
(159) a. -OCO cooked; ripe
b. -OCVZ hot
c. -OCUQ  yellow
It is possible that the m of these roots was at one time a segmentable prefix. A few pairs of words lend
further support to this hypothesis (see Sapir 1925).
(160) a. -QKÖZ tubular
b. -OQKÖZ encircled
c. -CÖ-VQOP inflict damage
d. -OQVQ¸ O P weak
e. -GÖUQOCO shy
f. -OGÖUQO undefiled; virgin
One piece of evidence that these O’s are not synchronically segmentable in the normal sense is the
fact that they do not condition k-Epenthesis (cf. §2.3.7) which requires a formative boundary
following the m.
(161) /!R-UK-OCUQ /
K!R-U-OCUQ !C-[C Should I be yellow?

2.8.2. Nominalizer /!-/

A few noun/verb pairs exist whose relationship is not explainable by any productive word formation
process. The nouns of these pairs begin with a glottal stop.
(162) Verb Root Noun
a. -CÖMCV 52 swim !CMCV shark
b. -CÖMQ build house !CÖMQ house
c. -CÖMPK bowed !CÖMPK bow

2.8.3. /K!K-/
In the following forms a prefix /K!K-/ is prefixed to a verb stem, deriving another verb.
(163) a. /-K!K-CRC/ be left standing
-K!KÖ-RC (cf. /-CR/ stand)
b. /-K!K-KPGZ/
-K!-KPGZ be naked; be exposed
c. /-K!K-KÖZ/
-K!-KÖZ be left seated
The following verbs may also involve this prefix.

52 This verb has a long vowel phonologically but a short vowel phonetically. See §5.4.

(164) a. -K!" Ö OGV be married
(cf. !GOG camp)
b. -K!" V CM be stripped to waist
(cf. -CVCM bone)

2.8.4. Negative
A few verbs have obviously incorporated the negative prefix as part of the stem. Since the O is
synchronically part of the stem, these O’s do not condition k-Epenthesis (cf. §2.3.7) and the verbs may
be prefixed by the negative morpheme.
(165) a. !CM:-OKÖ! die
somewhere not=exist (cf. -iÖ! be)
b. -OKÖ! scarce
c. -OQMG" R G sick
(cf. -QMG" R G comfortable)
d. !CÖ-OCMQ be difficult
there (cf. !CÖ-CMQeasy)

2.8.5. Passive
A few verbs have incorporated the passive morpheme as part of the stem. Since the R in the forms in
(166) is synchronically part of the stem, it does not condition the allomorph /!C-/ of the subject
(166) a. M-RCÖKU: what is clean
(cf. M-CÖKU: he who cleans it; !C-R-CÖKU:what was cleaned)
b. M-RCVZ what is crushed
(cf. M-CÖVZ who pounds)
c. M-RCVZM what is spread apart
(cf. M-CÖVZM who spreads apart)
Unlike “true” passives, the roots can be preceded by the augment prefix: M-CÖ-RCVZ who crushes,
M-CÖ-RCVZMwho spreads apart. The verb -RCMVC be, as in the phrase Q:V-RCMVCOC (thus RL-be SR)
it was thus...; then... is obviously derived historically from /-R-QÖMVC/ (-Pass-look=at). This etymology
is still reflected by the fact that the allomorph of the subject nominalizer used with this verb is still
/!C-/ which otherwise occurs only before the “productive” passive prefix. The form is no longer
syntactically passive since it does not act like a passive form with respect to impersonal passives (cf.
§12.3) and switch reference marking (cf. chapter 15) and since it can be preceded by the augment
prefix, unlike true passive forms: -CÖ-RCMVC do.
Finally, the following stems occur with and without the passive prefix. With respect to the subject
nominalizer morphology the prefix is not synchronically the true passive prefix since the allomorph
/M-/ occurs. With respect to the action/oblique nominalizer, however, the prefix does act like the true
passive prefix in that the allomorph /!-/ occurs, and that !-Deletion (84) applies.

(167) a. M-CÖ!-MCK  that which remains
b. !CPVM-CÖ!-ZKKV who falls
down drop
c. /OK-!-CÖ!-ZKKV/
OK-!-CÖ-ZKKV your falling

2.8.6. Augment
A prefix which has the same shape as the augment prefix appears on a number of stems whose roots
do not occur independently. A few examples are listed below.
(168) a. -CÖ-VQ GM request help for
b. -CÖ-UCOKMV jealous
c. -CÖM-GRGM hunt (deer)
d. -CÖ-9CU½ R crush; be crushed

2.9. Rule ordering summary

In this section I will briefly discuss the ordering of the rules discussed in chapter 2.
Spell-out rules are preceded only by rules (43) and (60) since the latter affect the spelling of the
morpheme. After the spell-out rules, readjustment rules (41) and (102) apply. Rule (41) bleeds
i-Epenthesis (38) and rule (102) feeds o-Epenthesis (37).
The correct surface representation is achieved if the remaining rules apply in the following order.
The crucial orderings are noted. Short Low Vowel Deletion (14) and Vowel Deletion (16) apply
(169) 1. Ablaut (67) — bleeds 6, feeds 10
2. i-Deletion (146) — bleeds 3
3. Stress (13)
4. o-Deletion (78) — bleeds 6
5. Coalescence (26) — bleeds 8, feeds 10
6. SLV Deletion (14) — bleeds 15
7. Vowel Deletion (16)
8. o-Spirantization (54) — counterbleeds 12
9. i-Deletion (21) — feeds 12, 17
10. Fronting (27)
11. k-Epenthesis (33) — counterbleeds 12
12. o-Epentheses (37) — bleeds 17
13. Vowel Deletion (91) — feeds 14
14. !-Deletion (84)
15. Fronting (140)
16. Lowering (141)
17. i-Epenthesis (38)

Postscript to Chapter 2
I now believe that there is, perhaps, a better analysis of the so-called “abilitative” prefix discussed
in §2.2.5. This seems to be simply the negative realis interrogative (V- plus O-) spoken with special
intonation and rhetorical effect.
The analysis of the first person plural imperative given in §2.5.8 has been superseded by that of
Marlett 1994a. We now know that the morphology is simply a concatenation of the Irrealis prefix /UK-/
followed by the first person restrictive prefix. This accounts for the rather bizarre “metathesis”
presented in §2.5.8.
I no longer use the label first person restrictive since it can be misleading. Rather, I use first
person emphatic (see Marlett 1990).
In Marlett 1990 I present the inflectional system of Seri in some detail. In that article, I suggest
somewhat tentatively (and have adopted since then) the alternative analysis whereby the so-called
oblique agreement is really indirect object agreement. The range of semantic roles associated with this
agreement morphology is still interesting, however.
Kinship terminology is discussed in detail in Moser and Marlett 1989 (in Spanish) and Moser and
Marlett 1993 (in English).
The full set of facts with respect to possessive prefix morphophonemics is not presented in §2.7.2,
as is made clear in Marlett 1994b. It is simply the case that some noun roots display long vowels and
some display short vowels, but they do not conjugate the way verbs conjugate (where long vowels
induce deletion of the prefix vowel). These facts await an adequate analysis.
The topic of §§2.8.4 and 2.8.5 (reanalysis of the negative and passive prefixes) is taken up again in
Marlett 1996, in more detail and with more argumentation.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1990. Person and number inflection in Seri. International Journal of American
Linguistics 56:503-541.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1994a. One less crazy rule. Workpapers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics,
University of North Dakota Session 38:57-58.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1994b. Vowel length in Seri possessed nouns. Workpapers of the Summer Institute
of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session 38:115-116.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1996. Recycled morphology: expanding the Seri lexicon. Paper presented to the
Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americas, San Diego, California,
January 7.
Moser, Mary B. and Stephen A. Marlett. 1989. Terminología de parentesco seri. Anales de
Antropología 26:367-88. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Moser, Mary B. and Stephen A. Marlett. 1993. Seri kinship terms. Workpapers of the Summer Institute
of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session 37:21-36.

Chapter 3
Suffix morphology and morphophonemics
In this chapter I will discuss the major suffixes and postclitics which occur in Seri. Suffixes which
mark number and other suffixes which are better treated as part of the verb stem are discussed in
chapter 4.

3.1. General suffixes

In this section suffixes of a general nature will be discussed. Any restrictions on order will be noted in
the appropriate section.

3.1.1. Emphatic /-:Q/

The emphatic suffix /-:Q/ occurs following verbs prefixed by the irrealis mood prefix /si-/.
(1) a. OK-P MK!U-U½ C V:-:Q
2P-fingers the IRR-thorny-EMPH
Your fingers will get tiny thorns in them!
I’m not going to move away!

3.1.2. /-KU/
The suffix /-KU/ indicates mild agreement by the speaker. The K deletes following a vowel that is
not part of the verb stem.1
(2) a. U-CÖVQ-KU
Sure he’ll fight.
Of course he staggers!
Okay, untie me!
d. K!-UKÖ-!KV-:Q-U
Of course I will eat it!
This suffix, which follows the emphatic suffix (cf. (2d)), occurs only on the verbs of independent

Suffixes discussed in chapter 4 behave differently from suffixes discussed in this chapter in this
respect as the former constitute, with the root, the stem of the verb.

3.1.3. /-Q/
The suffix (or particle) /-Q/ occurs when a nonnegative clause contains the word MQK still, as in (3a-b),
and commonly when the clause contains the word mos also; again or !C: just, as in (3c-f).
(3) a. MQKM-RCPU½ : -Q-!C
still NOM-run-o-DECL
He is still running.
still far- RL-exist
Is it still far away?
again IMP-say-
Say it again!
d. !C:!-KÖO-Q
just IMP-sleep-
Just sleep!
the just 1plS-PROX-look=at-
We just looked at Pedro again.
In the above usages, the Q is generally suffixed to the verb of the clause (note that (3b) is an exception
to this generalization). This suffix also commonly follows a nominal or other word to which special
attention is being drawn. The exact conditions for its usage are not clear.
(4) a. VKMKZ-Q!CÖ-[C
that- be-INTERR
Is it that one?
day the NOM-few on RL-pass SR
Just a few days later...
c. !CUV-QM-K-!
stone- NOM-OM-do
he who goes for stone
land- RL-arrive
Did he arrive by land?
land the- on toward-NOM-move-DECL
It comes from the earth.
f. !CÖ-Q[-KÖZ
there- DIST-sit
He’s over there.
g. !G-QOC-!-OKÖ-!
1PRO- 2sO-1sS-RL-do
I did it to you.

3.1.4. /-KRK/
The suffix /-KRK/ occurs in a negative clause containing the word MQK still. While it generally follows
the verb, note that in (5d) it follows another word. (In that particular example it also occurs even
though the word MQK does not occur.)
(5) a. MQKM9-V-O-KVC !C" Ö -KRK
still 3Ob-RL-NEG-sell-
Hasn’t he sold it yet?
still RL-NEG-cooked-ipi-!o
It’s still not cooked.
1sS-RL-NEG-sleep- SR PROX-arrive/PL
Before I had slept, they arrived.
moon outside- RL-NEG-stand SR PROX-go/PL
Before the moon came up, they went.
I’m not going fishing yet.

3.1.5. /-!Q/
The suffix /-!Q/ occurs following the verb of a negative independent clause prefixed by the neutral
realis prefix /V-/, as shown in §2.2.1. An epenthetic K precedes the glottal stop when the preceding
segment is a consonant. This epenthesis rule applies only before glottal-initial suffixes.
(6) ∅ → K / C ___ suffix[ !
This suffix also occurs following verbs prefixed by the dependent irrealis marker /RQ-/ to indicate the
possible realization of a past event.
(7) a. :9CÖPMK!R-CÖ-!KV-K!Q-V:RQ-O-CÖ-!KV-K!Q
the IRR-AUG-eat-!o-V: IRR-NEG-AUG-eat-!Q
Maybe Juan went fishing, maybe he didn’t go fishing.
IRR-rain-!Q-V: IRR-NEG-rain-!Q
Maybe it rained, maybe it didn’t rain.
The following example illustrates the form of this construction if the event has not yet taken place.
sharks many OM-IRR-kill PL IRR-!Q-KU
Perhaps they will kill many sharks.

3.1.6. Declarative /-!K/

The declarative suffix /-!K/ follows a verb prefixed by the realis /V-/. This construction is often used
when the speaker is mildly surprised.

(9) a. V-O-CKUMCP-K!K
It’s not hard.
b. V-KUZ-K!K
He’s cowardly.
c. KM-QÖ-!KVK!-V-COU½ Q -!K
INF-D-eat 1sS-RL-want-DECL
I want to eat.

3.1.7. Unspecified time

The suffix /-:/, which occurs mainly on the verbs of dependent clauses, seems to indicate that the
specificity of the time at which the event has taken or will take place is either not relevant or not
known. Compare (10a), which contains the suffix, and (10b), which does not. This suffix follows a
switch reference marker (cf. §3.3) if one is present.
(10) a. V-:VCOVOC-:RCMK!-[QÖ-OZM
RL-many SR-UT some 1sS-DIST-bring
When there are many, I bring some.
RL-many SR some 1sS-DIST-bring
Because there were so many, I brought some.
2P-fingers the IRR-thorny SR-UT 2sS-IRR-cry AUX-DECL
If your fingers get thorns in them, you will cry.
things the NOM-have-spirits the other the
OM-RL-look=at/PL-UT OM-RL-hear/PL-UT
The other people observed him, they heard him....
This suffix may also occur following the relational noun /-CVK/ (cf. §7.14) or the particle MC! (cf.
§8.2.5) when a clause is nominalized.
(11) a. !K-!-KÖOK-VK-:K!R-RCVZVC-:
1P-NOM-sleep 3P-on-UT 1sS-IRR/arise SR-UT
!C-UKÖ- :!C-!C
When I have slept, when I get up, we’ll go.
thus 3P-NOM-be thus 3P-NOM-be the/FOC-UT
It was like that, it was like that....; i.e., It was like that for a long time, ...

3.2. Stress-bearing suffixes

3.2.1. First /-" Ö /

The stress-bearing suffix /-" Ö / indicates some notion of precedence. When this suffix occurs, the
primary stress on the root is reduced.
(12) a. !GU-KÖO-" Ö MC-!C
1PRO IRR-sleep-first AUX-DECL
I’m going to be the first to sleep.
sea away-RL-return-first SR
When the tide first started to rise....
c. K!-[-CÖU½ K -" Ö
my first son
fish other 1P-NOM-kill-first bass those
the fish that we killed first, the bass....

3.2.2. True
The stress-bearing suffix /-C" Ö / indicates some notion of reality.
(13) a. U½ K Ö:M-!CÖ-C" Ö U½ Q !-V-MO-CC-!Q
thing NOM-be-true a 1sS-RL-NEG-know-!Q
I don’t know what/who it really is.
He’s really going to work!
c. !C:VQÖ:V-QÖO-C" Ö
just far RL-lie-true
It was very far away.....
IRR-arrive AUX V-IRR-say-true IRR-arrive AUX-DECL
If he really said he was coming, he will come.

3.3. Switch reference markers

Two markers are used to indicate that the (first) subject of one clause is not coreferent with the (first)
subject of the next clause. The system is discussed in detail in chapter 15. Same subject is not marked.
The switch reference markers, which occur only on dependent clauses, are VC, on irrealis clauses, and
OC, on realis clauses. These markers occur last in the clause-final verb complex except for the
unspecified time suffix (cf. §3.1.7) which follows these suffixes. For examples see chapter 15.

3.4. Suffixes occurring primarily on nominals

3.4.1. Declarative /-!C/

The declarative suffix /-!C/ follows a nominal or a nominalized verb.
(14) a. !CUQ-!C
It is a net.
cup the NOM-red-DECL
The cup is red.
c. K-∅-RCPU½ : !-QÖ-OU½ Q -!C
3P-NOM-run 1P-NOM-want-DECL
I want him to run.
woman this also here-Q on outside NOM-stand-DECL
This woman was also born here.

3.4.2. Interrogative
The interrogative suffix /-[C/ follows a nominal or a nominalized verb.
(15) a. U½ K :MC" O M-!GÖ !GÖMG-[C
fish NOM-red small-INTERR
Is it a small red fish?
b. M-QK -[C
Is it blue?
Aren’t you going to go fishing tomorrow?
In interrogative sentences with a nominal being questioned (cf. §8.4), this suffix must occur on the
questioned nominal if it does not occur on the predicate. Compare (15a) and (16b).
(16) a. CU½ - [C!CMK:KPV-KV-CÖV-CVC:
what-INTERR somewhere away-RL-move RL-go
Who went?
What is he doing?

3.4.3. Declarative /-!K/

The suffix /-!K/ is used much like the declarative suffix /-!C/ (cf. §3.4.1).
(17) !C:9 " - !-QÖOCMM9-OK-!-QU½  " Ö VCM
clam 3P-NOM-lie the 3Ob-2P-NOM-go=to the

3PRO face-Q NOM-stand-DECL toward
2PRO 3P-NOM-go the 3PRO in IRR-sit SR-UT
He will be in Desemboque before you (pl.) arrive there. You will see him there.

3.4.4. /" ! K/
The stressed particle /" ! K/ indicates past time.
the also here-Q on outside NOM-stand
Lauro also was born here.
1PRO chief 1sO-RL-NEG-know/PL-!Q
Although I was chief, they don’t know me.
c. !CPV:OQ¸ - O-CÖVC:!GU½ K Ö:!CR
base toward-PROX-move VC: 1PRO thing deer
M-" - M9" ! K // KM-CO9ZM-" [ -C" ! K
NOM-OM-kill INF-hunt/D NOM-OM-know
In the old days I killed deer. I was a hunter.
d. U-QÖUMC" ! K
IRR-sing AUX
He was going to sing.
e. !GK-O-QÖ-!KVKO" ! K
I haven’t eaten.

3.4.5. /" Ö /
The stressed particle /" Ö /, which follows the verb of an independent irrealis clause, replacing any
auxiliary particles (cf. §3.5) that would otherwise occur, emphasizes the certainty of the event.2
(19) a. K!R-U-KÖO" Ö
I’m going to sleep.
NOM-NEG-AUG-eat-DECL since money a OM-IRR-NEG-own
Since he doesn’t fish he just won’t have money.
The suffix /-KU/ (cf. §3.1.2.) commonly occurs following this particle.

2 It occurs only on independent irrealis forms, so far as I know.

(20) K!-UKÖ-!KV" Ö -U
1sS-IRR-eat -KU
I’ll just have to eat it.

3.5. Auxiliary verb particles and related items

3.5.1. Auxiliary verb particles53

The particles MC, !C, RC, and VC occur in various verbal constructions. As the consonants of these
forms all occur in various mood prefixes and nominalizers, these particles are undoubtedly
grammaticized forms of some verb.54
The particle MC follows a future subject nominalized form, as in the examples in (21). Its
relationship to the nominalizer /M-/ is confirmed by the fact that it must be followed by the declarative
suffix /-!C/ if it is sentence-final, as in (21b).
truck the IRR-arrive AUX somewhere PROX-be
The truck that was going to come is there.
b. !GU½ K :MC" O MK!UKÖ-!KVMC-!C
1PRO fish the IRR-eat AUX-DECL
I will eat the fish.
IRR-arrive AUX V-PROX-say
He said that it’s coming.
The particle !C occurs after other future nominalized forms. As stated in §2.2.7, a verb with the
irrealis prefix /UK-/ must be followed by some particle or suffix. In a simple finite clause the irrealis
form is often followed by the particle !C which is followed by the declarative suffix /-!C/, as in (22a-
b), the declarative suffix /-!K/, as in (22c), or the interrogative suffix /-[C/, as in (22d).
(22) a. OK-P MK!RQ-U½ C V:VC-:KO-U-QÖ!C!C-!C
2P-fingers the IRR-thorny SR-UT 2sS-IRR-cry AUX-DECL
If your fingers get thorns in them, you will cry.
b. KO-U-MO-K: !C-!C
You shouldn’t grab it!
1sS-IRR-wash=one’s=hair AUX-DECL
I will wash my hair.

53 One reason why I consider them to be postverbal particles rather than suffixes is because they do
not act like bound forms phonologically. The rule inserting i given as (6) does not apply before the
particle /!C/. Glottal-nasal metathesis is also less likely to apply with the particle /!C/ (cf. (13) in
chapter 1).
54To be specific, the k of /MC/ corresponds phonologically and syntactically to the subject
nominalizer /M-/, the R of /RC/ to the R of the dependent irrealis form /RQ-/, and the V of /VC/ to the
dependent realis form /V-/. The glottal stop of /!C/ has no clear counterpart.

2sS-IRR-swim far 2sS-IRR-enter AUX-INTERR
Are you going to swim out far?
IRR-later SR OM-IRR-take AUX V-PROX-say
He will buy them later, he said.
(The glottal stop of the particle !C is extremely lenis, if present at all phonetically, except when the
particle receives a greater degree of stress, as it does when followed by /-!K/ or /-[C/.)
The following examples with the particles RC and VC are taken from Moser 1978.55 Note that the
particles function as dependent verbs in their choice of switch reference marker. In fact, in (23b) and
(24b) these particles function as predicates.
(23) a. U½ K Ö:MK!KO-UKÖ-!KVRCVC-:
thing the 2sS-IRR-eat AUX SR-UT
2sO-1sS-IRR-leave AUX-DECL
If you are going to eat something, I’ll leave.
well AUX SR 3Ob/1sO-IRR-tell AUX-DECL
He will tell it to me correctly.
IRR-D-eat/MULT AUX SR man other the DIST-arrive
When he was going to eat, the other man arrived.
well AUX SR 3Ob/1sO-DIST-NEG-tell
he didn’t tell it to me correctly.
The auxiliary particle ta and the interjection :C! occur in fairly fixed form in constructions such as
the following (cf. §3.5.3).
(25 !C-U-Q-MQÖU½ : :C!VC!-G" V -[Q
1plS-IRR-D-rob/PL AUX 1plS-RL-say/PL
We said that we would rob....

55 Purpose clauses are similar in structure but they typically follow the main clause, as in (i).
DIST-arrive IRR-D-eat AUX
He arrived to eat.
(ii) !C-R-CRZMU½ Q !-U-K: RC
NOM-PASS-hang a 1sS-IRR-take AUX
!KU½  MQ=O=!" - ∅-O-CÖ-!C
here 3Ob-toward-1P-NOM-NEG-move-DECL

I didn't come here to buy beads.

3.5.2. The auxiliary use of say
The verb stem /-GÖ/, presumably related to the intransitive verb /-GÖ/ say, is used with future
nominalized forms. It is preceded by the nominalizer /M-/ and followed by either the declarative suffix
/-!K/ or the interrogative suffix /-[C/.
3P/belly NOM-large the when IRR-arrive NOM-say/D-INTERR
When is “Big Belly” coming?
now 2PRO turtle the-Q IRR-NEG-do NOM-say/D-INTERR
Are you going turtle hunting now?
1PRO IRR-return=home NOM-say/D-DECL
I’m going home.
Future nominalized forms with M-GÖ-[C are used when broaching a new subject. Finite future
forms with !C-[C (cf. (22d)) are used when seeking further information on a topic already introduced.
A response to a question with M-GÖ-[C may be a nominalized form followed by MC-!C. A response to a
question with !C-[C may be a nominalized form with !C-!C or !C-!K. A non-interrogative future
clause that begins a new topic will be a nominalized form followed by MC-!C, MC-!K, or M-KÖ-!K.

3.5.3. The quotative use of say

The intransitive verb /-GÖ/ (cf. §5.1) is used to indicate direct (cf. (27e) as well as indirect quotes. When
this verb follows an irrealis clause, no suffix follows the auxiliary particle. Switch reference marking
also does not occur between the main clause and the verb say (cf. (27f)). It is precisely because of this
highly restricted syntactic behavior that discussion of this verb is included here. Some examples are
given in (27).
(27) a. RQ-[CÖOVCK-U-K: !CV-G" O -GÖ
IRR-later SR OM-IRR-take AUX V-PROX-say
Hei said that hei will buy them later
some IRR-arrive AUX V-PROX-say
He said that some are coming.
c. Q:U-QO-M-GÖ!CV-G" O -GÖ
thus IRR-NEG-US-say/D AUX V-PROX-say
He said that one should not talk like that.
d. !CPVRQ-HKÖVC!C-VMO-C ::C!!G" - O-[Q
land IRR-? SR 1plS-ABIL-go/PL — 1plS-PROX-say/PL
We said that tomorrow we could go.
e. MOCÖUM-CVC:!C::C!V-G" O -[Q
now 1plIMP-go/SG just — V-PROX-say
They said, “Let’s go right away!”
3P-skin the 3P-surface the 3P-side

RL-hurt t-PROX-say
He said that his skin hurt.
The verb /-GÖ/ with the unspecified subject prefix /MC-/ in the distal mood is also commonly used
as the last clause of a sentence to indicate that the information is passed-down information. Old stories
are therefore sprinkled liberally with the word [Q¸ -M-GÖ, as in (28). Switch reference marking does not
occur before [Q¸ M GÖ.
(28) a. VC MC!K-V-CKVQZ[Q¸ - M-GÖ
ember the/FOC OM-RL-eat/PL DIST-US-say
They ate embers, it is said.
land 3PRO 3Ob-away-RL-move DIST-US-say
He went to Xnit, it is said.
The stress on the [Q¸ M GÖ is also quite reduced, indicative of its special characteristics.
The form O-G" M -[Q (PROX-US-say/PL) occurs under similar conditions.
3P-eye the metal NOM-AUG=ooze the in down RL-descend PROX-US-say/PL
A bullet lands in his eye, it is said.

3.6. Conjunctive and subordinating suffixes and particles

3.6.1. /-V:/
The suffix /-V:/ conjoins two irrealis clauses between which an alternative is indicated.
(30) a. K!R-UKÖ-VC:RQ-!Q-V:K!R-U-MO-CVC:RQ-!Q
1sS-IRR-go IRR-!o- 1sS-IRR-NEG-go IRR-!Q
I will go perhaps—or perhaps I won’t go.
Are you going to go or is John going to go?
this be-INTERR- that be-INTERR
Is it this one or is it that one.

3.6.2. /VC:/
The subordinating particle VC: follows an independent clause containing a verb in a realis mood and
indicates that the action of that clause and that of the main clause are simultaneous.
1plS-PROX-AUG-work money the 1PRO NOM-OM-earn-PL-DECL
We worked for money.; more literally, We worked, we earned money.
1plS-DIST-AUG-work money the 1plS-DIST-earn/PL
We work for money.

all-Q on 1sS-DIST-be/MULT base come-PROX-move
I walked over all of it (the island) in the old days.

3.6.3. /[C:/
An independent clause followed by the subordinating particle [C: indicates an action or condition
from which another action or condition has resulted or will result.
plant beach NOM-descend the PROX-abundant
Since driftwood was abundant.....
b. O-CÖ!-CÖR [C:
Since he was cold...
NOM-bad-DECL away 1sS-PROX-throw
Since it was ruined, I threw it away.
the/FOC IRR-arrive AUX-DECL
thing 1sS-IRR-cook/MULT AUX-DECL
Since Roberto will come, I will cook something.

3.6.4. Concessive /KUC:/

An irrealis concessive clause generally occurs in a nonfuture nominalized form and followed by the
particle KUC:.
line the sea in down 2sS-IRR-NEG-leave AUX-DECL 2P-NOM-AUG-eat
You shouldn’t leave the net in the sea, even if you are fishing.
near 3Ob-2P-NOM-move 3P-bone a 2sS-IRR-NEG-AUG-be=cut
Even if you are near, you shouldn’t cut its limb...
An alternative construction which apparently means the same is with the verb prefixed by the irrealis
prefix /RQ-/ and suffixed by /-!/.
(34) a. KO-RQ-O-QÖU-K!KUC:
Even if you don’t sing....
the boat a OM-IRR-finish-!
Even if Juan makes a boat, I won’t go fishing.

3.6.5. Concessive /:Q:/
A realis concessive clause occurs as a finite dependent realis clause followed by the particle :Q:.56
Switch reference marking does not occur on a clause followed by :Q:.
(35) a. CP:9V-QÖ-!KV:Q:O-KVG" 9 ZM
much RL-D-eat PROX-thin
Although he eats a lot, he is thin.
1plS-RL-paddle/PL 1plS-RL-NEG-paddle/PL somewhere PROX-be
Although we were paddling (sometimes), (sometimes) we didn’t paddle.
NOM-OM-see the OM-RL-NEG-give
EMPH NOM-speak-first the there away-RL-move-UT
Although the finder doesn’t give it to him, the first to speak—it is his.

3.6.6. Contrary to fact /RKMK:/

A contrary to fact clause occurs in a nominalized form followed by the particle RKMK:.
horse that NOM-NEG-die
If that horse had not died...
If you had not been sick, we would have come.
1P-NOM-have-shoes 1sS-IRR-arrive AUX-DECL
If I had had shoes, I would have come. or, If I had shoes, I would come.

3.6.7. /:Q/
The particle :Q conjoins independent clauses the meaning but.
(37) a. M-CÖM-CVQ -K!C:Q
NOM-AUG-timid-DECL but
thing 3P-IRR-PASS-feel AUX a NOM-NEG-know/PL-DECL
It was dangerous but they weren’t thinking.

56 :Q: also occurs following a dependent irrealis clause. Compare (iii) with (35b).
1plS-IRR-paddle 1plS-IRR-NEG-paddle somewhere IRR-be AUX-DECL
We will paddle some, we will not paddle some.

3P-IRR-bad AUX the also OM-PROX-know but
3PRO NOM/OM-own-DECL but
thus PROX-say/D since 3PRO-Q 3Ob-PROX-be
He knew that it would be ruined, but he was the owner, and since he said thus,
that’s the way it was.

3.7. Suffix and particle order

The relative order of the suffixes and certain particles is shown in (38).
(38) -C" Ö -" Ö -Q-:Q Auxiliary !Q
-KRK particles !C - KU
" Ö !K- V:
" ! K[C
reference - :

Chapter 4
Stem morphology and morphophonemics
The extent, variety, and idiosyncrasy of stem alternations is one of the most complicated aspects of the
Seri language. Moser 1961 was an attempt to describe stem alternations in verbs, and Moser and
Moser 1970 an attempt to do the same for nouns. In this chapter I will not present a complete analysis
of these facts, but try to 1) show the direction a complete analysis must take and 2) extract some of the
basic patterns which exist to use as a key for later work. I am using the term stem to include the root
and also 1) those suffixes occurring with it obligatorily and/or 2) the number agreement suffixes. Since
a root with the augment prefix (cf. §2.5.6) often behaves differently than the same root without the
augment prefix, the two forms will be treated as separate stems.
All of the verbs cited in this chapter are listed paradigmatically in Appendix 1.

4.1. Subject number agreement

The verb agrees in number with the (final) subject of the clause.57 This agreement may be signaled by
a) suffixation, b) deletion, c) replacement, d) infixation, e) suppletion, or f) a combination of these. A
few examples of each of these are discussed in the following sections.

4.1.1. Suffixation
A variety of suffixes are used to indicate plurality on a verb and every verb of the language must be
idiosyncratically marked as to what suffix it will take. There does not appear to be any
overwhelmingly dominant pattern. Some examples are given in (1). (The forms are given in the
singular action for (cf. §4.2). The examples have been chosen to illustrate the underlying forms of the
suffixes and when they do not, the underlying form is given; some root shapes are not underlying.)
(1) Singular Plural
a. -QKO -QKO-VQZ throw at
b. -U½ C :9 -U½ C :9-V talk about
c. -VKPU -VKPU-Q scrape
d. -CÖ-!CÖ -CÖ-!CÖ-VCZ appoint
e. -CÖU -CÖU-:CO deflate
f. -OKU -OKU-VCZ resemble
A verb may also have a suffix which always occurs when it is singular but which is replaced by
another suffix when the verb is plural.58

Occasionally, however, one finds a singular verb stem with plural subject prefix agreement.
Alongside UMC- : (lplIMP-go/PL) Let's go! exists UMC V C: (lplIMP-go/SG). The latter occurred in a
story in which a number of people were travelling as a group.
Morpheme breaks are not totally obvious from these few examples, but justification for this
analysis will be made apparent below.

(2) Singular Plural
a. -RCUZ-KO -RCUZ-QZ fall underwater
b. -QÖM-VC -QÖM-VCO look at
-CÖUC M-C -CÖUC M-QZ spread legs
In addition, there is a class of verbs which take the suffix /-Z/, of unknown significance, in all
forms. One subset of these verbs requires the suffix /VC-/ in plurals, in addition to other suffixes.
(3) Singular Plural
a. /-CRQ-VC-:-V/
-CRQ-: -CR-VC-Z-M pull out
b. /-QKÖOK-VC-:-V/
-QKÖOK-: -QKÖO-VC-Z-M be very much
c. /-KOQ-VC-:-V/
-KOQ-: -KOQ-VC-Z-M butcher
d. /-KÖRC-VC-:-V/
-KÖRC-: -KÖR-VC-Z-M climb
A more complete inventory of suffixes, as well as the phonological rules affecting them, is given
in §4.2.1 and §4.4.1.

4.1.2. Deletion
Along with suffixation, number agreement is often marked on verb roots by the deletion of the post-
tonic vowel. It is complete unpredictable, however, in which form the deletion will occur, if at all. An
augmented verb (cf. §2.5.6) may differ from the corresponding simple verb. It is certain that a deletion
rule rather than an epenthesis rule is needed because 1) the vowels affected lengthen by Post-tonic
lengthening when they remain (cf. §1.2.1) which does not apply to suffixal vowels or infixed vowels,
and 2) the quality of the vowel would not be predictable in a solution using epenthesis.
(4) Singular Plural
a. -CVR -CVQR-QZ spit out
b. -CMVU½ -CMCVU½ - QZ screen
c. -OGMG -OGM-VQZ lukewarm
d. -RKVQ  -RKV -QZ bloated
e. -KOQ¸ Ö PK -KOQ¸ Ö P-VCZ dance victory dance
f. -C!Q -C!-V see
g. -C:K -C: finish
h. -QMG" ! V -QMG" ! G -CO flexible; bounce
If the vowel to be deleted is Q and if it is contiguous to a back consonant, the vowel is instead replaced
by W, which will coalesce with the preceding back consonant if one exists, and under certain
conditions with a following k (cf. §4.3.5 for the latter rule).

(5) Singular Plural
a. -MGM9  -MGMQ -QZ listen
b. -CÖ!9ZM -CÖ!9Z-QZ squat
c. -CÖMQ -CÖM9-V build house
d. -K-!C:9  -K-!C:Q -QZ have eating utensil (clam)
I will call this morphologically-triggered rule affecting post-tonic vowels Syncope. A possible
formulation is given as (6). (See §1.2.1 for discussion of M (mora).)
(6) Syncope:
V → <–> –segment / C / M (M) C1 ___
+bac –son [+bac] if [+str]
–lo if –syl then

This rule is intended to be expanded as followsÖ

(7) a. (Q) (W)
V → [-son] / M (M) C1 ___ C
[+bac] [-syl ] [+str] [+bac]
[–lo ]
M (M) C ___
[+str] [+bac]

b. V → ∅ / M (M) C1 ___
Syncope feeds the following unconditioned rule which coalesces W and a preceding back
(8) W-Coalescence I: C W ⇒ [+rd] ∅
1 2 1 2

4.1.3. Replacement
It is extremely common for number agreement to be reflected by the replacement of one or more
segments by others. I will discuss the major replacement rules below. The x-Rule

Numerous verb stems end in Z in the singular subject, singular action form. In all other forms the Z is
replaced by   for most verbs. (These verbs contrast with verbs whose roots end in   in all forms.) I
have not found any clear evidence that this Z is synchronically a suffix (but see §4.5.1). This   is not a
suffix distinct from the Z synchronically; it occurs with a suffixal   (cf. §4.3.4).

Syncope does not bleed Fronting (cf. §2.5.3). Therefore it follows Ablaut (67) and Coalescence
(26), which are discussed in chapter 2.

(9) Singular Plural
a. -CÖKZ -CK -MQZ sway
b. -CÖPZ -CÖP -MQZ poison projectile points
c. -QVGZ-C -QVG -MQZ stagger
d. -CU½ V QZ -CU½ V Q  make atole
e. -COCZ -COC -MQZ test
f. -[CMZ -[CMC -MCO call sibling
There are also numerous verbs whose roots end in M in the singular subject/singular action form,
but ZM in the other forms. (The M happens to delete by a phonological rule in some of the plural forms
given below.)
(10) Singular Plural
a. -KÖUM -KÖUZ-QZ whistle; hiss
b. -MQOM-C -MQOZ-QZ noisy
c. -KÖVM -KÖVZ-QZ drip
d. -PQUM -PQUZM rough
This process could be described as either deletion or epenthesis, and I do not know of any evidence
indicating that one solution is preferable to the other. I will assume a deletion analysis which will
allow the two processes to be stated as one rule affecting an underlying Z. This is a major rule to
which there are very few exceptions.
(11) x-Rule: Z → ∅ / _________ M+
  / _________ +
This rule will be revised in §4.2.3.
The x-Rule precedes Syncope (6) because the change from Z to   sometimes prevents W from
being generated.
(12) Singular Plural
-CÖ-QK!9Z -CÖ-QK! -MQZ make red The ko-Rule

In several verbs in K is replaced by MQÖ when the verb agrees with a plural subject. (It is not clear
whether the length on the Q is predictable.) This minor rule is formalized as (13).
(13) ko-Rule: V → MQÖ / root [C0 ____________

(14) Singular Plural
a. -UKM -UMQÖM-:CO grind
b. -U½ K R -U½ M QÖR-:CO kiss
c. -HKU½ -HMQÖU½ - :CO tie knot
d. -U½ K ÖO -U½ M QÖO-V enjoy
e. -HKMZ -HMQÖM  wrap oneself with
f. -RKÖ -RMQÖ-[Q taste
g. -UKÖ -UMQÖ-[Q smell Plural lateralization

In a number of verbs a root-final n or t becomes   when the verb agrees with a plural subject.
(15) Plural lateralization: C → [+lat ] / _______________ ]root
[+cor] [–nas] [–SINGULAR SUBJ]
[–cnt ]
(16) Singular Plural
a. -QKV -QK -C dance
b. -UCÖKV-: -UCK -C-Z-M gather together with stick
c. /-QGÖVKP/
d. /-CVKP/
-CVPK -CV -Q MC touch
e. -QZC" U V -QZC" U K -CO hop
f. -QMG" ! V -QMG" ! G -CO flexible; bounce
It is not clear whether the following case should be included as due to the same process since the t is
not root-final.
(17) Singular Plural
-CVC: -C : go Ablaut
Vowel changes are sometimes used to indicate number. One common alternation is between i and aÖ,
as in (18).
(18) Singular Plural
a. -QK  -QCÖ -Q wear tuft of hair
b. -CÖ!=MCK  -CÖ!=MCCÖ -KO remain
c. -CKÖ: -CCÖ:-QZ leave
d. -QMC" K -QMCCÖ-:-QZ follow
e. -UKKÖZ-KO -UKCÖ -CO move
f. -RCZKO -RCZCO-QZ overcooked
g. -VC:KO -VC:CO-QZ scratch
h. -[CU½ K O -[CU½ C O-QZ finlike
i. -K:KO -K:CO-V fear
j. -QP" C Ö-: -QPKK-VC-Z-M wash one’s hands

The operation of this rule gives evidence for the interpretation of what is phonetically [KÖÖ] as a two
vowel cluster (cf. (18e)) since that is how it behaves phonologically. Other
Other replacement processes occur with some regularity. These include an alternation between n and U½,
as in (19a), an alternation between P and Z, as in (19b), and an alternation between K and Q, as in (19c).
(19) Singular Plural
a. /-CÖMP/ /-CÖMP-VC/
-CÖMPK -CÖMU½ - C bowed
b. /MCU½ K P/ /-MCU½ K P-VC/
-MCU½ P K -MCU½ Z -C bite
c. -PKR -PQR-VQZ hit with hand
Of course, it is not always clear in these cases which consonant or vowel is underlying.

4.1.4. Infixation
A large number of verbs exhibit plural forms with the sequence /-VQ¸ -/ infixed in them by the following
minor ruleÖ
(20) Infixation: ∅ → VQ¸  / V _________________

where the stressed vowel is [+lo, +lng] or [-lo, -bac]

The stress on the initial vowel is weakened and primary stress is retained on the infix. The initial
vowel, which is always a long low vowel or a high front vowel, may be either a root vowel or the
vowel of the augment prefix (cf. §2.5.6).
(21) Singular Plural
a. -CÖU½   : -CÖ-VQ¸ - U½ C  :-QZ cough
b. -CÖC -CÖ-VQ¸ - C-V call
c. -CÖV -CÖ-VQ-V-QZ cook in ashes
d. -CÖ-KP-KO -CÖ-VQ¸ - K -MCO cause be mixed
e. -KÖR -KÖ-VQ¸ - RC9Z carry on head
f. -KKÖP -K-VQ¸ - KÖZ go
g. -CÖ-V:KKP -CÖ-V:K-VQ¸ - KU½ - QZ make headring
h. -KM-VKO -K-VQ¸ - M-  cross
i. /-Q-KM-VKO/
-GM-VKO -C-VQ¸ - M-  cross (D)
j. -GÖHG -KO -CÖ-VQ¸ - HG -CO stumble on
k. /-CÖ-CU½ K ZM-VKO/ /-CÖ-CU½ K ZM-VQZ/
-CÖ-U½ M -KO -CÖ-VQ¸ - U½ K Z-QZ make enter
l. /-CÖ-CU½ K / /-CÖ-CU½ K /
-CÖ-U½ -CÖ-VQ¸ - U½ make suckle
A pretonic G(Ö) becomes C(Ö), as illustrated by (21i-j). The rule is given as (22).

(22) Backing: V → [+bac] / ___ C1 V
[+lo ] [+str]
The way in which the Infixation rule applies will affect the interpretation of superficially long
vowels. In (21b) it supports an interpretation of [CÖÖ] as a two vowel cluster; in (21e) it gives evidence
for interpreting [KÖ] asKÖ, but in (21f) as KK.
As rule (20) is presently formulated, it must follow the rule assigning primary stress at least. It
appears that it must also follow Short low vowel deletion (cf. §2.3.2) in order for the rule to apply to
the forms with an augment prefix, as illustrated by the following derivation.
(23) AUG-enter-PL
Stress -CÖ-C" U ½ K ZM-VQZ
SLV Del -C" Ö -U½ K ZM-VQZ
Infix -CÖ-VQ¸ - U½ K ZM-VQZ
Other -CÖ-VQ¸ - U½ K Z-QZ
SR -CÖ-VQ¸ - U½ K Z-QZ
Since the class of augmented verbs to which Infixation applies is not the same as that which
“irregularly” takes the R allomorph of the passive prefix (see discussion in §2.5.6), these facts do not
provide evidence for the alternative analysis mentioned by which the augment is added via a
lengthening rule rather than a prefix.
It is unclear how the plural form of -CÖ!-CÖPR: return, which is -CÖ-VQ¸ - PKR:-QZ, is to be derived
from the supposed underlying representation /-CÖ!-CÖPKR:-VQZ/. No rule yet formulated would delete
the glottal stop of the augment prefix in the derivation of this form.

4.1.5. Suppletion
It will have been noticed already that verbs may utilize more than one of the various means to indicate
subject number agreement. Some verbs have totally suppletive singular and plural roots to which
suffixes may be attached.
(24) Singular Plural
a. /-CHCR/ /-CU½ K ZM-VCO/
-CHR CU½ M -CO arrive
b. -[CÖK -QU½  " Ö V go to
c. /-CU½ K ZM-VKO/ /-QKU½ K ZM-V/
-CU½ M -KO -QKU½ M -V enter

4.2. Action number marking

Number marking with respect to the action also occurs on the verb stem, indicating whether the action
occurred once or more than once. (The latter has usually been glossed MULT (multiple).) Some verbs
also distinguish repetitive and sequential action. As will be shown in the following sections, the same
means are used to indicate action number as are used to indicate subject number. In fact, while the
subject number and action number agreement are two separate and independent things, the system by
which they are marked is integrated. It is not possible to isolate one morpheme or process and say that
it marks subject agreement and not action agreement. This will become more evident below. In
addition, all of the idiosyncrasies of subject number marking apply equally to action number marking.

4.2.1. Suffixation
A verb stem usually has four forms: 1) singular subject/singular action, 2) singular subject/plural
action, 3) plural subject/singular action, and 4) plural subject/plural action. I will refer to these forms
as Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. The following table shows some of the more common sets of
suffixes which occur.
(25) 1 2 3 4
D -∅ -VKO -V -VQ MC
E -∅ -VKO -Q -VCO
H -∅ -∅ -VZ -ZCO
J -∅ -VKO -  - MC
K -∅ -VKO -:CO -:CO
Numerous variations on these sets as well as other sets also occur. It is also possible that suffixes like
/-VQ MC/ are compounded from /-VQZ/ plus /- MC/.
One subset of the class of verbs taking the suffix /-:/ (of unknown significance) in all forms also
requires the suffix /-VC/ (which surfaces as ka- in (26) in each form except Form 1.
(26) 1 2 3 4
a. -VCRU½ - : -VCR-MC-: -VCR-MC-Z-M -VCR-MC-:- MC signal
b. -OK!U½ - : -OK!-MC-: -OK!-MC-Z-M -OK!-MC-:- MC slip
c. -CRU½ - : -CR-MC-: -CR-MC-Z-M -CR-MC-:- MC torn out

4.2.2. Deletion
The application of Syncope is also used to indicate action number. The examples below show that
Syncope, if it applies at all, may apply in a) Form 1 only, b) Form 3 only, c) a combination of two
forms, d) a combination of three forms, or e) all four forms. (I know of no verbs to which Syncope
applies to only Form 2 or to only Form 4.) Evidence that the vowel should be in the underlying
representation even when it never appears in the surface representation is of two types: 1) the
presence of a round consonant, assuming that all round consonant are derived, and 2) the presence of
the vowel in a related verb or noun.
(27) a. -CVR -CVQR-KO -CVQR-QZ -CVQR-Q MC spit out
b. -RKVQ  -RKVQ -KO -RKV -QZ -RKVQ -CO bloated
c. -KÖMGV -KÖMV-Q -KÖMV-QZ -KÖMV-Q MC carry in womb
d. -C!Q -C!Q-VKO -C!-V -C!-VQ MC see
e. -HKMZ -HKMC -KO -HMQÖM  -HMQÖMC -CO wrap oneself
f. -PGU½ Z -PGU½ K  -KO -PGU½   -MQZ -PGU½   -MQZ crush
g. /-U½ C :Q/
-U½ C :9 -U½ C :9-VKO -U½ C :9-V -U½ C :9-VQ MC talk about

4.2.3. Replacement The x-Rule

The x-Rule, originally formulated as (11), is revised below. An x deletes as shown only in form 1. The
change to   takes place in Forms 2, 3, and 4.
(28) x-Rule: x → ∅ / _________________ k +

  / _____________ +

(29) 1 2 3 4
poison points
whistle; hiss
drip Ablaut
The alternation K ~ CÖ (cf. § indicates action number as well as subject number.
(30) 1 2 3 4
b. -QK  -QCÖ -KO -QCÖ -Q -QCÖ -CO wear tuft of hair

4.3. Morphophonemics of number suffixes

The major morphophonemic rules pertaining to suffixes are discussed in the following sections.

4.3.1. t-Deletion
The V of a suffix deletes when it follows an unstressed vowel (i.e., a vowel without primary stress) and
at least one consonant.

(31) a. Root + VKO Form

/-QC:CU½ - VKO/
-QC:CU½ - KO 2 hit with stick

-MCCÖ -KO 2 lack

-MCRCR:-KO 2 crack with teeth

/-CQ -VKO/
-CQ -KO 2 grooved

-QMG" Ö GP-KO 2 turn around
b. Root + VQZ

-CVQR-QZ 3 spit out

-CQO-QZ 3 beg

-MCÖMQR-QZ 3 pound
The t of a suffix also deletes when it follows two or more consonants.
(32) a. Root + VCO Form

-CMU-CO 3 chew to pulp

-CÖ-VQ¸ - VKZM-CO 4 spread around
b. Root + tox

-KÖP -QZ 3 ring

-MQOZ-QZ 3 noisy

c. Root + VC

-MQOM-C 1 noisy
The rule deleting V is given as (33).
(33) t-Deletion: t → ∅/ V C1 C then + ___
< [+str] >if
It appears that some degemination rule may have to apply before t-Deletion, bleeding the latter.
(34) /-QCRCR-VKO/ Form 2 whinny
Rule (33) is formulated such that it will delete a word-final V since in the majority of cases the suffix -V
does not appear in the environment shown. A couple of exceptions exist, however.
(35) -K:CO-V Form 3 fear
-KMQ¸ U KO-V Form 3 smile
/-QKU½ K ZM-V/
-QKU½ M -V Form 3 enter

4.3.2. k-Deletion
A root-final M deletes by the following rule which is fed by t-Deletion (33).
(36) k-Deletion: M → ∅ / Z ___ + Q
(37) Form 2 Form 3 Form 4

4.3.3. Velarization
A V becomes M in a certain environment, bleeding t-Deletion (33). The M always follows a surface  
that is derived from Z (cf. (28)), as in (39a). Underlying   does not condition this change, as illustrated
by (39b). The rule can be formulated in such a way that the conditioning environment is Z, and apply
before the x-Rule. The forms in (39c) show that this process does not apply following a back velar
fricative. The rule is given tentatively as (38).
(38) V → M / Z + ___ Q
(39) Form 1 Form 2 Form 3
a. -CÖKZ -CÖK -KO -CÖK -MQZ sway /-CÖKZ/
-CÖPZ -CÖPC -KO -CÖP -MQZ poison projectile points /-CÖPCZ/
b. -CÖQ  -CÖQ -KO -CÖQ -QZ grooved /-CÖQ /
-MGM9  -MGMQ -KO -MGMQ -QZ listen /-MGMQ /
-RKVQ  -RKVQ -KO -RKVQ -QZ bloated /-RKVQ /

Form 4
c. -CKÖ: -CCÖ:-KO -CCÖ:-QZ leave /-CKÖ:/
-CVC: -CVC:-KO -C C:-Q MC go /-CVC:/
-MCR: -MCRCR:-KO -MCRCR:-Q MC crack with teeth /-MCRCR:/
-CÖPR: -CÖPKR:-KO -CÖPKR:-Q MC return home /-CÖPKR:/
A word-final t also becomes k when it follows a back fricative—Z or :, assuming that the process
applies before the x-Rule (28). This process also bleeds t-Deletion (33). The change does not occur
following :9, however. While the feature [-round] could be added to the environment, the solution
adopted here is that of having this process apply before Syncope (6), in a counterfeeding order.
(40) Form 1 Form 3
-PCHKZ -PCHK -M spiraled /-PCHKZ/
-K-:C -K-Z-M have water /-K-C:C/
-CÖ-OCÖ: -CÖ-OCÖZ-M brew liquor /-CÖ-OCÖ:C/
/-COCZ-:-V/ /-COCZ-VC-:-V/
-CO-Z-M -CO -C-Z-M bring /-COCZ-:/
/-CÖUC-:/ /-CÖUC-VC-:-V/
-CÖUC-: -CÖ-VQ¸ - U-VC-Z-M open up /-CÖUC-:/
/-VKRKV-:/ /-VKRKV-VC-:-V/
-VKRV-: -VKRV-C-Z-M touch /-VKRKV-:/
/-CRCV-:/ /-CRCV-VC-:-V/
-CRV-: -CRV-C-Z-M gather /-CRCV-:/
These two processes changing t to k are formulated as (41).
(41) Velarization: V → M / C + ___ ##
[+bac] <Q> if
<+hi> then

4.3.4. Dissimilation and i-Epenthesis

A number of verbs take suffixes beginning with  . (Interestingly, almost all of these verbs have x-final
roots or have the obligatory suffix /-:/.) A derived sequence   +  surfaces as U½  + K . The forms in
(42a) justify the underlying form of the suffix and those in (42b) illustrate changes.
(42) Form 1 Form 3 Form 4
a. —— -QÖU½ C -QÖU½ C - MC talk
-CRV-: -CRV-C-Z-M -CRV-C-:- MC gather
-MGÖG-Z -MGÖG-VC-: -MGÖG-VC-:- MC cut hair of
b. -CÖRZ -CÖRU½ - K  -CÖRU½ - K MC choke
-UCMZ -UCMU½ - K  -UCMU½ - K MC carry child
-PCÖMZ -PCÖMU½ - K  -PCÖMU½ - K MC bowed
-PQRKZ -PQRU½ - K  -PQRU½ - K MC sink
The following rules are fed by the x-Rule (28).
(43) Dissimilation:   → U½  / ___ +  

(44) i-Epenthesis: ∅ → K / C + ___  
[–vd ]

4.3.5. W-Coalescence II and X-Deletion

A W and a following M coalesce to become M9.
(45) W-Coalescence II: W M ⇒ ∅ [+rd]
1 2 1 2
Compare the derivations of the following forms
(46) vertical
Form 1 Form 2 Form 3
Stress -Q¸ Ö !QZM -Q¸ Ö !QZM-VKO -Q¸ Ö !QZM
Syncope -Q¸ Ö !WZM —— -Q¸ Ö !WZM
x-Rule -Q¸ Ö !WM —— ——
t-Del —— -Q¸ Ö !QZM-KO ——
W-Coal II -Q¸ Ö !M9 —— ——
SR -Q¸ Ö !M9 -Q¸ Ö !QZM-KO -Q¸ Ö !WZM
Form 3 becomes [-Q¸ Ö !WM9? by the rules discussed in §1.2.13 and §1.2.3. Some other forms to which
rule (45) applies are given in (47).
(47) Form 1 Form 2 Form 3
-PQÖ!M9 -PQÖ!QZM-KO -PQÖ!WZ concave /-PQÖ!QZM/
When the sequence [WM9] occurs phonetically, therefore, I claim that it is phonologically /WZM/.
A monomorphemic example is [VQÖVWM9] /VQÖVWZM/ cholla. I do not know of any independent
evidence that would argue for this analysis in this case. In other instances, however, independent
evidence exists for the presence of an Z. Consider, for example, the following formsÖ
(48) Form 1 Form 2 Form 3
a. [-VKÖRWM9] -VKÖR:9 -KO -VKÖR:9U½ - K  squeeze
b. [-KVG" o WM9] -iVG" : Q -KO -KVG" : Q -MQZ thin
The fact that there is an ∅- -(U½ ) alternation in these roots is explained by the rules already discussed
(namely, the x-Rule (28) and Dissimilation (43)) if an underlying root-final Z is posited. The presence
of M in Forms 1 and 3 of thin, from underlying /-V/, is also explained if there is an underlying Z
preceding it (cf. (41)). If Form 1 is phonologically ...Wx-k (< /...ox-t/), rule (45) cannot apply.
Derivations for Form 1 of squeeze and thin are given in (50). The following rule is also needed to
derive Form 1 of thin.
(49) X-Deletion: : → ∅ / ___ W Z

(50) UR -VKÖR:QZ-V -KVG" : QZ-V
Vel (41) -VKÖR:QZ-M -KVG" : QZ-M
x-Rule ——— ———
Syncope -VKÖR:9Z-M -KVG" : 9Z-M
X-Del(49) -VKÖRWZ-M -KVG" WZ-M
Again, the late rules discussed in chapter 1 will apply to give the phonetic forms shown in (48).
The following forms illustrate the application of :-Deletion (49). This rule must be ordered after
Dissimilation since it is bled by that rule. It also obviously bleeds W-Coalescence I (8).
(51) Form 1 Form 2 Form 3
-KRWZ-M -KR:9 -KO -KR:9U½ - K  have gonorrhea /-KR:QZ/
-CWZ-M ——— -C:9U½ - K  continue /-C:QZ/
The following verbs must be marked as exception to the x-Rule to prevent W-Coalescence II from
applying to Form 1.
(52) Form 1 Form 2 Form 3
-CWZM ——— -CWZ-QZ dry /-C:QZM/

4.3.6. Final i-Epenthesis

When Syncope (6) applies to a form and generates a stem-final sequence of obstruent followed by
nasal or the sequence obstruent-nasal-consonant, an i is inserted following the nasal.
(53) Final i-Epenthesis: ∅→K/ C C ___ U½  (C) #
[–son] [+nas]
(54) Form 1 Form 2
-CÖ-OQVPK -CÖ-OQVQP-KO make cracklings /-CÖ-OQVQP/
-PG:9PK -PG:QP-C hold in lap /-PG:QP/
-CÖ!PKZ -CÖ!CP  quiver /-CÖ!CPZ/
-CM9PKZ -CMQP  shake (liquid) /-CMQPZ/
The following forms illustrate the fact that this insertion takes place regardless of whether the stem is
followed by a vowel-initial suffix.
(55) MQKM-PGÖRPK-Q-!C He is still stooped.
MQKM-PG:9PK-Q-!C He is still holding it in his lap.
This insertion does not take place when two nasals occur stem-finally.
(56) Form 1 Form 2
-OQVQ¸ O P -OQVQ¸ O CP-KO weak /-OQVQ¸ O CP/

4.3.7. :-Fronting I
A back velar fricative becomes a velar fricative when it precedes a suffix beginning with a velar stop.
This is illustrated by the forms in (40). This process is fed by Velarization (41).

(57) X-Fronting I: : → Z / ___ + M

4.3.8. Z-Deletion I and II

A velar fricative deletes when it precedes a back velar fricative.
(58) x-Deletion I: Z → ∅ / __ :
This is illustrated by the following forms and derivations.
(59) UR -COCZ-:-V -CKZ-:-VCZ
Vel (41) -COCZ-:-M ———
x-Rule ——— ———
Syncope -COZ-:-M ———
t-Del (33) ——— -CKZ-:-CZ
x-Del (58) -CO-:-M -CK-:-CZ
X-Front (67) -CO-Z-M ———
Form 1, bring Form 1, strong
An Z also deletes when it follows : and precedes a consonant or word boundary, as in (60).
(60) a. /-CÖ-OCÖ:CZ/
-CÖ-OCÖ: Form 1, brew liquor
b. /-CÖ-!C:CZ-V/
-CÖ-!CZ-M Form 1, ask for water
This rule, formalized as (61), is fed by Syncope.
(61) x-Deletion II: Z → ∅ / : ___ C
Finally, a velar fricative also deletes when it follows U½ and precedes a consonant cluster. This rule,
formalized as (62), is illustrated by the forms in (63).
(62) x-Deletion III: Z → ∅ / U½  ___ C C
(63) a. /-CU½ K ZM-VCO/
-CU½ M -CO Form 3, arrive
b. /-QKU½ K ZM-V/
-QKU½ M -V Form 3, enter
c. /-CU½ Z -:-V/
-CU½ - Z-M Form 1, leave piled up
d. /-QÖU½ Q ZM/
-QÖU½ Z M Form 1, yip
This rule is also fed by Syncope; it must apply before t-Deletion (33) since it is not bled by that rule.

4.3.9. :-Fronting II
The : of the suffix /-:CO/ becomes a velar fricative when it follows a high front vowel. The back
velar fricatives of other morphemes, such as the emphatic suffix /-:Q/ (cf. §3.1.1), do not undergo the

change. Therefore the rule is written as (64).
(64) X-Fronting II: : → Z / K + ___ CO
(65) Form 3 Form 4
a. -RQÖU½ - :CO -RQÖU½ K -ZCO pear-shaped
b. -KOQ¸ Ö P-VCZ -KOQ¸ Ö PK-ZCO hop
c. -CÖOC-:CO -CÖOC-:CO seep
This rule is bled by Syncope.

4.3.10. U½ -Coalescence
A root-final U½ and the V of the suffixes /-VC/ and /-VQ/ coalesce to become M. This rule does not apply to
suffixes such as /-VCZ/, as shown in (68). (67d-g) show that this rule does not feed X-Fronting I (57).
(66) U½-Coalescence: U½ + VV + ⇒ ∅ k
[+bac] 1 2 3
1 2 3
(67) Form 1 Form 2
a. /-CRCU½ - :/ /-CRCU½ - VC-:/
-CRU½ - : -CR-MC-: torn
b. -OK!U½ - : -OK!-MC-: slip
c. -VCRU½ - : -VCR-MC-: signal
d. -PC:U½  -PC:-MC rub
Form 1 Form 3
e. -RC:U½  -RC:-MC scratchy
f. -RGÖ!U½ - : -RGÖ!-MC-: concave
g. -PC:U½  -PC:-MQZ rub
h. /-CPQU½ - :/ /-CPQU½ - VQ-:-V/ spin thread
-CPU½ - : -CP-MQ-Z-M
i. /-RCPQU½ - :/ /-RCPQU½ - VQ-:-V/ run
-RCPU½ - : -RCP-MQ-Z-M
(68) Form 1 Form 3
a. -ZKU½ K -ZKU½ - VCZ spicy
The forms in (69) show that U½-Coalescence bleeds t-Deletion (33).
(69) Form 1 Form 3
-KRQ¸ V KU½ - : -KRQ¸ V K-MC-Z-M put clothes on wrong

4.4. Stem suffixes

4.4.1. Number suffixes

In §4.2.1 an incomplete paradigm of number suffixes was presented. Since a complete listing via
paradigm would be very complicated, and perhaps impossible, a list of the more common suffixes is
presented below. Some internal structure to these suffixes may be noticed.

(70) Primary use
-VKO singular subject/plural action
-VCO plural subject
-VCZ plural subject
-VQZ plural subject
-VQ MC plural subject/plural action
-Q plural subject/singular action
-  plural subject/singular action
- Q
- CO
- MC plural subject/plural action
-ZCO plural subject
-: plural subject
-:CO plural subject
Mention has been made above of the suffix /-VC/ which occurs only on verbs with the suffix /-:/
(cf.§ In fact, verbs taking the suffix /-:/ also require this suffix, or the suffix /-VQ/ discussed
below, to occur under certain conditions. The suffix /-VC/ occurs primarily when agreement is with a
plural subject. It also occurs on a Form 2 if no other suffix occurs to indicate plural action. The
following examples illustrate the occurrences of this suffix.
(71) Form 1 Form 2 Form 3 Form 4
-CO-Z-M -COC -:-KO -CO -C-Z-M -CO -C-:- MC
bring /-COCZ-:/
-CU½ - Z-M -CU½   -C-: -CU½   -C-Z-M -CU½   -C-:- MC
throw /-CU½ Z -:/
-CVKU½ - : -CVK-MC-: -CVK-MC-Z-M -CVK-MC-:- MC
peel back foreskin /-CVKU½ - :/
-CRU½ - : -CR-MC-: -CR-MC-Z-M -CR-MC-:- MC
torn /-CRCU½ - :/
open up /-CÖUC-:/
-KOQ-: -KOQ-:-KO -KO-VC-Z-M -KO-VC-:- MC
butcher /-KOQ-:/
A suffix that is similar syntactically is /-VQ/, but it is less common.

(72) Form 1 Form 2 Form 3 Form 4
-CPU½ - : -CPQU½ - :-KO -CP-MQ-Z-M -CP-MQ-:- MC
spin thread /-CPQU½ - :/
-RCPU½ - : -RCPQU½ - :-KO -RCP-MQ-Z-M -RCP-MQ-:- MC
run /-RCPQU½ - :/

4.4.2. Other stem suffixes /-:/
A large number of verbs, such as those in (71) and (72), take the suffix /-:/ in all forms. It is not clear
what the significance of this suffix is synchronically or was historically. /-QV/
The suffix /-QV/ occurs following the root of many verbs when they are preceded by the augment
prefix (cf. §2.5.6). (The allomorph /-V/ occurs following a vowel.)
(73) Root Augmented
-GOGP winnow -CÖM-QÖ-OGP-QV make winnow
-KÖRG good -CÖ!-KÖRG-V fix
-CÖMQ make house -CÖ!-CÖMQ-V help make house
-CÖU½   : cough -CÖ!-CÖU½ C  :-QV make cough
-OGMG lukewarm -CÖ-OGMG-V barbecue
The augmented form of /-OGMG/ lukewarm without this suffix means heat.

4.5. Noun pluralization

As with number marking in verbs, there exists a great deal of idiosyncrasy in noun pluralization.
Nouns must be lexically marked with respect to 1) the set of suffixes with which they occur, and 2)
whether or not, and in which form, Syncope (6) will apply.

4.5.1. Suffixation
Some of the more common suffix sets which occur on nouns are given below.
(74) Singular Plural
A -(((Z)C)O) - M((C)O)
B -∅ -(Q)Z
C -∅ -MQZ
D -∅ -MQ 
E -∅ -ZQZ
F - (C) - QZ
G -∅ -VCZ
The parentheses are only a means to indicate that there are suffixes with or without the parenthesized
segment. Class A, or example, could theoretically include the following sets. The relative number of
examples that I have found in each of these classes is indicated.

(75) A1 -∅ - M many
A2 -Z - M many
A3 -ZC - M few
A4 -ZCO - M none
A5 -∅ - MC few
A6 -Z - MC many
A7 -ZC - MC several
A8 -ZCO - MC none
A9 -∅ - MCO few
A10 -Z - MCO few
A11 -ZC - MCO none
A12 -ZCO - MCO few
One reason for analyzing the Z as a suffix and not as part of the root is that it does not lengthen by
Post-tonic lengthening (cf. §1.2.1).
(76) [U½ C Ö-Z-K!C] It is a sea cliff.
[RCK-Z-K!C] It is driftwood.
A second reason for analyzing Z as a suffix is discussed in §
Class B, in which plurals are formed by adding /-(Q)Z/, seems to be the productive class since
loanwords generally fall into this class (cf. Moser and Moser 1976).
(77) Singular Plural
RKÖRC RKÖRC-Z tobacco pipe
!Q!TC !Q!TC-Z donkey
RCU½ C " Ö VQ RCU½ C " Ö VQ-Z shoe
UCPVC" Ö T UCPVC" Ö T-QZ soldier
Some exceptions to these generalizations are given in (78).
(78) MCPQ¸ C MCPQ¸ C -VCZ boat
OGTQ¸ Ö P OGTQ¸ Ö P-VCZ cantaloupe
[QÖU½ [QÖU½ - :CO god

4.5.2. Deletion and replacement Syncope
Syncope (6) is used in nouns as well as in the verbs. In some nouns it applies in plural forms, as in
(79a), and in others it applies in singular forms, as in (79b).

(79) a. Singular Plural
[CÖOQ-  [CÖO- QZ its stomach
UGÖRQ-  UGÖR- QZ bush (sp.)
VGÖRQ-  VGÖR- QZ black jackrabbit
OQZG" R G OQZG" R -VQZ saguaro cactus
:GMQ-Z :GM9-  wolf
U GÖMQ-Z U GÖM9-  heron
b. U½ Q ÖU½ - Z U½ Q ÖU½ C - MC burlap bag
QÖV QÖVQ- MC coyote
U½ K ÖM U½ K ÖMC- M bird
:VKÖR :VKÖRQ- M sea shell (sp.)
MQGRV MQGRKV-QZ quail (sp.)
!C-R  !C-RC -QZ tongue
!CUV !CUCV-QZ stone
!C-UMV !C-UCMV-QZ lung
:RKUV :RKUCV-Z squirrel (sp.) The x-Rule

A few nouns might be analyzed analogously to verbs in that the singular form is identical to the plural
form minus Z (cf.§
(80) Singular Plural
!C-UM !C-UZM body louse
MCÖVM MCÖVZM grasshopper
:RGVM :RGVZM seaweed (sp.)
Underlying forms with a final sequence ZM would be posited.
Moser and Moser 1976 (p. 286) suggests that “stem final and stem medial Z ... of singular nouns is
replaced by   in the plural form” for forms such as :GMQZ / :GM9 wolf. Since I have proposed a rule
(the x-Rule, § that effects such a change in verbs, one might think that it would be
advantageous to do the same for the nouns in Class A. I have not done so for two reasons. First, the
evidence in (76) suggests that x is not part of the root. Second, the data below is evidence that the   is
not part of the root either since it cannot be separated from the M by a-Infixation (cf. §1.2.1 and
(81) U½ C Ö-Z sea cliff
U½ C Ö- MC sea cliffs
U½ C Ö- MC-C-[C Sea cliffs, my eye! *U½ C Ö -C-MC-C-[C
RCK-Z driftwood
RCK- M driftwood (pl.)
RCK- M-C-[C Driftwood, my eye! *RCK -C-M-C-[C
Nevertheless, if the plural suffix of the following nouns is underlyingly /-VQZ/, equatable with that
which occurs on verbs, underlying root-final x might be proposed and the x-Rule changing Z to  
involved (cf. §4.3.3).

(82) Singular Plural
:GÖPQZ :GÖPQ -MQZ hummingbird
MQU½  " : QZ MQU½  " : Q -MQZ banded gecko
U GÖPC" R U½ Z U GÖPC" R U½   -MQZ heron (sp.) Other
As with some verbs (cf. §, there appears to be a process changing P to U½ in some nouns. (The
final K of the first five forms in (83) is epenthetic (cf. §4.3.6).)
(83) Singular Plural
!CÖMPK !CÖMU½ - QZ bow
!C-RPK !C-RU½ - QZ forehead
MCPQ¸ Ö MPK MCPQ¸ Ö MU½ - QZ red bill seagull
!C-:9PK !C-:9U½ - CZ chest area
!C-VGÖRPK !C-VGÖRU½ - C central incisor
OQÖ:QP OQÖ:QU½ - C fish (sp.)

Chapter 5
Irregular verbs

5.1. Stress-retracting verbs

There is a class of verbs which share the characteristic of generally not having the stress on the first
vowel of the root. Rather, the stress generally occurs on the syllable preceding the root. A vowel is
often inserted, if necessary and possible, so that stress may not occur on the root-initial vowel. This
class of verbs includes: /-QÖO/ lie; /-CÖ / accompany; /-GÖ/ give; /-GÖ/ say; /-CÖ/ grind; /-CÖ/ be; /-GÖ/ do;
and the root of /OQ= -CÖ/ come and /PV= -CÖ/ go.
In a form such as M-Q¸ Ö O he who lies down, the stress occurs on the root vowel. When the third
person oblique prefix /MQ=/ is affixed, however, the stress occurs on the first vowel: MQ¸ =M-QÖO. The
underlying form of the negative imperative is /M-O-QÖO/. but a vowel is inserted to carry the stress,
giving the surface form MC" O QÖO. Under other conditions an K may be inserted to carry the stress:
O" R QÖO (< /O-RQ-QÖO/) if you lie down. In this section I will discuss the nature and application of the
various rules which account for these surface forms.

5.1.1. The stress-retracting rule

Assuming that stress is initially placed on the root-initial vowel of these verbs by the primary stress
rule (cf. 2.3.1), the minor rule retracting stress can be written as followsÖ59
(1) Stress retraction: V (C) V ⇒ [+str] [-str]
[+str] 1 2 3
1 2 3
The following derivations illustrate its application.
(2) OM-RL-accompany OM-EMPH-accompany
Stress K-V-C" Ö   K-:Q-C" Ö  
Retraction " - V-CÖ  K-:Q¸ - CÖ 
SR " - V-CÖ  K-:Q¸ - CÖ 
(The interaction of this rule with Vowel deletion (§2.3.3) is discussed in §5.1.3 below.)

5.1.2. i-Epenthesis and a-Epenthesis

If a consonant cluster (whether underlying or derived by the application of i-Deletion (§2.3.4)) directly
precedes a stress-retracting root, a vowel is inserted to carry the stress. The vowel which is inserted is
either K or C, one factor determining which it will be. This factor is whether or not the first of the last

I reject a solution which avoids the false step of placing stress on the root vowel. Such an
analysis would posit a minor stress rule for these roots which might be formulated as followsÖ
(i) V → [+stress] / ___ (C) + ROOT
[+Stress Retr. ]
This rule would have to apply before the major stress rule. In §§5.1.2-3 it is seen, however, that it
would also have to apply after Vowel deletion (16) of chapter 2. This is an ordering problem for this
analysis since Short low vowel deletion and Vowel deletion are intrinsically ordered after the major
stress rule.

two consonants is an obstruent or a sonorant (namely, a nasal or glottal stop). For an i to be inserted, it
must be a sonorant. In the examples in (3), an a is inserted; in (4), and i is inserted.
(3) a. /M-O-CÖ /
MC" O CÖ  Don’t accompany him!
b. /M-O-QÖO/
MC" O QÖO Don’t lie down!
c. /UK-O-QÖO/
UC" O QÖO he will not lie down
d. /!R-V-QÖO/
!C" V QÖO I lay down...
e. /!R-V-O-QÖO/
K!RVMC" O QÖO I did not lie down...
f. /!-UK-O-CÖ /
K!UMC" O CÖ  I will not accompany...
(4) a. /!-V-CÖ /
!" V CÖ  I accompanied him...
b. /O-OK-CÖ /
O" O CÖ  you accompanied him
c. /O-UK-QÖO/
O" U QÖO you will lie down
The forms above show that the insertion rules are fed by Vowel deletion (§2.3.3) and that they do not
bleed k-Epenthesis (§2.3.7). Forms such as (3d) are especially interesting since the p of the intransitive
allomorph /!R-/ of the first person singular subject prefix does not appear superficially if an epenthetic
a follows it, although it conditions the application of the rule inserting a.
(5) p-Deletion: R → ∅ / ___ V C + ROOT
[+Stress retraction]
An K is also inserted when a stress-retracting root is preceded by a single word-initial consonant.
(6) a. /M-K-CÖ /
" M CÖ  he who accompanies him
b. /M-K-CÖ/
" M CÖ he who grinds it
c. /M-K-GÖ/
" M GÖ he who gives it
This environment also gives another piece of evidence for the stronger boundary, represented as a
single word boundary in rule (8), following the directional prefixes since an K is inserted in the forms

In footnote 27 of chapter 2 it is discussed how an unspecified final subject of a passive clause is
represented. The nominal which appears occurs following the directional prefix in the following

(7) a. /PV=M-CÖ/
KPV" M CÖ he who goes
b. /PV=UK-CÖ/
KPV" U CÖ he will go
c. /PV=[Q-CÖ/
KPV" [ CÖ he went
An i is not inserted following the direction prefix /OQ=/, however: OQ¸ - M-CÖ he who comes. The
epenthesis rules can be formulated as follows, i-Epenthesis bleeding a-Epenthesis.
(8) i-Epenthesis: ∅ → K C
[+son] ___ C + ROOT
[+Stress Retr.]
# #

(9) a-Epenthesis: ∅ → C / C ___ C + ROOT

[+Stress Retr.]
The form in (10) shows that a-Epenthesis also feeds Fronting (§2.3.5).
(10) /M-O-GÖ/ Don’t give it!
The verb /-QÖO/ does not utilize the word-initial environment for the insertion of K: M-Q¸ Ö O he who

5.1.3. Other irregularities of stress-retracting verbs

Stress-retracting verbs also all share the characteristic of treating forms with the emphatic prefix /:Q-/
differently than forms with the irrealis /RQ-/ or distal /[Q-/. The Q of the emphatic prefix fails to delete
by Vowel deletion (§2.3.3). The following forms are all with first person singular subjects.
(11) Emphatic Distal
K!-:Q¸ - CÖ  !-" - [-CÖ  accompany
OQ-!R-:Q¸ - CÖ KO-!-C" [ -CÖ come
K!R-:Q¸ - CÖ !-C[-CÖ be
K!-:Q¸ - CÖ !-" [ -CÖ grind
K!R-:Q¸ - QÖO !-C" [ -QÖO lie
K!R-:Q¸ - GÖ !-G" [ -GÖ say
An emphatic realis form of a [+Stress retracting] root is therefore marked [-Vowel deletion].

3Ob-away-person-3Ob-3P-IRR-PASS-send the
with respect to a person's being sent away
This provides additional evidence for the stronger boundary following the directional prefixes.

The verb /-QÖO/ lie is also exceptional in that it acts like a transitive verb in two respects. First,
Coalescence (§2.3.5) never applies although it is expected to. Secondly, the allomorph /!-/ of the
second person singular imperative (cf. §2.5.7) occurs rather than vowel ablaut.
(12) !CPV[-Q¸ Ö O He lay down.
!CPV!-Q¸ Ö O Lie down!
The transitive verbs /-CÖ / accompany, /-GÖ/ give, and /-CÖ/ grind also share an additional
irregularity. They undergo a minor rule inserting glottal stop. It is not clear under what conditions this
rule, which feeds a-Epenthesis, applies. The inserted glottal stop is underlined in the following forms.
Additional forms in which no inserted glottal stop appears, are included for comparison. The second
person singular imperative form of give, !" ! GÖ, is irregular in that i-Insertion rather than a-Insertion
(13) accompany give grind

Infinitive /K!C-CÖ / /K!C-GÖ/ /K!C-CÖ/

K!C" ! CÖ  K!G" ! GÖ K!C" ! CÖ

2 sg. Imp. /!-CÖ / /!-G" Ö / /!-CÖ/

!C" ! CÖ  !" ! GÖ !C" ! CÖ

1 pl. Imp /UC-CÖ / /UC-GÖ-[QZ/ /UC-CÖ-[QZ/

 UC" ! CÖ  UG" ! [QZ UC" ! [QZ

2 sg. Imp. /!RQ-∅-CÖ / —— ——

1 sg. Object K!RQ¸ ! CÖ 

Subj. Nom., /!C-R-CÖ / /!C-R-GÖ/ /!C-R-CÖ/

Passive !CRC" ! CÖ  !CRG" ! GÖ !CRC" ! CÖ

2 sg. Action —— /OK-∅-R-GÖ/ ——

Nom., Passive OKRG" ! GÖ

1 sg. Irrealis, —— /!R-UK-R-GÖ/ ——

Passive K!RURG" ! GÖ

Subj. Nom., /K-O-CÖ / /K-O-GÖ/ /K-O-CÖ/

Negative " O CÖ  " O GÖ " O CÖ
Object prefixes do not receive a retracted stress. Rather, an K is inserted as if the object prefix were
not there. This insertion rule does not feed Vowel deletion (§2.3.3).
(14) a. OC-" V -GÖ Did he give it to you?
b. OC-" V -[QZ Did they give it to you?
c. OC-" V -CÖ C Did they accompany you?
Plural subject agreement prefixes are replaced by singular subject agreement prefixes before
certain stress-retracting verbs.

(15) !-" V -GÖ Did I give it to him?
!-" V -[QZ Did we give it to him?
As these forms illustrate, the singular and plural forms are distinguished solely by the shape of the
A number of the stress-retracting verbs have plural stems which lack the root-initial vowel in
surface forms.
(16) singular plural
be -CÖ -Z
give -GÖ -[QZ
grind -CÖ -[QZ
These verbs behave in every way as if the long vowel were present at certain levels of derivation,
however, suggesting that a minor deletion rule is operating.
(17) Root vowel deletion (minor): V → ∅ / [ ___________
[+Stress Retr.]
[+Plural ]
An analysis which posits underlying vowel-initial plural roots would account for 1) the fact that
suppletive prefix allomorphy before singular and plural stems is the same; 2) the deletion of prefix
vowels, as in (18); and 3) the fact that an inserted a becomes e in plural stems when the corresponding
singular stem has eÖ, even though no such conditioning vowel occurs in the surface forms of plural
roots, as in (19).
(18) /MQ-[Q-CÖZ/
MQ¸ - [-Z they were with it

MQ¸ - R-Z if they will be with it
(19) /OK-MC-GÖ[Q/
O-G" M -[Q they (unspecified) say

V-G" O -[Q they say
The verb /-GÖ/ say is irregular in two ways. First, it never undergoes i-Epenthesis, but rather
a-Epenthesis in all cases. Second, when only a single consonant precedes the root, a meaningless V is
inserted, thus feeding a-Epenthesis. The rule inserting V is fed by Vowel deletion (§2.3.3).
(20) a. /M-GÖ/
VG" M GÖ he who says
b. /UK-GÖ/
VG" U GÖ he will say
c. /[Q-GÖ/
VG" [ GÖ he said

d. /K-O-GÖ/
" O GÖ he who doesn’t say
One final irregularity that is shared by all roots which retract stress is that the allomorph /!-/ of the
action/oblique nominalizer occurs rather than the allomorph /[-/ (plus Ablaut) that might be expected
in some case (cf. §2.6.3).
(21) a. /OQ-K-!-CÖ/
O" ! C his coming
b. /PV-K-!-CÖ/
KPV" ! CÖ his going
c. /K-!-QÖO/
" ! QÖO his lying
d. /K-!-GÖ/
" ! GÖ his saying
e. /MQ-K-!-CÖ/
M9" ! CÖ his being with
The verb /-CÖ/ be has a glottal stop instead of a M in the subject nominalized form: MQ¸ - !-CÖwho is

5.2. The verbs come and go

The verbs come and go, which use the directional prefixes /OQ=/ and /PV=/ (cf. §2.5.14), are based on
the root /-CÖ/. The prefix /OQ=/ toward loses its o by Vowel Deletion (§2.3.3), as described in §2.5.14,
as well as by the following rule which applies to this morpheme only.
(22) m V = C V ⇒1∅34
1 2 3 4
Accordingly, an underlying form such as /OQ=:Q-CÖ/ He came! surfaces asKO:Q¸ C Ö, and /OQ=V-O-CÖ/
Didn’t he come? as imtC"ma. The latter shows that (22) is fed by a-Epenthesis (9). The o remains
before a consonant cluster: /OQ=!R-:Q-CÖ/ OQ!R:Q¸ C ÖI came!. If the o is stressed by Stress
Retraction (1), it does not delete: /OQ=[Q-CÖ/ OQ¸ [ CÖ He came. Exceptionally, however, the o does
not delete in the second person negative forms of the verb go.
(23) /OQ=M-O-CÖ/
OQMC" O CÖ Don’t come (sg.)!

OQMC" O CÖV Don’t come (pl.)!
Some ad hoc condition must therefore be added to rule (22).

5.3. The verbs /-CC/ know and /-GG/ give

The verbs /-CC/ know and /-GG/ give must be marked to undergo a minor rule of y-Epenthesis which
follows Short low vowel deletion (§2.3.2).
(24) y-Epenthesis: ∅ → [ / K ___ +

(25) a. /K-OK-CC/
KO" [ C he knows it
b. /K-UK-GG/
KU" [ G he will give him it
c. /K-[Q-CC/
K[Q¸ C he knew it
d. /K-V-CC/
KVC" C Did he know it?
e. /M-GG/
MG" G Give him it!
f. /M-K-GG/
M" [ G he who gives him it

5.4. Pseudo-short low vowel roots

A few verbs have roots beginning with phonetically short low vowels but which behave with respect
to all phonological rules and all spell-out rules as though they had long low vowels. If underlying short
vowels are posited these verbs must therefore carry many exception features. Such an analysis does
not capture the generalization that these verbs behave as though they had long vowels with respect to
all rules. An alternative analysis, which I will adopt, is to posit underlying long vowels and the
following late minor rule.
(26) Shortening: V → [-long] / root[ ___
Some verbs which must be marked [+Shortening] are /-CÖMCV/ swim (which contrasts phonologically
with /-CMCV/ bitter), /-CÖKÖ/ awaken, /-CÖUMKO/ paddle (which contrasts phonetically with MCÖUMKO
flounder), /-CÖ!C/ submit, /-CÖKVQZ/ creep, and /-CÖUCMKO/ comb one’s hair.

Postscript to Chapter 5
The analysis of the abstract consonant, presented in chapter 6, could be extended to handled the facts
in §5.3. The roots would be /-CQC/ and /-GQG/, respectively, where Q represents the abstract consonant
(or empty consonant position, according to later analyses). The spreading of the features of K to this
position, generating [ would follow directly, as well as the fact that the features of o do not spread
(since there is no semivowel w in the language).

Chapter 6
Topics in Seri phonology

6.1. The abstract consonant

In §1.1 it was mentioned that Seri has a consonant whose features cannot be determine synchronically.
In this section I will present the case for the abstract consonant. First the facts will be presented, and a
concrete solution developed. Then the concrete solution will be compared with the abstract solution
which involves positing an abstract underlying consonant.

6.1.1. “Irregular” verbs and a concrete solution

There are twenty some verbs that do not pattern like the verbs discussed in chapters 2 or 5 with respect
to prefix allomorphy. 61 Note the paradigm in (1).

The “irregular” verbs that I have found are listed below, with the symbol Q representing the
abstract consonant that will be ultimately proposed.
(i) Intransitive
-QC! make (whistling) sound
-QCOQR:C be lost
-QCO9Z be brilliant
-QCR:9  be brittle
-QCU½ C ZQZ be latticed
-QCU½ Q Z be perforated
-QC: be hard
-QK!WZ be red
-QKÖOK: be very much
-QQ  argue
-QQÖUZ sprinkle
-QCMVKO use, fix, touch
-QC:U½ hit with stick
-QKÖ feel
-QKU½ Q lift (heavy item)
-QQVU½ suck
Transitive and detransitivized
-QGPZ play stringed instrument
-QKO throw at
-QKOQU½ think
-QKU½ Z grind to pulp

(1) Nominalized Neutral Irrealis Distal
play stringed
argue MMQ  VVQ  UUQ  [QQ 
grind to MMKU½ Z  KVVKU½ Z  KUUKU½ Z K[QKU½ Z
soft pulp MQKU½ Z  VQKU½ Z  UQKU½ Z  [CKU½ Z
The superficial irregularities are numerous. First, if the verbs are assumed to have vowel-initial roots,
they appear to be exceptions to Vowel Deletion (cf. §2.3.3). CompareÖ
(2) RegularÖ /K-[Q-KÖ/ → K[KÖ he heard it
IrregularÖ /K-[Q-KÖ/ (?) → K[QKÖ he felt it
Second, these verbs appear to be exceptions to Short low vowel deletion (cf. 2.3.2). CompareÖ
(3) RegularÖ /K-[Q-CR/ → K[QÖR she sewed it
IrregularÖ /[Q-COWZ/ (?) → [QCOWZ it was shiny
Third, these verbs appear to be exceptions to Coalescence (cf. §2.3.5). CompareÖ
(4) RegularÖ /[Q-QVZ/ → [CVZ he arose
IrregularÖ /[Q-Q / (?) → [QQ  he argued
Fourth, these verbs appear to be exceptions to Ablaut (cf. §2.5.3). Compare:
(5) Regular: /V-Q-KÖR/ → VGR did he carry (on head)?
Irregular: /V-Q-KU½ Z / → VQKU½ Z did he grind?
Regular: /K!C-KÖ/ → K!G to hear
Irregular: /K!C-KÖ/ (?) → K!CKÖ to feel
A rule feature analysis could mark these roots as [-Vowel deletion], [-Short low vowel deletion],
[-Coalescence], and [-Ablaut]. Coalescence applies, nevertheless, when the environment is met within
the prefixes themselves, as in [CKU½ Z (</[Q-Q-KU½ Z /). A rule deleting a is necessary for those cases
where an impermissible sequence ae would otherwise be generated. The underlying form /[Q-Q-KPZ/
yields a surface form [GPZ rather than [CGPZ. This rule is given as (6).
(6) C → ∅ / ___ + G
In addition, whereas these verbs appear to be exceptions to Vowel deletion, prefixal K’s do delete, as
shown below.
(7) /K-[Q-GPZ/ (?) → K[QGPZ he played it
/K-UK-GPZ/ (?) → KUUGPZ he will play it
/M-K-GPZ/ (?) → MMGPZ he who plays it
Therefore a minor deletion rule would be needed to delete K’s before these roots which would still be
marked as exceptions to Vowel deletion.
The most salient feature of these irregular verbs, however, is that a prefix consonant geminates if it
is contiguous to the root. CompareÖ

(8) Regular: /K-V-KÖR/ → KVKÖR did he carry it?
Irregular: /K-V-KU½ Z / (?) → KVVKU½ Z did he grind it?
Regular: /[Q-O-KU/ → [QOKU it wasn’t raw
Irregular: /[Q-O-COWZ/ (?) → [QOOCOWZ it wasn’t shiny
These verbs must be marked to undergo a special gemination rule which does not apply to any other
forms in the language.
Another phonological rule to which these verbs are exceptions is the rule which accounts for the
alternation MQ-~ M9- of the third person oblique prefix (cf. §2.4.3). CompareÖ
(9) Regular: /MQ-!-CÖ-CU/ → M9!CÖU Give it to him to drink!
Irregular: /MQ-!-C:U½/ (?) → MQ!C:U½ Hit him with it!
Irregular: /MQ-!-KU½ Z / (?) → MQ!KU½ Z Pound it with it!
It is not clear how the rule feature necessary would be formulated, however, since the rule of
o-Spirantization fails to apply only when the o is followed by a single consonant and the root vowel.
The rule applies in cases such as the following.
(10) /MQ-K-UK-KU½ Z / (?) → M9KUUKU½ Z he will pound it with it
/MQ-V-Q / (?) → M9VVQ  did he argue about it?
The superficial irregularities of these verbs are also very evident when the spell-out rules of
various prefixes are considered. First, the allomorph /CÖ-/ of the augment prefix (cf.2.5.6) is the only
one which occurs, even though other allomorphs would be expected before these roots if they were
vowel initial.
(11) -CÖ-K!WZ make red
-CÖ-QVQU½ - QV make suck
-CÖ-C!K-V make whistle
These roots must therefore be marked as belonging to an ad hoc class which requires the allomorph
Second, the allomorph /CÖ!-/ of the passive prefix (cf. §2.5.5) occurs although the allomorph /R-/ is
the one expected before vowel-initial roots.
(12) M9-V-CÖ!-C:U½ was he hit?
V-CÖ!-KÖ was it felt?
These roots must therefore be marked as requiring the allomorph /CÖ!-/. In addition, the glottal stop of
the passive prefix, which deletes in regular verbs by rule (84) of chapter 2, also deletes in these
“irregular” verbs even though the environment for rule (84) is not found.
(13) !-CÖ-QVU½ what was sucked < /!C-CÖ!-QVU½ / (?)
!-GPZ what was played < /!C-CÖ!-GPZ/ (?)
!-CÖ-C:U½ what was hit < /!C-CÖ!-C:U½ / (?)
Therefore in the rule feature solution a minor rule of glottal deletion would be necessary.
Third, the only allomorph of the second person imperative prefix which occurs directly before
these roots is /!-/, even though other allomorphs are expected in some cases (cf. §2.5.7). In addition, it
appears that i-Epenthesis (38) of chapter 2 has applied even though the conditions for its application
are not met.

(14) K!-KU½ Q Lift it! < /!-KU½ Q / (?)
K!-COWZ Be shiny! < /!-COWZ/ (?)
K!-QVU½ Suck it! < /!-QVU½ / (?)
K!-GPZ Play it! < /!-GPZ/ (?)
These verbs must therefore be marked to take the allomorph /!-/ of the imperative prefix and also to
undergo a minor i-Epenthesis rule.
Fourth, the allomorph /∅-/ of the action/oblique nominalizer (cf. §2.6.3) occurs with these verbs
even though in some cases the allomorphs /[-/ or /!-/ would be expected if they had vowel-initial
(15) OK-∅-QVU½ your sucking it
OK-∅-KU½ Q your lifting it
OK-∅-Q : your (pl.) arguing
Therefore these verbs must be marked to require the zero allomorph.
Fifth, the allomorph /Q-/ of the object nominalizer occurs before these roots although again in
some cases a different allomorph would be expected (cf. §2.6.2).
(16) !-Q-KÖ what I felt
!-Q-KO whom I threw things at
!-Q-KU½ Z what I ground
!-Q-GPZ what I played
!-Q-QVU½ what I sucked
A rule feature analysis must mark these roots to take this allomorph.
In summary, a rule feature analysis requires something in the order of six minus rule features, four
positive rule features (for minor rules), and five special markings so that the correct suppletive
allomorph will occur. (It was also noted that the minus rule features are complicated.) In the next
section an abstract solution will be presented that contrasts markedly with this analysis.

6.1.2. Abstract solution

The concrete, rule feature analysis developed above has assumed that the geminating verbs have
vowel-initial roots. If that assumption is not granted and consonant-initial roots are posited instead, the
analysis would be quite different. First of all, the fact that the behavior of these verbs is not like that of
other vowel-initial verbs is immediately explained. Second, the geminate consonant clusters can be
handled by a phonological rather than morphological rule. If we let the symbol Q represent the initial
consonant of these roots, the following assimilation rule derived VVCOWZ is it shiny from underlying
(17) Q-Assimilation; Q → Ci / Ci ___
Q does not assimilate to a nonconsonantal segment, such as the glottal stop of the passive prefix.
(18) V-CÖ!-KÖ was it felt? /V-CÖ!-QK/
Third, the consonant-initial root also makes the minor i-Deletion rule unnecessary since i-Deletion
(21) of chapter 2 deletes prefixal i’s before consonants. Thus underlying /UK-QCOWZ/ becomes
UUCOWZ by i-Deletion (21) and Q-Assimilation. Fourth, no ad hoc markings are necessary for the
suppletive allomorphs. The geminating verbs simply take the allomorphs of the prefixes which are

expected before consonant-initial roots. These roots act like consonant-initial roots with respect to
phonological rules such as i-Epenthesis and o-Spirantization. The only extra rule necessary, a rule of
absolute neutralization, deletes Q in all other contexts than those specified in (17).
(19) Q-Deletion: Q → ∅
By ordering rules (17) and (19) after Vowel Deletion, Coalescence, Ablaut, i-Epenthesis, o-
Spirantization, and, of course, all of the spell-out rules, all of the supposed exceptional behavior of
these verbs disappears.

6.1.3. Comparison of analyses

I have shown in detail how two different analyses would handle these data. The abstract analysis
posits an abstract consonant, a simple assimilation rule, and a rule of absolute neutralization. In the
rule feature solution developed, the geminating verbs must be marked by at least fifteen rule features.
The number of rule features in the concrete analysis is significant, and increases proportionately to the
number of prefixes considered.
If the abstract solution is rejected, not only must the lexicon be complicated by marking
geminating verbs for the numerous exception features, but the complexity of the spell-out rules must
be greatly increased, and four minor, unnatural rules must be added to the phonology. Moreover, to
reject the abstract solution is to reject a coherent and unified account of the facts in favor of a solution
which claims that the exceptionality of geminating verbs is due to an ad hoc collection of arbitrary
exception features (of more than one type). I conclude that the abstract solution is to be preferred.
Brame (1972Ö51), following Kisseberth’s (1969) constraint, suggests that similar arguments for an
abstract solution in Maltese Arabic would be convincing “only if the exact nature of X can be
discovered and if X can be shown to exhibit a distribution similar to other root segments.” Although
Brame could do both for Arabic, I have found no evidence for positing the abstract consonant of Seri
in any position but root-initially. As for the identity of the abstract consonant, the problem in Seri is
that the phonetic evidence does not exist for claiming Q to be any particular consonant, unlike the
Arabic or Yawelmani case. The facts do not even point to what class of consonant it might belong,
phonotactics being no help here either. There is no single glaring gap in the phonemic system which
might point to the identity of the consonant. Therefore there seems to be no way to identify this
abstract consonant with chameleon-like properties. Kenstowicz and Kisseberth (1977Ö57-58) point out
that cases of this type have been described elsewhere, but suggest that in those cases there is some
doubt that the abstract solution is to be clearly favored.
The usual procedures do not lead to a unique solution to the problem of the underlying forms of
Q-verbs. The following alternatives must therefore be considered. Alternative one: avoid the identity
problem by assigning Q certain phonetic features, either arbitrarily or by some principle. This
alternative involves arbitrariness since no reason exists for claiming Q is underlying q, h, or w.
Alternative two: leave the features of the abstract consonant unspecified in the lexical and
phonological representation, except for [-syllabic], of course. Then no arbitrary or otherwise
unmotivated choices of underlying features would have to be made. If the features of Q are left
unspecified in the phonological representations, how will the rules affecting Q be written? Exploiting
the fact that the features are unspecified, the rules would appear as below, the assimilation rule being
very similar to the type of rule specifying the features of an archisegment in the traditional sense.

(20) Assimilation: Deletion:
-syl +cns -syl
0F1 → α1F1 / α1F1 ___ 0F1 → ∅
0F2 α2F2 α2F2 ·
· · · ·
· · · 0Fm
0Fm αmFm αmFm
The advantage of this solution is that is avoids the arbitrariness of positing a fully-specified underlying
consonant. It claims no more than the facts warrant. While it has been argued (Stanley 1967) that the
matrices of phonological representations must be fully specified to avoid contrasting plus, minus, and
unspecified, these arguments have been based on the assumption that the matrices could be fully
specified. This assumption cannot be granted in the Seri case, however, since the feature values cannot
be determined. This alternative also seems to violate Postal’s (1968) Naturalness Condition,
suggesting that this condition needs to be relaxed. In view of the weakness of the arguments against
this solution, I consider the advantages sufficiently strong to favor its adoption.

6.2. Interpretation of phonetic vowel length

I have claimed (cf. §1.1) that the majority of phonetically long vowels in root-initial position should be
interpreted as underlyingly long vowels and not as sequences of two short vowels. In this section I will
briefly review the facts on which this claim is based. The first six pieces of evidence pertain only to
low vowels, but nonetheless provide evidence for underlying long vowels.
First, verbs with initial low vowels behave differently depending on whether the vowel is long or
short (cf. §§2.3.2-3). Compare the distal realis forms of /-CÖHU½ : / fast and /-CRU½ : / torn out; [-CÖHU½ : he
was fast, [QÖ-RU½ : it was torn out.
Second, verbs with initial low vowels take different allomorphs of the augment prefix, depending
on the length of the vowel (cf. §2.5.6). The allomorphs /CÖ-/ and /CÖM-/ occur before short low vowels
and /CÖ!-/ before long low vowels.
Third, the allomorphs of the second person imperative differ before low vowels of differing
lengths (cf. §2.5.7). The allomorph /M-/ occurs before short low vowels. Before long low vowels other
allomorphs appear.
Fourth, the object (nonfuture) nominalizer has different allomorphs before low vowels of differing
lengths (cf. §2.6.2). The allomorph /[-/ occurs before long low vowels, and /Q-/ [+Ablaut] before short
low vowels (and also before consonants).
Fifth, the distribution of the allomorphs of the action/oblique nominalizer depends in part on
vowel length (cf. §2.6.3). Before short low vowels a zero allomorph occurs, but before long low
vowels either /[-/ or /!-/ occurs.
Sixth, the infixation of /to-/ in stems (cf. § 4.1.4) occurs only when the stressed vowel is long if it
is also low. The infixation also clearly distinguishes between the sequence KK and the unit KÖ, as shown
in §4.1.4.
Seventh, one environment in which t-Deletion (cf. §4.3.1) applies is when an unstressed vowel and
a consonant precede the V. A V therefore deletes following sequences such as C" K   and C" Q O. It does not
delete, however, following a long vowel and consonant such as CÖ: and KÖR.
These facts all provide evidence for the claim that Seri has long, as well as short, underlying
vowels. It is therefore irrelevant that phonetically long vowels are “structurally analogous to sequences

of diverse vowels” (Moser and Moser 1965Ö65). It has also been shown (cf. §4.1.4 and §5.3) that there
is evidence for positing sequences of identical vowels in underlying forms.

Postscript to Chapter 6
The analysis of this chapter appeared in Marlett 1981. Marlett and Stemberger 1983 presents a
variation on the analysis, where the abstract consonant is reanalyzed as an empty consonant position in
the CV tier. This is a much less abstract analysis, of course. It is not clear how these facts would be
handled in the more current moraic theories that exclude the CV tier.

Marlett, Stephen A. 1981. The abstract consonant in Seri. Proceedings of the Berkeley Linguistics
Society, pp. 154-165.
Marlett, Stephen A. and Joseph P. Stemberger. 1983. Empty consonants in Seri. Linguistic Inquiry

Chapter 7
The noun phrase
A noun phrase in Seri typically consists of a head noun followed by an optional number of relative
(and hence nominalized) clauses and a demonstrative adjective or article. Less typical types of noun
phrases will also be discussed below.

7.1. Definite articles

Moser 1978a discusses the definite articles and demonstratives of Seri and the facts will only be
briefly reviewed here. There are several “positional” articles, which Moser argues came historically
from verbs (which continue to exist synchronically) denoting position or movement. The articles are
given below.
(1) Singular
MKZ seated
MCR/MQR standing
MQO lying
!KROQMC coming, close
!KRKPVKMC going, close
VKOQMC coming, distant
VKPVKMC going, distant
!KOKPVKMC going, distant
MK! unspecified position/movement
(!)CM area

MQK stationary or unspecified position/movement
!KU½ O QMCV coming, close
!KU½ K PVKMCV going, close
VCOQMCV coming, distant
VCPVKMCV going, distant
!KOKPVKMCV going, distant
The article MK! is best analyzed as synchronically having an underlying form /M!/, the K being inserted
by i-Epenthesis (§2.3.4), since it has the shape M! before vowels and MK! before consonants. (These
allomorphs will not be represented phonetically in transcriptions in this thesis.) The glottal stop deletes
utterance finally, bleeding i-Epenthesis and resulting in the allomorph M. The article denoting standing
position has two allomorphs: MCR, which is closer to the historical source; and MQR, the Q of which is
probably due to influence from MQO. The article used for areas has a glottal-initial allomorph
following vowels and a vowel-initial allomorph following consonants,
The plural set, which is much smaller than the singular set, might also contain some additional
rarely used forms that are more like the plural forms of the positional verbs. The “meanings” of the
articles given above belie their actual usage, however. The motion articles, for example, are also used
with objects such as a beach which runs along a certain dimension.
The article is almost always the last element of a noun phrase, but sometimes other articles occur
following various elements in the noun phrase, as in (2j), for reasons that are not well understood. The

singular/plural distinction is also not always strictly maintained (cf. (2g)). Examples illustrating some
of these articles are given below.
(2) a. VQÖV9ZMMKZM-O-K: 
cholla IMP-NEG-take
Don’t grab the cholla cactus!
2sS-IRR-NEG-look=at AUX-DECL
You shouldn’t look at the last light of the day!
c. U½ C Ö!MK!K-VKO-R-KÖ!-:
sun 3P-on 2sS-IRR-be-UT
brush 2P-hair 3Ob-2sS-IRR-do AUX-DECL
You should brush your hair in the daytime.
The finder—he won’t own it.
sea in down DIST/descend
It fell into the sea.
others a there away-RL-move-UT
one of the others going along...
bass EMPH-strong/PL
Bass are very strong (fish).
h. !G-OG!CMM9-!C-V-CU½ M CO
ABS-camp 3Ob-1plS-RL-arrive/PL
We arrived at the camp...
i. OK-P MK!U-U½ C V:-:Q
2P-fingers IRR-thorny-EMPH
Your fingers will get thorns in them!
things NOM-have-spirits other OM-RL-look=at/PL-UT
The other people observed him...
In the following examples a nonspecific direct object, instrumental, or locative occurs without an
(3) a. VKÖ:!CUQM-U½ C R KO-K!K
3PRO net NOM-sew-!K
He’s mending net(s).
shore RL-arrive
He arrived at shore...

ABS-camp PROX-arrive/PL
They arrived at camp....
metal-bow-Q 3Ob-OM-RL-do OM-PROX-kill
Doing it with a rifle, he killed it.
e. !GU½ K Ö:!CRM-K-M9" ! K
1PRO thing deer NOM-OM-kill K!K
I used to kill deer.

7.2. Indefinite articles

The indefinite articles are U½ Q (singular), and RCM (plural). They also function as indefinite pronouns.
The examples in (4) illustrate their usage as article and those in (5) as pronouns. U½ Q occurs as U½  before
a vowel.
(4) a. MOKMGMVCOU½ Q VQMM9-V-KÖ!!C-:U½  U½  K-OKÖ-M9
person man there 3Ob-RL-be ABS-pet OM-PROX-kill
There was a man, he killed a dog.
boojum land 3P-on IRR-stand
If there is a boojum tree in a place...
things there 3Ob-toward-RL-move/PL
Some people came...
(5) a. RCM[QÖ-U½ M CO
Some arrived.
person the OM-RL-kill
Roberto killed one.

7.3. Demonstratives
Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns are formed, as Moser 1977 describes, by placing a stressed
locative (from a limited set) before a positional article. In the case of the motion articles, the first
syllable is simply stressed since it already contains a locative prefix. The locative prefixes are: !KR-
(sg.) ~ !KU½ - (pl.) close, !KO- distant, VK- (sg.) ~ VC- (pl.) distant.
The usage of these forms as adjectives is illustrated in (6), and as pronouns in (7).
(6) a. !CUQM-CÖM9 VC" M QO
nets NOM-big/PL
those big nets
land 3Ob-RL-arrive
He arrived at this place...

house from toward-RL-move
He came out of this house...
people 1plS-IRR-leave/PL AUG-DECL
We must leave these people.
(7) a. V" M QRU½  K-V-CÖU½ K
one OM-RL-carry
That one took one...
to 1plS-PROX-arrive/PL
We arrived there.
c. !" U ½ M QKMCPQ¸ C U½  K-[Q-[CÖV
boat a OM-DIST-own/PL
These have a boat.

7.4. Relative clauses

A relative clause is formed by nominalizing the main verb. (For a discussion of the morphology, see
§2.6.). The relative clause, which may occur headless, follows the head noun. Some examples are
given below.
(8) Subject nominalizer
thing the NOM-have-spirit the thus 3P-being
3P-NOM-do the NOM-X-many thus 3P-being OM-RL-do
When the person who does thus many times does thus...
b. U½ K Ö:!C-R-C!KVMK!!KO-KV-[QZ
thing NOM-PASS-eat the 1sO-RL-give/PL
then thing NOM-PASS-own/PL the 1sO-RL-give/PL
They gave me food, they gave me valuable things...
Object nominalizer
things NOM-few 1P-NOM-carry/PL those 1plS-RL-eat/PL 2plS-RL-finish/PL
We finished eating the few things that we had taken along...
2P-NOM-call=sibling men the NOM-two-INTERR
You have two brothers, don’t you?
Oblique nominalizer
1PRO boat in 1P-NOM-exist the
the boat that we had been in

house 1P-NOM-arrive the
the house to which I arrived

7.5. Adjectives
There are very few noun modifiers in Seri that are not verbal in morphology. Some forms, such as
!GMG small and TQM9 crazy , are inflected like verbs except that there is no subject nominalized form
with /M-/; rather, the bare stem occurs under those conditions where /M-/ would be expected. The forms
:C!:C" K Öimitation; kind of and K!OC" Ö another are not inflected; they are evidently historically derived
from !C:!-CÖ-QKÖ(just NOM-PASS-feel) and K-O-!CÖ(NOM-NEG-be).

7.6. Quantifiers
Most of the quantifiers in Seri are verbal, including the numerals, as illustrated by the following
moons RL-two :Q: moons RL-three SR DIST-return=home/PL
After two or three months, they returned home.
3PRO 1plS-IRR-all-UT 3Ob-1plS-IRR-bad AUX-DECL
That would be bad for all of us; more literally, That, we will be all, we would be
bad about it.
metal-bows the RL-all SR OM-RL-carry RL-go DIST-US-say/D
He took all of the rifles, he went, it is said.
The form CP:9 much is not verbal, however; it occurs with or without a nominal preceding it.
mackerel the much IRR-PASS-carry
If lots of mackerel are taken...
somewhere PROX-not=exist/PL
Many have died.
The invariant form MQÖ: all is also used to quantify a noun phrase.
thing the 3P-on 3Ob-3P-NOM-talk the/FOC 3P-on 3Ob-IMP-do/PL
Do (pl.) everything that he says.

7.7. Material
When the material of which an item consists is indicated, it occurs as a noun preceding the item.
(12) a. OQÖZRQÖUZ cotton line
cotton line
b. !G!G!C-UMCO ship
wood ABS-balsa
c. !CUV!C: stone arrowhead
stone arrowhead

If the head noun is verbalized with the prefix /K-/ (cf. §2.5.12), the material noun precedes the derived
(13) a. !QÖTQM-K-VCUV he who has a gold tooth
gold NOM-K-tooth
b. GÖPKOM-K-VCOV he who has metal sandals
metal NOM-K-sandal

7.8. Coordinate noun phrases

The coordinator :C! (with a variant :C!C) expresses both conjunction, as in (14a-c), and disjunction,
as in (14d). Xa! typically follows each coordinated element, but is sometimes omitted following the
last element. The precise position of this particle is before the final article of the noun phrase, if there
is one; note that in (14c) it splits up the demonstrative adjective (cf. §7.3).
in IRR-arrive/PL AUX-DECL fish NOM-long/PL bass
Totoaba (fish) and small baya (fish) will arrive among them.
desert 1plS-RL-be/PL there 3Ob-away-1plS-PROX-move/PL person
We were in the desert, we went there—Roberto, and Pedro, and Juan, and Sergio.
person LOC the person
the all-Q 3Ob-3P-US-AUG-eat/PL the
Both Roberto and Martin, with respect to the fishing...
NOM-PASS/AUG-curled/PL NOM-four NOM-five
3P-chest NOM-one the RL-PASS-cut/MULT
When four, five, or six bundles have been cut...
Coordinate noun phrases sometimes occur without Xa!.
fish NOM-spotted the the
fish NOM-big/PL the 3Ob-RL-be 3P-on PROX-be/PL fishing=spot the
Spotted bass, were in the fishing spot.

7.9. Compounds
The most salient stress in both phrases and compounds is the rightmost. Thus phrases and compounds
are not structurally distinguishable except that the latter sometimes involve the loss of a consonant or
vowel, or some other mutation occurs. Some examples of compounds are given in §1.2.11.

7.10. Pronouns
The personal pronouns, which distinguish person but not number, occur infrequently with finite verbs.
They do not reflect grammatical relations. The forms are: !G (first person), and me (second person). A
third person pronoun e is used only in a slightly derogatory sense, as in (16d), and is rare.
Demonstrative pronouns are generally used for third person; they include: VKÖ: (with a variant VK) that
one, VCÖ: (with a variant VC) those, that (abstract), !KR" Ö : this one, and !KU½ C " Ö :these, this (abstract).
Some examples are given below.
(16) Subject
now thing NOM-bounce IRR-AUG-play/PL AUX-DECL
Now we are going to play ball.
1sS-PROX-old now-?
I am old now.
man elder the 3PRO RL-return=home DIST-US-say/D
The older man, he returned home, it is said.
thing the all-FOC — 3Ob-OM-RL-know NOM-think-DECL
He thinks that he can do anything.
They will photograph me.
2PRO 1sO-2sS-IRR-accompany AUX-DECL
You will accompany me.
who resembled you
h. VCÖ:K!-[Q-OQÖU½ K
I dreamed that.
i. OGO-[CÖ-[C
Is it yours?
j. !G!KÖ-OG!CM
1P-camp the
my house
3PRO also people elders the base

toward-NOM-move/PL the 3P/NOM/talk/PL-DECL
That is also what the old people said.
Reflexivity is expressed by a possessed form of the stem /-CUQZ/ being.
(17) !K-UQZ myself !K-UQ MC ourselves
OK-UQZ yourself OK-UQ MC yourselves
K-UQZ himself K-UQ MC themselves
A singular form is sometimes used in lieu of a plural form.62
(18) !K-UQZ!C-[QÖ-U½ K VZ
!K-UQ MC 1plS-DIST-tattoo/PL
We tattooed ourselves.
Reciprocality is expressed with the form RVK (~ RVG) together. The verb stem indicates singular
number agreement, however.
(19) a. RVKK-[QÖ-U½ K VKO
They tattooed each other.
these NOM-NEG-resemble the RL-all SR
All of these did not resemble each other...; i.e., All of these different kinds...
We did not cause each other to be gone; i.e., We stayed together.
3P-NOM-US-do/MULT the NOM-bad the
3PRO EMPH 2P-beings the 2plS-IRR-NEG-do AUX-DECL
You shouldn’t do bad things to each other.

7.11. Relational nouns

Many of the oblique grammatical relations are marked by separate, stress-bearing relational nouns to
which a possessive prefix is attached. When such a relational noun occurs, oblique agreement on the
verb (cf. §2.4.3) is typically suspended.63

62 Note that reflexive morphology is used in the following type of sentenceÖ

(i) !KRK!K-UQ MC!KU½ M QK!-[QÖ-!Q
EMPH 1P-selves these 1sS-DIST-see
I saw us.
Reflexive clauses are finally transitive according the tests of transitivity presented in chapter 10.
63 Note the following exampleÖ

7.11.1. Comitative; between
The singular comitative stem is /-C!C:/, and the plural is /-CMQV/. There are two third person forms of
each: " - !C: ~ M" - !C:, and " - MQV ~ M" - MQV. It is not at all clear what is the difference in meaning or
usage between the alternate forms.
(20) a. " - !C:[-CÖ-VKMRCP
He worked with him.
b. K-!C:RQ-R-CKÖVC-:M" - !C:K-R-CÖKVC-:
If hei is helped, (and) hei helps himj...
c. M" - MQVK!R-V-CVC:
I went with them...
d. !" - MQVK-V-QÖPGM
They carried it with us...; i.e., They helped us carry it.
e. VCÖ:" - MQVV-CR
3PRO RL-stand
He was with them...
things NOM-small/PL men the 1plS-PROX-play/PL
We played with the boys.
The stress on the relational noun is reduced when the noun phrase to which it is related precedes it, as
in (20f).
This relational noun in its plural form also has the sense between. With this usage, however, the
noun has the characteristics of those discussed in §7.11.6—it retains its stress, it is followed by an
article, and it is followed by another relational noun under certain conditions.
house the the ironwood the PROX-much
There is a lot of ironwood between the houses.

7.11.2. Goal; Source

A singular goal triggers oblique agreement (cf. §2.4.3.). Plural goals, however, are marked by a form
of /-CPQ/. A noun phrase is followed by CPQ, with reduced stress, as in (22c). The third person form is
k"-no or C"no otherwise.
(22) a. !" - PQOKÖ-HR
He arrived to us.

which the NOM/be-INTERR in 3Ob-RL-enter
Which one did he go into?

b. M" - PQV-CU½ M CO
C"no RL-arrive/PL
They arrived to them...
boats the 1plS-Dist-arrive
We arrived to the boats.
A source is also marked by a form of /-CPQ/.
1PRO NOM-flee/PL 3P-on 3P/NOM/be/PL the NOM-arrive-DECL
I come from the place where the ones who fled are.
The relational noun /-CPQ/ has the sense of in in the following examples.
(24) a. !C-:U½  MQR!C-OGPCMCPQM-CR-K!C
ABS-pet the ABS-inside the NOM-stand-DECL
The dog is inside the house.
glass the inside the OM-DIST-put
He put it in the glass.
A temporal sense is indicated when this relational noun follows a nominalized verb.
(25) M9-!K-!-KÖOC" P Q!C-CÖM-CÖC KO
3Ob-1P-NOM-sleep IMP-AUG-play
Play with it while I sleep!
This relational noun loses its final vowel when it precedes a vowel, as shown in (24b).

7.11.3. toward; with

The relational noun /-CMK/ has the sense toward in (26).
(26) a. !" - MK!-UKM9:
Shove it towards me/us!
b. O" - MKV-CRMC
Did it rain on you (sg./pl.)?
The same form is used also to indicate the meaning with, in the sense of accompanied by as in
(27). As (27a) shows, the stress on this form is reduced when it follows the noun phrase it is relating.
(27) a. !C-:MK!K-MKV-R-CO
ABS-liquid the RL-PASS-swallow
Is it swallowed with water?
ABS-cloth 3P-NOM-be=cut a 1sO-2sS-IRR-give SR-UT
!KU½ C MK-VK!-RQÖ-!" - MKMQ-!-U-U½ C R KO !C-!C
here 3P-on 1sS-IRR-do 3Ob-1sS-IRR-sew AUX-DECL
If you give me a piece of cloth, I will patch it with it.

7.11.4. on
The relational noun /-CVK/ has the sense on. The third person form K-VKis used in a temporal sense also,
as shown by examples (28d-f). Oblique agreement also occurs when it has a temporal sense and the
noun phrase it relates is not a nominalized verb.
(28) a. " - VKO-U-MC" O -QÖO!C-!C
You shouldn’t lie down on it.
b. !GO" - VK!R-U-Q-U½ C O!C-!C
I’m going to step on you.
sun the sky the NOM-sit-DECL
The sun is in (on) the sky.
sun this 3Ob-IRR-arrive AUX V-PROX-say/D/PL
They say that he is coming today.
Wednesday the 3Ob-IRR-arrive AUX-DECL
He will arrive on Wednesday.
there away-3P-NOM-move/PL
On their going there...

7.11.5. above
The forms /-VCM / (sg.) and /-VCMCZ/ (pl.) indicate location above an item.
ABS-jug the NOM-sit-DECL
The jug is above you.
This noun has a literal meaning of surface, as in the phrase OK-PCK K-VCM the surface of your skin.

7.11.6. Other
The following relational nouns also occur. They differ from those discussed above in that 1) they all
retain their stress when following the noun phrase they relate, 2) they are followed by an article, and 3)
they are followed by another relational noun such as ano or i-ti.
(30) midst of behind (literally backside)
/-COCM/ (sg.), /-COCZM/ (pl.) /-CRCM/ (sg.), /-CRCZM/ (pl.)
under (one or two things covering) under (several things covering)
/-OQM / (sg.), /-OQMCZ/ (pl.) /-CRQV/
in front of beside; with respect to
/-[CP" Ö M/ (sg.), /-[CP" Ö MZQZ/ (pl.) /-CMR/

(31) a. U½ K Ö:M-QMG" ! VMKZO" - OCMCMCPQ:-KÖZ
thing NOM-bouncy the the in EMPH-sit
The ball is in the midst of you (pl.)
ABS-pet the house the the in NOM-stand-DECL
The dog is behind the house.
NOM-PASS-AUG/spotted NOM-PASS/carry=in-arms the
the in EMPH-be
The book is under you!
NOM-PASS-AUG/spotted/PL the the in RL-lie
Is it lying under the papers?
ABS-pet the house the the 3P-on NOM-stand-DECL
The dog is standing in front of the house.
2P-head the the one 3P-toward 2sS-IRR-throw
If you throw one towards the side of your head...

Postscript to Chapter 7
The definite articles are discussed in detail in Marlett and Moser 1994 where it is suggested that the
language is developing a noun class system. While the usage of the positional articles is quite
transparent semantically in most cases, there are certainly many cases, and many groups of cases,
where the semantic origin has become opaque.
Stephen A. Marlett and Mary B. Moser. 1994. El desarrollo de clases nominales en seri. Estudios de
Lingüística y SociolingütVWLFD, ed. Gerardo López Cruz and José Luis Moctezuma Zamarrón.
Hermosillo: Universidad de Sonora and Instituto Nacional de Antropolog‘tDH+LVWRULD

Chapter 8
Word order and foregrounding
In this chapter I will discuss basic word order and various ways in which a nominal can be
foregrounded without changing the grammatical relation that it bears to the clause.

8.1. Basic word order

Nominals are not marked for case in Seri. Word order, while not immutable, is quite important in
indicating grammatical relations. The unmarked order, which is also the most frequent when full
nominals appear in a clause, is Final 1 - Obliques - Final 3 - Final 2 - Predicate. This order is
illustrated by the following sentences.
stone the stick the OM-RL-touch
Is the stone touching the stick?
stone the stick the 3Ob-2sS-RL-AUG-touch
Did you make the stone touch the stick?
woman the stone the stick the 3Ob-OM-pound/MULT
The woman is pounding the stick with the stone.
Some obliques occur in other positions also. The verb /-QaXU½/ in (2) implies hitting with a long object.
(2) !CUVMKZ!G!GU½ Q MQ=!-[Q-QC:U½
stone the stick a 3Ob-1sS-DIST-hit
I hit the stone with a stick.
Although other orders of nominals also occur in appropriate contexts, a relational noun used with
a verb must always appear immediately preverbally, as in (8d-e). Two exceptions to this generalization
exist, however. If a reflexive form is present, it occurs following the relational noun, as in (3).
1PRO penicillin the in 1P-being 3Ob-1sS-IRR-put AUX-DECL
I will inject myself with penicillin.
A modifier such as !ant down also follows the relational noun.
plant NOM-closed that in down 1sS-RL-sit
I sat down in that forest...

8.2. Foregrounding strategies

A nominal may occur in a position other than that shown in the previous section without a change in
grammatical relation. As shown in the following sections, however, not all foregrounding is
accompanied by a change of position. (I use the term foregrounding in a nontechnical sense.)

8.2.1. Clefting
A definite nominal may be clefted with the verb /-!CÖ/ be, as in the following examples. (This verb
does not use the prefix /M-/ in its nonnegative subject nominalized form.) Clefting is not used with
indefinite nominals.

the NOM/be-INTERR RL-sing
Was it Luis who sang?
Was it you who was bitten?
c. OG!CÖOC-!-O-U½ C :9
2PRO NOM/be 2sO-1sS-PROX-talk
It’s you I’m talking to.
d. MCOKU½  MK!!CÖ!KO-O-" [ GÖ
shirt the NOM/be 1sO-2sS-DIST-give
It’s the shirt that you gave me.

8.2.2. Foregrounding with /-!K/

An indefinite nominal can be foregrounded by omitting the indefinite article and attaching the suffix
(6) a. MCÖ[VCZ-K!K[QÖ-U½ M CO
horses-FOC DIST-arrive/PL
It was horses that arrived.
metal-FOC the OM-RL-have-sandal
Kwset wore metal sandals.
c. M-Q-MCU½ P K-!K!KO-[Q-MCU½ P K
NOM-D-bite-FOC 1sO-DIST-bite
It was a rattlesnake that bit me.
The nominal suffixed by /-!K/ need not be fronted; the two nominals in (6b) may also appear in the
reverse order.

8.2.3. Foregrounding with /-C!/

A definite nominal may be foregrounded by occurring with the suffix /-C!/ following it. The article
MK! (which is also used with plural nouns in these cases) followed by /-C!/ results in the form MC!.
(7) a. :9CÖPMC![QÖ-HR
the/FOC DIST-arrive
Juan arrived.
the deer the-FOC OM-PROX-kill
Juan killed the deer.
horses the/FOC DIST-arrive/PL
The horses arrived.
d. VKÖ:-C!!CRU½  K-OKÖ-M9
3PRO-FOC deer a OM-PROX-kill
He killed a deer.

e. !C:9 " - !-QÖO-C!CPQOKÖ-U½ M CO
clam 3P-NOM-lie-FOC to PROX-arrive/PL
It was Desemboque where they arrived.
Because it was like that....

8.2.4. Foregrounding by fronting

A nominal may be foregrounded by simply occurring in clause-initial position, sometimes followed by
a resumptive demonstrative pronoun. When the object of a relational noun is fronted, as in (8d-e), the
relational noun does not change position.
(8) Final 2
cholla the thing NOM-small the OM-RL-NEG-touch-!o
A child does not touch the cholla cactus.
thing NOM-bounce NOM-PASS-hit/ITER 3PRO-FOC 1plS-PROX-AUG-play/PL
We played volleyball.
c. !G!GM-RQKPU½ Q U½ K Ö:[-CÖMQ¸ U Q
plant NOM-closed a thing 3P/NOM-carry=on=back
NOM-strong the 3Ob-RL-arrive
The donkey arrived at a forest...
Object of relational noun
3P-mouth the blood the from toward-PROX-move
The blood came from his mouth.
land on 1P-NOM-be a thing NOM-PASS eat a on RL-NEG-be
Where I live there isn’t any food....
sea=pen the 1PRO 3Ob-IRR-work — AUX NOM-think-DECL
...(then) we intend to

8.2.5. Pronoun foregrounding

A pronoun may be foregrounded by the use of the independent pronoun.
(9) a. OG"  OC-M-OKUVCZ
2PRO 2sO-NOM-resemble/PL
who were like you...

b. !G"  !" Ö -:U½ - K!C
1PRO 1P-pet-DECL
It’s my pet.
In addition, a pronoun can be emphasized by being followed with the form !KRK, which can also be
used with a nominal or alone, as in (10b).
(10) a. !G!KRK!-QÖ-:K-!C
1PRO EMPH 1P-NOM-finish-DECl
I myself made it.
soldiers the EMPH OM-RL-defend/PL then EMPH OM-RL-carry/PL
The soldiers themselves defended them, they took them...

8.3. Postposing rules

8.3.1. Postposing of nominals

A nominal sometimes occurs sentence-finally, as in (11), perhaps as an afterthought, to make the
identity of the nominals explicit.
what NOM-AUG-move-INTERR Seri
What is Roberto doing?
NOM-fast-DECL boat the
The boat is fast.
also others the OM-RL-have-sandal DIST-US-say metal the
He put on other sandals, it is said, metal ones.
already again NOM-work-DECL day this
They are already working again today.

8.3.2. Postposing of clauses

A dependent clause is also occasionally postposed to follow the independent clause, as in (12).
money the much OM-DIST-defeat the in RL-be
He earned a lot of money when he was in Mexico City.
people the 3Ob-RL-return DIST-US-say ABS-balsa a on RL-sit
He returned to the people, it is said, in a balsa.
when there NOM-arrive/PL-DECL somewhere RL-lie-UT
They arrived there a long time ago.
Purpose clauses are typically postposed. See §3.5.1.

8.4. Interrogatives
Question words generally occur in preverbal position. (Examples (13b-c), however, show an alternate
attested order.) Question intonation then begins with the question word, dropping until the end of the
sun the where the in RL-sit
Where is the sun?
where the sun the in RL-sit
Where is the sun?
2PRO when sea=pen the 3Ob-IRR-work NOM-say-INTERR
When will you go to get sea pens?
the leatherback the when NOM-OM-kill-INTERR
When did Luis kill the leatherback turtle?
  the what-INTERR OM-RL-kill
What did Luis kill?
the who OM-IRR-tattoo AUX-INTERR
Who will tattoo Pedro?
the whom IRR-tattoo NOM-say-INTERR
Whom will Peter tattoo?
the whom-INTERR OM-RL-tattoo
Whom did Peter tattoo?
i. RGÖFTQMK!M" ! QÖ-U½ V -[C
the who 3P/NOM-tattoo-INTERR
Who tattooed Peter?
j. MCPQ¸ C MQOM" ! [-CÖK-[C
boat the who 3P/NOM-make-INTERR
Who made the boat?
k. CU½ - [CCPM9=V-CU½ M KO
what-INTERR in 3Ob-RL-enter
What did it enter into?
l. M" ! -[CM9=K-V-CÖM-QÖ-!Q-VU½ K :MC" O MK!
whom-INTERR 3Ob-OM-RL-AUG-Q-see-V fish the
To whom did he show the fish?
As (13f-i) show, the word M" ! functions as both subject and object interrogative. Word order does not
serve to indicate whether it is subject or object that is being questioned (in independent clauses);
rather, when both subject and object are third person, the distinction is made through the choice of

either a finite or a nominalized form. In the irrealis mood, a finite irrealis verb is used when
questioning the subject, as in (13f-g), but in the realis mood, a nominalized form is used when
questioning the subject, as in (13h-i).
The following question words are simple nominals and may therefore be followed by the
interrogative suffix /-[C/ (cf. §3.4.2): M" ! who/whom; CU½ what; who; !" M K which one. The expression
for where, !CMK, is generally followed by the article CM except when directly followed by certain verbs
such as /-KÖ!/ be, as in (14).
2P-mother the where RL-be
Where is your mother?
The equivalent of why is expressed by a clause meaning How is/was it...: U½ Q V-RCMVCOC (how
RL-be SR).
The word for how, U½ Q , is used alone in a very limited way, as in the examples in (15).
(15) a. U½ Q O-V-GÖ
how 2sS-RL-say What did you say?
b. U½ Q O-V-KOQU½
how 2sS-RL-think What do you think?
c. U½ Q V-R-CK
how RL-PASS-say What is it called?
d. U½ Q V-[CÖK
how RL-cost How much does it cost?
The usual equivalent of how, in the sense of in what way, is expressed by a clause meaning How
did/will X cause it to be...: U½ Q  -V/R-CÖ-RCMVC (how -RL/IRR-AUG-be).
The equivalent of the expression how much/many is expressed by the phrase U½ Q M-[C:K (how
people the how NOM-complete IRR-AUG-eat NOM-say-INTERR
How many people will go fishing?
The word U½ Q can also modify a noun, with the meaning which, as in (17).
(17) a. U½ Q MVCO-[C
Which man?
b. OGU½ Q !CPVM-CÖ-[C:K-[C
2PRO year NOM-X-complete-INTERR
How old are you?; more literally, What year are you completing?

Chapter 9
Nominalizations and complementation
Nominalized verbs occur in a variety of constructions: all relative clauses, most embedded clauses,
oblique clauses of certain types, and many main clauses. Relative clauses are discussed in chapter 7.
The other uses of nominalized verbs are discussed below, as well as complements that do not involve

9.1. Nominalizations as main clauses

Nominalized forms, followed by some type of suffix or auxiliary particle, occur as main clauses.64
(1) Nonfuture subject nominalizer
just NOM-small-DECL
It is just small.
b. !G!-QÖ-:KU½ Q VQMM9-K-O-KÖ!-K!C
1PRO 1P-NOM-finish a there 3Ob-NOM-NEG-be DECL
One I have made doesn’t exist.; i.e., I have never made one.
when sea 3P-on NOM-lie-INTERR
When did it lie on the sea?; i.e., When was it launched?
here the 3P-on 1P-NOM-be/PL the days IRR-three SR
After we have been here three days, we will leave.
e. U-CÖR M-GÖ-[C
Will it be cold (weather)?
Nonfuture object nominalizer
people the 3P/NOM-know/PL-DECL
The Seri know it.
coyote a there 3Ob-RL-be SR 1PRO EMPH 1sS-RL-do

It seems that a wide range of factors may be involved in the choice of a nominalized verb or a
finite verb form. Note the difference in meaning in the following sentences.
(i) OKÖ-VC:
It (the watch) is running.
(ii) M-CVC:-K!C
It (the watch) works.

!-Q-KM9" ! K
1P-NOM-kill K!K
I myself killed a coyote.
h. VKÖ:K-∅-R-CUKQÖ-OU½ Q -!C
3PRO 3P-NOM-PASS-drink 3P/NOM-want-DECL
He wants it to be drunk.
3Ob-3P-NOM-tell the already 3Ob-3P-NOM-lie-DECL
Already he was lying to him with his words.

9.2. Nominalizations as oblique clauses

A clause whose verb is in the action nominalized form often occurs followed by the relational noun K-
VK (3P-on) (cr. §7.11.4) and functions as an adverbial clause.
(2) a. VQMM9-!K-!-KÖ!VQ MCK-VK
there 3Ob-1P-NOM-be/MULT/PL 3P-on
While we were there...
b. !CÖPV-!" - !-CÖVK-VK
there away-1P-NOM-move/PL 3P-on
We continued going....
A nominalized clause of this type may also occur without any formal link to the rest of the sentence, as
in (3); it is often followed by the article (!)CM.
(3) a. MOCÖ:!KU½ C MK-VKM9-!K-!-KÖZCM
now here 3P-on 3Ob-1P-NOM-sit the
Americans thing a 1sO-RL-NEG-give-!Q
Now although I’m here, Americans don’t give me anything.
sun the 3Ob-2Pp-NOM/own the 1P-spirit down EMPH/descend
I’m happy that you have a watch.
A nominalized clause, usually repeated and followed by MC! (the/FOC), indicates a longer period of
time over which the event occurred.
(4) a. !CÖPV-" - !-CÖ!CÖPV-" - !-CÖMC!
there away-3P-NOM-move the/FOC
He went, and went...
there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL
They were there, they were there...

9.3. Nominalized object complements and Equi

Two verbs control the omission of the final subject of a nonnegative complement clause, under
identity with the final subject of the upstairs clause, resulting in an infinitive in the downstairs clause:
/-COU½ Q / want, and /-CC/, with the meaning know how, be able.

(5) a. U½ K Ö:U½  K!C-!KVKO-V-COU½ Q
thing a INF-eat 2sS-RL-want
Do you want to eat something?
b. KMC-R-CU½ V K!-:QÖ-OU½ Q
INF-PASS-tattoo 1sS-EMPH-want
I want to be tattooed.
c. KM-QKVM-" [ -C-!C
INF-dance NOM-OM-know-DECL
He knows how to dance; i.e., He dances well.
RL-all INF-go/PL OM-RL-NEG-know/PL
None of them would walk...
If the conditions for Equi are not met, the downstairs clause must be nominalized using the action
(6) a. KÖ-∅-HRKO-RQÖ-OU½ Q
3P-NOM-arrive 2sS-IRR-want
If you want it to arrive....
b. M9-K-∅-RCPU½ : CMK-!-K!C!-[QÖ-OU½ Q
3Ob-3P-NOM-run the 3P-NOM-fast 1sS-DIST-want
I wanted him to run fast.
Action nominalized forms occur as the object of other verbs, including the verb /-CC/ when it
means know, if the downstairs clause is realis.
(7) a. K-!-KU½ K  K!-OKÖ-!Q
3P-NOM-small/PL 1sS-PROX-see
I saw them when they were little.
b. " Ö -∅-VC:K!-[Q-Ö-!Q
3Pp-NOM-go 1sS-DIST-see
I saw him go.
c. M9-OK-!-KÖOCMK!-[Q-C
3Ob-2P-NOM-sleep the 1sS-DIST-know
I know that you were sleeping.
d. M9-K-∅-M-QÖ-RKUK!-[Q-O-M-GÖRG
3Ob-3P-NOM-US-D-suck=in 1sS-DIST-NEG-AUG-good
I don’t like to smoke; more literally, I don’t like one’s smoking.
e. U½ K Ö:K-R:CUKM9-K-∅-R-C!KVK!-[Q-O-M-GÖRG
thing 3P-flesh 3Ob-3P-NOM-PASS-eat 1sS-DIST-NEG-AUG-good
I don’t like to eat meat; more literally, I don’t like meat’s being eaten.
1PRO EMPH 3Ob-1Pp-NOM-sick the 1P-NOM-know-DECL
I know that I am sick.
3Ob-away-RL-move 2P-NOM-arrive a 1sS-RL-NEG-know-!Q
I don’t know when you arrived.

hunger 3P-NOM-US-die the 1sS-RL-NEG-fear-!Q
I am not afraid of going hungry; more literally, I do not fear one’s being hungry.
An irrealis “complement” of a verb such as /-CC/ know occurs in the future action nominalized form if
it is certain, as in (8), and in the dependent irrealis form if it is uncertain, as in (9).
(8) a. MOKMGU½  K-U-MO-C!Q!CMM-K[-C-!C
person a 3P-IRR-NEG-see the NOM-OM-know-DECL
Hei knew that hei wouldn’t see anyone.
land IRR-? SR 3P-IRR-arrive AUX 1P-NOM-know-DECL
I know that he will come tomorrow.
person a 2P-IRR-NEG-see the 1sS-PROX-know
I knew that you wouldn’t see anyone.
1sS-IRR-have-spirits land the 1P-IRR-leave AUX
We didn’t think (lit., know) that we would leave the place alive.
1P-with 3P-IRR-do 3PRO 2sS-RL-NEG-know
Don’t you know that he will help me?
(9) a. VKÖ:RQ-!CÖVC!-V-MO-CC-!Q
3PRO IRR-be SR 1sS-RL-NEG-know-!Q
I don’t know if it’s him.
sun a somewhere IRR-sit SR 1sS-RL-NEG-know-!Q
I don’t know whether there is a sun.

9.4. Pseudo-complements
The expressions in Seri that correspond to the English X think that... and X try to.... contain two
clauses. The clause that corresponds to the embedded clause in English is not an embedded clause in
Seri, however. An irrealis complement is expressed by an irrealis clause, and a realis complement by a
dependent or independent realis clause. (Note the function of the particle ta in this respect.) In
addition, the verb /-COQU½ /, rarer /-QKOQU½ / think and /-KOQU½ / think, is an intransitive verb. The right
syntactic relationship between the complement clause and the main clause is reflected by the fact that
change of subject marking (cf. §3.3) does not occur between them. The examples in (10) and (11)
illustrate both uses of the verbs of thinking.
(10) a. K-U-[CÖ:C!VC[QÖ-OQU½
OM-IRR-own — AUX DIST-think
Hei thought that hei would own it.

2sS-IRR-NEG-do AUX thus 2sS-IRR-NEG-think AUX-DECL
Don’t think that you shouldn’t do it.
1sS-IRR-arrive — AUX NOM-think-DECL
He thought that I was going to arrive.
RL-sleep there RL-lie — RL-think
She thought that he was asleep...
lobster the 1plS- DIST -seek/PL —
1plS- DIST -think/PL
We tried to hunt for lobsters.
lobster the 1plS-IRR-seek/PL — 1plS-IRR-think/PL AUX-DECL
We will try to hunt for lobsters.
lobster the 1PRO IRR-seek/PL — AUX NOM-think/PL-DECL
We decided to try to hunt for lobsters.
OM-IRR-pull=out — AUX PROX-think/PL
They tried to pull it out.
2PRO what IRR-make AUX NOM-think-INTERR
What are you planning to make?
The expressions in Seri that corrrespond to the English X feel that... and X finish... also contain
two clauses, the equivalent to the English complement clause being expressed by a dependent clause.
These constructions are different syntactically from those discussed above, however. First of all, the
verbs involved are transitive verbs. Second, switch reference marking occurs when appropriate.
coyote a near 3Ob-RL-be/MULT SR OM-RL-feel/PL
They felt that a coyote was nearby...

65In a construction such as this, when a nominalized verb is used in the main clause, a nominalized
verb must also be used in the complement clause.

3PRO 1plS-IRR-AUG-stand/PL 1lplS-IRR-finish/PL
then 1PRO 1plS-IRR-AUG-eat/PL AUX-DECL
When we finish pulling them in, then we will go fishing.

Chapter 10
A theory of language must make available to the grammars of individual languages those concepts
necessary for an adequate description of the facts. One significant notion in Seri grammar is that of
transitivity. Surprisingly, however, most syntactic frameworks do not offer a definition of transitivity
at all and furthermore it is not at all clear how such a definition would be formulated in these
frameworks. Equally surprising, the notion of transitivity which is made explicitly in relational
grammar (see the introduction for important references) also appears to be tailor-made for the Seri
language, although it was formulated previous to the study of Seri syntax.
In Perlmutter and Postal 1977 and (to appear a), and Perlmutter 1978 the following definitions
(1) A stratum is transitive if and only if it contains a 1-arc and a 2-arc.
A stratum is intransitive if and only if it is not transitive.
The definitions are stated in terms of stratum because, as has been argued repeatedly in works on
relational grammar, a clause may have more than one syntactic level. A personal passive clause can be
represented by the simplified stratal diagram in (2), according to the proposal made in Perlmutter and
Postal 1977. The initial stratum is transitive by definition (1), but the final stratum is intransitive.

(2) therefore cannot be labelled a transitive clause, nor an intransitive clause. As Perlmutter and Postal
(to appear a) remark, “Evidently, it makes no sense to speak of clauses but only of certain levels of
clauses, as transitive or intransitive” (emphasis theirs).
In the following sections I will make explicit the various rules that have been stated above in one
form or another in which the notion transitive stratum is pertinent. These facts will be referred to
repeatedly in chapters 11-13 as the interaction of various syntactic transitions such as subject raising
and 3-2 advancement with proposed universals make important, testable claims about the syntax of

10.1. First person singular subject prefix

As the examples in §2.4.1 show, the first person singular subject prefix has two allomorphs. The
allomorphy is conditioned solely by the transitivity of the final stratum of the clause.
(3) 1 Sg Subj ⇒ ! / the final stratum is transitive
!R / the final stratum is intransitive

10.2. Infinitive prefix

As the examples in §2.5.3 show, the infinitival prefix has two allomorphs. Again, the allomorphy is
conditioned solely by the transitivity of the final stratum of the clause.

(4) Infinitive ⇒ K!C [+Ablaut (67)] / the final stratum is transitive
KMC / the final stratum is intransitive

10.3. Second person imperative

The second person imperative has several suppletive allomorphs, as described in §2.5.7. At this point I
will consider only those allomorphs which appear before a morpheme beginning with either a long
low vowel or a back vowel. The distribution is again conditioned by the transitivity of the final stratum
of the clause.
(5) 2 Sg Imp ⇒ ∅ [+Ablaut (67)] / the final stratum is intransitive
! / the final stratum is transitive

10.4. First person plural imperative

As illustrated by the examples in §2.5.8, the first person plural imperative has two suppletive
allomorphs, the distribution of which is conditioned solely by the transitivity of the final stratum of the
(6) 1pl Imp ⇒ UC [+Ablaut (67)] / the final stratum is transitive
UMC / the final stratum is intransitive

10.5. Nonfuture action/oblique nominalizer

As described in §2.6.3, the nonfuture action/oblique nominalizer has several suppletive allomorphs. I
will consider here only those allomorphs which appear before a morpheme beginning with either a
long low vowel or a back vowel. The transitivity of the final stratum of the clause is again very
(7) Action/oblique Nominalizer ⇒
! / the final stratum is passive
[ [+Ablaut (67)] / the final stratum is intransitive
! / the final stratum is transitive

10.6. First person restrictive

The first person singular restrictive prefix has two suppletive allomorphs, as described in §2.5.9, the
distribution of which is conditioned solely by the transitivity of the final stratum of the clause.
(8) 1 Sg Rest ⇒ CÖ [+Ablaut (67)] / the final stratum is transitive
MCÖ / the final stratum is intransitive

10.7. Coalescence
The phonological rule coalescing Q’s discussed in §2.3.5 applies only when the verb occurs in a clause
whose final stratum is intransitive.

10.8. Unspecified subject prefix

In §2.5.11 a morpheme called the unspecified (final) subject prefix is discussed. It is noted there that
this prefix occurs only on verbs in finally intransitive clauses. (A clause with a transitive verb
obligatorily passivizes if the initial subject is unspecified (cf. §12.2). Since such a passive clause will

have a specified final subject, the unspecified subject prefix will not appear.) 66

10.9. The object marker

In §2.5.1 it is pointed out that the object marker /i-/ occurs in subject nominalized clauses only when
the final stratum is transitive. (The generalization accounting for its occurrences in finite clauses is
quite different. See §12.6.)

66 As pointed out in footnote 27 of chapter 2, if a passive clause has an unspecified final subject, a
nominal such as MOKMG person occurs as final subject. The unspecified subject prefix does not occur
in such sentences.

Chapter 11
Subject raising
Seri sentences expressing the number of occurrences of an action are biclausal in structure and usually
involve the raising of a copy of a downstairs subject into the upstairs clause. The upstairs verb, a verb
of quantity, is also marked by a special prefix (glossed X—cf. §2.5.10) when raising has occurred.
Examples (1a-b) are simple, monoclausal sentences. Examples (2a-b) differ in that a verb indicating
the number of times the event occurred has been added, resulting in a biclausal sentence. The event
clause comes first and is nominalized. This nominalized clause is also followed by a definite article if
the main verb is /-CV:Q/ much, many.
(1) a. U½ G OGMQRK!-[-QÖMVC
the 1sS-DIST-look=at
I looked at the last light of the sun.
b. K!R-[Q-R-CU½ V
I was tattooed.
the 1P-NOM-look=at 1sS-PROX-X/two
I looked at the last light of the sun twice.
b. !K-∅-R-CU½ V MK!!R-O-CÖ!-CV:Q
1P-NOM-PASS-tattoo the 1sS-PROX-X-much
I was tattooed many times.
This iteration construction contrasts with the extent construction which does not involve subject
raising or the prefix X, as illustrated by (3).
1sS-NOM-AUG/spotted the DIST-much
I wrote a great deal.
In the following sections I will argue that sentences such as (2a) have the following structure.

In §11.1 I argue that the raisee heads a final 1-arc upstairs. In §11.2 I argue that the downstairs clause
does not head a final 2-arc. In §11.3 I argue that raising is involved in these clauses and that a
monostratal analysis is not to be preferred. The argument that the downstairs clause does not head a
1-arc upstairs is presented in chapter 15 and is based on switch reference marking facts.

11.1. Arguments that a downstairs subject is the final upstairs subject
Stratal diagram (4) claims that the subject of the downstairs clause is also the final subject of the
upstairs clause. This diagram does not indicate that this situation is resolved by what has been called a
copying process rather than by Equi. Similar copy raising phenomena have been reported for
Blackfoot (Frantz 1978), Koine Greek (Marlett 1976), Modern Greek (Joseph 1976), and Mojave
(Munro 1976). This diagram also does not indicate that raising occurs only when the number verb
upstairs expresses the number of times that the action occurred. Five arguments that the nominal
which is the downstairs subject is also the final subject upstairs are given below.

11.1.1. Subject person agreement

Verbs in Seri agree in person with their final subject. It can be seen from (3) that an upstairs verb does
not agree with a downstairs subject. The fact that both verbs in (2a-b) agree with the same nominal
follows if the final 1 of the downstairs clause is also the final 1 of the upstairs clause of the iteration
construction. The facts regarding person agreement in the iteration construction hold true regardless of
the person or number of the downstairs subject, whether the downstairs clause is finally transitive or
intransitive, whether the downstairs subject is semantically an agent or patient, or whether the subject
of the downstairs clause is referential or nonreferential, as the following examples illustrate.
(5) a. !CM:OK-∅-OKÖ!KO-V-CÖ-U½ Q :9M
somewhere 2P-NOM-not=exist 2sS-RL-X-four
Did you faint (die) four times?
hunger 1P-NOM-die/PL the 1plS-PROX-X-much/PL
We were often hungry.
down 1P-NOM-fall/PL 1plS-PROX-X-two/PL
We fell down twice.
the torote the 3P-NOM-bite the PROX-X-much
Luisa has bitten torote many times.
yesterday the on 3P-NOM-rain PROX-X-three
It rained three times yesterday.

11.1.2. Number agreement

Seri verbs agree in number with their final subject. Thus both the upstairs and downstairs verbs in (5b-
c) are marked for plural number. As the following extent construction shows, an upstairs verb does not
agree in number with a downstairs subject.
1P-NOM-AUG/spotted/PL the PROX-much
We wrote a great deal.
The fact that the upstairs verbs in (5b-c) are marked for plural number follows if the downstairs
subject is also the final upstairs subject.

11.1.3. Upstairs subject as Equi victim
Equi victims in Seri are always final subjects (cf. §9.3). When an iteration construction, such as (7a) is
embedded in an appropriate structure, the raised nominal can be an Equi victim, as in (7b).
(7) a. OC-!KÖ-∅-U½ V K!R-O-CMZ
2sO-1P-NOM-tattoo 1sS-PROX-X/two
I tattooed you twice.
2sO-1P-NOM-tattoo INF-X/two 1sS-PROX-want
I want to tattoo you twice.
An extent construction similarly embedded does not result in an infinitive.
land that on 2P-NOM-be the days 3P-NOM-four 2sS-RL-want
Do you want to stay there for four days?
The fact that an infinitive appears in (7b) follows if the subject of the downstairs clause is also the
subject of the number verb.

11.1.4. Imperatives
Imperative forms of verbs are possible in Seri when the final subject is second person or first person
plural. If the downstairs nominal of a raising construction is second person, a second person
imperative can be formed on the upstairs verb, as in (9a). If the downstairs nominal of the raising
construction is first person plural, a first person plural imperative can be formed on the upstairs verb,
as in (9b). This is an additional piece of evidence that the final subject of the higher verb is the same
nominal which is the final subject of the downstairs clause.
(9) a. OK-!-K: CMZ
2P-NOM-take IMP/X/two
Grab twice!
1P-NOM-take/PL IMP-X/two/PL
Let’s grab twice!
Imperatives cannot be formed on the extent construction since the upstairs subject is not second
1P-NOM-AUG/spotted/PL the IMP-many/PL
Let’s write a great deal!
Instead of the latter, an expression such as CP:9UM-CÖVQ¸ U KR QZ(much IMP-AUG/spotted/PL) would
be used.

11.1.5. Relativization
As pointed out in §2.6.1, when the final subject of a relative clause is coreferential with the head noun,
the subject nominalized form occurs. When the coreferent nominal in the embedded clause is not the
final subject, a different nominalization is used. The fact that the subject nominalized form M-CÖ!-CV:Q
appears in (11) is another piece of evidence that the subject of the downstairs clause is also the final
subject of the verb /-CV:Q/.

11.2. Arguments that the downstairs clause is not a final 2
If the Relational Succession Law (Perlmutter and Postal (to appear b)) is correct, the ascendee will
bear the same relation upstairs as did the clause out of which it ascended. If the Chômeur Law
(Perlmutter and Postal (in press a)) is correct, the embedded clause is an initial 2, the above-mentioned
laws predict that the ascended will bear the 2 relation upstairs and that the downstairs clause will bear
the chômeur relation. The ascendee then presumably advances to subject by unaccusative advance-
ment (Perlmutter 1978).67
The raising analysis and the above-mentioned proposed laws of universal grammar make a strong
and not totally expected claim. Perlmutter and Postal (in press b) have defined a transitive stratum as
one which contains a 1-arc and a 2-arc and an intransitive stratum as one which is not transitive. The
claim made by the relational grammar analysis is that the final stratum of the upstairs clause of the
iteration construction is intransitive since it does not contain a 2-arc. The analysis of a strikingly
similar set of facts in Mojave (Munro 1976) in a transformational framework made the opposite
prediction. Arguments for the final intransitivity of these clauses (together with the final subjecthood
of the ascendee) are arguments that the downstairs clause is not a final 2. I will give eight arguments
that support the claim that the final stratum of the upstairs clause is indeed intransitive.
First, the intransitive allomorph of the first person singular subject prefix (cf. §10.1) occurs in (2a-
b). Second, the intransitive allomorph of the infinitive prefix (cf. §10.2) occurs in (7b). Third, the
intransitive allomorph of the second person imperative prefix (cf. §10.3) occurs in (9a). Fourth, the
intransitive allomorph of the first person plural imperative prefix (cf. §10.4) occurs in (9b). Fifth, the
intransitive allomorph of the action/oblique nominalizer (cf. 10.5) occurs in sentences involving
raising, as in (11).
(11) OK-!-K: KO-[-CMZK!-OKÖ-OU½ Q
2P-NOM-take 2P-NOM-X/two 1sS-PROX-want
I want you to grab twice!
Sixth, the intransitive allomorph of the first person singular restrictive prefix (cf. §10.6) occurs in
sentences involving raising, as in (12).
the in 1REST-NOM-arrive PROX-1REST-X-much
As for me, I have been to Mexico City many times.
Seventh, the unspecified subject prefix may occur (cf. §10.8), as in (13).
to 3P-NOM-US-arrive the IRR-US-X-much
If one arrives there often...
Eighth, the object marker (cf. §2.5.1) does not appear on the number verb in (5d-e).

67 I will briefly mention here two arguments against an analysis claiming that the downstairs clause
initially bears some relation other than 2 or 1 to the upstairs clause and in which raising is posited.
First, the Relational Succession Law or the Oblique Law (Perlmutter and Postal (in press a)) would
have to be weakened under such an analysis. Second, most final obliques in Seri determine oblique
agreement on the verb. If the downstairs clause were a final oblique, oblique agreement would be

11.3. Arguments for a raising analysis
The analysis of the iteration construction which is partially represented by stratal diagram (4) is not the
only analysis which is consistent with the facts presented in §§11.1-2. In this section I will argue spe-
cifically against one alternative, a monostratal analysis which is summarized by stratal diagram (14).

As argued above, a downstairs subject is the final upstairs subject, and the downstairs clause is not a
final 2. The two analyses are not equivalent, however. In §11.3.1 I will present some additional facts
which must be taken into consideration and in §11.3.2 I will make the two analyses explicit and
demonstrate the differences in complexity.

11.3.1. Restrictions on raising

One fact that has not yet been shown is that there are some restrictions on raising. The one best
understood by me is that raising is not preferred when the downstairs clause is passive. 68 In fact, a
raising construction in this case is ungrammatical except when the upstairs verb is /-CV:Q/. Consider
the following sentences. Although a times meaning is involved in (15), a raising construction is
ungrammatical (cf. (2b).
(15) a. !K-∅-R-CU½ V O-QÖMZ
1P-NOM-PASS-tattoo PROX-two
I was tattooed twice.
b. *!K-∅-R-CU½ V K!R-O-CMZ
1P-NOM-PASS-tattoo 1sS-PROX-X/two
(same gloss)
Notice that when raising does not occur, the prefix X does not occur.

68 Raising cannot occur in the following sentence.

(i) U½ K Ö:U½ Q M9=!K-∅-O-C!KVVCÖ:V-CV:Q-:!CÖM-C!MC-!C
thing a 3Ob-1P-NOM-NEG-eat 3PRO RL-much-UT there NOM-exist-DECL
There were many times that I didn't eat anything.
Raising is not preferred in a sentence such as the following.
3Ob/1sO-3P-NOM-beat PROX-five
They beat me five times.

11.3.2. Comparison between the monostratal analysis and the raising analysis
In this section I will make the two analyses explicit and show that they differ in complexity.
The bistratal analysis for (15a) is represented by the partial stratal diagram in (16).

The monostratal analysis for (15a) is represented by (17).


The grammars which incorporate the bistratal and monostratal analyses will now be compared. The
raising grammar incorporates the raising analysis for sentences with downstairs active clauses and the
analysis represented by stratal diagram (16) for clauses with downstairs passives (and other places
where raising does not occur). The monostratal grammar incorporates the analyses represented by
stratal diagrams (14) and (17). For the sake of convenience, the appropriate diagram numbers follow
the name of the grammars.
With respect to the relation that the downstairs clause bears in the raising constructionÖ69

69 One argument against analyzing this so-called downstairs clause as an independent clause that is
not grammatically part of the main clause is the fact that such clauses do occur, but in a different
shape. They are typically followed by the article (!)CM, as in (iii).

Raising grammar (4): Predicted by the unaccusative hypothesis and the Chômeur Law.
Monostratal grammar (14): Must be specified as being GRx.
Furthermore, in the monostratal grammar, it must be specified that GR x, presumably an oblique
relation of some kind, does not determine oblique agreement on the verb, unlike most other obliques.
With respect to the relation that the downstairs clause bears when the downstairs clause is passive and
the upstairs verb is not /-CV:Q/:
Raising grammar (16): Predicted by the unaccusative hypothesis and Unaccusative
Monostratal grammar (17): Must be specified as being 1.
While the raising grammar posits the same initial relations regardless of whether the downstairs clause
is passive or not, the monostratal grammar posits distinct initial relations, complicating the grammar.
With respect to the presence of a nonclausal subject in the upstairs clauseÖ
Raising grammar (4): Obligatory raising under certain conditions.
Monostratal grammar (14): Specify that a times expression must have a nonclausal subject
under certain conditions.
With respect to the coreference restrictions on the subjects of the two clauses in the raising
Raising grammar (4): Predicted by the raising of the downstairs 1.
Monostratal grammar (14): Must be specified as being necessarily coreferential.
This comparison ignores some facts which are discussed below which complicate the picture
slightly. Also recall that the subject involved may be the dummy subject of a verb such as /-apka/ rain
(cf. (5e)). A monostratal analysis would have to posit an initial dummy subject in the upstairs clause.
With respect to the restrictions imposed by downstairs passive clausesÖ
Raising grammar (16): Condition: Raising out of a passive clause is a) optional when the
upstairs verb is /-CV:Q/; b) blocked otherwise.
Monostratal grammar (17): Condition: A times expression can have a nonclausal subject
when the downstairs clause is passive a) optionally if the upstairs verb is /-CV:Q/; b) not
With respect to the occurrence of the prefix glossed X it could be claimed for both grammars that
this prefix occurs in all clauses involving the meaning times but that the morpheme has a zero
allomorph when the final subject of the clause is clausal, as in (15a). Alternatively, it could be claimed
in the raising grammar that this prefix occurs when raising is involved, and in the monostratal
grammar that it occurs when coreferential subjects are involved in the times construction. (The

watch the 3Ob-2P-NOM-own the 1P-spirit down PROX-descend
I am happy that you have a watch.
Another argument against such an analysis is the fact that it would have to posit initial dummy
subjects in the main clause.

occurrence of this prefix in other constructions which are discussed in §11.5 is not covered by these
generalizations, nor is it obvious that it should be.)
The preceding comparison shows that the monostratal grammar must include at least four
language-specific statements to handle facts which are handled in the raising grammar by the
ascension and certain proposed universals. The monostratal grammar also runs into the problem of
having to posit initial dummy subjects. In at least five ways, therefore, the raising grammar is
preferable to the monostratal grammar.

11.4. Raising of non-final subjects

All of the preceding examples involve the raising of a final subject. It is not necessarily always the
final subject which is raised, however. In the following sentence it is the initial unspecified subject
which is raised.
NOM-black the 3P-NOM-PASS-drink the IRR-US-AUG-much-UT
!CM: U-MC-OKÖ! !C-!C
somewhere IRR-US-not=exist AUX-DECL
If Coke is drunk often, one will die.

11.5. Other uses of the prefix “X”

The prefix glossed X occurs in two other types of constructions. It is not likely that a raising analysis
should be posited for either of these constructions which differ markedly from the times construction.
The first is the construction used to tell age, as in (19).
(19) a. !CPVK!-O-CÖ U ½ Q :9M
year 1sS-PROX-X-four
I am four years old.
moons OM-PROX-X/five
He is five months old.
When one is ten years old, one can go fishing.
By all of the pertinent tests, these clauses all contain a transitive stratum. (19a-b) have finally transi-
tive strata; (19c) is a passive construction.
The other construction involving the morpheme glossed X is that of doubling up, tripling up, etc.
line the 3P-calf 1sS-IRR-X/two AUX-DECL
I will double up the fishing line.
In this case the prefix X is functioning more like a causative prefix since the expression KRQV M-QÖMZ
what is doubled up also occurs. (20) is finally transitive.

Postscript to Chapter 11
The subject raising facts discussed in this chapter were published in Marlett 1984a. They also play a
role in the argumentation presented in Marlett 1984b and Farrell, Marlett and Perlmutter 1991.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1984a. Switch-Reference and Subject Raising in Seri. Syntax and Semantics 16:
The Syntax of Native American Languages, 247-68, eds. Eung-Do Cook and Donna Gerdts.
New York: Academic Press.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1984b. Personal and impersonal passives in Seri. Studies in Relational Grammar
2, 217-239, eds. David M. Perlmutter and Carol Rosen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Farrell, Patrick, Stephen A. Marlett, and David M. Perlmutter. 1991 Notions of subjecthood and
Switch reference: evidence from Seri. Linguistic Inquiry 22:431-56.

Chapter 12
In this chapter I will discuss advancements for which I have found evidence in Seri. They include 3-2
advancement and passive. In addition, evidence bearing on the question of whether the notion 3
(indirect object) as a grammatical relation is necessary is discussed in §12.3.

12.1. 3-2 Advancement in absence of notional 2

In §§2.4.2-3 two informal rules for the occurrences of the object person prefixes and the oblique
person prefixes were presented. The object person prefixes indicate agreement with, among other
things, final 2s. (For examples see those sections.) But compare the following sentences.
(1) a. U½ K Ö: U½ Q OG-!-O-U½ C :9
thing a 2Ob-1sS-PROX-talk=about
I am talking about something to you.
b. OC-!-O-U½ C :9
I am talking to you.
c. *U½ K Ö:U½ Q OC-!-O-U½ C :9
thing a 2O-1sS-PROX-talk=about
I am talking about something to you.
(2) a. U½ K Ö:U½ Q M9-K-[Q-U½ C :9
thing a 3Ob-OM-DIST-talk=about
He talked about something to him.
b. K-[Q-U½ C :9
He talked to him.
c. *U½ K Ö:U½  K-[Q-U½ C :9
thing a OM-DIST-talk=about
He talked about something to him.
(3) a. VCÖ: OG-!-O-U½ C :9
3PRO 2Ob-1sS-PROX-talk=about
I am talking to you (sg./pl.) about that.
b. OCU½ K -!-O-U½ C :9
I am talking to you (pl.).
c. *VCÖ:OCU½ K -!-O-U½ C :9
3PRO 1plO-1sS-PROX-talk=about
I am talking to you (pl.) about that.
Ignoring for now the question of whether an unspecified notional 2 occurs (see chapter 13), there are
at least three possible analyses for the (b) sentences above. One, the object prefix marks agreement
with a final 3. Two, the object prefix marks agreement with a final 2 which is also an initial 2. Three,
the object prefix marks agreement with a final 2 which is an initial 3. These analyses are discussed

12.1.1. Arguments against hypothesis one
The first hypothesis claims that the (b) sentences have the following structureÖ


Two rules are immediately complicated by assuming this structure, however. The first is the rule
accounting for object prefixes, which would have to be extended to include 3s in just these clauses.
The second is the rule accounting for the object marker /K-/ (cf. §2.5.1) which otherwise only registers
the presence of a final 2 in active clauses. Also, since the notional indirect object of (b)-type sentences,
but not (a)-type sentences, can be the subject of a passive clause, as shown in (5), it follows that it
heads a 2-arc at some level in the (b)-type sentences.
(5) a. K!R-[-CÖ!-U½ C :9
I was talked to.
b. *U½ K Ö:U½ Q !R-[-CÖ!-U½ C :9
thing a 1sS-DIST-PASS-talk=about
I was talked to about something.
The hypothesis illustrated by diagram (4) also claims that the final stratum of a clause such as (1b) is
intransitive. Arguments based on the facts in chapter 10, however, can be presented for the transitivity
of the final stratum of these clauses.
First, the transitive allomorph of the first person singular subject prefix occurs in (1b). Second, the
transitive allomorph of the infinitive prefix occurs in (b)-type sentences, as in (6).
(6) OC-K!C-U½ C :9K!-:QÖ-OU½ Q
2sO-INF-talk=about 1sS-EMPH-want
I want to talk to you!
Third, the transitive allomorph of the first person imperative prefix occurs, as in (7).
(7) a. UC-U½ C :9V
Let’s talk to him!
Fourth, the transitive allomorph of the first person restrictive prefix occurs, as in (8).
(8) !CVG" Ö U-O-CÖ-U½ C :9!C-!C
As for me, I won’t talk to him.
Fifth, the condition on the occurrence of the unspecified subject prefix (cf. §10.8) correctly predicts
that (b)-type clauses cannot occur with an unspecified final subject.
(9) *K-RQ-MC-U½ C :9
If one talks to him...

The analysis illustrated by diagram (3) would therefore require the complication of at least seven
generalizations in Seri.

12.1.2. Discussion of hypotheses two and three

The second hypothesis claims that the (b) sentences have the following monostratal structureÖ


The third hypothesis claims that these sentences have a bistratal structure, as in (11).


The facts presented in the previous section are adequately accounted for by either of these analyses
since in each the notional indirect object heads a final 2-arc. The third hypothesis assigns the same
initial grammatical relation to the notion indirect object in these clauses as in clauses with specified
notional direct objects. There do not appear to be any strong arguments internal to Seri that favor one
of these analyses over the other.

12.2. 3-2 advancement in ditransitive clauses

With the verbs /-GÖ/ give and /-GG/ give (with generic notional 2) the recipient always determines
object agreement (in active clauses), as shown in (12).
(12) a. VQOMK!OC -!-" V -GÖ
money the 2sO 1sS-RL-give
Did I give you the money?
b. U½ K :MC" O  MK! OC -V-GG
fish the 2sO RL-give
Did he give you fish?
A bistratal analysis would claim that the initial 3 advances to 2, putting the initial 2 en chomage. This
advancement is required for the verbs /-GÖ/ and /-GG/.

Two possible monostratal analyses will be considered. They are represented by the diagrams in
(13). Either of these analyses violates some proposed universal in relational grammar—(a) the Stratal
Uniqueness Law (Perlmutter and Postal (in press a)) and (b) the Motivated Chomage Law (Perlmutter
and Postal (in press a)).
(13) a.


In the following sections I will present empirical evidence favoring the bistratal analysis of these

12.2.1. 3-2-1 clauses

When the notional 3 of the clause is the final 1, the bistratal analysis would claim that the following
structure exists, assuming the Chômeur Law (Perlmutter and Postal (in press a)).

Under this analysis it is predicted that the final stratum of such clauses is intransitive.
What does a monostratal analysis predict? Four variations are shown below. The first two incor-
porate a monostratal analysis of passive clauses (cf. §12.4.1) and the second two a bistratal analysis.
(15) a. b.

c. d.

Arguments for a bistratal analysis of passive clauses will be presented in §12.4.1. Any such argument
also counts against the analyses represented by (15a-b). In the following sections, however, I will
present arguments against these analyses that do not depend on one analysis or another of passive
clauses. Arguments against the final transitivity of 3-2-1 clauses

Structures (15a) and (15c) claim that the final stratum of 3-2-1 clauses is transitive since in each there
is a final 2. The facts indicate, however, that the final stratum of 3-2-1 clauses is intransitive. First, the
“intransitive” allomorph of the first person subject prefix occurs in 3-2-1 clauses.
(16) a. VQOMK! !R-[Q-R-G" ! GÖ
money the 1sS-DIST-PASS-give
*!-[Q-R-G" ! GÖ
I was given the money.
b. U½ K :MC" O MK!!R-V-R-GG
Was I given fish?
Second, the “intransitive” allomorph of the infinitive prefix occurs in 3-2-1 clauses.
(17) a. U½ K :MC" O MK!KMC-R-G" ! GÖ!-OKÖ-OU½ Q
INF-PASS-give 1sS-PROX-want
I want to be given the fish.
fish the INF-PASS-give 1sS-PROX-want
I want to be given fish.
Third, the “intransitive” allomorph of the first person singular exclusive prefix occurs in 3-2-1 clauses.
(18) !CVG" Ö VQOMK!U-MCÖ-R-G" ! GÖ!C-!C
1EXCL money the IRR-1EXCL-PASS-give AUX-DECL
As for me, I will be given the money.
These facts therefore argue strongly against both structure (15e) and structure (15c). Arguments for the 2hood of the notional object

The bistratal analysis of 3-2-1 clauses summarized by structure (14) claims that the notional object

heads an initial 2-arc. Since it heads a chômeur arc in the second stratum, it is an acting 2 according to
the definition of acting 2 given in Perlmutter and Postal (to appear a) and repeated below.
(19) A nominal node is an acting term x if and only ifÖ
a) it heads an arc whose R-sign is term x in a given stratum and,
b) it does not head an arc with a term R-sign other than term x in a later stratum.
While structures (15c) and (15d) claim that this nominal is a chômeur, they do not claim that it is a 2 at
any level. Any argument for the 2hood of these nominals is therefore an argument against structures
(15b) and (15d). An argument that they are acting 2s is an argument for their 2hood. One such
argument is presented below.
The object marker (cf. §2.5.1) occurs on finite verbs when the final nuclear terms are third person
and there is a final 2. It also occurs in 3-2-1 clauses when the final subject is third person and the
notional 2 is third person.
(20) MCOKU½  MK! K-[Q-R-G" ! GÖ
shirt the OM-DIST-PASS-give
He was given the shirt.
Under an analysis in which the notional 2 heads an initial 2-arc the following generalization can be
(21) The object marker occurs when
i) the final nuclear terms are all third person and
ii) there is an acting 2.
Under an analysis such as (15b) or (15c) in which the notional 2 does not head a 2-arc, however, such
a generalization is not possible, which is an argument against these analyses.
A second argument is not exactly for the 2hood of the notional object, but rather an argument
against its obliquehood. As noted in §2.4.3, final 3s and most obliques determine oblique agreement
on the verb. In the bistratal analysis it follows automatically that an oblique prefix will not occur in 3-
2-1 clauses since the notional direct object is a chômeur. In a monostratal analysis which posits some
other relation, it must be stated that the grammatical relation borne by this nominal does not determine
oblique agreement.70

12.3. The notion “3”

In the previous sections I have discussed constructions in which a notional 3 determines object
agreement on the verb; in other words, the notional 3 behaves like a final 2. In other constructions
notional 3s determine oblique agreement, in the same manner as instrumentals, locatives, etc. (cf.
§2.4.3). Such facts might lead one to think that the notion “3” is unnecessary in Seri. As Faltz 1978
says, “The syntactic alignment of indirect objects with direct objects and obliques... suggests that at
least languages with those types of indirect object marking lack a syntactic indirect object category
altogether” (85). The facts in §12.2 provide arguments against the claim that notional 3s which are

Sentences which would involve a passive transition and subsequent 3-2 advancement are
(i) *U½ K :MC" O U½ Q !KO-[Q-R-G" ! GÖ
fish a 1sO-DIST-PASS-give
A fish was given me.
A special statement is apparently needed to rule these out.

final 2s are initial 2s. That the notional 3 is a final 2 therefore cannot be taken as evidence for initial
2hood. An alternative not yet considered, however, is that in which the notional 3 is an initial
oblique—Goal, for example. A rule of Goal to 2 advancement would be posited. In this section I will
give arguments for the grammatical relation 3 as distinct from obliques as well as from 2.
Certain verbs such as /-KVC !C" Ö / buy/sell, /-COZM/ bring, /-CO:/ tell, and /-CÖ-CUQ-V/ lend share the
peculiar characteristic of not allowing a plural notional indirect object to bear a term relation. The
nominal is instead marked by the appropriate form of the relational noun for goals, /-CPQ/. Compare
(22), in which the notional 3 determines oblique agreement, and (23), in which the notional 3 is
marked by !KPQ.
2P-boat the 1Ob-IMP-AUG-D-see/MULT
Show us your boat!
money the 1P-to IMP-bring
Bring us the money!
The claim I will defend is that the nominal determining oblique agreement in (22) is an initial and final
3 and that the nominal marked by !KPQ in (23) is an initial and final goal. These sentences therefore
differ syntactically. I will argue against an analysis which would claim that these nominals are final
goals in both sentences. Under such an analysis verbs would divide into two classes, one class whose
plural goals determine oblique agreement, the other class whose plural goals determine /-CPQ/
marking. An analysis will first be presented below assuming a 3 relation. In §12.3 the alternative
analysis will be examined.

12.3.1. The verb /-KVC !C" Ö /

The verb /-KVC !C" Ö / occurs in clauses having to do with buying and also in clauses having to do with
selling. In clauses involving buying the initial stratum is transitive by all of the available tests (cf.
chapter 10). The object bought is the initial 2. The person from whom the object is bought cannot be
mentioned. Some examples are given in (24). Note the object marker in (24a), the “transitive”
allomorph of the infinitive prefix in (24b), and the passive construction in (24c).
(24) a. U½ K :MC" O MK!M-CV:QRCMK-U-KVC !C" Ö !C-[C
fish the NOM-many some OM-IRR-buy AUX-INTERR
Will he buy a lot of fish?
basket the INF-buy 1sS-PROX-want
I want to buy the basket.
car NOM-PASS-buy
the car which was bought
The verb /-KVC !C" Ö / also means sell; however, in these clauses the object sold occurs as an oblique
nominal and the recipient, if any, heads a 2-arc. I will assume for the present that the recipient heads
an initial 3-arc and that it advances to head a 2-arc. With this meaning, therefore, /-KVC !C" Ö / occurs in
clauses which have the following structure.

(25) a. b.

Sentences in which the recipient does not occur are therefore finally intransitive (and cannot
passivize), whereas those in which the recipient occurs are finally transitive (unless passivized). The
examples in (26) do not involve a recipient and are therefore finally intransitive as indicated by the
“intransitive” allomorph of the infinitive prefix in (26a), the “intransitive” allomorph of the first
person singular subject prefix in (26b), and the lack of the object marker in (26c). The examples in
(27) involve a transitive stratum since a recipient is expressed in each; note the “transitive” allomorph
of the infinitive prefix in (27a), the “transitive” allomorph of the first person singular subject prefix in
(27b) and the passive construction in (27c). ((27c) is an impersonal passive—see §12.5.2.).
(26) a. !CUCZMCRM9-KM-KVC !C" Ö !-OKÖ-OU½ Q
basket the 3Ob-INF-sell 1sS-PROX-want
I want to sell the basket.
b. U½ K :MC" O !KRMQOMQ-!R-V-MO-KVC !C" Ö -!Q
fish this 3Ob-1sS-RL-NEG-sell-!Q
I didn’t sell this fish.
c. M9-V-O-KVC !C" Ö -!Q
He didn’t sell it.
(27) a. VKÖ:OG-K!-CVC !C" Ö K-O-CC-!C
3PRO 3Ob/2sO-INF-sell NOM-NEG-know-DECL
He can’t sell it to you.
b. MQ-!-[-KVC !C" Ö
I sold it to him.
basket the 3Ob/1sO-DIST-PASS-sell
I was sold the basket.
A plural recipient of sell, however, is encoded as a Goal rather than as a 3 which advances to 2. The
initial stratum appears as in (28).

Since the final stratum of such a clause does not contain a 2, it will be intransitive, contrasting in this
respect with the sentences in (27). Note the “intransitive” allomorph of the infinitive prefix in (29a)
and the lack of an object marker in (29b).
(29) a. OK-PQM9-KMKVC !C" Ö !-OKÖ-OU½ Q
2P-to 3Ob-INF-sell 1sS-PROX-want
I want to sell it to you (pl.).
b. MK-PQM9-[-KVC !C" Ö
3P-to 3Ob-DIST-sell
He sold it to them.

12.3.2. The verb /-OKÖKV/

The verb /-OKÖKV/ ask occurs with one or both of the following nominals: a 2, here assumed to be an
initial 3, which is the source of the information; and an oblique which is the topic of the inquiry. This
verb has the peculiarity that if no 2 occurs, the morpheme /CÖ-/ is prefixed to the verb. In the examples
in (30) a 2, but no oblique nominal, occurs; in (31) both a 2 and an oblique occur; and in (32) only an
oblique occurs.
(30) a. !KO-V-OKÖKV
Did he ask me?
the RL-speak woman the OM-RL-ask
Peter spoke, he asked the woman...
(31) a. U½ K Ö:U½ Q !G-V-OKÖKV
thing a 3Ob/1sO-RL-ask
Did he ask me about something?
b. U½ K Ö:U½ Q !G-[-CÖ!-OKÖKV
thing a 3Ob/1sO-DIST-PASS-ask
Was I asked about something? (impersonal passive)
(32) a. !G-V-CÖ-OKÖKV b. M9-V-CÖ-OKÖKV
1Obl-RL-AUG-ask 3Ob-RL-AUG-ask
Did he ask about me? Did he ask about him?
This verb also does not permit a plural notional 3 to be encoded as a term. Therefore in the examples
in (33) no 2 occurs. It follows automatically that the prefix /CÖ-/ will occur.
(33) a. U½ K Ö:U½ Q  OK-PQ M9-V-CÖ-OKÖKV b. U½ K Ö:U½  CPQM9-V-CÖ-OKÖKV
thing a 2P-to 3Ob-RL-AUG-ask thing a to 3Ob-RL-AUG-ask
Did he ask you (pl.) something? Did he ask them something?

12.3.3. The verb /-CO:/

The verb /-CO:/ say governs two nominals: an initial 2, which is the utterance spoken; and an optional
initial 3, which is the person to whom the utterance is spoken. When an initial 3 occurs, however, the
prefix /CÖ-/ occurs on the verb. The examples in (34) do not involve an initial 3 whereas those in (35)

(34) a. OQU M-CO:-Q c. K!-[QÖ-O:
again IMP-say-Q 1sS-DIST-say
Say it again! I said it.
b. K-V-CO:
Did he say it?
(35) a. !G-!-CÖ-O: c. U½ K Ö:U½ Q OG-U-R-CÖ-O:
1Ob-IMP-AUG-say thing a 2Ob-IRR-PASS-AUG-say
Say it to me! Something will be said to you.
b. MQ-!-[-CÖ-O:
I said it to him.

When the notional 3 is plural, as in (36), it occurs as a Goal. Since it is not a 3, the prefix /CÖ-/ does not
(35) a. MK-PQ M-CO: b. OK-PQ !-[QÖ-O:
3P-to IMP-say 2P-to 1sS-DIST-say
Say it to them! I said it to you (pl.).

12.3.4. Comparison of analyses

In this section I will summarize the analysis assumed above for the facts in §§12.3.1-3 and contrast it
with two analyses which do not recognize the 3 relation.
In the sections above it was assumed that a notional indirect object usually bore an initial 3
relation. It was then shown that certain verbs have certain idiosyncrasies associated with them. These
idiosyncrasies are summarized in (37).
(37) Class Example Idiosyncrasy
X /-KVC !C" Ö / obligatory 3-2 advancement
Y /-OKÖKV/ obligatory 3-2 advancement
prefixed by /CÖ-/ if there is no initial 3
Z /-CO:/ prefixed by /CÖ-/ if there is an initial 3
It was also shown that when these verbs governed a plural notional indirect object, that nominal bears
an initial Goal relation rather than an initial 3 relation. The following consequences follow
automatically from this analysis. First, there will be no 3-2 advancement in verbs of class X, and if no

A verb which is like /-CO:/ is the verb /-KU:9/ hide. This verb also governs two nominals other
than the subjectÖ an initial 2, the object hidden and an optional initial 3, the person from whom the ob-
ject is hidden. When the initial 3 is present, the root-initial vowel undergoes Ablaut (67) of chapter 2.
(ii) a. !-KU:9 b. !G=!-GU:9
IMP-hide 1Ob-IMP-hide
Hide it! Hide it from me/us!
As (iib) illustrates, however, a plural nominal determines oblique agreement with this verb, unlike
with /-CO:/.

other 2 occurs the final stratum of a clause with a verb of this class will be intransitive. Second, the
prefix /CÖ-/ will occur on a verb of class Y since there is no initial 3. Third, the prefix /CÖ-/ will not
occur on a verb of class Z since there is no initial 3. Fourth, the oblique person prefix will not occur
since there is no final 3 (and a plural goal is marked by /-CPQ/).
A monostratal alternative analysis would also say that plural notional indirect objects are initial
goals with these verbs. For verbs of classes X and Y it would claim that singular notional indirect
objects are initial 2s. No advancements would be posited. It would be claimed that class Y verbs are
prefixed by /CÖ-/ if there is no singular goal and class Z verbs are prefixed by /CÖ-/ if there is a singular
A bistratal alternative analysis would say that all notional indirect objects are initial goals. Rather
than 3-2 advancement, Goal-2 advancement would be posited except that with certain verbs plural
goals cannot advance. It would be claimed that class Y verbs are prefixed by /aÖ-/ if there is no singular
goal and class Z verbs are prefixed by /CÖ-/ if there is a singular goal.
Both of the alternative analyses, however, must also stipulate that plural goals of some verbs are
marked by /-CPQ/ and that plural goals of other verbs determine oblique agreement, as in (22). It is
purely coincidental in these analyses that all of the verbs with idiosyncrasies involving plural “goals”
also are verbs whose goals are marked by /-CPQ/. In the analysis utilizing the 3 relation, these facts are
integrated; the fact that the presence or absence of a plural notional 3 which does not determine
oblique agreement has other ramifications is a consequence of the analysis rather than a coincidence.
These facts therefore provide an argument for a 3 relation as distinct from both 2 and Goal in a
language in which the distinction is not at all obvious superficially.

12.4. Personal passives

In this section I will discuss the syntax of the person passives in Seri. Passive clauses are claimed by
Perlmutter and Postal 1977 to involve the advancement of the 2 of a transitive stratum to 1. Assuming
the Chômeur Law (Perlmutter and Postal (in press a)), a typical passive clause could be represented as

In Seri there exist clauses in which the notional subject (initial 1 in these cases) is not expressed in the
clause (although it may be indicated by the context). The verbs of these clauses are marked by what I
have called the passive prefix (cf. §2.5.5). Some simple passive sentences are given in (39).
(39) a. K!R-[Q-R-CU½ V d. V-R-GV C
1sS-DIST-PASS-tattoo RL-PASS-poke
I was tattooed. Was he poked?
1sS-RL-PASS-bite man the RL-PASS-bite
Was I bitten? Was the man bitten?
c. KO-[Q-O-R-GU½ K
Weren’t you defeated?

Passive clauses do not occur with specified subjects. Nor do they occur when the notional subject of
an intransitive verb is left unspecified (cf. §2.5.11).
In Marlett (to appear a) it is argued that the clauses in (39) are passive rather than simply active
clauses with unspecified subjects. The main arguments for the 1hood of the specified nominal in these
clauses are based on the presence of the subject agreement prefixes, the lack of object agreement
prefixes, number agreement with final subject, subject nominalizer allomorphy, and the presence of
the object marker in subject nominalized forms. These arguments will not be repeated here.
In the following section I will examine two alternative analyses of these passive clauses.

12.4.1. Bistratal vs. monostratal

Various analyses of passive clauses have been proposed in recent years. In this section I will compare
a bistratal analysis, as illustrated by (38), with a grammar which analyzes passive clauses as being
syntactically monostratal. Perlmutter (to appear c) points out that several recent theories of
passivization are essentially monostratal. An analysis of the type proposed by Fillmore 1968 would
claim that if the Object is chosen as the Subject, this fact is “registered” on the verb; in Seri this
registration would be the passive prefix. The final 1 of a passive clause does not head a 2-arc at any
level syntactically under such an analysis. Sentence (39a) might therefore be represented by the
following simplified stratal diagram in which the semantic roles have not been indicated.

A passive clause in this analysis might be defined in terms of the choice of a “nonnormal” subject
(Fillmore 1968Ö37).
I will discuss the claims of these two analyses and present empirical evidence that will permit a
choice between them. 3-2-1 clauses

In §12.2 ditransitive clauses involving 3-2 advancement were discussed. It was shown that clauses in
which the initial 3 is the final 1 are finally intransitive. This intransitivity is predicted by the
advancement of the 3 to 2, together with the Chômeur Law. The three arguments given in §
are arguments against a monostratal analysis of these clauses in which the notional 2 is a final 2
because the monostratal analysis does not predict the final intransitivity of these clauses. In §
arguments are given against a different monostratal analysis based on the generalization accounting for
the object marker /K-/ and oblique agreement. These facts all favor a bistratal analysis of passive
clauses. Switch reference marking

In chapter 15 I discuss the switch reference marking system in Seri (cf. §3.3). It is shown there that the
switch reference marking rule cannot be formulated in terms of final subject because of examples such
as (41a-b) in which different subject marking occurs between clauses whose final subjects are the

same, and examples such as (41c) in which no different subject marking occurs even though the final
subjects are different. Each sentence involves a passive clause.
(41) a. !CRMK!V-Q:KOC[Q-R-C!KV
deer the RL-die SR DIST-PASS-eat
Whenever a deer died, it was eaten.
NOM-PASS-say plant the RL-PASS-defeat SR RL-go DIST-US-say/D
The tree called Kwset was defeated, he (Kwset) went, it is said.
torote the IRR-PASS-seek-UT
white=ratany the also IRR-PASS-seek AUX-DECL
When torote is looked for, white ratany should also be looked for.
A monostratal theory of passives would have to complicate the switch reference marking rule by
adding extra conditions in case one of the clauses is passive and yet other conditions in case both
clauses are passive. In a bistratal theory of passives, however, the rule can be formulated in terms of
some other level. For the facts presented above the necessary generalization could refer to initial
subjects. These facts therefore provide another argument in favor of a bistratal analysis of passives. Subject raising

A construction involving subject raising was discussed in chapter 11. It was shown that the raised
nominal may be the initial “unspecified” subject, as in (42). Note the presence of the unspecified
subject prefix on the verb /-CV:Q/ many.
soda NOM-black the 3P-NOM-PASS-drink the IRR-US-AUG-many-UT
!CM: U-MC-OKÖ! !C-!C
somewhere IRR-US-net=exist AUX-DECL
If Coke is drunk often, one will die.
A monostratal analysis of passive clauses posits only one subject, the final one, and no unspecified
nominal; it would therefore be incapable of accounting for these facts.

12.5. Impersonal passives

At least two types of passive clauses have been discussed in the literature. The most well known is the
personal passive in which one of the nominals bearing a grammatical relation in the initial stratum of
the clause (or in some stratum of a complement clause) is the final 1. Another is the impersonal
passive in which none of these nominals is the final 1. I will argue below that Seri has impersonal
passives. First, however, I will point out the theoretical implications an analysis of these passive
clauses has. Perlmutter and Postal (to appear) have proposed the following analysis for impersonal
passives of transitive clauses.

Keenan (1975) and Comrie (1977) have proposed that impersonal passives should be analyzed as
involving the “spontaneous demotion [chomage]” of the initial 1 with no advancement to 1. This
proposal is illustrated by the following stratal diagram.

It should be noted that apart from any other consequences these proposals hold for proposed language
universals such as the Motivated Chomage Law (Perlmutter and Postal (in press a)), they make
different empirical claims and can therefore be tested. The unmotivated chomage analysis claims that
the initial 2 is a final chômeur. In the following sections I compare these two analyses for the
impersonal passives of Seri.

12.5.1. Impersonal passives with plural 2s

Passive sentences in Seri with plural subject prefixes are ungrammatical.
(45) *!C-[-CÖ!-MCU½ Z QZ
1plS -DIST-PASS-bite/PL
We/You/They were bitten.
Either of the following constraints would be sufficient to block these sentences.
(46) a. Plural nominals cannot advance to 1.
b. Plural nominals cannot advance by Passive.
However, both of these constraints must be wrong because plural nominals can advance to 1 by
Passive and be Equi victims, as shown in (47a), or relativize, as shown in (47b-c).
(47) a. KM-CÖ!- MCU½ Z C!C-[QÖ-OMCZM
INF-PASS- bite/SG 1plS-DIST-want
We wanted to be bitten.
the men who were bitten

c. !CUCVQZ !C-R- GU:9
stones NOM-PASS- hide/SG
the stones that were hidden
(Note also that the infinitive stem may be either singular or plural, and that in passive relative clauses
the facts are even more complex. I have not fully investigated these particulars.) The following modi-
fied constraints would also be sufficient to block the sentences in (45).
(48) a. Plural nominals that advance to 1 must undergo Equi or Relativization.
b. Plural nominals that advance to 1 by Passive must undergo Equi or Relativization.
The fact that plural nominals can advance to 1 by unaccusative advancement (cf. chapter 11, example
(11c)) suggests that (48a) is not correct. I conclude then that (48b) is the proper constraint.
In spite of condition (48b), however, utterances exist which correspond to the glosses given in
(49) a. !KU½ K - [-CÖ!- MCU½ Z C
1plO bite/SG/MULT
2plO bite/PL
We/You/They were bitten.
3P-feet the RL-PASS-tie/SG/MULT
his feet had been tied up...
Four facts about these sentences should be noted. First, there is passive morphology. Second, the
initial 2s are determining object agreement. Third, the verb agrees with a third person final subject
(unmarked). Fourth, the verb number marking indicates singular subject and plural action. I propose
that these are impersonal passives. In the next section additional impersonal passive clauses are shown
and in §12.5.3 alternative analyses are compared.

12.5.2. Impersonal passives when oblique nominal present

It is also the case that personal passives with an oblique nominal present, such as those in (50), are
(50) a. *!G!G!KOMQOMQ-O-V-CÖ!-QC:U½
stick that 3Ob-2sS-RL-PASS-hit
Were you hit with that stick?

72The oblique nominal must be one that determines oblique agreement; otherwise, a personal
passive is used.
boat the inside the in 1sS-DIST-AUG-put
I was put into the boat.
It is not clear whether impersonal passives are required when a nonadvancing 3 is present. Sentences
needed to establish this seem marginal.

b. *CU½ - [CMQ-!R-V-R-CU½ V
what-INTERR 3Ob-1sS-RL-PASS-tattoo
What was I tattooed with?
c. *VC MC!MQ-O-V-R-CU½ V
ember the/FOC 3Ob-2sS-RL-PASS-tattoo
Were you tattooed with charcoal?
sea the 3Ob-away-1sS-DIST-PASS-take
I was taken to the sea.
The grammatical sentences corresponding to these glosses are given in (51).
(51) a. !G!G!KOMQOOG-V-CÖ!-QC:U½
stick that 3Ob/2sO-RL-PASS-hit
b. CU½ - [C!G-V-R-CU½ V
what-INTERR 3Ob/1sO-RL-PASS-tattoo
ember the/FOC 3Ob/2sO-RL-PASS-tattoo
sea the away-3Ob/1sO-DIST-PASS-take
Note again the passive morphology, the agreement with third person singular subjects (unmarked), and
the object agreement determined by the initial 2. (This is obscured somewhat by the fact that an
oblique nominal is present (cf.§2.4.4). I propose that these sentences are also impersonal passives.

12.5.3. Alternative analyses

In an advancement analysis these impersonal passives would be analyzed as shown in (43) (with an
oblique nominal present for the examples discussed in §12.4.2). Dummy insertion would take place
when a clause contains one of the following substructures.
(52) a. b.

As predicted by the conditions necessary for dummy insertion, impersonal passives with a singular 2
and no oblique nominal present are ungrammatical.
(53) *!KO-[-CÖ!-MCU½ P K
I was bitten.
Since the initial 2s of (49a-b) are claimed to be final chômeurs in an advancement analysis, the rule for
the determination of object agreement cannot refer solely to final 2s as heretofore assumed. The rule is
given as (54).

(54) Acting 2s determine object agreement.73
As with personal passives, the passive morphology indicates the advancement of a 2 of a transitive
stratum to 1, but in these cases it is a dummy that advances. Person and number agreement is with the
dummy, which is assumed to be third person singular. Third person subject marking is clearly seen
when the clause is a complement clause and the subjects are not coreferential. Such a clause is
nominalized and the final 1 is represented by the appropriate possessive prefix. The third person
possessive prefix is used when the complement clause is an impersonal passive.
(55) a. !KU½ K -K-∅-R-CU½ K VKOK-:QÖ-OU½ Q
1plO-3P-NOM-PASS-tattoo/SG/MULT OM-EMPH-want
He wants us to be tattooed!
b. !KU½ K -K-!-CÖ-MCU½ Z CO-V-COU½ Q
1plO-3P-NOM-PASS-bite/SG/MULT 2sS-RL-want
Do you want us to be bitten?
In an unmotivated chomage analysis the impersonal passive clauses would be analyzed as shown
in (44). Since the initial 2 is a final 2, there is no reason to use the notion acting 2 for the rule of object
agreement (see (54)); the notion final 2 is sufficient. The passive morphology that personal and
impersonal passives share would be accounted for by the following rule.
(56) The demotion of 1 to chômeur is signaled by the passive prefix.
These two analyses make different claims about the structure of impersonal passive clauses.
Evidence to choose between these analyses will be presented below. Argument one: Third person subject marking

The fact that the verb in an impersonal passive clause has third person subject agreement follows
directly in the advancement analysis under the reasonable assumption that dummies are third person.
A special statement is required in the unmotivated chomage analysis, however, since it claims that
there is no final 1. This additional statement is necessary since it is not universally the case that verbs
of impersonal passive clauses occur with third person morphology (Comrie 1977, Perlmutter and
Postal (to appear a)). This additional complexity for the unmotivated chomage analysis is evidence in
favor of the advancement analysis.

Only one object prefix may occur on a verb. If there are two non-third person acting 2s in the
same clause, the initial 2 occurs in a special full nominal form and the final 2 occurs as the object
prefix, as in (iv).
EMPH 1P-being this 1P-mother 2sO-RL-give
Did my mother give me to you?
5 It has recently come to my attention that the object marker does not occur before the form ponaix
in the following sentence, although by all expectations it should. I have not explored this type of
sentence to determine what further restrictions need to be placed on the generalization accounting for
the object marker.
thing IRR-seize land a on NOM/OM-put a somewhere NOM-NEG-be-DECL
There was no one who could catch him and put him anywhere.

176 Argument two:Number agreement
The fact that the verb stem in an impersonal passive clause shows agreement with a singular subject
follows directly in the advancement analysis under the assumption that dummies are singular. A
special statement is required in an unmotivated chomage analysis since it is claimed that there is no
final 1. Of course, it might be claimed that this is a universal of impersonal passive clauses and should
therefore be incorporated into the framework and be available without “cost” to language-particular
grammars. This is an empirical claim which is falsifiable. Unless and until this is proposed as a
universal, however, the advancement analysis is to be preferred. Argument three: The object marker

The object marker discussed in §2.5.1 also occurs in impersonal passives which involve 3-2
advancement. Its occurrence in this case is predicted by the rule given in (21).
men the OM-DIST-PASS-give/SG/MULT
The men were given it.; more literally, There was given the men it.
It does not occur in impersonal passives that do not have an initial 3.
(58) a. [-CÖ!-MCU½ Z C
They were bitten.
knife this 3Ob-IRR-NEG-PASS-kill AUX-DECL
He will not be killed with this knife.
Under the advancement analysis the rule accounting for the occurrences of the object marker /K-/ on a
finite verb can be modified as follows (see also §12.6).
(59) The object marker occurs when
1) the final nuclear terms are all third person, and
2) there is a third person acting 2 which was not put en chomage by a dummy.
The crucial structures to notice are the followingÖ
(60) a. Simple transitive b. 3-2 Advancement and Personal passive

c. 3-2 Advancement and Impersonal passive

d. Personal passive e. Impersonal passive

Since sentences with structures (60a-c) meet the conditions of rule (59), the object marker will occur
in these clauses.
How would these facts be accounted for in a grammar incorporating the notion of unmotivated
chomage? The following structures would be posited, corresponding to those in (60).
(61) a. Simple transitive b. 3-2 Advancement and Personal passive

c. 3-2 Advancement and Impersonal passive

d. Personal passive e. Impersonal passive

No generalization seems formulable to account for the occurrences of the object marker if the
sentences have these structures. Therefore these facts provide an argument against a grammar
incorporating the notion of unmotivated chomage. Argument four: Distinction between final 2s and 2-chômeurs

In (54) I proposed that acting 2s determine object agreement in the advancement analysis. I will not
suggest that this generalization must be refined somewhat since there is a systematic difference
phonologically between object prefixes which are determined by final 2s and those which are
determined by 2-chômeurs. This difference in behavior is easily explained in a grammar incorporating
the advancement analysis for impersonal passives; it is unexpected and less easily explained in a

grammar incorporating unmotivated chomage.
In §2.3.7 a rule of k-Epenthesis was discussed. It was noted that part of the necessary environment
for this rule’s application could be provided by an object prefix but not by an oblique prefix (cf.
§2.4.3). It was argued in §2.4.3 that oblique prefixes ware attached with a stronger boundary. The
examples in (62) show that object prefixes determined by 2-chômeurs, unlike those determined by
final 2s, do not provide the environment for the application of k-Epenthesis.
(62) a. !KU½ K -U-O-CÖ!-OKÖKVKO!C-!C
We will not be asked.
b. OCU½ K -U-O-CÖ!-MCU½ Z C!C-!C
You will not be bitten.
Likewise, the oblique nee object prefixes in (63) do not provide the environment for k-Epenthesis,
unlike the oblique nee object prefixes in §2.4.4.
knife this 3Ob/2sO-IRR-NEG-PASS-kill AUX-DECL
You will not be killed with this knife.
b. VC MC!!G-U-QO-R-CU½ V !C-!C
ember the/FOC 3Ob-1sO-IRR-NEG-PASS-tattoo AUX-DECL
I will not be tattooed with charcoal.
A grammar incorporating the advancement analysis of impersonal passives could claim that object
prefixes determined by final 2s are attached with a + boundary while those determined by 2-chômeurs
are attached with an = boundary. (As the rule in §2.4.4 predicts, oblique nee object prefixes have the
same boundary as the “underlying” object prefix.)
How would the facts regarding k-Epenthesis be accounted for in a grammar incorporating
unmotivated chomage which claims that the object prefixes are all determined by final 2s? Argument five: Subject raising

The subject raising rule discussed in chapter 11 makes reference to the notion of subject, irrespective
of level. If the advancement analysis of impersonal passives is correct, it might be expected that the
dummy could raise since it heads a 1-arc. This prediction appears to be correct. Compare the following
sentences, which are all paraphrases and considered acceptable sentences. In (64a) raising has not
occurred; in (64b) the dummy has raised; and in (64c) the brother-in-law of the dummy (cf. Perlmutter
and Zaenen (to appear) has raised.
(64) a. !KU½ K -K-∅-R-CURQZ MK!M9=RQÖ-V:QVC-:
1plO-3P-NOM-PASS-AUG/spotted the 3Ob-IRR-many SR-UT
If we are photographed often, we will be rich.
b. !KU½ K -K-∅-R-CURQZMK!M9=R-CÖ!-CV:QVC-:
3Ob-IRR-X-many SR-UT
c. !KU½ K -K-∅-R=CURQZMK!M9=!C-R-CÖ!-CV:QZ-:

An unmotivated chomage analysis of impersonal passives would not be able to account for these
sentences since under such an analysis only one nominal heads a 1-arc.

12.6. The object marker /K-/

Versions of a generalization accounting for the object marker /K-/ in finite clauses have been given in
various places in this thesis. (Its occurrence in nominalized clauses (see§2.5.1) is accounted for by a
fairly simple and distinct generalization. In this section I will briefly review the facts, discuss the
generalization as it would appear assuming the analyses argued for in the previous chapters, and then
discuss the problems which would arise in other frameworks.
First of all, the object marker does not occur when the final subject or object is first or second
person (cf. §2.5.1). The object marker occurs in clauses which are finally transitive, as in (65a-b), but
not in monostratal, finally intransitive clauses, as in (66a-b).
(65) a. K-[Q-RKÖ He tasted it.
b. KMC-VC:K-V-COU½ Q Does he want to go?
INF-go OM-RL-want
(66) a. [Q-RCPU½ : He ran.
b. V-Q-VKU Is he pointing at (unspec.)?
The object marker occurs in 3-2-1 clauses (cf. §12.2.1), as in (67), but not in other personal passive
clauses, as in (68).
(67) K-[Q-R-G" ! GÖ He was given it.
(68) [Q-R-CP  It was stirred.
The object marker occurs in impersonal passive clauses that involve 3-2 advancement (cf. §,
as in (69), but not in other impersonal passive clauses, as in (70).
(69) a. K-[Q-R-G" ! GÖVKO They were given it.
b. !KU½ K -K-U-MQO-R-G!GÖVKO We will not be given it.
(70) a. [Q-R-CU½ K VKO They were tattooed.
b. !KU½ K -U-QO-R-CU½ K VKO We will not be tattooed.
The object marker does not occur in the main clause of subject raising constructions, nor in predicate
nominal construction.
(71) a. K-!-QÖMVCMK!R-CÖ!-CV:Q-:U-Q:K!C-!C
3P-NOM-look=at the IRR-X-many-UT IRR-die AUX-DECL
If he looks at it often, he will die.

NOM-have-stick NOM-big RL-be
Since he was a major ruler...
The following generalization accounts for the occurrences of /K-/Ö
(72) The object marker occurs when:
(i) the final nuclear terms are third person and
(ii) there exists a third person acting 2 which
a) is a transitive 2 at some level, and
b) is not the brother-in-law of a dummy
Condition (i) is quite simple. The final subject and direct object must be third person. This condition
presumes the analysis argued for in §12.5 which claims that the object prefixes in impersonal passives
mark agreement with 2-chômeurs rather than with final 2s. If they were final 2s, condition (i) would
be violated in (69b). Condition (ii) says first of all that there must be a third person acting 2—that is, a
nominal which heads a 2-arc in a given stratum and no other term arc in any later stratum. Therefore,
the object marker occurs in finally transitive clauses such as (65), and in all clauses involving 3-2
advancement since they result in a 2-chômeur. See examples (67) and (69). The object marker will not
occur in a passive clause in which the only 2 is a final 1, as in (68).. Condition (iia) specifies that the
acting 2 must be a transitive 2 at some level, i.e. that it be a 2 in some transitive stratum. There are two
constructions which make this condition necessary. The first is the subject raising construction in
which the downstairs clause is an acting 2. It does not head a 2-arc in a transitive stratum, however,
and the object marker does not occur. The second construction is the predicate nominal. One possible
analysis of this construction in relational grammar, suggested by David Perlmutter (class notes), is
given in (73).

If this analysis is correct, the object marker does not occur in such clauses because there is no transi-
tive 2. Condition (iib) is necessary because 2-chômeurs which arise due to a dummy—specifically, in
impersonal passives such as (70)—do not cause the occurrence of the object marker. The acting 2 in
this construction is the brother-in-law of the dummy (Perlmutter and Zaenen, to appear).
Having motivated the generalization which accounts for the object marker, given the framework of
relational grammar and the analyses argued for, I will now compare this with the account which would
be given in other current frameworks. As Perlmutter (to appear) has pointed out, various recent
syntactic frameworks are essentially monostratal syntactic theories, that is, theories which claim that a
given nominal bears only one (the superficial) grammatical relation. The monostratal theory which
will be discussed below does not differ in essential respects from case grammar (Fillmore 1968),
functional grammar (Dik 1978), realistic transformational grammar (Bresnan 1978), or tagmemics

(Pike and Pike 1977). Each of these frameworks posits some type of semantic or logical relation that a
nominal bears as well as its single syntactic relation. The structures below are meant to illustrate the
claims of these theories in a simple way, with a “semantic” stratum and a “syntactic” stratum. The
structures which a monostratal theory would posit for the sentences in which the object marker occurs
are given in (74). Although none of the above frameworks posits silent dummies, the possibility is left
open in the following structures.
(74) Simple transitive (65a) 3-2-1 clause (67)

3-2, Impersonal passive (69a-b)

The structures which a monostratal theory would posit for those sentences in which the object marker
does not occur are given in (75). Predicate nominals and subject raising constructions are ignored
since they present no additional problems in these frameworks.
(75) Simple intransitive Simple passive

Impersonal passive

Impersonal passive

While the generalization for the object marker was statable as (72) in a theory that recognizes more
than one level of syntax, no generalization is possible within a monostratal theory. The object marker
would have to be accounted for by a rule such as (12), which involves a disjunction.
(76) The object marker occurs whenÖ

(i) the subject, if any, is third person

(ii) in active clauses, there is a third person direct object
(ii) in passive clauses, there is
(a) a third person direct object
(b) a distinct nominal which is a recipient
This complication is in addition to the various other complication that the monostratal analyses above
would present, especially with respect to the transitivity facts discussed in chapter 10.
It has been seen that a theory which posits, among other things, more than one level of syntax and
dummy nominals, allows for the statement of the generalization accounting for the object marker. No
such generalization is possible within the type of monostratal theory which is common to certain
current syntactic frameworks, however.

Postscript to Chapter 12
The matter of verb subcategorization is taken up again in Marlett 1990, and again in Marlett 1993. The
latter is the most complete treatment of verbs that subcategorize for recipients or addressees; new data
is included there and the analysis is somewhat different than in this chapter.
The rule for the object marker plays a rule in the argumentation for the structure of impersonal
passives in Marlett 1984b.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1984b. Personal and impersonal passives in Seri. Studies in Relational Grammar
2, 217-239, eds. David M. Perlmutter and Carol Rosen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1990. Person and number inflection in Seri. International Journal of American
Linguistics 56:503-541.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1993. Goals and indirect objects in Seri. Workpapers of the Summer Institute of
Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session 37:1-20.

Chapter 13
Clauses with unspecified direct objects
Most, but not all, transitive verbs in Seri can be used without specifying a direct object. The verb
/-UCPZ/ in (1a) has a specified direct object, but in (1b) the direct object is not specified. The
morpheme /Q-/ (cf. §2.5.4) occurs on the verb in (1b).
(1) a. MK!-[CK-V-UCPZ
whom-INTERR OM-RL-carry=on=back
Whom did he carry on his back?
Is he carrying (someone) on his back?
Various arguments can be given that the final stratum of a simple clause with a verb marked by /o-/ is
intransitive (cf. chapter 10).
First, the “intransitive” allomorph of the first person subject prefix occurs, as in (2).
(2) K!R-O-QÖ-!KVKO
I am eating.
Second, the “intransitive” allomorph of the infinitive prefix occurs, as in (3).
INF-D-eat 1sS-PROX-want
I want to eat.
Third, the “intransitive” allomorph of the second person imperative prefix occurs, as in (4).
(4) a. C-HOQZ< /∅-Q-CHOQZ/ b. C-UCPZ < /∅-Q-UCPZ/
IMP-D-gather=firewood IMP-D-carry=on=back
Gather firewood! Carry (someone) on your back!
Fourth, the “intransitive” allomorph of the first person plural imperative prefix occurs, as in (5).
Let’s eat!
Fifth, the “intransitive” allomorph of the action nominalizer occurs.
2sS-NOM-D-gather=firewood 1sS-PROX-want
I want you to gather firewood.
Sixth, the rule coalescing o’s in finally intransitive clauses applies.
(7) :9C-R:QZ < /:Q-Q-CR:QZ/
He blew!
Seventh, the “intransitive” allomorph of the first person singular exclusive prefix occurs, as in (8).
(8) !CVG" Ö U-QO-M-QÖ-R!C-!C
As for me, I’m not going to sew a basket.

Eighth, these clauses may have an unspecified final subject, as in (9).
(9) RQ-O-M-Q-VKU
If one does not point....
Ninth, the object marker (cf. §2.5.1, § and §12.6) does not occur in these clauses. If these
clauses had an acting 2, this prefix would be expected.
(10) /[Q-Q-KPZ/
He yelled!
Therefore these sentences cannot be analyzed as having the structure shown in (11) without revi-
sing all of the generalizations which presently refer to final 2 to make them refer to final specified 2.

I will therefore not consider this possibility further.

Postal 1977 suggests that such clauses should be analyzed as involving Antipassive, as in (12),
resulting in a finally intransitive stratum.

Presently, the generalization for the object marker /K-/ refer to transitive acting 2s (cf. §11.). If (12) is
correct, this generalization would have to be changed to refer to specified transitive acting 2s.
An alternative to the Antipassive analysis is what I will call the Absent Arc hypothesis, which if
correct for Seri cannot be correct for certain other languages, as Postal 1977 argues. Under this
hypothesis, clauses such as (1b) do not contain any nominal heading a 2-arc, as shown in (13).

While this is the analysis which I have assumed elsewhere in this thesis, I am not aware of any strong
arguments that would establish it as superior or inferior to the Antipassive analysis.

It is important to consider now how the occurrences of the prefix /Q-/ will be accounted for, given
one analysis or the other. It is important to reconsider in this regard the sentences discussed in §12.,
where the notional 2 is unspecified and the notional 3 is the final 2. These clauses are not marked with
/Q-/. Under the Antipassive analysis, and assuming initial 3-hood for the final 2, these clauses might
have the following structure.

The prefix /Q-/ might be accounted for by the following generalizationÖ

(15) /Q-/ occurs on a verb when the clause contains a 2-chômeur and the final stratum is
Clauses having a substructure like (14) can also be passive, the initial 3 heading a final 1-arc (cf.
§12.2.). Although the final stratum is intransitive, the prefix /Q-/ does not occur. The lack of this prefix
in these cases could be handled in the morphology as a result of the presence of the passive prefix,
Alternatively to (15), the following generalization might be proposed.
(16) /Q-/ occurs on a verb when the clause has an Antipassive substructure and the final stratum is
Finally, one other alternative within the Antipassive analysis would be the proposal that /Q-/
occurs whenever the clause has an antipassive substructure, and that structure (14) is incorrect. The
chomage of the unspecified 2 would be handled by the advancement of the 3, as in (17).

Since (17) does not contain an Antipassive substructure, the prefix /Q-/ will not appear.
Under the Absent Arc hypothesis, the presence of the morpheme /Q-/ might be handled by the
following generalization, regardless of whether structure (19a) or (19b) is adopted for the 3-2 clauses.
(18) /Q-/ occurs when a transitive verb occurs in a clause without a 2-arc.

(19) a. b. b.

Since in either case a transitive verb occurs in a clause with a 2-arc, the morpheme /Q-/ does not occur.

Chapter 14
Augmented verbs
In this chapter I will discuss the syntax of constructions in which the verb is prefixed with the augment
prefix (cf. 2.5.6). Verb forms bearing the augment prefix are extremely common and their relationship
to the simple verb is not always semantically transparent (cf. §14.6). Whether the process by which a
root is augmented is lexical or syntactic, it has many idiosyncrasies morphologically. Augmented
verbs commonly indicate number of subject and action (cf. chapter 4) differently than the corres-
ponding simple verbs, both with respect to the application of rules such as Syncope (cf. §4.1.2) and the
number suffixes which occur. In addition to idiosyncrasies of number agreement, some (but not all)
augmented verbs have the idiosyncrasy of being followed by the suffix /-QV/ (cf. § Also,
whereas the allomorphs of the augment prefix are basically suppletive, in a few cases more than one
augmented form occurs. The transitive verb /-CKÖ:/ leave, for example, has three augmented forms
which are only subtly different semantically. These verbs are listed below in all four forms for
(1) Form 1 Form 2 Form 3 Form 4

/-CKÖ:/ leave DO

/-CÖM-Q-CKÖ:/ strip DO off IO


/-CÖ-CKÖ:/ take/bring DO
-CÖ-KÖ: -CÖ-KU½ : -C -CÖ-VQ-KÖU½ : -CZ -CÖ-VQ-KÖU½ : -Q MC

/-M-CKÖ:/ take DO away

Another example is the root /-KÖRG/ good which has two augmented forms: /-CÖ!-KÖRG/ fix; heal, and
/-M-GÖRG/ like (cf. §14.2).
It is not at all clear whether there is any one generalization—semantic or syntactic—that will
account for all of the occurrences of the augment prefix. A semantic generalization appears totally
impossible. As far as a syntactic generalization is concerned, in some cases a verb root with the
augment prefix governs one more nominal than the same verb root without the augment prefix. In
other cases the augmented verb governs one nominal less than the simple verb. Regardless of whatever
generalization might ever be arrived at, a verb root is never prefixed by more than one augment prefix
at a time.
In the following sections I will discuss those constructions in which the augment prefix occurs.

14.1. Impersonal verb plus experiencer

There are a few predicates which I assume typically occur in clauses in which no nominal heads any
relation in the initial stratum. Such predicates in Seri include those which are used to describe weather
conditions: /-MQU½ K O/ hot (weather), /-CÖR / cold, and /-CRMC/ rain.

The Final 1 Law (Perlmutter and Postal (in press a)) claims, however, that every basic clause has a
nominal heading a final 1-arc. And indeed, these verbs are inflected to agree with a third person
subject in the following sentences.
(2) a. :Q-MQU½ K O c. UKÖ-RMCMC-!C
It’s hot (weather)! It will rain.
b. V-CÖR 
Is it cold?
I claim, following Postal and Perlmutter (in press a) that a dummy heads a final 1-arc in such sentence,
accounting for the third person agreement. Additional evidence for a subject in these clauses is given
in §11.1.1.
An impersonal verb such as /-MQU½ K O/ or /-CÖR / may also occur in constructions in which an
experiencer is specified. The experiencer is the final 1 and the augment prefix precedes the verb root,
as in (3).
(3) a. K!R-:-CÖ-MQU½ K O b. KO-V-CÖ!-CÖR 
1sS-EMPH-AUG-hot 2sS-RL-AUG-cold
I’m hot! Are you cold?
I propose the following structure for sentences such as (3a).

Since the final stratum is intransitive, the “intransitive” allomorph of the first person singular subject
prefix occurs.

14.2. Stative verb plus experiencer

Perlmutter 1978 claims that stative verbs, such as those in (5), govern initially unaccusative strata; that
is, the initial stratum of the clause contains a 2 but no 1.
(5) a. :Q-ZKU½ K d. V-CMCV
EMPH-hurt RL-bitter
It hurts! Is it bitter?
EMPH-bad 1PRO RL-alone NOM-pitiable-DECL
It is bad/rotten/ugly/broken! I am the only pitiable/poor one.
c. M-KÖRG-[C
Is it good?
Assuming this to be true for Seri, a sentence such as (5a) would be diagrammed as in (6), with the
initial 2 advancing to 1 by unaccusative advancement.


An experiencer may also occur in such clauses, as in (7) below. The experiencer is the final 1 of a
finally transitive clause.
(7) a. !K- KVK!-[-CÖ-ZKU½  e. !KO-:-CÖ-OUKU" Ö ZM
1P-head 1sS-DIST-AUG-hurt 1sO-EMPH-AUG-pitiable/PL
I have a headache. They pitied/loved me!
OM-RL-AUG-bad 2sS-RL-AUG-itchy
Did he dislike it? Is it itchy to you?
c. K!-[Q-M-GÖRG 74 g. K!-O-CÖ-MQOMC
1sS-DIST-AUG-good 1sS-PROX-AUG-noisy
I liked it. I find it noisy.
Is it bitter to you?
If the experiencer is “unspecified” (cf. §5.11), the clause must be passive, as in (8).
(8) a. R-CÖ!-M-CMCV-:
If it is bitter to one...
b. M-K- KVRQ-O-CÖ!-ZKU½ - :
If one’s head doesn’t hurt...
I therefore propose that sentences such as (7a) have the structure shown in (9a), and (8a) the structure
shown in (9b).
(9) a. b.

14.3. Sensory verb without experiencer

Sensory verbs such as /-RKÖ/ taste, /-UKÖ/ smell, and /-U½ K ÖO/ enjoy, which commonly occur with an initial
subject and direct object, also occur in clauses in which no experiencer is mentioned.

74 The length of the ablauted vowel in this form is anomalous. It would be expected to be short.

(10) a. OK-MCOKU½  !C ::C!U½ K :MC" O :-CÖ-UKÖ
2P-shirt rather — fish EMPH-AUG-smell
Your shirt smells like fish!
b. !C:!KU½ M QR!C ::C!:GRG:-CÖ-RKÖ
water this rather — sea EMPH-AUG-taste
This water tastes like seawater.
2P-skirt the EMPH-AUG-enjoy
Your skirt is pretty!
I propose that sentence (10b) has the following structure.

14.4. Causative construction

Augmented verbs commonly occur in causative constructions.75
(12) a. !C:!KU½ M QRK!-O-CÖ-OGMG
water this 1sS-PROX-AUG-warm
I am warming this water.
b. !G:9CÖPMK!M-CÖ!-CÖU½ C  :-QV-K!C
1PRO the NOM-AUG-cough-ot-DECL
I am making Juan cough.
stone the stick the 3Ob-2sS-RL-AUG-touch
Did you make the stone touch the stick?
I am not aware of any strong arguments in favor of either a biclausal analysis, as in (13a), or a
monoclausal analysis, as in (13b), of this construction.

75 Periphrastic causatives also exist, as in (i). The causation may be less direct in them, however.
(i) a. K!-R-CÖKVCKO-U-CÖ!-MCU½ P K!C-!C
I causing it, you will be bitten (as by a snake.)
3PRO-FOC-Q 1sO-RL-do SR EMPH 1P-being 1sS-PROX-tattoo
He made me tattoo myself.

(13) a. b.

Causative constructions do not occur with downstairs passives, to use biclausal terminology. A
downstairs verb may occur “detransitivized”, however.76
The final relations of nominals in an active causative construction are always as follows: a
downstairs ergative is an upstairs 3, determining oblique agreement, and a downstairs absolutive is an
upstairs 2, determining object agreement. However, the root of a causative verb is not always a verb
root. Some examples with noun roots are given in (14). A verb such as (14a) occurs transitive, with a
specified direct object, or intransitive when no specific bread is in mind.
(14) a. -CÖ-UKÖOGV bake bread e. -CÖ-U½ K Ö: appreciate; respect
bread thing
b. -CÖ-VCÖUK name f. -CÖ-R:UK get flesh of
name flesh
c. -CÖ-MOKMG honor g. -CÖ-U½ C OV make adobe
person adobe
d. -CÖ-MUKR:-C glue; solder
(15) involves an impersonal verb and both an experiencer (cf. §14.1) and an agent. Note that only
one augment prefix occurs.
person that sun the OM-IRR-AUG-hot AUX-DECL
The sun is going to make that person feel hot.

14.5. “Help” construction

Augmented verbs also commonly occur in what I call the “help” construction. 77 The sense of help in

76 An example is given below.

(ii) !-CÖ-!KVKO
Feed him (unspecified food)!
77 Periphrastic expressions are also available, such as in (iii).

the following sentences is not that of a simple benefactive. Rather, the person who is the final 1 of the
active clause does part or all of the action for the person who is the final 2.
(16) a. OC-!-[-CÖM-QÖP-:-QV
I helped you carry it.
wheat these 2sO-1sS-DIST-AUG-D-winnow-ot
I helped you winnow this wheat.
c. OC-!-U-CÖ!-CÖUCMKO!C-!C 78
2sO-1sS-IRR-AUG-comb=one’s=hair AUX-DECL
I will help you comb (your hair); i.e., I will comb your hair for you.
The initial 2 of the downstairs verb does not determine oblique agreement; it is not clear what
grammatical relation it bears in the upstairs clause. It is also not clear whether a biclausal or
monoclausal analysis is to be preferred for the “help” construction.
Noun roots also occur in “help” constructions, as in /-CÖ-VCOCV-QV/ help put on sandals.

14.6. Other
In §§12.3.2-3 two very special uses of the augment prefix are illustrated. In one case the augment
prefix occurs when there is no initial 3 and in the other case it occurs when there is an initial 3.
A few verb forms exist which presumably involve detransitivizing an augmented form of the root.
The derived form has the idea of repetitive action involved. The derived forms in (17) are given in the
subject nominalized form.
(17) Base Derived
-CCÖ  order M-Q-M-Q-CÖ  boss
-C!Q see M-Q-M-QÖ-!Q onlooker
-CKÖ: leave M-Q-M-Q-KÖ: winner (of race)
-CR sting M-Q-M-QÖ-R one that stings
-CUK drink M-Q-M-QÖ-UK one that bites (as mosquito)
The augment prefix also occurs on a number of other verbs which are related in less consistent
ways to the simple verb.

water that 3Ob-2P-NOM-AUG-warm the 2P-with 1sS-IRR-do AUX-!K
I will help you warm that water.
The augment prefix occurs before the root /-CÖUCMKO/ also when “teeth” is specified as the
1PRO 1P-tooth the IRR-AUG-brush AUX-DECL
I will brush my teeth.

(18) -C!KV eat -CÖ-!KV fish
-C!KVKO eat -CÖM-QÖ-!KVKO rob food from (MULT)
-CRMC rain -CÖ-RMC protect oneself from rain
-KM9U prickly -CÖ!-KM9U bring in (thorny fruit)
-CÖ KO play -CÖM-CÖ KO play with

Chapter 15
Switch reference
Moser 1978b outlines the basic characteristics of the switch reference (SR) marking system. It is
shown that if two adjacent clauses have different subjects, change of subject marking occurs on the
first clause; if the clauses have the same subject, no marking occurs. The switch reference markers are
VC (on irrealis clauses), and OC (on realis clauses).79 SR marking occurs on dependent clauses only—
not on complement clauses, nominalized clauses, or independent clauses.80 The following examples
illustrate these facts. In examples (1a-b) different subject marking occurs, but in (1c) it does not occur.
(1d), taken from Moser 1978b, illustrates that switch reference marking occurs between adjacent
clauses when more than one dependent clause exists.
(1) a. O¸ -P MK!RQ-U½ C V:VC-:
2P-fingers the IRR-thorny SR-UT
If your fingers get thorns in them, you will cry.
RL-NEG-warm SR 1sS-DIST-NEG-drink
Since it wasn’t warm, I didn’t drink it.
2P-skin the 2sS-IRR-AUG-wet-UT
!CVC" R M9-O-" U -CÖ!C-!C
cold 3Ob-2sS-IRR-be AUX-DECL
If you wet your skin, you will catch a cold.
3-PRO 3P-on RL-stand SR 3P-belly the in OM-RL-touch SR
INF-go OM-RL-NEG-know there 3P-on RL-stand SR

79 The “first” clause sometimes follows the “second” clause, as in (i). (See §8.3.2)
(i) U½ K Ö:MK!M9=K-∅-MC-OKÖR CMK!KVKM9=O-" U -CÖ!C-!C
thing the 3Ob-3P-NOM-US-bad the on 3Ob-2sS-IRR-be AUX-DECL
dog that-Q 2sO-IRR-do SR-UT

You will experience something bad, the dog doing it to you.

Also note that SR is not marked on a clause followed by :Q: (§3.6.5), nor on the pseudo-

complement of a verb of thinking (§9.4), nor on a clause followed by a verb of saying (§3.5.3). Also,
while a nominalized clause cannot be marked with a SR marker, a nominalized independent clause
may cause a preceding finite clause to be so marked.

It (a horse) was standing there, he (one of our group) shot it in the belly, it (the
horse) wasn’t able to walk, it stood there, we went to it.
What is at issue, of course, is what constitutes a change of subject. The rule must be made explicit
using a precise notion of subject.

15.1. The notion ‘first subject’

The following rule (omitting various details) is adequate for the facts in the examples in (1). A
grammatical notion such as final subject is chosen over a notion referring to semantic roles since no
generalization would be possible if semantic roles were involved.
(2) If the final subject of clause A is not coreferential to the final subject of clause B, different
subject marking occurs.
Such a rule would not account for the occurrence of different subject marking in sentences such as
those in (3), however, in which the final subjects are the same. The examples in (3-4) involve passive
(3) a. !CRMK!V-Q:KOC[Q-R-C!KV
deer the RL-die SR DIST-PASS-eat
Whenever a deer died, it was eaten.
fish a IRR-abundant SR RL-NEG-PASS-see-!Q
Not many fish were seen.; more literally, Fish was abundant, it wasn’t seen.
Nor would it account for the lack of different subject marking in sentences such as the following, in
which the final subjects are different.
3PRO IRR-PASS-drink somewhere IRR-US-not=exist AUX-DECL
If that is drunk, one will die.
still thing-KRK a RL-NEG-PASS-eat
3Ob-3P-NOM-US-D-suck the 1sS-DIST-NEG-AUG-good
I don’t like to smoke before I eat something.; more literally, While something has
not yet been eaten, I don’t like one’s smoking.
torote the IRR-PASS-look=for-UT
ratany the also IRR-PASS-look=for AUX-DECL
When torote is looked for, white ratany should also be looked for.
Following the analysis of bistratal passive clauses argued for in §12.4, sentence (4b) might be
represented as in (5).81

As noted in §12.4, while a subject may be left unspecified overtly within a clause, the reference
may be clear by the context, as in (4b). See also example (107) in chapter 2. There are situations
involving passive clauses, however, in which a sentence which might be expected to be ambiguous is
either 1) unambiguous, and therefore marked a particular way for SR, or 2) ambiguous, but still


Such a bistratal analysis posits more than one level at which a nominal bears the subject relation. It
therefore permits the formulation of SR marking to be in terms of initial subject, as in (6).
(6) If the initial subject of clause A is not coreferential to the initial subject of clause B, different
subject marking occurs.
This rule is adequate for all of the examples given above.
In Perlmutter 1978 it is proposed that certain clauses have initial strata without a subject. While
evidence in favor of this hypothesis has not been presented for Seri, although it was assumed for
various constructions in chapter 14, it is not clear how it would interact with the SR marking rule as it
is stated in (6). What does (6) indicate when there is no initial 1? Fortunately, evidence bearing on this
question is found by examining sentences involving subject raising (cf. chapter 11). Number
predicates would be predicted to fall within the class of unaccusative predicates (Perlmutter 1978). In
Perlmutter 1979 and Perlmutter and Postal (to appear a) the claim is also made that raising is always
out of a 2. If the downstairs clause of the raising construction in Seri heads an initial 2-arc, which
these proposed universals would predict, it is not clear how the SR marking rule would apply as
presently formulated in (6) since there is no initial 1. As the following sentence shows, however, the
rule must be made to work since SR marking occurs.
(7) !C-:U½  !KOMQR!KO-K-∅-MCV: CMK!R-CÖ!-CV:QVC-:
ABS-pet that 1sO-3P-NOM-bite the IRR-X-many SR-UT
If that dog bites me often, I will cry.
It is assumed that the downstairs clause heads an initial 1-arc, rule (6) incorrectly predicts that SR
marking would occur in the following sentence.

marked only one way for SR. An example of the first case is sentence (4b)Ö the unspecified subject of
the first clause in this and in structurally similar sentences is not at all ambiguous. There can be no SR
marking following this clause. An example of the second is (ii).
the IRR-arrive SR-UT 2sS-IRR-PASS-tattoo AUX-DECL
When Juan comes, you will be tattooed.
Regardless of whether Juan is or is not the one who will do the tattooing, SR marking is obligatory
in this type of sentence.

(8) !C-:U½  !KOMQR!KO-K-∅-MCV: CMK!R-CÖ!-CV:Q-:U-Q:K!C-!C
ABS-pet that 1sO-3P-NOM-bite the IRR-X-many-UT IRR-die AUX-DECL
If that dog bites me often, it will die.
As pointed out in chapter 11, the occurrence of a raising construction is more restricted when the
downstairs clause is passive. The sentences in (9) are both grammatical; (9a) involves raising and (9b)
does not. Different subject marking occurs only in (9b).
(9) a. !K-∅-R-CU½ V MK!!R-R-CÖ!-CV:Q!R-U-MO-QÖ!C!C-!C
1P-NOM-PASS-tattoo the 1sS-IRR-X-many 1sS-IRR-NEG-cry AUX-DECL
If I am tattooed many times, I won’t cry.
b. !K-∅-R-CU½ V MK!M9-RQÖ-V:QVC-:
1P-NOM-PASS-tattoo the 3Ob-IRR-many SR-UT
(same gloss)
Therefore a SR marking rule which makes reference to the initial subject is empirically inadequate. I
suggest that (6) must be reformulated in terms of the first subject, rather than the initial subject, of a
clause, using the following definition of first subject.82
(10) Nominal a is the first subject of clause d if it heads a 1-arc in stratum ci of clause d and there is
no nominal b in clause d which heads a 1-arc in stratum cj and j<i.
An analysis incorporating the unaccusative hypothesis and SR marking rule (11) correctly predicts that
different subject marking will not occur in (8) or (9a), and that it will occur in (7) and (9b).
(11) If the first subject of clause A is not coreferential to the first subject of clause B, different
subject marking occurs.
An analysis incorporating rule (11) and not the unaccusative hypothesis would incorrectly predict that
different subject marking would occur in (7).
An explicit analysis of the SR marking system and subject raising in Seri therefore provides
arguments in favor of both the unaccusative hypothesis and the notion ‘first subject’ since both are
necessary to account for the switch reference marking facts.

15.2. Switch reference and the Final 1 Law

Perlmutter and Postal (in press a) notes that a basic claim of relational grammar is that “every basic
clause contains a final-stratum 1-arc and thus that every basic clause involves some nominal as final
1.” It is claimed that what have been called subjectless impersonal clauses by many linguists actually
have a dummy subject. If clauses of this type in Seri were subjectless, it is unclear how SR marking
rule (11) would be made to apply. Sentences such as the following show that it must apply, however.
An analysis which posits dummy subjects, as in chapter 14, accounts for these facts without
complicating rule (11).
RL-rain SR woman the EMPH-wet
Since it rained, the woman got wet!

The possibility of such a notion being necessary is briefly discussed in Perlmutter (to appear)
where it is noted that no argument had yet been presented in its favor.

plant-area the in IRR-US-be/MULT SR-UT
If one is out in the desert, if it rains, one will get wet.
Rule (11) also speaks of coreference. If it is assumed that dummies are nonreferential, the change
of subject marking in sentences such as (13) is also explained since the subject of the first clause (a
dummy) is not coreferential with the subject of the second clause (also a dummy).83
If it rains, it will be cold.
Therefore the SR facts of Seri support the Final 1 Law.

15.3. Switch reference and coreference

The following sentences show that the SR marking system operates on coreference with identity. In
these examples the first subject of one of the clauses is a nominal which symbolically represents the
first subject of the other clause, but is not identical to it.
(14) a. KO-RQ-RCPU½ : -:OK-!ZQZU-Q:[CV!C-!C
2sS-IRR-run-UT 2P-limbs IRR-die/PL AUX-DECL
If you run, you will get tired.; more literally, If you run, your limbs will die.
b. RCPVU½ Q MK!U½ K Ö:U½  K-V-MO-CM9
the thing a OM-RL-NEG-kill
just 3P-limbs away-DIST-go/PL/MULT
Since Pancho didn’t catch anything, he was upset.; more literally, Since Pancho
didn’t catch anything, his limbs went away.
c. !CUC" K VKMCR!K-OQU½  M9-V-QKVK!-[-K: 
gasoline the 1P-heart 3Ob-RL-descend 1sS-DIST-take
I remembered the gas, I took it.; more literally, My heart falling on the gas, I took
bass the NOM-four or NOM-five or the
together 3Ob-RL-PASS-kill/MULT-UT
just-true just 3P-NOM-US-strong the RL-gone-true land a 3Ob-PROX-US-sit

83Sentences such as (iii) in which the subject of the second clause refers to the meteorological
event of the first do not take SR. It is not clear how this should be explained.
(iii) RQÖ-RMC (KÖ-∅-RMC MK!) UK-K:CZ !C-!C
IRR-rain 3P-NOM-rain the IRR-strong AUX-DECL
If it rains, it will rain hard.; more literally, If it rains, it (the raining) will be hard.

After four or five bass have been caught in a row, one’s strength is gone, when one
is in a place.
3P-NOM-strong the RL-gone just NOM-die-DECL
When its strength is gone, it just dies.
1sS-RL-D-sew=basket 1P-spirit down PROX-descend
When I am basket-sewing, I am happy.
These sentences contrast with sentences such as (1a) in which the possessed body part does not stand
for the whole person.

15.4. Adjacent clauses

It has been mentioned that SR is marked only on dependent clauses. But while the clause on which SR
is marked must be a dependent clause, the following clause need not be. In fact, it may be any kind of
clause—dependent, complement, or independent; nominalized, infinitival, or finite. The clauses
therefore need not be on the same “level”. SR in a sentence such as (15) marks change of subject
between a dependent clause and a complement clause, as diagrammed in (16).
bread some 1sS-IRR-make/MULT SR 2P-NOM-eat 1sS-PROX-want
If I make bread, I want you to eat it.

Clause A and Clause B are the adjacent clauses between which SR is marked. The fact that one is
embedded and the other is not is irrelevant. Sentence (17) has a similar structure but the subjects of the
pertinent clauses are the same and so SR marking does not occur.
(17) !CÖO-RQÖ-HR-:U½ K Ö:U½ Q OKÖ-∅-!KVK!-OKÖ-OU½ Q
there 2sS-IRR-arrive-UT thing a 2P-NOM-eat 1sS-PROX-want
If you arrive there, I want you to eat something.
The following sentences illustrate this fact further. In (18a) clause A is a dependent clause and
clause B is infinitival; the first subjects are different and so SR marking occurs. Example (18b) has the
same construction but the first subjects are the same and no SR marking occurs.

(18) a. !CÖ!R-RQÖ-HRVC-:KMC-R-CU½ V K!-OKÖ-OU½ Q
there 1sS-IRR-arrive SR-UT INF-PASS-tattoo 1sS-PROX-want
If I arrive there, I want to be tattooed.
there 1sS-IRR-arrive SR-UT thing INF-eat 1sS-PROX want
If I arrive there, I want to eat something.

15.5. Finite “relative” clauses

It appears that a dependent clause may, under certain conditions, function as a relative clause. SR
marking does not occur before such a clause if the preceding and following clauses have the same first
subject. The facts are represented schematically in (19). The dependent clause in question describes a
noun which is a constituent of the following clause.
(19) Clause A Clause B Clause C
subject = a SR subject = b SR subject = a
GRx = b
3P-spirit RL-stink OM-RL-feel basket a there 3Ob-RL-stand SR
3PRO-Q 3P-NOM-easy 3P/NOM-do-DECL
He was angry, he felt it (note: no SR), a basket was there, he grabbed it easily.
on RL-have-hand knife a there 3Ob-RL-stand SR 3Ob-OM-RL-hit/MULT
He touched it (note: no SR), a knife was there, he hit it with it.

Postscript to Chapter 15
The switch reference system of Seri has appeared in a few publications since 1981. Minor reference is
made to it in Marlett 1984b, and data from Seri appear in Finer 1985a and Finer 1985b (which did not
take the facts of this chapter into consideration). It is the major focus of Marlett 1984a, and also
Farrell, Marlett, and Perlmutter (1991). The latter is a critical review of the Government and Binding
analysis presented in Finer 1985a-b since the Seri facts provide direct counterevidence.
Farrell, Patrick, Stephen A. Marlett, and David M. Perlmutter. 1991. Notions of subjecthood and
switch reference: evidence from Seri. Linguistic Inquiry 22:431-56.
Finer, Daniel. 1985a. The syntax of switch reference. Linguistic Inquiry 16:35-55.
Finer, Daniel. 1985b. The formal grammar of switch reference. Garland, New York. Doctoral
dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1984.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1984a. Switch-reference and subject raising in Seri. Syntax and Semantics 16: The
Syntax of Native American Languages, 247-68, eds. E.-D. Cook y D. Gerdts. New York:
Academic Press.
Marlett, Stephen A. 1984b. Personal and impersonal passives in Seri. Studies in Relational Grammar
2, 217-239, eds. David M. Perlmutter and Carol Rosen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Chapter 16
The following text is an edited version of a story as it was told by Antonio Burgos, recorded and
transcribed by E. Moser.
(1) Q: V-RCMVC [Q¸ - M-GÖ
thus RL-be DIST-US-say
It was like this, it is said.

(2) VQMM9=V-C!MC!CPV:M9=-" ! -CÖMK!VQÖ:M-CÖ-[C:K

there 3Ob-RL-be base 3Ob-toward-NOM-move the far NOM-X-complete
In the old times, long ago,


3P-NOM-US-say base toward-NOM-move NOM-exist thus RL-say DIST-US-say
old stories say thus, it is said.


NOM-PASS-call the tree the here in DIST-lie
The one called Kwset was here among these bushes.

(4) VCÖ:" - MQVV-CR!KU½ C [QÖ-R

3PRO 3P-with RL-stand here DIST-stand
He was with them, he was here.


3PRO sun that 3P-side OM-RL-help=lower SR
He was opposing the sun,


RL-have-gambling=stick/PL there 3Ob-RL-be/PL DIST-US-say
they were there gambling, it is said.


RL-have-gambling=stick/PL there 3Ob-RL-be/PL
They were there gambling,

there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL the/FOC
they were there a long time,

M9UGV is a bush of the area (Aramisquea emarginata). This story is about Kwset before he

became a bush.
The expression KMR M[CK literally means to help someone lower the load he is carrying on his

head. Such an action implies strength on one's part with respect to the other person, and thus,
according to one man's explanation, this expression has taken on the extended meaning of opposing a
This version of the story does not explain that the sun had coerced Kwset into gambling with him.

RL-PASS-defeat DIST-US-say NOM-PASS-call the
the one called Kwset was beat, it is said.

(7) V-R-GU½ K OCV-CVC:[Q¸ - M-GÖ

RL-PASS-defeat SR RL-go DIST-US-say
He was beat, he went, it is said.

(8) U½ C Ö!MKZ!CR:V-CROC-:
sun the outside RL-stand SR-UT
When the sun rose,


area this 3Ob-away-RL-move 3PRO 3Ob-away-RL-move SR
he (Kwset) went here, he went there,

thus 3P-NOM-be the/FOC year one or year NOM-two

or 3PRO OM-RL-go=around SR metal-FOC OM-RL-have-sandal DIST-US-say
so after one or two years had passed, he put on metal sandals, it is said,

but RL-break DIST-US-say
but they broke, it is said.

metal-FOC OM-RL-have-sandal but RL-break all RL-break SR
He wore metal sandals but they broke, they broke completely,

also other the OM-RL-have-sandal DIST-US-say metal the
he put on other ones, also of metal, it is said.

(10) U½ C Ö!MK!" Ö -OG!CMK-V-[CÖK!CÖPV=" V -CÖ

sun the 3P-camp the OM-RL-go=to there away-RL-move
He was going to the sun’s house, there he was going,

!CÖPV=" - !-CÖ!CÖPV=" - !-CÖMC!

there away-3P-NOM-move there away-3P-NOM-move the/FOC
going there a long time,

things people NOM/OM-resemble some

there 3Ob-RL-be/PL SR in RL-arrive DIST-US-say
some Indians were there, he arrived among them, it is said.

year one RL-gone SR in RL-arrive
When one year had passed, he arrived among them,


things 3P/NOM-eat/PL the OM-RL-eat DIST-US-say
he ate the people’s food, it is said.

(12) VC MC!K-V-CKVQZ[Q¸ - M-GÖ

coals the/FOC OM-RL-eat/PL DIST-US-say
They ate coals, it is said.

coals the/FOC things NOM-thin/PL RL-PL-PASS-make/MULT SR-UT
Tortillas were made from coals,

OM-RL-eat/PL DIST-US-say
they ate them, it is said.


RL-PASS/AUG-bread SR-UT also OM-RL-eat/PL DIST-US-say
When bread was made, they also ate it, it is said.

(15) VC MK!V-K!" ! COC

coals the RL-pure SR
Although it was pure coals,


NOM-OM-eat/PL-FOC people 1PRO 1plO-NOM/OM-resemble
the ones who ate it were people like us,

DIST-US-say but thus PROX-be
it is said, but that’s how it was.

(16) VC MC!K-O" - KVQZ

coals the/FOC OM-PROX-eal/PL
They ate coals.


thus RL-be SR there away-3P-NOM-move sun the toward RL-go
So, going, going toward the sun,

!CÖPV=" - !-CÖ!CÖPV=" - !-CÖMC!

there away-3P-NOM-move there away-3P-NOM-move the/FOC
going a long time,

also year one RL-gone SR also some somewhere 3Ob-RL-be/PL SR
again, after a year was up, again some (people) were somewhere,

some 3P-among RL-arrive sun the RL-many SR
he arrived to some — many days later—


some 3P-among RL-arrive DIST-US-say
he arrived to some, it is said.

(18) VCÖ::KMCK-O-" - OU½ K  !C-R-C![Q¸ - M-GÖ

3PRO things NOM-NEG-have-anuses NOM-PASS-call DIST-US-say
They were called “Anus-less people”, it is said.


person EMPH 1plO-NOM/OM-resemble DIST-US-say but
He was a person like us, it is said, but


thing 3P-anus a on RL-NEG-exist SR thing NOM-PASS eat the OM-RL-AUG-abundant
he didn’t have an anus, they had lots of food,

NOM-PASS-grind NOM-raw and things NOM-big/PL and
flour and corn and


thing 3P-fruit NOM-red the OM-RL-cook=in=water/PL
beans they cooked,

somewhere land RL-PASS-pour DIST-US-say NOM-cooked the
it was poured out on the ground—the cooked stuff.


thus RL-be SR land a 3Ob-RL-be/PL-UT
Then, they were in a place,

in RL-have/face/PL DIST-US-say things those
they put their faces in it, it is said, those people.

(21) U½ K Ö:U½  K-O-CKVQZ-K!C:Q

thing a NOM/OM-NEG-eat/PL-DECL but
They didn’t eat it but

in RL-have/face/PL there 3Ob-RL-be/PL
they put their faces in it,


just 3PRO things these there OM-RL-leave/PL-UT OM-RL-leave/PL DIST-US-say
those people just threw it out, they left them, it is said.

thus RL-be SR thing NOM-PASS-defeat sun the NOM/OM-go=to the
Then the one who had been defeated who was going to the sun

V-Q¸ Ö -!KVKO[Q¸ - M-GÖ

ate, it is said.


RL-D-eat/MULT things the OM-RL-eat
He ate, he ate the things,

things NOM-thin/PL and bread the OM-RL-eat/MULT
he ate the tortillas and the bread,

there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/MULT on much OM-RL-carry
while he was there, he carried a lot,


RL-go also sun that OM-RL-go=to DIST-US-say
he went, he went to the sun, it is said.

(24) U½ C Ö!VKMKZK-V-[CÖK!CÖPV=" - !-CÖ!CÖPV=" - !-CÖ

sun that OM-RL-go=to there away-eP-NOM-move there away-3P-NOM-move
He went to the sun, he was going a long time,


year a RL-gone SR then birds NOM-many some
a year passed, then many birds

sky this in NOM/be/PL the RL-all SR
who live in the sky, all of them,


RL-PASS-call/MULT thing a there 3Ob-RL-stand
were called, somebody was there,


house a in RL-stand house this RL/OM-resemble a in RL-stand SR
he was in a house, he was in a house like this one,

3Ob-RL-arrive SR RL-D-AUG-sway RL-D-AUG-sway
he (Kwset) arrived to him, he (man) called a long time with a bull-roarer,


there 3Ob-3P-NOM-stand there 3Ob-3P-NOM-stand on
standing there a long time,

birds these all down 3Ob-RL-be/PL DIST-UT-say
all of the birds came down, it is said.


all down 3Ob-RL-be/PL SR RL-PASS-ask/MULT DIST-US-say
They all came down, they were questioned, it is said,


land that here 3Ob-away-RL-move/PL SR
they were in a line.


where the sun the in RL-sit 3P-camp the where the in RL-stand
“Where is the sun? Where is his house?

sun the where the in RL-sit RL-PASS-say SR thus RL-say DIST-US-say
Where is the sun?”, it was said, thus he said, it is said.

(27) Q:V-GÖ[Q¸ - M-GÖU½ K ÖMMKZ

thus RL-say DIST-US-say bird the
Thus the bird said, it is said:

sun a somewhere IRR-sit SR 1sS-RL-NEg-know-!Q
“If there is a sun somewhere, I don’t know it.”


sun the 3P-camp a somewhere IRR-stand SR
“If there is a sun’s house,

!-V-MO-CC-!QQ:V-GÖ[Q¸ - M-GÖ
1sS-RL-NEG-know-!Q thus RL-say DIST-US-say
I don’t know it,” thus he said, it is said.

(29) KMKK-!-KÖ!U½  K-V-MO-CCZ[Q¸ - M-GÖ

toward 3P-NOM-be a OM-RL-NEG-know DIST-US-say
They didn’t know where it was, it is said,

there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL 3P-NOM-PASS-ask/MULT on
they were there a long time, on their being asked.

(30) U½ K ÖMU½ C MC" R PKZM-" - !KV!C-R-C!

bird NOM-OM-eat NOM-PASS-call
The bird called “Who eats U½ C MCRPKZ”86

86 U½ C MC" R PKZ is the name of some unknown edible item, probably a small fruit.

3PRO there 3Ob-toward-RL-move down RL-descend
came, he descended,

land this 3Ob-RL-arrive SR RL-PASS-ask SR
he arrived at this place, he was asked,


here 3Ob-RL-sit SR RL-PASS-ask SR thus RL-say DIST-US-say
he was sitting here, he was asked, thus he said, it is said:


house a here in DIST-stand
“There is this house.”

3PRO NOM/be just PROX-1REST-think
“That is it, I think.”


land NOM-PASS-own NOM-big a here in RL-lie SR
“There is a large farm here,

in 1sS-RL-arrive-UT in 1sS-RL-sit 1sS-DIST-eat/MULT
I arrive to it, I am on it, I eat it.”

(34) !CPV!-CÖ-[CÖMQO!CVG" Ö !CV-Q¸ Ö -!KVKO" ! K

land NOM-PASS-own the 1REST 1REST/P-NOM-eat/MULT K!K
“The farm was what I myself ate at times,

land NOM-PASS-own the-FOC
the farm.”


3PRO NOM/be just PROX-1REST-think 3PRO
“That is it, I think.”

(36) !C-R-QU½  " Ö V!C-VMO-QÖMVCOQ:V-GÖ[Q¸ - M-GÖ

1plS-IRR-go=to 1plS-ABIL-look=at/PL thus RL-say DIST-US-say
“If we go there, we can see it,” thus he said, it is said.


thus RL-be SR thing this OM-RL-carry=on-back
So he (bird) carried him (Kwset) on his back,

here in OM-RL-carry=on=back RL-fly RL-go SR
he carried him here on his back, he flew, he went,

down RL-fall somewhere RL-not=exist DIST-US-say
he (Kwset) fell down, he fainted, it is said.


somewhere RL-not=exist there 3Ob-RL-lie just AUX
He fainted, he just lay there,

also RL-have-spirit SR also already OM-RL-AUG-go DIST-US-say
he revived, he (bird) took him again, it is said.

(39) Q:KÖ-∅-!Q:KÖ-∅-!MC!
thus 3P-NOM-do thus 3P-NOM-do the/FOC
Doing that a long time,

somewhere 3P-NOM-not=exist the RL-X-many SR
he fainted many times,

OM-RL-carry=on-back OM-RL-AUG-go
he (bird) carried him on his back, he took him,

there away-3P-NOM-take the/FOC
in his taking him there,

3P-NOM-night a OM-RL-travel/PL SR land IRR-! AUX SR
they traveled in one night, when it was about to dawn,

house the 3Ob-RL-arrive DIST-US-say
he arrived at the house, it is said.

house the 3Ob-RL-arrive OM-RL-leave land NOM-PASS-own the 3Ob-RL-go
He arrived at the house, he left him, he went to the farm,


OM-RL-eat/MULT DIST-US-say bird the
the bird ate it, it is said.

land NOM-PASS-own the 3Ob-RL-go OM-RL-eat/MULT SR
He went to the farm, he ate it,

sun the outside RL-stand SR then house this in toward-RL-move
the sun was rising, then he came out of this house,

outside RL-stand SR
he was rising,


sun the 3Ob-RL-arrive DIST-US-say thing 3P-being 3Ob-NOM-PASS-defeat the
the one who had been defeated arrived to the sun.


3Ob-RL-arrive SR girl the there 3Ob-RL-sit thus RL-say DIST-US-say
He arrived to him, there was a young girl there, thus she said, it is said:

old=man just-FOC man NOM-good 2sS-EMPH-defeat
“Old man (father), what a good man you beat!

man 3P-back 3Ob-NOM-good 2sS-EMPH-defeat
You beat the best man!

(45) U½ K Ö:U½ Q O-V-KU½ K O-G" [ -GÖ

thing a 2sS-RL-defeat 2sS-DIST-say
You said that you beat someone.

(46) VKÖ:!KR" Ö :!CÖ-[C!KU½  V-CRQ:K-V-CK[Q¸ - M-GÖ

3PRO this NOM/be-INTERR here RL-stand thus OM-RL-say DIST-US-say
Is this one standing here the one?” thus she said to him, it is said.


old=man the sun the thus RL-say DIST-US-say
The sun said thus, it is said:

3PRO IRR-be SR 1sS-RL-NEG-know-!Q
“I don’t know if it is him.

3PRO NOM/be-INTERR but 3PRO IRR-be SR 1sS-RL-NEG-know-!Q
It might be him, but I don’t know if it is him.”


sun the in IRR-go SR
“When the sun sets,


3P-NOM-night the one the 3PRO on things the all OM-IRR-AUG-3P-seed
if he (Kwset) harvests everything in one night,


OM-IRR-finish SR land NOM-PASS-own the all OM-IRR-do OM-IRR-finish
if he finishes it, if he does the whole farm, if he finishes it,

MOCÖ:MQ=!-U" [ -C!C-!CV-GÖ[Q¸ - M-GÖ
then 3Ob-1sS-IRR-know AUX-DECL RL-say DIST-US-say
then I will know him by that,” he said, it is said.87

thus RL-be SR there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL
Then they were there a long time,

RL-night SR OM-RL-do DIST-US-say
when it was night, he did it, it is said.


OM-RL-do land NOM-PASS-own the all OM-RL-finish DIST-US-say
He did it, he finished the whole farm, it is said.

(53) MQÖ:K-V-C:KK-V-CMCV:[Q¸ - M-GÖ

all OM-RL-finish OM-RL-leave DIST-US-say
He finished it all, he left it, it is said.

(54) !CPVV-HKÖ-C" Ö OCK-[Q¸ Ö -:K

land RL-?-true SR OM-DIST-finish
By morning he finished it.

(55) MQKK-V-MO-CC-QV-G" V -GÖ[Q¸ - M-GÖ

still OM-RL-NEG-know-Q V-RL-say DIST-US-say
He said that he still didn’t know him, it is said.

(56) MQKU½ K Ö:MK!!CÖ-QU½  K-VM-O-CCV-G" V -GÖ[Q¸ - M-GÖ

still thing the NOM/be-Q a OM-RL-NEG-know V-RL-say DIST-US-say
He said that he still didn’t know him, it is said.


there 3Ob-3P-NOM-sit on also moon the
Also while he was there, the moon—


tree NOM-PASS-plant a here RL-stand SR
a tree was there—


3P-branch a OM-IRR-AUG-break toward OM-IRR-point AUX
he should break a branch from it, he should point it toward it (the moon),


3P-tip the on down OM-IRR-put AUX OM-RL-say SR moon the
he should put it on its tip, he told him.

87This is the first of the four impossible tasks the sun requires Kwset to do. The sun hoped that he
would fail so that his daughter would not marry him.

thus-o PROX-be but also still OM-RL-NEG-know-Q V-RL-say DIST-US-say
It was thus, but he said that he still didn’t know him, it is said.


still OM-RL-NEG-know-Q V-RL-say SR
He said that he still didn’t know him,

there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL the/FOC
they were there a long time,

also thus RL-say V-PROX-say
he said thus, he said:


wood mule this on 2sS-IRR-sit SR IRR-fly/MULT here 3Ob-IRR-be/MULT
“If you get on this wooden mule,88 if it is here bucking,


land 3Ob/2sO-IRR-NEG-throw SR-UT then 2sO-1sS-IRR-know AUX-!K
if it doesn’t throw you to the ground, then I will know you.

(61) MOCÖ:OC-!-U" [ -C!C-!C

then 1sO-1sS-IRR-know AUX-DECL
“Then I will know you.

(62) U½ K Ö:M-!CÖMK!OC-!-U" [ -C!C-!CQ:K-V-CK[Q¸ - M-GÖ

thing NOM-be the 2sO-1sS-IRR-know AUX-DECL thus OM-RL-say DIST-US-say
I will know who you are,” thus he said to him, it is said.

(63) OQUU½ K Ö:M-!CÖ-QU½  K-V-MO-CCV-G" V -GÖ[Q¸ - M-GÖ

also thing NOM-be-Q a OM-RL-NEG-know V-RL-say DIST-US-say
Again he said that he didn’t know who he was, it is said.


down OM-RL-NEG throw DIST-US-say
It didn’t throw him down, it is said.


horse NOM-fly/MULT sort=of wood mule the


land 3Ob-OM-RL-NEG-throw DIST-US-say
The bucking “horse”, the wooden mule, didn’t throw him to the ground, it is said.

88 There is a jump in the story at this point. The sun's daughter and Kwset run away together.

thus RL-be SR there 3Ob-RL-be/PL just AUX SR
Thus it was, they were there,

then also thus OM-RL-say DIST-US-say
then he (sun) said to him, it is said:


then-FOC 1sS-RL-married there 3Ob-1sS-RL-sit SR
“When I was just newly married,


sea NOM-big a there toward-RL-move SR 1plS-RL-pass/PL
we were passing a big sea,


land this 3Ob-1plS-RL-go/PL SR
we were coming to this land,


land on 1P-NOM-be/PL this 3Ob-1plS-go/PL SR
we were returning to this place where we live,


then ABS-finger NOM-PASS-put here 3Ob-NOM-sit a here RL-sit
then a ring that was here was here,

3PRO gold the RL-be sea in down DIST/descend
it was gold, it fell into the sea.

sea the in down DIST/descend
“It fell into the sea.


3PRO 2sS-IRR-carry 2sS-IRR-bring SR-UT
If you carry it, if you bring it,

MOCÖ:U½ K Ö:M-!CÖMK!OC-!-U" [ -C!C-!C

then thing NOM-be the 2sO-1sS-IRR-know AUX-DECL
then I will know who you are,”

Q:K-V-CK[Q¸ - M-GÖ
thus OM-RL-say DIST-US-say
thus he said to him, it is said.

RL-night SR ABS-finger NOM-PASS-put the OM-RL-bring
It was night, he (Kwset) brought the ring,

sun the 3Ob-OM-RL-AUG-o-see-t DIST-US-say
he showed it to the sun, it is said.


thus-Q PROX-be but also OM-RL-NEG-know-QV-RL-say DIST-US-say
Thus it was, but again he said that he didn’t know him, it is said.


just OM-RL-NEG-know-Q still OM-RL-NEG-know-QV-RL-say DIST-US-say
He just didn’t know him, he still didn’t know him, he said, it is said.


thus RL-be SR there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL
Then they were there a long time,

thing the 3p/NOM-work=at the much 3P-with OM-RL-do
he helped him a lot with what he (sun) was working at,

much OM-RL-work=at there 3Ob-3P-NOM-sit on then
he was doing a lot, while he was there

!CPU-C" Ö !C:K-V-C:R:-C" Ö  !C:V-CÖ!-QKÖ!C:VC[Q¸ - M-GÖ

just-true just OM-RL-mad=at-true just RL-PASS-feel just AUX DIST-US-say
it seemed that he (the sun) just became very mad at him.


sea the 3P-shore this NOM/OM-resemble a there 3-b-RL-lie SR
There was a seashore like this one,


OM-RL-go=to/PL 3Ob-RL-arrive/PL SR
they (Kwset and daughter) went to it, they arrived to it,


land NOM-PASS-AUG/spotted sort=of on OM-RL-put SR thing that
he drew a picture in the sand,


wood ABS-balsa a RL-be SR in RL-be/PL DIST-US-say
it became a ship, they got in it, it is said.


in RL-be/PL sea NOM-big this 3Ob-away-RL-move/PL DIST-US-say
They got in it, they went away on this large sea, it is said.

(76) VCÖ:KVK" - !-QÖOVCÖ:

3PRO on 3P-NOM-lie 3PRO
While they were there,

somewhere RL-be/PL SR sun the outside IRR-stand AUX
they were somewhere, the sun was about to rise,

wood ABS-balsa the 3P/face the 3P-tip that


sun the on toward-RL-move outside RL-stand DIST-US-say
the sun rose over the ship’s bow, it is said.

(77) U½ C Ö!MK!KVKOQ¸ - V-CÖ!CR:V-CR

sun the on toward-RL-move outside RL-stand
The sun came, he rose,


then woman 3P/NOM-carry the OM-RL-ask DIST-US-say
then he questioned his daughter, it is said.

(78) MOCÖPV=" V -CÖ-QOG-Q!KO-OKÖ-∅-!MK!!-[Q¸ - C[C:

then away-RL-move-Q 2PRO-Q 1sO-2P-NOM-do the 1sS-DIST-know [C:
“From the beginning I knew that it was you who was doing it to me.

(79) OG-Q!KO-M-" - !-K!!KU½  MQ=O-O-KÖZ

2PRO-Q 1sO-NOM-OM-do-FOC here 3Ob-2sS-PROX-sit
It was you doing it to me.

(80) OG-Q!KO-O-V-C!OCOC-!-V-MO-C!Q-!Q
2PRO-Q 1sO-2sS-RL-do SR 2sO-1sS-RL-NEG-see-!Q
You caused me to not see you,”

Q:K-V-CK[Q¸ - M-GÖ
thus OM-RL-say DIST-US-say
thus he told her, it is said.

thus OM-RL-say also OM-RL-leave toward-RL-go
Thus he told her, he left her, he returned.


toward-RL-go 3P-NOM-sit the 3Ob-RL-go 3Ob-RL-sit DIST-US-say
He returned to the place where he was, he was there, it is said.


then toward 3P-NOM-be/PL a OM-RL-NEG=know-!Q
Then he didn’t know where they were.


toward 3P-NOM-be/PL a NOM/OM-NEG-know VC: sun — the RL-many SR
He didn’t know where they were, the days were many,

sea the 3PRO things soldiers some on OM-RL-see/PL DIST-US-say
they saw some soldiers on the ocean, it is said.


things NOM-have-bullets the on OM-RL-see/PL 3Ob-OM-RL-abduct/PL DIST-US-say
The soldiers saw them on it, they abducted her, it is said.


Seri woman the 3Ob-RL-PASS-abduct DIST-US-say
The Seri woman was taken, it is said.

(87) M9=V-CÖ!-MCU½ K VOC

3Ob-RL-PASS-abduct SR
She was taken away,


there 3Ob-away-3P-NOM-move there 3Ob=away-3P-NOM-move
they went a long time,

wind NOM-strong a toward-RL-descend SR
a strong wind came up,


3P/NOM-AUG-move/PL and wood ABS-balsa the 3P-being


and the sea the 3Ob-away-RL-move Rl-break=up SR
the sails and the ship itself went into the sea, it broke up,


things the NOM-little-KRK RL-NEG-remain DIST-US-say
nothing at all was left, it is said.


wood ABS-balsa the NOM-four the there 3Ob-RL-be/PL
There were four ships,


one-KRK RL-NEG-remain DIST-US-say
not even one of them was left.


sea the OM-RL-leave/PL 3P-edge 3P-? the 3Ob-RL-arrive/PL
They left the sea, they arrived at the high tide line,


3PRO on RL-be/PL outside RL-be/PL there 3Ob-RL-be/PL DIST-US-say
they were there, they got out, they were there, it is said.

a somewhere RL-NEG-not=exist DIST-US-say things those
None of those people died, it is said.


god the 3P/daughter the somewhere RL-NEG-net=exist DIST-US-say
God’s daughter didn’t die, it is said.

sea the somewhere 3Ob-RL-NEG-not=exist
She didn’t die in the ocean,


outside RL-stand OM-RL-leave SR fiesta NOM-big a somewhere land RL-sit SR
she got out, she left it (ocean), there was a big party,

3Ob-RL-arrive/PL SR
they arrived to it,


also already also 3Ob-OM-IRR-abudct/PL — AUX RL-think/PL DIST-US-say
again they (soldiers) tried to abduct her.


3Ob-OM-IRR-abduct/PL — AUX RL-think/PL
They tried to abduct her,

OM-RL-take/PL land other a in NOM/OM-put/PL-DECL but
they took her, they put her in a place,


also OM-RL-accompany-Q land a toward RL-go DIST-US-say man the
he (Kwset) also accompanied her, the man (Kwset) went along.

(94) " - V-CÖ !CPVU½  KMKK-!-KÖKP

OM-RL-accompany land a toward 3P-NOM-go
He accompanied her, he went,


there 3Ob-away-3P-NOM-move 3PRO sun the RL-many SR
going there, the days were many,


also camp-true 3Ob-RL-arrive DIST-US-say
he arrived at his real home.

(95) !GOG-C" Ö M9=V-CU½ M COOC

camp-true 3Ob-Rl-arrive/PL SR
They arrived at their real homes,

then already also fiesta down OM-RL-put/PL DIST-US-say
they (people) put on another big party.

there 3Ob-3P-NOM-be/PL on
While they were there,

then things NOM-have-bullets the 3Ob-RL-arrive/PL
the soldiers arrived to them,


DIST-US-say but also 3P-NOM-do/PL-:C!-KRKthere RL-NEG-exist SR
it is said, but they didn’t do a thing to them,

OM-RL-leave/PL DIST-US-say
they left them, it is said.


Seri woman the 3Ob-OM-RL-NEG-AUG-Q-leave/PL DIST-US-say
They didn’t make the Seri woman leave, it is said.

(98) K-V-MO-K:CZ[Q¸ - M-GÖ

They didn’t take her, it is said.

(99) !CÖPV=" - !-CÖV!CÖPV=" - !-CÖVKVK

there away-3P-NOM-move/PL there away3P-NOM-move/PL on
They went for a long time,


sea a 3Ob-RL-be/PL land-true toward RL-cross/PL SR
they got out of the ocean, they crossed to the mainland,

things 3PRO 3Ob-RL-be/PL RL-many SR
people were there, they were many,


3P-in RL-arrive/PL SR soldiers the EMPH OM-RL-defend/PL
they (Kwset et al) arrived to them, the soldiers themselves defended them,

then EMPH OM-RL-carry-PL land the 3Ob-OM-RL-AUG-Q-do-V
they took them, they took them by land,

there away-3P-NOM-take/PL the/FOC
taking them,

then EMPH on 3P-IRR-be AUX sort=of a 3Ob-OM-RL-bring/PL SR
they took her to a place where she would stay,

3PRO on RL-sit SR OM-RL-leave/PL SR
she was there, they left her there,

land the on RL-be there Ob-RL-be SR
she was in the place, she was there,


then thing NOM-strange the EMPH 3P/NOM-finish

the 3P/NOM-own 3PRO RL-many land the on RL-lie
she did many miracles while she was there,


there 3Ob RL-lie DIST-US-say sun the 3P/daughter the there 3Ob-RL-sit
she was there—the sun’s daughter, it is said.

Postscript to Chapter 16
This text will be included in the Archive of Glossed Texts of the Languages of Mexico, sponsored by
the University of Arizona, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and the Universidad de
Sonora. The analysis is slightly different in a few places and the method used for glossing the text is
more sophisticated, allowing for a more adequate representation of the facts.

Appendix 1
Verb paradigms
Form 1 Form 2 Form 3 Form 4
/-CHCR/, /-CU½ K ZM/ arrive -CHR -CHCR-KO -CU½ M -CO -CU½ K ZM-CO
/-CKVQO/, /-QÖU½ C / talk -CKVQO -CÖC-VKO -QÖU½ C -QÖU½ C - MC
/-CK-:-CZ/ strong, loud -CK-:-CZ -CK -:-KO -CK -C-Z-M -CK -C-:- MC
/-CKÖ:/ leave -CKÖ: -CCÖ:-KO -CCÖ:-QZ -CCÖ:-QZ
/-CMCU/ chew to pulp -CMU-KO -CMCU-KO -CMU-CO -CMCU-CO
/-CMCVU½ / screen -CMVU½ -CMCVU½ -KO -CMCVU½ -QZ -CMCVU½ Q  MC
/-COCZ-:/ bring -CO-Z-M -COC -:-KO -CO -C-Z-M -CO -C-:- MC
/-CPQU½ -:/ spin thread -CPU½ -: -CPQU½ -:-KO -CP-MQ-Z-M -CP-MQ-:- MC
/-CRCV-:/ gather -CRV-: -CRCV-:-KO -CRV-C-Z-M -CRV-C-:- MC
/-CRQ-:/ pull out -CRQ-: -CRQ-:-KO -CR-VC-Z-M -CR-VC-:- MC
/-CRU½ -:/ torn out -CRU½ - : -CR-MC-: -CR-MC-Z-M -CR-MC-:- MC
/-CU½ K ZM/, /-QKU½ K ZM/ enter-CU½ M -KO -CU½ K ZM-KO -QKU½ M -V -QKU½ K Z-QZ
/-CU½ Z -:/ throw -CU½ - Z-M -CU½   -C-: -CU½   -C-Z-M -CU½   -C-:- MC
/-CVC:/ go -CVC: -CVC:-KO -C : -C C:-Q MC
/-CVKP/ touch -CVPK -CVKP-KO -CV -Q MC -CV -Q MC
/-CVKU½ -:/ -CVKU½ - : -CVK-MC-: -CVK-MC-Z-M -CVK-MC-:- MC
peel back foreskin
/-C:K/ finish -C:K -C:K-VKO -C: -C:
/-C:QZ/ continue -C9ZM-M —— -C:9U½ - K  ——
/-C:QZM/ dry -CWZM —— -CWZ-QZ ——
/-C!Q/ see -C!Q -C!Q-VKO -C!-V -C!-VQ MC
/-CÖC/ call -CÖC -CÖC-VKO -CÖVQ¸ C -V -CÖVQ¸ C -V MC
/-CÖKZ/ sway -CÖKZ -CÖK -KO -CÖK -CO
/-CÖMP/ bowed -CÖMPK —— -CÖMU½ - C ——
/-CÖMQ/ build house -CÖMQ -CÖMQ-VKO -CÖM9-V ——

poison projectile points
/-CÖPKR:/ return home -CÖPR: -CÖPKR:-KO -CÖPKR:-CV -CÖPKR:- MC
/-CÖQ / grooved -CÖQ  -CÖQ -KO -CÖQ -QZ ——
/-CÖRCZ/ choke -CÖRZ -CÖRC -KO -CÖRU½ - K  -CÖRU½ - K MC
/-CÖUC M/ spread legs -CÖUC M-C —— -CÖUC M-QZ ——
/-CÖUC-:/ open up -CÖUC-: -CÖUC-:-KO -CÖVQ¸ U -VC-Z-M -CÖVQ¸ U -VC-:- MC
/-CÖU½ C  :/ cough -CÖU½   : -CÖU½ C  :-KO -CÖVQ¸ U ½ C  :-QZ -CÖVQ¸ U ½ C  :-QZ
/-CÖV/ cook in ashes -CÖV -CÖV-VKO -CÖVQ¸ V -VQZ -CÖVQ¸ V -V MC
spread around
/-CÖ!CPZ/ quiver -CÖ!PKZ -CÖ!CP  -CÖ!PC -MC -CÖ!PC -MQZ
cause to be mixed
/-CÖ-CU½ K / make suckle -CÖ-U½ -CÖ-U½ - VKO -CÖVQ¸ U ½ -CÖ-VQ¸ U ½ - [Q MC
/-CÖ-CU½ K ZM/ make enter -CÖ-U½ M -KO -CÖ-U½ K ZM-KO -CÖ-VQ¸ U ½ K Z-QZ -CÖ-VQ¸ U ½ K Z-QZ
/-CÖ-OCÖ:C/ brew liquor -CÖ-OCÖ: -CÖ-OCÖ:-VKO -CÖ-OCÖZ-M -CÖ-OCÖ:C-ZCO
make cracklings
make headring
appoint; cause to be
/-CÖ-!C:C/ stain -CÖ-!C: -CÖ-!C:-VKO -CÖ-!C:C-ZCO -CÖ-!C:C-ZCO
/-CÖ!=MCK / remain -CÖ!=MCK  —— -CÖ!=MCCÖ -KO ——
/-CÖ-QK!QZ/ make red -CÖ-QK!WZ -CÖ-QK!Q -KO -CÖ-QK! -MQZ -CÖ-QK!Q -CO
/-GOGP/ winnow -GOGP -GOGP-KO -GOGU½ - C -GOGU½ - C
/-GÖHG / stumble on -GÖHG -KO -GÖHG -CO -CÖVQ¸ H G -CO ——
wrap oneself with
/-HKU½ / tie knot -HKU½ -HKU½ - VKO -HKU½ - :CO -HMQÖU½ - :CO
/-KM/ cross -KM-VKO —— -KVQ¸ M -  ——

/-KOQ-:/ butcher -KOQ-: -KOQ-:-KO -KO-VC-Z-M -KO-VC-:- MC
/-KRQ¸ V KU½ : / -KRQ¸ V KU½ - : -KRQ¸ V KU½ - :-KO -KRQ¸ V K-MC-Z-M -KRQ¸ V K-MC-:- MC
put clothes on wrong
/-KR:QZ/ -KRWZ-M -KR:9 -KO -KR:9U½ - K  -KR:9U½ - K MC
have gonorrhea
/-KVG" : QZ/ thin -KVG" WZ-M KVG" : Q -KO -KVG" : Q -MQZ -KVG" : Q -MQZ
/-K:KO/ fear -K:KO -K:CO-CO -K:CO-V -K:CO-VQ MC
/-KÖMGV/ carry in womb -KÖMGV -KÖMV-Q -KÖMV-QZ -KÖMV-Q MC
/-KÖPC / ring -KÖP -C -KÖPC -C -KÖP -QZ -KÖPC -QZ
/-KÖRC/ carry on head -KÖR -KÖR-VKO -KÖVQ¸ R C-9 -KÖVQ¸ R C- MC
/-KÖRC-:/ climb -KÖRC-: -KÖRC-:-KO -KÖR-VC-Z-M -KÖR-VC-:- MC
/-K-C:C/ have water -K-:C -K-:C-VKO -K-Z-M -K-Z-M
/-K-!C:Q / -K-!C:9  -K-!C:Q -KO -K-!C:Q -QZ -K-!C:Q -Q MC
have eating utensil (clam)
/-MCMCZ/ chip -MCMZ -MCMC -KO -MCMU½ - K  -MCMU½ - K MC
/-MCU½ K P/ bite -MCU½ P K -MCU½ K P-KO -MCU½ Z -C -MCU½ Z -QZ
/-MGMQ / listen -MGM9  -MGMQ -KO -MGMQ -QZ -MGMQ -QZ
/-MGÖG-:/ cut hair of -MGÖG-: -MGÖG-:-KO -MGÖG-VC-: -MGÖG-VC-:- MC
/-OKU/ resemble -OKU -OKU-VKO -OKU-VCZ -OKU-:CO
/-OK!U½ - :/ slip -OK!U½ - : -OK!-MC-: -OK!-MC-Z-M -OK!-MC-:- MC

/-PC:U½ / rub -PC:U½ -PC:-MC -PC:-MQZ -PC:-MQZ
/-PGU½ K Z/ crush -PGU½ Z -PGU½ K  -KO -PGU½   -MQZ -PGU½   -MQZ
/-PG:QP/ hold in lap -PG:9PK -PG:QP-C -PG:9U½ - QZ ——
/-PKRC/ hit (with hand) -PKR -PKRC-VKO -PQR-VQZ -PQR-VQ MC
/-PQRKZ/ sink -PQRKZ -PQRK -KO -PQRU½ - K  -PQRU½ - K MC
/-PQUZM/ rough -PQUM —— -PQUZM ——
/-QK / blue;green -QK  —— -QK -Q ——
/-QK / wear tuft of hair -QK  -QCÖ -KO -QCÖ -Q -QCÖ -CO
/-QKV/ dance -QKV -QKÖ-VKO -QK -C -QKÖ -CO
/-QMC" K / follow -QMC" K -QMC" K -VKO -QMC" C Ö-:-QZ -QMC" C Ö-:-Q MC
/-QMG" ! GV/ -QMG" ! V -QMG" ! GV-KO -QMG" ! G -CO -QMG" ! G -CO
flexible; bounce
/-QMG" Ö GP/ turn around -QMG" Ö GP -QMG" Ö GP-KO -QMG" Ö GU½ - QZ -QMG" Ö GU½ - Q MC
/-QP" C Ö-:/ -QP" C Ö-: -QP" C Ö-:-KO -QP" K -VC-Z-M -QP" K -VC-:- MC
wash one’s hands
/-QVGZ/ stagger -QVGZ-C -QVG -MC -QVG -MQZ -QVG -MQZ
/-QZC" U KV/ hop -QZC" U V -QZCU½ K V-KO -QZC" U K -CO -QZC" U K -CO
/-QÖU½ Q ZM/ yip -QÖU½ Z M -QÖU½ Q ZM-KO -QÖU½   -C-Z-M -QU½   -C-:- MC
/-QÖ!QZM/ vertical -QÖ!M9 -QÖ!QZM-KO -QÖ!9ZM -QÖ!QZM-CO
/-RCPQU½ -:/ run -RCPU½ - : -RCPQU½ - :-KO -RCP-MQ-Z-M -RCP-MQ-:- MC
/-RCUZ/ fall underwater -RCUZ-KO -RCUZ-KO -RCUZ-QZ -RCUZ-QZ
/-RC:U½ / scratchy -RC:U½ —— -RC:-MC ——
/-RGÖ!U½ - :/ concave -RGÖ!U½ - : -RGÖ!GU½ - :-KO -RGÖ!-MC-: -RGÖ!-MC-:

/-RKVQ / bloated -RKVQ  -RKVQ -KO -RKV -QZ ——
/-RQÖU½ K / pear-shaped -RQÖU½ K -RUÖU½ K -VKO -RQÖU½ - :CO -RQÖU½ K -ZCO
carry child on hip
gather together with stick
/-U½ C :Q/ talk about -U½ C :9 -U½ C :9-VKO -U½ C :9-V -U½ C :9-VQ MC
/-U½ K R/ kiss -U½ K R -U½ K R-VKO -U½ M QÖR-:CO -U½ M QÖR-:CO
/-U½ K ÖOK/ enjoy -U½ K ÖO -U½ K ÖO-VKO -U½ M QÖO-V -U½ M QÖOK-VCO
/-VCRCU½ - :/ signal -VCRU½ - : -VCRCU½ - :-KO -VCR-MC-Z-M -VCR-MC-:- MC
/-VC:KO/ scratch -VC:KO -VC:CO-CO -VC:CO-QZ -VC:CO-Q MC
/-VKRKV-:/ touch -VKRV-: -VKRKV-:-KO -VKRV-C-Z-M -VKRV-C-:- MC
/-VKÖR:QZ/ squeeze -VKÖR9Z-M -VKÖR:9 -KO -VKÖR:9U½ - K  -VKÖR:9U½ - K MC
/-ZKU½ K / painful -ZKU½ K -ZKU½ K -VKO -ZKU½ - VCZ -ZKU½ - VCZ
/-[CMCZ/ have sibling -[CMZ -[CMC -KO -[CMC -MCO -[CMC -MCO
/-[CU½ K O/ finlike -[CU½ K O -[CU½ K O-CO -[CU½ C O-QZ -[CU½ C O-Q MC
/-[CÖK/, /-os"Öt/ go to -[CÖK -[CÖK-VKO -QU½ K ÖV -QU½ K ÖKV-CO
hit with stick
/-QKÖOK-:/ too much -QKÖOK-: -QKÖOK-:-KO -QKÖO-VC-Z-M -QKÖO-VC-:- MC

Appendix 2
Irregular verb paradigms
lie give say do accompany
/-QÖO/ /-GÖ/ /-GÖ/ /Q(:) -GÖ/ /-CÖ /
Subj.Nom. MQ¸ Ö O " M G VG" M C Q¸ M G " M C 
pl. MQ¸ K VK KM[QZ VG" M [Q Q¸ M [Q " M C C
neg. " O QO " O G " O G Q:" O G " O C 
pass. —— !CRG" ! G —— —— !CRC" ! C 
Infinitive " M QO K!G" ! G Q:" M G K!C" ! C 
2s Imper. !Q¸ Ö O !" ! G !C" ! C 
neg. MC" O QÖO MG" O G Q:MG" O G MC" O C 
1pl Imper. UMQ¸ K VK UG" ! [QZ Q:UG" M [Q UC" ! C C
Nom., 1s !" ! QÖO !" ! G !" ! G Q:!" ! G !" ! C 
Nom., 3s —— " [ G —— —— " [ C 
Neutral Realis, 1s !C" V QÖO !" V G !G" V G Q:!G" V G !" V C 
2s O" V QÖO O" V G OG" V G Q:OG" V G O" V C 
3s VQ¸ Ö O " V G VG" V G Q¸ V G " V C 
1pl !CVQ¸ K VK !" V [QZ !G" V [Q Q:!G" V [Q !" V C C
Distal, 3s [Q¸ Ö O " [ G VG" [ G Q¸ [ G " [ C 
neg. [Q¸ O QO K[Q¸ O G Q::Q¸ G K:Q¸ C  
Emph., 3s :Q¸ Ö O K:Q¸ G :Q¸ G Q::Q¸ G K:Q¸ C  
Irr., 3s UQ¸ Ö O " U G VG" U G Q¸ U G " U C 
neg. UC" O QO KUMG" O G UG" O G Q:UG" O G KUMC" O C 
2s O" U QO O" U G OG" U G Q:OG" U G O" U C 

grind be with come
/-CÖ/ /MQ= -CÖ/ /OQ= -CÖ/
Subj. Nom. " M C MQ¸ ! C OQ¸ M C
pl. " M [QZ MQ¸ ! Z OQ¸ M CV
neg. " O C M9" O C O" O C
pass. !CRC" ! C —— ——
Infinitive K!C" ! C M9" M C O" M C
2s Imper. !C" ! C MQ¸ ! C OQ¸ ! C
neg. MC" O C MQMC" O C OQMC" O C
1pl Imper. UC" ! [QZ M9UC" M Z KOUC" M CV
Action Nom., 1s !" ! C M9!" ! C KO!" ! C
Object Nom., 3s " [ C —— ——
Neutral Realis, 1s !" V C M9!C" V C KO!C" V C
2s O" V C M9O" V C KOO" V C
3s " V C MQ¸ V C OQ¸ V C
1pl !" V [QZ MQ¸ V Z KO!C" V CV
Distal, 3s " [ C MQ¸ [ C OQ¸ [ C
neg. K[Q¸ O C M9[Q¸ O C KO[Q¸ O C
Emph., 3s K:Q¸ C M9:Q¸ C KO:Q¸ C
Irr., 3s " U C MQ¸ U C OQ¸ U C
neg. KUMC" O C M9UC" O C KOUC" O C
2s O" U C M9O" U C KOO" U C

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