Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 11 : 4 April 2011
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.



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The Syntax of Agreement in Khasi

George Bedell, Ph. D.

The examples in this paper illustrate subject-verb agreement in Khasi, a Mon-Khmer language pri-marily spoken in eastern Meghalaya State, Northeast India. They are taken from Ka Khubor jong ka Jingieit (2000), and given in the orthography used there, unless otherwise noted. The numbers indi-cate chapter and verse in Ka Gospel U Mathias (The Gospel According to Matthew). Although the edition cited is recent, the translation was done from the Authorized (King James) English version, sometime in the nineteenth century. Thus the Khasi investigated here differs from Khasi as either spoken or written at the present time. It is difficult for some modern Khasis to fully understand, but it remains in common use. An earlier version of this paper was presented to the third conference of the Northeast Indian Linguistic Society (NEILS), hosted by Gauhati University, Guwahati, January 2008.

Articles and Agreement. Verbs in Khasi show agreement with their subjects, as illustrated in (1) and (2).

(1) kata ka kynthei te ka la khiah naduh kata ka por
3SF=that 3SF woman and 3SF PAST healed from 3SF=that 3SF time
'and that woman was healed from that time' (9:22)

(2) uta u khynnah u la khiah naduh kata ka por
3SM=that 3SM child 3SM PAST healed from 3SF=that 3SF time
'that boy was healed from that time' (17:18)

In (1), the underlined ka marks agreement of the verb khiah 'be healed' with its subject kata ka kyn-thei 'that woman'. The subject is third person singular feminine, which is also marked by the ka di-rectly preceding the head noun kynthei 'woman'. The remaining ka marks the head noun por 'time' also as third person singular feminine. In (2), the subject uta u khynnah 'that boy' is third person singular masculine, and thus the first ka in (1) is replaced by u, the corresponding masculine marker. The underlined ka in (1) is also replaced by u, marking agreement with the subject. The variation between the demonstrative modifiers kata in (1) and uta in (2) is a related kind of agreement.

Following the literature, the markers ka and u when preceding a noun in (1) and (2) are referred to as 'articles', even though they differ from what are called articles in most European languages in not providing information about definiteness, but only gender and number. Articles in Khasi belong to a syntactic category D, and take a complement noun phrase (NP) as shown in (i).

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

George Bedell, Ph. D.
Lecturer, Department of Linguistics
Payap University
Chiang Mai 50000

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