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Predicate derivations in Thulung

Aimée Lahaussois


In this article, I describe a subset of complex predicates in Thulung (Kiranti, Nepal) which I call “predicate derivations” (after Post, Mark. 2010. Predicate derivations in the Tani languages: root, suffix, both or neither? In Mark Post & Stephen Morey (eds.), North East Indian linguistics, 175–197. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press India). I argue that these constructions in Thulung are built on grammaticalized elements that can be synchronically considered to be derivational. I focus on their morphology, placing it within the context of simplex verbs, and highlighting certain features – multiple exponence, allomorphy of the derivational suffixes similar to that of simplex verbs – which suggest strongly a development from serial verb constructions. I discuss their functions, which cover valence changes, as well as the marking of associated motion and aspect/Aktionsart. Complex predicates are seen as a feature of South Asian languages, but the types found in Tibeto-Burman languages appear to be quite different, morphologically, from what is found in Indo-Aryan or Dravidian languages. This article therefore represents a language-specific description as a contribution to cross-linguistic research on the topic.

Corresponding author: Aimée Lahaussois, Laboratoire Histoire des Théories Linguistiques UMR CNRS 7597, Université de Paris, Case 7034, 5 rue Thomas Mann, 75205 Paris Cedex 13, France, E-mail:


I wish to thank the editorial team of JSALL, as well as anonymous reviewers, for their constructive input on this article. I also wish to acknowledge Mark Post and Guillaume Jacques for useful comments on an earlier draft.

Appendix Inflectional paradigms

Intransitive paradigm: Non-past (middle column) and past (right column) indexes (all suffixal).[15]

1SG ŋu ŋoro/ŋro
1DI tsi tsi/ttsi
1DE tsuku tsoko/ttsoko
1PI i∼ɖi a ɖi/iri
1PE ku toko/ttoko
2SG na na/nna
2DU tsi tsi/ttsi
2PL ni ni/nni
3SG - ɖa/ira
3DU tsi tsi/ttsi
3PL mi miri/mri

  1. aSee Lahaussois (2011: 199) for details.

Transitive paradigm: Non-past indexesa (all suffixal).

1SG ni niʦi nini u ∼ pu a uʦi ∼ putsi umi ∼ pumi
1DI ʦi ʦimi
1DE ʦuku ʦukumi
1PI i ∼ ɖi a iʦi imi
1PE ku kuʦi kumi
2SG ŋi ʦiki ki na naʦi nami
2DU ŋiʦi ʦiki kiʦi ʦi ʦimi
2PL ŋini ʦikini ki ni niʦi nimi
3SG ŋi sa ʦiki sa ki na ʦi ni ʉ ∼ ɖʉ a ʉʦi ∼ ɖʉtsi a ʉmi ∼ ɖʉmi a
3DU ŋiʦi saʦi ʦiki saʦi kiʦi naʦi ʦi niʦi ʦi ʦimi
3PL ŋimi sami ʦikimi sami kimi nami ʦini nimi mi miʦi mi

  1. aWhat is shown separated by/are variant forms (across or within speakers); markers separated by ∼ are used by different verb classes. Allomorphy is not shown in these tables, but is as follows: ɖ-initial markers change their initial to t/_s, k, p; to r/_r; to l/_l. Other markers do not undergo allomorphy.

Transitive paradigm: Past indexes (all suffixal).

1SG ni/nni nitsi/nniʦi nini/nnini to/uto totsi/utotsi tomi/utomi
1DI ʦi/ttsi tsimi/ttsimi
1DE tsoko/tʦoko tsokomi/ttsokomi
1PI ɖi ɖiʦi ɖimi
1PE toko/ttoko tokotsi/ttoko(tsi) toko/ttoko
2SG ŋiri/ŋri tsiki/tʦiki tiki/ttiki na/nna natsi/nnatsi nami/nnami
2DU ŋiritsi/ŋriʦi tsiki/tʦiki tikitsi/ttikiʦi tsi/tʦi tsi/ttsi tsimi/ttsimi
2PL ŋirini/ŋrini ʦikini/ttsikini tikini/ttikini ni/nni nitsi(mi)/nnitsi(mi) ni/nni
3SG ŋiri/ŋri saɖɖa tsiki/tʦiki saɖɖa tiki/ttiki na/nna tsi/tʦi ni/nni ɖʉ ɖʉʦi ɖʉmi
3DU ŋiriʦi/ŋriʦi saɖɖaʦi ʦiki/tʦiki saɖɖaʦi tikiʦi/ttikiʦi natsi/nnaʦi tsi/tʦi nitsi/nniʦi ʦi/ttsi tsi/tʦi ʦimi/ttsimi
3PL ŋirimi/ŋrimi saɖɖami tsikimi/tʦikimi saɖɖami tikimi/ttikimi nami/nnami tsimi/ttsimi nitsi(mi)/nnitsi(mi) miri/mri miritsi/mritsi miri/mri


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Published Online: 2021-02-22
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

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