Update: 2012-11-25 04:31 AM +0630


Burmese-Myanmar vs. IE (English):
aspect vs. tense


collection by U Kyaw Tun, M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.). Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, MYANMAR .

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Contents of this page

Burmese-Myanmar vs. IE languages
Ablaut : confusing vowel sounds
Ablaut in PIE (Proto-Indo European)
Inflection : most confusing difference between Burmese and English
Aspect vs. tense : aspect is important for Burmese whilst tense is for English
Aspect in English
Perfective vs. perfect


UKT Notes
aorist apophony (excerpt from Wikipedia) preterite syncope telicity two-three tone problem umlaut vriddhi ( वृद्धि , vṛddhi)

Noteworthy passages in this file: (always check with the original section from which they are taken.)
Grammatical aspect may have been first dealt with in the work of the Indian linguist Yaska (यास्कः) {yaa-ka:} (ca. 7th century BCE), who distinguishes actions that are processes (bhāva), from those where the action is considered as a completed whole (mūrta). This is of course the key distinction between the imperfective and perfective. Yaska also applies this distinction between a verb and an action nominal.
Aspect is a somewhat difficult concept to grasp for the speakers of most modern Germanic languages, because they tend to conflate the concept of aspect with the concept of tense.

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Burmese-Myanmar vs. IE languages

by UKT: 090801

The following is a direct quote from the preface (p.roman03-04) Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis by A. W. Lonsdale, Education Department, Burma, British Burma Press, Rangoon, 1899.

"With regard to the grammatical treatises by native writers, it is no exaggeration  to say that there is not one which can be properly called a Burmese grammar. These writers, not content with merely borrowing the grammatical nomenclature of the Pali language, also attempted to assimilate the grammatical principles of the uninflected Burmese to those of the inflected Pali; so that they produced, not Burmese grammars, but modified Pali grammars in Burmese dress. The servile veneration in which they held Pali, the language they had adopted as the classic, is, no doubt, directly responsible for the composition of such works. In their endeavour to conform strictly to Pali methods, they often introduced unnecessary terms and misapplied them, ignoring those grammatical points in Burmese for which they could find no parallel in Pali. How futile their attempts were may be judged by the numerous difficulties and anomalies the created, from some of which even now teachers of the language have not quite extricated themselves - take, for instance, the case-inflexions."

UKT: Although historically languages were divided into three basic types (isolating, flectional, agglutinative), these traditional morphological types are best divided into two distinct parameters (See Isolating language http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolating_language 090802):

1. morpheme-per-word ratio
2. degree of fusion between morphemes

An isolating language can thus be defined as a language that has a one-to-one correspondence between word and morpheme. Based on the contents of this file I have constructed the following Morphological Topology Continuum (-- this needs to checked by my peers):

(uninflected:) Isolating language --> Analytic --> Fusional language --> Agglutinative (inflected:)
Chinese (classic example) Burmese Japanese Korean English Spanish Latin and Greek (classic examples) Pali

However, before we deal with the problem inflection, let us look into the vowel tones of English representing the IE (including PIE - or Proto-Indo European) and Burmese, and the vowel gradation (ablaut) in IE.

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by UKT - based heavily on a Wikipedia article (mentioned below) on ablaut .

UKT: Remember what we are going to read is about sound changes and the only way to represent the sound is by IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet -- NOT the English spellings (in Latin Alphabet), NOR the IAST (International Alphabet for Sanskrit Transcription). You can easily get confused. I have indicated the English spellings and IAST in <...> and IPA in /.../ .

ablaut n. 1. A vowel change, characteristic of Indo-European languages, that accompanies a change in grammatical function; for example, <i>, <a>, <u> in <sing>, <sang>, <sung>. Also Called gradation . [German ab off( from Old High German aba) ; See apo- in Indo-European Roots. Laut sound (from Middle High German lūt ) (from Old High German hlūt ); See kleu- in Indo-European Roots.] -- AHTD

From Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_ablaut 090914

In linguistics, the term ablaut designates a system of vowel gradation (i.e. regular vowel variations) in Proto-Indo-European (PIE) and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages. (For the general phenomenon, see Apophony.) An example of ablaut in English is the strong verb:

<sing>, <sang>, <sung> and its related noun <song>

UKT: The phonetic transcriptions of the above four words and the vowel quadrilateral gives insights into the vowel articulation.
<sing> /sɪŋ/
<sang> /sŋ/
<sung> /sʌŋ/ ;

UKT: my transcriptions are marked with (?): others are from DJPD16 :
<is sung> /ɪz.sʌŋ/ (?) ;   <has been sung> /həz.biːn sʌŋ/ (?)
<song> /sɒŋ/ (US) /sɑːŋ/, /sɔːŋ/

The term ablaut (from German ab- in the sense "down, reducing" + Laut "sound") was coined in the early 19th century by the linguist Jacob Grimm, though the phenomenon was first described a century earlier by the Dutch linguist Lambert ten Kate in his book Gemeenschap tussen de Gottische spraeke en de Nederduytsche ("Commonality between the Gothic language and Dutch", 1710).


Preliminary considerations

Vowel gradation is any vowel difference between:

two related words , e.g.
  <man> /mn/ and <woman> /men/ -- quantitative gradation

two forms of the same word , e.g.
  <man> /mn/  and <men> /men/ -- qualitative gradation
  <woman> /ˡwʊm.ən/ and <women> /ˡwɪm.ɪn/ -- ?  [UKT addition]

The difference is not usually indicated in the spelling. [UKT ]

There are many kinds of vowel gradation in English, as in most languages, and these are discussed generally in the article apophony. Some involve a variation in vowel length (quantitative gradation: <man/woman>), others in vowel colouring (qualitative gradation: <man/men>), and others the complete disappearance of a vowel (reduction to zero: <could not> /kʊd nɒt/ → <couldn't> /ˡkʊd. ənt/).

For the study of European languages, one of the most important instances of vowel gradation is the historical Indo-European phenomenon called ablaut, remnants of which can be seen in the English verbs:

<ride> /rd/,
<rode> /rəʊd/,
<ridden> /ˌrɪd. ən/

<fly> /fl|/,
<flew> /fl/,
<flown> /fləʊn/

For many purposes it is enough to note that these verbs are irregular, but understanding why they are irregular (and indeed why they are actually perfectly regular within their own terms) requires digging back into the grammar of the reconstructed proto-language.

Ablaut is the oldest and most extensive single source of vowel gradation in the Indo-European languages, and must be distinguished clearly from other forms of gradation which developed later, such as:

Germanic umlaut
<man> /mn/ | <men>  /men/,
<goose> /gs/ | <geese> /gs/,
<long> /lɒŋ/ | <length> /leŋkθ/,
<think> /θɪŋk/ | <thought> /θɔːt/)

English word-stress patterns
<man> /mn/ | <woman> /ˡwʊm.ən/
<photograph> /ˡfəʊ.tə.grɑːf/ | <photography> /fəˡtɒg.rə.fi/

Confusingly, in some contexts, the terms 'ablaut', 'vowel gradation', 'apophony' and 'vowel alternation' may be heard used synonymously, especially in synchronic comparisons, but historical linguists prefer to keep 'ablaut' for the specific Indo-European phenomenon, which is the meaning intended by the linguists who first coined the word.

Since ablaut was a regular system in PIE, but survives only as irregular or partially regular variations in the recorded languages, any explanation of the topic has to begin with this. PIE is the hypothetical parent language from which most of the modern and ancient European languages evolved. By comparing the recorded forms from the daughter languages, linguists can infer the forms of the parent language. However, it is not certain how PIE was realised phonetically, and the reconstructions are to be understood as an encoding of the deduced phonemes; there is no correct way to pronounce them. All PIE forms are marked with an asterisk to indicate that they are hypothetical. For more details on these reconstructions, see Proto-Indo-European, Laryngeal theory and Comparative

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Ablaut in PIE

Contd. from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_ablaut 090914

PIE had a regular ablaut sequence that contrasted the five vowel sounds <e/ē> <o/ō> <>. This means that in different forms of the same word, or in different but related words, the basic vowel, a short <e>, could be replaced by a long <ē>, a short <o> or a long <ō>, or it could be omitted (transcribed as ).

When a syllable had a short <e>, it is said to be in the "e-grade"; when it had no vowel, it is said to be in the "zero grade", etc. Note that when referring simply to the e-grade or o-grade, the short vowel forms are meant, unless the lengthened grades are specified. The (short) e-grade is sometimes called the full grade.

UKT: Notice that the Wikipedia has given central vowels which can be "approximated" to Burmese-Myanmar:
  "e-grade" :
  <e> -- {} ; <ē> -- {:}
  "o-grade" :
  <o> -- {o} ; <ō> -- {o:}
  "zero grade"
  Not indicated
Please note that the above is an "approximation" because of " two-three tone problem" , and the creak registers {.} and {o.} cannot be represented. Our interest with the "short vowel" is not primarily because of its "shortness in length" but because most of the Burmese-Myanmar rimes (vowel and coda-consonant as {a.tht}) are formed with short vowels, whereas the rimes in Pali-Myanmar may be formed with both the short and long vowels.

A classic example of the five grades of ablaut in a single root is provided by the different case forms of two closely related Greek words:

The syllable in bold is the one being considered. It is crucial also to notice which syllable carries the word stress - that in italics, and in Greek, that with the diacritic. In this atypically neat example, switch to the zero-grade can be seen when the word stress moves to the following syllable, a switch to the o-grade when the word stress moves to the preceding syllable, and a lengthening of the vowel when the syllable is in word-final position. However, as with most PIE reconstructions, scholars differ about the details of this example.

Until lately it has often been speculated that the historical development in PIE should have been that an original e-grade underwent two changes in some phonetic environments: under certain circumstances it changed its colouring to (long or short) o (the o-grade), and in others it disappeared entirely (the zero-grade). However, since such phonetic conditions which controlled ablaut have never been determined, the position of the word stress may not have been a key factor at all. And since there are many counterexamples like e.g. *deyw- and NPl. *-es which show pretonic and posttonic e-grade, respectively, these rules may never be found anyway. For these reasons, there has recently been made an attempt to analyse Early PIE ablaut in terms of introflexion and root-and-pattern-morphology. [1] It has been shown that it seems to be highly likely that Early PIE was of the root-inflexional morphological type, as was Proto-Semitic (see also Proto-Indo-European language).


Zero grade

The zero grade of ablaut may appear difficult. In the case of *ph2trs, which may already in PIE have been pronounced something like /pət-'ros/, it is not difficult to imagine this as a contraction of an older *ph2ters, pronounced perhaps /pət-er-'os/, as this combination of consonants and vowels would be possible in English too. In other cases, however, the absence of a vowel strikes the speaker of a modern western European language as unpronounceable.

To understand this, one must be aware that PIE had a number of sounds which in principle were consonants, yet could operate in ways analogous to vowels. These are the four syllabic sonorants, the three laryngeals and the two semi-vowels:

The syllabic sonorants are m, n, r and l, which could be consonants much as they are in English, but could also be held on as continuants and carry a full syllable stress; when this happens, they are transcribed with a small circle beneath them. Compare r and l in some modern Slavic languages, or m and n in some African languages: in Srb, the Serbian word for "Serb", the r carries much the function of a vowel; in the African word Ngazija, the name of a Bantu language, the initial N- should be pronounced with a pulse (nasal plosion) , as a full syllable, without the help of a vowel. Modern English dialects have a syllabic consonant /l/ as the final syllable of <bottle> [bɒtl̩ˠ] and a syllabic /m/ in some pronunciations of "enthusiasm".

The laryngeals could be pronounced as consonants, in which case they were probably variations on the h sound, hence they are normally transcribed as h1, h2 and h3. However they could also carry a syllable stress, in which case they were more like vowels, hence some linguists prefer to transcribe them ə1, ə2 and ə3. The vocalic pronunciation may have originally involved the consonantal sounds with a very slight schwa before and/or after the consonant.

[The semi-vowels.] In pre-vocalic positions, the phonemes u and i were semi-vowels, probably pronounced like English <w> and <y>, but they could also become pure vowels when the following ablaut vowel reduced to zero. When u and i came in postvocalic positions, the result was a diphthong. Ablaut is nevertheless regular, and looks like this:

Thus any of these could replace the ablaut vowel when it was reduced to the zero-grade: the pattern CVrC (e.g. *bʰergʰ-) could become CrC (*bʰrgʰ-).

However, not every PIE syllable was capable of forming a zero grade; some consonant structures inhibited it in particular cases, or completely. So for example, although the preterite plural of a Germanic strong verb (see below) is derived from the zero grade, classes 4 and 5 have instead vowels representing the lengthened e-grade, as the stems of these verbs could not have sustained a zero grade in this position.

The zero grade has been said to be due to pre-PIE syncope, but as there are pretonic as well as posttonic e-grades (e.g. *deyw-, NPl. *-es etc.) it has shown to be impossible to figure out a rule for it. Especially those Indo-Europeanists that regard Early PIE as a root-inflectional language semitico more with root-and-pattern-morphology (see the footnote under "Proto-Indo-European language, Morphology") now reject the traditional "syncope-hypothesis", since within that theory, ablaut is seen as originally consisting of a combination of vowels which form a transfixal and discontinuous vowel melody.



It is still a matter of debate whether PIE had an original a-vowel at all. In later PIE, the disappearance of the laryngeal h2 could leave an a-colouring and this may explain all occurrences of a in later PIE. However some argue that the e-grade could sometimes be replaced by an a-grade without the influence of a laryngeal. This is controversial, but might help to explain the vowels in class 6 Germanic verbs, for example.


Subsequent development of ablaut

Although PIE only had this one, basically regular ablaut sequence, the development in the daughter languages is frequently far more complicated, and few reflect the original system as neatly as Greek. Various factors such as vowel harmony [UKT: see harmo.htm in a separate file], assimilation with nasals, or the effect of the presence of laryngeals in the Indo-European (IE) roots and their subsequent loss in most daughter languages, mean that a language may have several different vowels representing a single vowel in the parent language. Thus while ablaut survives in some form in all Indo-European languages, it becomes progressively less systematic over time.

Ablaut explains vowel differences between related words of the same language. For example:

English <fetch> /feʧ/ and <foot> /fʊt/ both come from the same IE root *ped-, the common idea being "going". The former comes from the e-grade, the latter from the lengthened o-grade.

German <Berg> /bɜːg/ 'hill' and <Burg> /bɜːg/ 'castle' both come from the root *bʰergʰ-, which presumably meant "high". The former comes from the e-grade, the latter from the zero-grade. (Zero-grade followed by r becomes ur in Germanic.)

Ablaut also explains vowel differences between cognates in different languages.

English <tooth> /tuːθ/ comes from Germanic *tan-uz, which is related to Latin dens, dentis and Greek ὀδούς, ὀδόντος (same meaning), reflected in the English words dentist and orthodontic. The reconstructed IE root is identical to the Latin: *dent-. The consonant differences can be explained by regular sound shifts in primitive Germanic, but not the vowel differences: by the regular laws of sound changes, Germanic a goes back to PIE o. The explanation is that the Germanic and Greek words developed from the o-grade, the Latin word from the e-grade. (Going a step further back, some scholars reconstruct *h1dnts, from the zero grade of the root *h1ed- 'to eat' and the participal -ont-, so explaining it as 'the eating one')

English <foot> /fʊt/, as mentioned above, comes from the lengthened o-grade of *ped-. Greek πούς, ποδός and Latin pes, pedis (cf. English octopus and pedestrian), come from the (short) o-grade and the e-grade respectively.

For the English-speaking non-specialist, a good reference work for quick information on IE roots, including the difference of ablaut grade behind related lexemes, is Calvert Watkins, The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, 2nd edition, Boston & New York 2000.

(Note that in discussions of lexis, IE roots are normally cited in the e-grade and without any inflections.)


Ablaut and grammatical function

In PIE, there were already ablaut differences within the paradigms of verbs and nouns. These were not the main markers of grammatical form, since the inflection system served this purpose, but they must have been significant secondary markers.

An example of ablaut in the paradigm of the noun in PIE can be found in *prtus, from which the English words <ford> and (via Latin) <port> are derived.

    root (p-r) suffix (t-u)
Nominative *per-tu-s e-grade zero-grade
Accusative *per-tu-m e-grade zero-grade
Genitive *pr̥-teu-s zero-grade e-grade
Dative *pr̥-teu-ei zero-grade e-grade

An example in a verb: *bʰeidʰonom "to wait" (cf. "bide").

Infinitive *bʰeidʰ-ono-m e-grade  
Perfect (3rd singular) *bʰe-bʰoidʰ-e o-grade (note reduplicating prefix)
Perfect (3rd plural) *bʰe-bʰidʰ-nt zero-grade (note reduplicating prefix)

In the daughter languages, these came to be important markers of grammatical distinctions. The vowel change in the Germanic strong verb, for example, is the direct descendant of that seen in the Indo-European verb paradigm. Examples in modern English are:

Infinitive :
<sing> /sɪŋ/ ; <give> /gɪv/ ; <strive> /straɪv/ ; <eat> /iːt/

Preterite (UKT: note the pronunciation of "preterite")
<sang> /sŋ/ ; <gave> /geɪv/ ; <strove> /strəʊv/ ; <ate> /eɪt/

Past participle
<sung> /sʌɪ/ ; <given> /ˡgɪv|.ən/ ; <striven> /ˡstrɪv.ən/ ; <eaten> /ˡiː.tən/

It was in this context of Germanic verbs that ablaut was first described, and this is still what most people primarily associate with the phenomenon. A fuller description of ablaut operating in English, German and Dutch verbs and of the historical factors governing these can be found at the article Germanic strong verb.

The same phenomenon is displayed in the verb tables of Latin, Ancient Greek and Sanskrit. Examples of ablaut as a grammatical marker in Latin are the vowel changes in the perfect stem of verbs.

Present tense Perfect    
ago egi "to do"  
video vīdi "to see" (vowel lengthening)
sedeo sēdi "to sit" (vowel lengthening)
cado cecidi "to fall" (note reduplicating prefix)

Ablaut can often explain apparently random irregularities. For example, the verb "to be" in Latin has the forms est (he is) and sunt (they are). The equivalent forms in German are very similar: ist and sind. The same forms are present in slavic langues - est and sut' . The difference between singular and plural in this languages is easily explained: the late PIE root is *es- (going back to an earlier h1es- with subsequent loss of the laryngeal). In the singular, the stem is stressed, so it remains in the e-grade, and it takes the inflection -t. In the plural, however, the inflection -nt was stressed, causing the stem to reduce to the zero grade: *es-n̥t *s-n̥t. When, much later, the daughter languages became uncomfortable with this nasal plosion, they introduced compensatory vowels after the /s/. See main article: Indo-European copula.

Some of the morphological functions of the various grades are as follows:


Present tense of thematic verbs; root stress.
Present singular of athematic verbs; root stress.
Accusative and vocative singular, nominative/accusative/vocative dual, nominative plural of nouns.


Verbal nouns with ending stress.
Present tense of causative verbs; stem (not root) stress.
Perfect singular tense.


Present dual and plural tense of athematic verbs; ending stress.
Perfect dual and plural tense; ending stress.
Past participles; ending stress.
Some verbs in the aorist tense (the Greek thematic "second aorist").
Oblique singular/dual/plural, accusative plural of nouns.

lengthened grade:

Nominative singular of many nouns.

See also

Germanic Umlaut
Guna (in grammar)
Inflected language

UKT: End of Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_ablaut 090914

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Inflection : the most confusing difference between Burmese and English

UKT: One of the most difficult ideas to learn for a Burmese-Myanmar student learning ESL (English as a Second Language) is inflection. I've written (mostly copied) the following based on Inflection http://en.allexperts.com/e/i/in/inflection.htm 090912.

The passage that has drawn my attention to this site is "Afrikaans, an extremely young language, is almost completely uninflected and borders on being analytic." Bearing in mind the Lonsdale's remark about the uninflected Burmese and inflected Pali (both written in Myanmar script), I have to know what an almost completely uninflected language would like and inflection in general. But, alas, I do not know Dutch (more specifically the 17th century Dutch) from which Afrikaans was developed.


Inflection or inflexion is the modification or marking of a word (or more precisely lexeme) to reflect grammatical (that is, relational) information, such as grammatical gender, tense, or person. [UKT ]

UKT note: gender, tense, and person are all absent in Burmese. And therefore there is no such thing as "agreement" .

The concept of a "word" independent of the different inflections is called a lexeme, and the form of a word that is considered to have no or minimal inflection is called a lemma. Compatible inflection at the sentence level is known as concord or agreement.

Declension and Conjugation

Those who study [English] grammar may be familiar with two traditional grammatical terms that refer to inflectional paradigms of specific word classes:

Declension: noun inflectional paradigm (often including pronouns, adjectives, and determiners as well; often involving number, case, and/or gender).

Conjugation: verb inflectional paradigm (often involving tense, mood, voice, and/or aspect, as well as agreement with one or more arguments   in number, gender, and/or person)

[Examples given for Latin and Lakota are not copied.]

However, these two terms seem to be biased toward well-known dependent-marking languages (such as Spanish, Latin, German, Russian, Japanese etc.). In dependent-marking languages, nouns in adpositional phrases can carry inflectional morphemes. (Adpositions include prepositions and postpositions.) In head-marking languages, the adpositions can carry the inflection in adpositional phrases. This means that these languages will have inflectional paradigms involving adpositions.

Inflection vs. derivation

Inflection is the process of adding inflectional morphemes (atomic meaning units) [bound morphemes?] to a word, which may indicate grammatical information (for example, case, number, person, gender or word class, mood, tense, or aspect). Compare with derivational morphemes, which create a new word from an existing word, sometimes by simply changing grammatical category (for example, changing a noun to a verb).

Words generally do not appear in dictionaries with inflectional morphemes. But they often do appear with derivational morphemes. For instance, English dictionaries list <readable> /ˡriː.də.b|l/ and <readability> /ˌriː.dəˡbɪl.ə.ti/, words with derivational suffixes, along with their root <read> /riːd/. However, no English dictionary will list <book> /bʊk/ as one entry and <books> /bʊks/ as a separate entry nor will they list <jump> /ʤʌmp/ and <jumped> /ʤʌmpt/as two different entries.

In some languages, inflected words do not appear in a fundamental form (the root morpheme) except in dictionaries and grammars.

Inflectional morphology

Languages that add inflectional morphemes to words are sometimes called inflectional languages. Morphemes may be added in several different ways:

affixing, or simply adding morphemes onto the word without changing the root,

reduplication, doubling all or part of a word to change its meaning,

alternation, exchanging one sound for another in the root (usually vowel sounds, as in the ablaut process found in Germanic strong verbs and the umlaut often found in nouns, among others).

stress, pitch and tone, where no sounds are added or changed but the intonation and relative strength of each sound is altered regularly.

A schema of all inflections for a word is sometimes called a paradigm.

Affixing includes prefixing (adding before the base), and suffixing (adding after the base), as well as the much less common infixing (inside) and circumfixing (a combination of prefix and suffix).

Inflection is most typically realized by adding an inflectional morpheme (that is, affixation) to the base form (either the root or a stem).

Relation to morphological typology

Inflection is sometimes confused with synthesis in languages. The two terms are related but not the same. Languages are broadly classified morphologically into analytic and synthetic categories, or more realistically along a continuum between the two extremes. Analytic languages isolate meaning into individual words, whereas synthetic languages create words not found in the dictionary by fusing or agglutinating morphemes, sometimes to the extent of having a whole sentence's worth of meaning in a single word. Inflected languages by definition fall into the synthetic category, though not all synthetic languages need be inflected.


Highly inflected language families

The Dravidian languages are highly inflected, as well as the Finno-Ugric languages and many Native American languages.

UKT: One of the Dravadian languages that is of interest to us is Telugu script of India which is supposed to be related to the Mon script of Myanmar from which the Myanmar akshara was supposed to have been derived in the 11th century. The Telugu akshara was supposedly derived from the Asoka (dubbed Brahmi). Thus, the route of transmission from Asoka to Myanmar was supposed to be by the sea in the south.
   However, because of high similarity between the Asoka akshara and the Myanmar akshara, I have theorized that the route of transmission was overland directly from northern into into northern Myanmar even during the life time of the Buddha about a thousand year before. The receiving area in northern Myanmar was Tagaung. I have based my supposition on the story of the influx of refugees who came with Abhiraza mentioned in the Glass Palace Chronicles and also on personal communication with the late U Thein Aung aka Chandra Prasad, Lecturer in Chemistry, Bassein University, about his own father and fellow Gurkhas "walking" from/to Nepal to Myitkyina.

Indo-European languages

All Indo-European languages, such as English, German, Russian, Persian (Fârsi), Spanish, French, Sanskrit, and Hindi are inflected to a greater or lesser extent. In general, older Indo-European languages such as Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, and more prominently Greek and Sanskrit in all their historical forms, are moderately inflected. Newer languages such as English and French have lost much of their historical inflection. Afrikaans, an extremely young language, is almost completely uninflected and borders on being analytic. Some branches of Indo-European (for example, the Slavic languages and the Germanic languages with the exception of English and Afrikaans) seem to have generally retained more inflection than others (for example, Romance languages).


Old English was a moderately inflected language, using an extensive case system similar to that of modern Icelandic or German. Middle and Modern English lost progressively more of the Old English inflectional system. Modern English is considered a weakly inflected language, since its nouns have only vestiges of inflection (plurals, the pronouns), and its regular verbs have only three forms: an inflected form for the past indicative and subjunctive (looked), an inflected form for the third-person-singular present indicative <looks> /lʊks/, and an uninflected form for everything else <look>/lʊk/. While the English possessive indicator 's (as in "Jane's book") is a remnant of the Old English genitive case suffix, it is now not a suffix but a clitic. See also declension in English.

Other Germanic languages

Old Norse was inflected, but modern Swedish, Norwegian and Danish have, like English, lost almost all inflection. Icelandic preserves almost all of the inflections of Old Norse and has added its own. Modern German remains moderately inflected, retaining four noun cases, although the genitive began falling into disuse in the late 20th century in all but formal writing. The case system of Dutch, simpler than German's, is also becoming more simplified in common usage. Afrikaans, recognized as a distinct language in its own right rather than a Dutch dialect only in the early 20th century, has lost almost all inflection.

East Asian languages

Some of the major Eastern Asian languages (such as the various Chinese languages and Vietnamese) are not inflected, or show very little inflection (though they used to show more), so they are considered analytic languages (also known as isolating languages).


Japanese shows a high degree of inflection on verbs, less so on adjectives, and very little on nouns, but it is always strictly agglutinative and extremely regular. Formally, every noun phrase must be marked for case, but this is done by invariable particles (clitic postpositions). (Many grammarians consider Japanese particles to be separate words, and therefore not an inflection, while others consider agglutination a type of inflection, and therefore consider Japanese nouns inflected.)


Basque, a language isolate, is an extremely inflected language, heavily inflecting both nouns and verbs. A Basque noun is inflected in 17 different ways for case, multiplied by 4 ways for its definiteness and number. These first 68 forms are further modified based on other parts of the sentence, which in turn are inflected for the noun again. It is been estimated that at two levels of recursion, a Basque noun may have 458,683 inflected forms (Agirre et al, 1992). Verb forms are similarly complex, agreeing with the subject, the direct object and several other arguments.



In English many nouns are inflected for number with the inflectional plural affix <-s> (as in <dog> --> <dog-s>), and most English verbs are inflected for tense with the inflectional past tense affix <-ed> (as in <call> --> <call-ed>).

English also inflects verbs by affixation to mark the third person singular in the present tense (with -s), and the present participle (with -ing). English short adjectives are inflected to mark comparative and superlative forms (with -er and -est respectively).

In addition, English also shows inflection by Ablaut (mostly in verbs) and Umlaut (mostly in nouns), as well the odd long-short vowel alternation. For example [UKT: concentrate on the IPA transcription]:

inflection by Ablaut (mostly in verbs)

<write> /rt/,
  <wrote> /rəʊt/,
  <written> /ˡrɪt.ən/
  -- Ablaut, and also suffixing in the participle

<sing> /sɪŋ/,
  <sang> /sŋ/,
  <sung> /sʌŋ/
  -- Ablaut

inflection by Umlaut (mostly in nouns)

<foot> /fʊt/, <feet> /ft/
  -- Umlaut

<mouse> /ms/, <mice> /ms/
  -- Umlaut

the odd long-short vowel alternation

<child> /ʧld/ , <children> /ˡʧɪl.drən/
  -- vowel alternation, and also suffixing in the plural

A limited subset of English verbs and nouns are related by stress-change inflection . Such is the case of pairs like :

a <record> /rɪˡkɔːd/ --
  (noun, stressed on the first syllable)
<to record> /tuː/ /rɪˡkɔːd/ --
  (verb, stressed on the last).

In the past, writers sometimes gave words Latin inflections to make them feminine to show sex :

<doctor> /ˡdɒk.t|əʳ/ -->  <doctress>
<Negro> /ˡneɪ.grəʊ/ --> <Negress> /ˡniː.grəs/
<dictator> /dɪkˡteɪ.təʳ/ -->  <dictatrix>
<professor> /prəˡfes.əʳ/ --> <professress>
<orator> /ˡɒr.ə.təʳ/ --> <oratress>

These inflected forms were never frequently used, although many English users continue to use Latin endings today in somewhat more common constructions such as <actress> /ˡk.trəs/ and <waitress> /ˡweɪ.trəs/.

German, which is related to English, employs many of these inflectional devices, but Umlaut and Ablaut are widespread, while in English they are considered more like exceptions.

Latin and Romance languages

The Romance languages like Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian etc., are more inflectional than English, especially when it comes to verb forms. A single morpheme usually carries information about person, number, tense, aspect and mood, and the verb paradigm may be considerably complex. Nouns are simpler, but they are inflected by number and grammatical gender. There is no Ablaut or Umlaut, and only little predictable vowel alternation, found on certain verbs where the Latin root had the phonemes /E/ or /O/.

Latin is in fact more complicated, showing Ablaut in the verb paradigm, and also some verb inflection for voice (which is realized only by syntactic means in its daughter languages), as well as a more complicated noun paradigm (with several patterns of declension, and three genders instead of the two found in most Romance tongues).

UKT: End of http://en.allexperts.com/e/i/in/inflection.htm 090912.

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Aspect : Grammar

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_aspect 090730

In linguistics, the grammatical aspect (sometimes called viewpoint aspect) of a verb defines the temporal flow (or lack thereof) in the described event or state. In English, for example, the past-tense sentences "I swam" and "I was swimming" differ in aspect (the first sentence is in what is called the perfective or completive aspect, and the second in what is called the imperfective or durative aspect). The related concept of tense or the temporal situation indicated by an utterance, is typically distinguished from aspect.

UKT: Unlike English, tense is not important in colloquial Burmese-Myanmar. Yet, we can deliberately insert extra words to indicate tense. The following have been deliberately set in the past tense for comparison to English. :

I swam. - perfective or completive aspect
{nga r ku:hk.t}
direct translation: I water swim-(past tense)

While I was swimming, - imperfective or durative aspect
{nga r ku:n-toan:ka.}
direct translation: I water swim-(durative aspect)

Aspect, as discussed here, is a formal property of a language. Some languages distinguish different aspects through overt inflections or words that serve as aspect markers, while others, such as English, have no overt marking of aspect. For example, the K'iche' language spoken in Guatemala has the inflectional prefixes k- and x- to mark incompletive and completive aspect; [1] [2] Mandarin Chinese has the aspect markers -le, -zhe, and -guo to mark the perfective, durative, and experiential aspects, [3] and also marks aspect with adverbs ; [4] and English does not have overt marking for most aspects. Even languages that do not mark aspect formally, however, can convey such distinctions by the use of adverbs, phrases, serial verb constructions or other means; for example, English can mark progressive aspect through the use of the progressive tense (adding be before a verb and affixing -ing to the end of the verb). [5]

Grammatical aspect is distinguished from lexical aspect or aktionsart, which is an inherent feature of verbs or verb phrases and is determined by the nature of the event that the verb describes, whereas grammatical aspect is more often determined by inflectional morphology, aspect markers, or adverbs and other syntactic constructions.

Grammatical aspect may have been first dealt with in the work of the Indian linguist Yaska (यास्कः) {yaa-ka:} (ca. 7th century BCE), who distinguishes actions that are processes (bhāva), from those where the action is considered as a completed whole (mūrta). This is of course the key distinction between the imperfective and perfective. Yaska also applies this distinction between a verb and an action nominal.

Pal-Myan: {Ba-wa.}
- - UHS-PMD0730

UKT from UHS: m. coming into being, verb, nature, birth


Common aspectual distinctions

The most fundamental aspectual distinction, represented in many languages, is between perfective aspect and imperfective aspect. This is the basic aspectual distinction in the Slavic languages. It semantically corresponds to the distinction between the tenses known respectively as the aorist and imperfect in Greek, the preterite and imperfect in Spanish, the simple past (pass simple) and imperfect in French, and the perfect and imperfect in Latin. Essentially, the perfective aspect refers to a single event conceived as a unit, while the imperfective aspect represents an event in the process of unfolding or a repeated or habitual event. In the past tense, the distinction often coincides with the distinction between the simple past "X-ed," as compared to the progressive "was X-ing." For example, the perfective would translate both verbs in the sentence "He raised his sword and struck the enemy." However, in the sentence "As he was striking the enemy, he was killed by an arrow," the first verb would be rendered by an imperfective, and the second by a perfective.

UKT: Contd. below in Aspect vs. tense.

Contents of this page

Aspect vs. tense

Contd. from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_aspect 090730

Aspect is a somewhat difficult concept to grasp for the speakers of most modern Germanic languages, because they tend to conflate the concept of aspect with the concept of tense. [UKT ]

Although English largely separates tense and aspect formally, its aspects (neutral, progressive, perfect and progressive perfect) do not correspond very closely to the distinction of perfective vs. imperfective that is common in most other languages. Furthermore, the separation of tense and aspect in English is not maintained rigidly. One instance of this is the alternation, in some forms of English, between sentences such as "Have you eaten yet?" and "Did you eat yet?". Another is in the past perfect ("I had eaten"), which sometimes represents the combination of past tense and perfect aspect ("I was full because I had already eaten"), but sometimes simply represents a past action which is anterior to another past action ("A little while after I had eaten, my friend arrived"). (The latter situation is often represented in other languages by a simple perfective tense. Formal Spanish and French use a past anterior tense in cases such as this.)

In most dialects of Ancient Greek, aspect is indicated uniquely by tense. For example, the very frequently used aorist tense, though a functional preterite tense in the indicative mood, conveys historic or 'immediate' aspect in the subjunctive and optative. The perfect tense in all moods is used solely as an aspect marker and not, ironically, as a tense, conveying the sense of a resultant state. E.g. Template: Polyphonic - I see (present); Template: Polyphonic - I saw (aorist); Template: Polyphonic - I am in a state of having seen = I know (perfect).

Many Sino-Tibetan languages, like Mandarin, lack grammatical tense but are rich in aspect.

Lexical vs. grammatical aspect

It is extremely important to distinguish between grammatical aspect, as described here, and lexical aspect. Lexical aspect is an inherent property of verbs or verb-complement phrases, and is not marked formally in most languages. The distinctions made as part of lexical aspect are different from those of grammatical aspect, usually relating to situation aspect rather than viewpoint aspect. Typical distinctions are between states ("I had"), activities ("I shopped"), accomplishments ("I painted a picture"), achievements ("I bought"). These distinctions are often relevant syntactically. For example, states and activities, but not usually achievements, can be used with a prepositional for-phrase describing a time duration: "I had a car for five hours", "I shopped for five hours", but not "*I bought a car for five hours". Lexical or situation aspect is sometimes called Aktionsart, especially by German and Slavic linguists. Lexical or situation aspect is marked in Athabaskan languages.

One of the factors in situation aspect is telicity. Telicity might be considered a kind of lexical aspect, except that it is typically not a property of a verb in isolation, but rather a property of an entire verb phrase. Achievements and accomplishments have telic situation aspect, while states, activities and semelfactives have atelic situation aspect.

The other factor in situation aspect is duration, which is also a property of a verb phrase. Accomplishments, states, and activities have duration, while achievements and semelfactives do not.

Usage of aspect

In some languages, aspect and time are very clearly separated, making them much more distinct to their speakers. There are a number of languages that mark aspect much more saliently than time. Prominent in this category is Chinese, which differentiates many aspects but relies exclusively on (optional) time-words to pinpoint an action with respect to time. In other language groups, for example in most modern Indo-European languages (except Slavic languages), aspect has become almost entirely conflated, in the tense system, with time.

In Russian, aspect is more salient than tense in narrative. Russian, like other Slavic languages, uses different lexical entries for the different aspects, whereas other languages mark them morphologically, and still others with auxiliaries (e.g., English).

UKT: Below you will be seeing some Arabic words. Just remember that Arabic writes from right to left, and if you are an TIL editor editing the text layout it is best to leave things as they are unless you can read Arabic.

In high Arabic (الفصحى, "al-Fusha", the clear (language)) the verb is marked for tense but not aspect, according to the indigenous tradition. The "Past Verb" (فعل ماضي, fi'l maadiy) denotes an event (حدث, hadath) completed in the past, but says nothing about the relation of this past event to present status, nor about aspect, at least not directly. For example, "وصل", wasala, "he arrived", indicates that arrival occurred in the past without saying anything about the present status of the arriver - maybe he stuck around, maybe he turned around and left, etc. - nor about the aspect of the past event except insofar as completeness can be considered aspectual. [UKT ]

This "Past Verb" is clearly similar if not identical to the Greek Aorist, which is considered a tense but is more of an aspect marker. In the Arabic, aorist aspect is the logical consequence of past tense. By contrast, the "Verb of Similarity" (فعل المضارعة, fi'l al-mudaara'ah), so called because of its resemblance to the active participial noun, is considered to denote an event in the present or future without committing to a specific aspectual sense beyond the incompleteness implied by the tense: يضرب "yadribu", he strikes/is striking/will strike/etc. Those are the only two "tenses" in Arabic (not counting "أمر"، "amr", command, which the tradition counts as denoting future events.) At least that's the way the tradition sees it. To explicitly mark aspect, Arabic uses a variety of lexical and syntactic devices.

Contemporary Arabic dialects are another matter. One major change from al-Fusha is the use of a prefix particle (ب "bi" in most dialects) to explicitly mark progressive, continuous, or habitual aspect: بيكتب, bi-yiktib, he is now writing, writes all the time, etc.

Aspect can mark the stage of an action. The inchoative identifies that the action is soon to take place. The inceptive aspect identifies the beginning stage of an action (e.g. Esperanto uses ek- , e.g. Mi ekmanĝas, "I am beginning to eat."). Aspects of stage continue through progressive, pausative, resumptive, cessive, and terminative.

Important qualifications:

Although the perfective is often thought of as representing a "momentary action", this is not strictly correct. It can equally well be used for an action that took time, as long as it is conceived of as a unit, with a clearly defined start and end, such as "Last summer I visited France".

Grammatical aspect represents a formal distinction encoded in the grammar of a language. Although languages that are described as having imperfective and perfective aspects will agree in most cases in their usage of these aspects, no two languages will agree in every situation. For example:

Some languages have additional grammatical aspects. Spanish and Ancient Greek, for example, have a perfect aspect (not the same as the perfective), which refers to a state resulting from a previous action (also described as a previous action with relevance to a particular time, or a previous action viewed from the perspective of a later time). This corresponds (roughly) to the "have X-ed" construction in English, as in "I have recently eaten". Languages that lack this aspect (such as Portuguese, which is closely related to Spanish) often use the past perfective to render the present perfect (compare the roughly synonymous English sentences "Have you eaten yet?" and "Did you eat yet?").

In some languages, the formal representation of aspect is optional, and can be omitted when the aspect is clear from context or does not need to be emphasized. This is the case, for example, in Mandarin Chinese, with the perfective suffix le and (especially) the imperfective zhe.

For some verbs in some languages, the difference between perfective and imperfective conveys an additional meaning difference; in such cases, the two aspects will typically be translated using separate verbs in English. In Greek, for example, the imperfective sometimes adds the notion of "try to do something" (the so-called conative imperfect); hence the same verb, in the imperfective (present or imperfect tense) and aorist, respectively, is used to convey look and see, search and find, listen and hear. (For example, ηκουομεν ēkouomen "we listened" vs. ηκουσαμεν ēkousamen "we heard".) Spanish has similar pairs for certain verbs, such as (imperfect and preterite, respectively) saba "I knew" vs. supe "I found out", poda "I was able to" vs. pude "I succeeded (in doing something)", quera "I wanted to" vs. quise "I tried to", no quera "I did not want to" vs. no quise "I refused (to do something)". Such differences are often highly language-specific.

UKT: Contd. below in Aspect in English.

Contents of this page

Aspect in English

Contd. from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_aspect 090730

According to one prevalent account, the English tense system has only two basic tenses, present and past. No primitive future tense exists in English; the futurity of an event is expressed through the use of the auxiliary verbs <will> and <shall>, by use of a present form, as in "tomorrow we go to Newark", or by some other means. [UKT ]

Present and past, in contrast, can be expressed using direct modifications of the verb, which may be modified further by the progressive aspect (also called the continuous aspect), the perfect aspect (also called the completed aspect), or both. These two aspects are also referred to as BE + ING [6] and HAVE +EN, [7] respectively. Although a little unwieldy, such tags allow us to avoid the suggestion that uses of the aspect BE + ING always have a "progressive" or "continuous" meaning, which they do not. Each tense, in turn, is named according to its combination of aspect and time (past, present, or future). [UKT: I am taking this opportunity to compare English to Burmese. I am choosing colloquial Burmese and not literary Burmese for comparison.]

For the present tense:

Present Simple not progressive/continuous, not perfect; simple):
  <I eat>

{nga sa: t}

Present Progressive (progressive, not perfect):
  <I am eating>

{nga sa: n t}

Present Perfect (not progressive, perfect):
  <I have eaten>

{nga sa: pri: pri}

Present Perfect Progressive (progressive, perfect):
  <I have been eating>

{nga sa: n hk. t} : (UKT: I need to check with my peers.)

For the past tense:
(UKT: the same form as the present tense: the past is indicated by extra terms such as "yesterday" {ma.n.ka.}.)

Past Simple (not progressive/continuous, not perfect; simple):
  <I ate>

{nga ma.n.ka. sa: t}

Past Progressive (progressive, not perfect):
  <I was eating>

{nga ma.n.ka. sa: n t} : (UKT: I need to check with my peers.)

Past Perfect (not progressive, perfect):
  <I had eaten>

{nga ma.n.ka. sa: pri: pri}

Past Perfect Progressive (progressive, perfect):
  <I had been eating>

{nga ma.n.ka. sa: n hk. t} : (UKT: I need to check with my peers.)

(Note that, while many elementary discussions of English grammar would classify the Present Perfect as a past tense, from the standpoint of strict linguistics and that elucidated here it is clearly a form of the present, as we cannot say of someone now deceased that he "has eaten" or "has been eating"; the present auxiliary implies that he is in some way present (alive), even if the action denoted is completed (perfect) or partially completed (progressive perfect).)

The uses of these two aspects are quite complex. They may refer to the viewpoint of the speaker:

I was walking down the road when I met Michael Jackson's lawyer. (Speaker viewpoint in middle of action)

I have travelled widely, but I have never been to Moscow. (Speaker viewpoint at end of action)

But they can have other meanings:

You are being stupid now. (You are doing it deliberately)

You are not having chocolate with your sausages! (I forbid it)

I am having lunch with Mike tomorrow. (It is decided)

Another aspect that does survive in English, but that is no longer productive, is the frequentative, which conveys the sense of continuously repeated action; while prominent in Latin, it is omitted from most discussions of English grammar, as it suggests itself only by Scandinavian suffixes no longer heard independently from the words to which they are affixed (e.g., <blabber> for <blab>, <chatter> for <chat>, <dribble> for <drip>, <crackle> for <crack>, etc.).

Note that the aspectual systems of certain dialects of English, such as Hawaiian Creole English and African-American Vernacular English, are quite different from standard English, and often distinguish aspect at the expense of tense.

UKT: Contd. below in Perfective vs. Perfect.

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Perfective vs. Perfect

Contd. from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_aspect 090730

The terms perfective and perfect are used in an unfortunate and highly confusing fashion in different writings about linguistics. Traditional Greek grammar uses the term "perfect" to refer to a grammatical tense encoding what is variously described as a past action with present relevance or a present state resulting from a past action. (For example, "I have come to the cinema" implies both that I went to the cinema and that I am now in the cinema.) The perfect is opposed to the aorist, describing a simple past action, and the imperfect, describing an ongoing past action. From this, the aspectual nature of the perfect tense was generalized into the perfect aspect, describing a previously completed action with relevance to a particular time. Accordingly, English grammar speaks of the present perfect ("I have gone"), the past perfect or pluperfect ("I had gone"), and the future perfect ("I will have gone").

Latin, however, lacks a distinction between aorist and perfect, and for morphological reasons the single tense representing the combination of both meanings is called the "perfect". The two-way distinction here between imperfect and perfect is carried over into the terminology of various modern languages, such as the Slavic languages and the Romance languages, where a distinction between "imperfective" and "perfective" aspect corresponds to a distinction between an event viewed as ongoing or with internal structure and an event viewed as a simple whole. That is, what is called "perfective" is similar to the aspectual nature of the original Greek aorist, not the Greek perfect.

Many linguists have tried to maintain this terminology. The web site of SIL International, for example, describes the "perfective aspect" as "an aspect that expresses a temporal view of an event or state as a simple whole, apart from the consideration of the internal structure of the time in which it occurs". [8] This has led other linguists to categorize the three-way aspectual distinction visible in Greek, English, Spanish and various other languages as a distinction between "imperfective", "perfective" and "perfect". Not surprisingly, the latter two are constantly confused, and "perfective" is often taken to be synonymous with "perfect".

Examples of various aspects rendered in English

Perfective (aorist, simple; see above):
  'I struck the bell.' (single action)

Perfect (sometimes confusingly called "perfective"; see above):
  'I have arrived at the cinema.' (hence, I am now in the cinema)

Progressive (continuous):
  'I am eating.' (action is in progress)

Habitual: 'I walk home from work.' (every day)
  'I would walk [OR: used to walk] home from work.' (past habit)

Imperfective (either progressive or habitual):
  'I am walking to work' (progressive) or 'I walk to work every day' (habitual).

  'I am about to eat' OR: 'I am going to eat."

Recent Perfect or After Perfect:
  'I just ate' OR: 'I am after eating." (Hiberno-English)

  'I am beginning to eat.'

Inchoative (not clearly distinguished from prospective):
  'The apples are about to ripen.'

  'I am still eating.'

  'I am finishing my meal.'

  'I am quitting smoking.'

Defective :
  'I almost fell.'

  'I stopped working for a while.'

  'I resumed sleeping.'

  'I slept.'

  'I slept for an hour.'

  'I slept for a while.'

  'The argument went on and on.'

  'I read the same books again and again.'

  'It sparkled', contrasted with 'It sparked'. Or, 'I run around', vs. 'I run'.

  'I have gone to school many times.'

  'I listened carefully.'

  'I knocked over the chair.'

  'Mangoes grow on trees.'

  'It glared.'

  'It shone.'

  'It glimmered.'

Semelfactive (momentane):
  'The mouse squeaked once.' (contrasted to 'The mouse squeaked/was squeaking.')

UKT: More in Wikipedia article.

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Conjugation - grammatical

UKT: Grammatical conjugation is more important to the inflected Pali and English (IE languages) than to the non-inflected Burmese-Myanmar (a Tibeto-Burman language).

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_conjugation 090723

In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb, noun or adjective from its principal parts by inflection (regular alteration according to rules of grammar). Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, or other grammatical categories. All the different forms of the same verb constitute a lexeme and the form of the verb that is conventionally used to represent the canonical form of the verb is a lemma.

Conjugated forms of a verb are called finite forms. In many languages there are also one or more forms that remain unchanged with all or most of grammatical categories: the non-finite forms, such as the infinitive or the gerund. A table giving all the conjugated variants of a verb in a given language is called a conjugation table or a verb paradigm.

A regular verb has a paradigm of conjugation that derives all forms from a few specific forms or principal parts (maybe only one, such as the infinitive in English). When a verb cannot be conjugated straightforwardly like this, it is said to be irregular. Typically the principal parts are the root and/or several modifications of it (stems).

Conjugation is also the traditional name of a group of verbs that share a similar conjugation pattern in a particular language (a verb class). This is the sense in which teachers say that Latin has four conjugations of verbs. This means that any regular Latin verb can be conjugated in any person, number, tense, mood, and voice by knowing which of the four conjugation groups it belongs to, and its principal parts.


Indo-European languages usually inflect verbs for several grammatical categories in complex paradigms, although some, like English, have simplified verb conjugation to a large extent. Afrikaans and Swedish have gone even further and virtually abandoned verb conjugation altogether. Below is the conjugation of the verb to be in the present tense, indicative mood, active voice, in English, German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Icelandic, Swedish, Latvian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Hindi, Persian, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Albanian, Armenian, Ancient Attic Greek and Modern Greek. This is usually the most irregular verb. You may notice the similarities in corresponding verb forms. Some of the conjugations may be disused, like the English thou-form, or have additional meanings, like the English you-form, which can also stand for 2nd. person singular, or be impersonal.

1 Disused in the modern language.
2 The verbs have been transliterated, to facilitate the comparison with other languages. In the Greek alphabet, they are written as follows,
  from top to bottom: εἶναι, εἰμί, εἶ, ἐστί, ἐσμέν, ἐστέ, εἰσί.
3 The verbs have been transliterated, to facilitate the comparison with other languages. In the Greek alphabet, they are written as follows,
  from top to bottom: είμαι, είσαι, είναι, είμαστε, είστε, είναι.
4 The verbs have been transliterated, to facilitate the comparison with other languages. In the Cyrillic alphabet, they are written as follows,
  from top to bottom: бити, јесам/сам, јеси/си, јест(е)/је, јесмо/смо, јесте/сте, јесу/су. The latter forms are clitics.
5 The verbs have been transliterated, to facilitate the comparison with other languages. In the Cyrillic alphabet, they are written as follows,
  from top to bottom: бити, съм, си, е, сме, сте, са.
6 In the Tosk and Geg dialects, respectively.
7 Used as a noun ("being, existence").
8 Ptc: qen.
9 The verbs have been transliterated, to facilitate the comparison with other languages. In the Armenian alphabet, they are written as follows,
  from top to bottom: եմ, ես, է, ենք, էք 10/եք 11, են
10 Denotes Western Armenian forms
11 Denotes Eastern Armenian forms
12 In Flemish dialects.
13 The verbs have been transliterated, to facilitate the comparison with other languages. In the Cyrillic alphabet, they are written as follows,
  from top to bottom: е, сум, си, е, сме, сте, се.


Verbal agreement

Verbal agreement or concord is a morpho-syntactic construct in which properties of the subject and/or objects of a verb are indicated by the verb form. Verbs are then said to agree with their subjects (resp. objects).

Many English verbs exhibit subject agreement of the following sort: whereas I go, you go, we go, they go are all grammatical in standard English, she go is not. Instead, a special form of the verb to go has to be used to produce she goes. On the other hand I goes, you goes etc. are not grammatical in standard English. (Things are different in some English dialects that lack agreement.) A few English verbs have no special forms that indicate subject agreement (I may, you may, she may), and the verb <to be> has an additional form <am> that can only be used with the pronoun < I > as the subject.

Verbs in written French exhibit more intensive agreement morphology than English verbs:

je suis (I am)

tu es ("you are", singular informal)

elle est (she is),
nous sommes
(we are),
vous tes
("you are", plural),
ils sont
(they are).

Historically, English used to have a similar verbal paradigm. Some historic verb forms are used by Shakespeare as slightly archaic or more formal variants (I do, thou dost, she doth, typically used by nobility) of the modern forms.

Some languages with verbal agreement can leave certain subjects implicit when the subject is fully determined by the verb form. In Spanish, for instance, certain subject pronouns do not need to be explicitly present, even though in French, its close relative, they are obligatory. The Spanish equivalent to the French je suis (I am) can be simply soy (lit. "am"). The pronoun yo (I) in the explicit form yo soy is only required for emphasis or to clear ambiguity in complex texts.

Some languages have a richer agreement system in which verbs also agree with some or all of their objects. Ubykh exhibits verbal agreement for the subject, direct object, indirect object, benefaction and ablative objects (a.w3.s.xe.n.t'u.n, you gave it to him for me).

Basque can show agreement not only for subject, direct object and indirect object, but it also on occasion exhibits agreement for the listener as the implicit benefactor: autoa digute means "they brought us the car" (neuter agreement for listener), but autoa zigunate means "they brought us the car" (agreement for feminine singular listener).

Languages with a rich agreement morphology facilitate relatively free word order without leading to increased ambiguity. The canonical word order in Basque is Subject-Object-Verb. However, all permutations of subject, verb and object are permitted as well.

Factors that affect conjugation

Common grammatical categories according to which verbs can be conjugated are the following:

Finite verb forms:
Grammatical person
Grammatical number
Grammatical gender
Grammatical tense
Grammatical aspect
Grammatical mood
Grammatical voice

Non-finite verb forms.

Other factors which may affect conjugation are:

Degree of formality (see T-V distinction, Honorific speech in Japanese)
Inclusiveness and exclusiveness in the 1st. person plural
Valency : UKT - see below.

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitivity 090913

In linguistics, transitivity is a property of verbs that relates to whether a verb can take direct objects. It is closely related to valency.

Traditional grammar makes a binary distinction between transitive verbs such as <throw>, <injure>, <kiss> that take a direct object, versus intransitive verbs such as <fall> or <sit> that cannot take a direct object. In practice, many languages (including English) interpret the category more flexibly: allowing, for example, ambitransitive verbs or ditransitive verbs.

In functional grammar, transitivity is considered to be a continuum rather than a binary category. The "continuum" view takes a more semantic approach, e.g. by taking into account the degree to which an action affects its object (so that the verb <see> is described as having "lower transitivity" than the verb <kill>).

Formal analysis

Many languages, such as Hungarian, mark transitivity through morphology; transitive verbs and intransitive verbs behave in distinctive ways. In languages with polypersonal agreement, an intransitive verb will agree with its subject only, while a transitive verb will agree with both subject and direct object.

In other languages the distinction is based on syntax. It is possible to identify an intransitive verb in English, for example, by attempting to supply it with an appropriate direct object:

He kissed her hand - transitive verb.

She injured him - transitive verb.

What did you throw? - transitive verb.

By contrast, an intransitive verb coupled with a direct object will result in an ungrammatical utterance:

*What did you fall?

*I sat a chair.

Conversely (at least in a traditional analysis), using a transitive verb in English without a direct object will result in an incomplete sentence:

I kissed (. . .)

You injured (. . .)

Where is she now? *She's injuring.

English is unusually lax by Indo-European standards in its rules on transitivity; what may appear to be a transitive verb can be used as an intransitive verb, and vice versa. [UKT ]

<Eat> and <read> and many other verbs can be used either transitively or intransitively. Often there is a semantic difference between the intransitive and transitive forms of a verb:

<the water is boiling> vs. <I boiled the water>

<the grapes grew> vs. <I grew the grapes>

In these examples, the role of the subject differs between intransitive and transitive verbs.

Even though an intransitive verb may not take a direct object , it often may take an appropriate indirect object

I laughed at him.

What are considered to be intransitive verbs can also take cognate objects -- where the object is considered integral to the action, for example

I slept an hour.

Languages that express transitivity through morphology

The following languages of the below language families (or hypothetical language families) have this feature: [1]

In the Uralic language family:

Mordvinic languages

the three Ugric languages

Northern Samoyedic languages

In the Paleosiberian hypothetical language family:

Languages of both branches of the Eskimo-Aleut family;
  for details from the Eskimo branch, see e.g. Sireniki language , Kalaallisut language

Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages


Ket language has a very sophisticated verbal inclination systems, referring (among others) also to the object in many ways, (see also polypersonal agreement).

Functional analysis

Transitivity expresses a number of associated meanings across languages. Translingually, a prototypically transitive verb involves:

A change of state in the object - for example, smash, open, throw.

Agency and volition by the subject - where these are frequently absent in intransitive verbs, such as I sank or it broke.

Intensity of effect or change in the object - compare I shot at the deer (intransitive) versus I shot the deer (transitive).

Languages also differ in how the transitivity of a grammatical form affects its meaning.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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Valency (Linguistics)

From Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valency 090913

In linguistics, verb valency or valence refers to the number of arguments controlled by a verbal predicate. It is related, though not identical, to verb transitivity, which counts only object arguments of the verbal predicate. Verb valency, on the other hand, includes all arguments, including the subject of the verb.

The linguistic meaning of valence is derived from the definition of valency in chemistry. This metaphor is due to Lucien Tesnire.

Types of valency

There are several types of valency:

An avalent verb takes no arguments, e.g. It rains.
  (Though it is technically the subject of the verb, it is only a dummy subject, that is a syntactic placeholder with no true meaning. no other subject can replace it.)

A monovalent verb takes one argument, e.g. He sleeps.

A divalent verb takes two, e.g. He kicks the ball.

A trivalent verb takes three, e.g. He gives her a flower.

A tetravalent verb takes four. They are uncommon, perhaps non-existent in English.

The verb requires all of these arguments in a well-formed sentence, although they can sometimes undergo valency reduction or expansion.

For instance, <to eat> is naturally divalent, as in <he eats an apple>, but may be reduced to monovalency in <he eats>. This is called valency reduction.

Verbs that are usually monovalent, like <to sleep>, cannot take a direct object. However, there are cases where the valency of such verbs can be expanded, for instance in <He sleeps the sleep of death>. This is called valency expansion.

Verb valence can also be described in terms of syntactic versus semantic criteria. The syntactic valency of a verb refers to the number of dependent arguments that the verb can have, while semantic valence describes the thematic relations associated with a verb.

Lexical valency

The term valence has a related technical meaning in lexical semantics that elaborates on the role of argument structure - it refers to the capacity of other lexical units to combine with the given word. For instance, valence is one of the elements defining a construction in some Construction Grammars. This sense of the term, sometimes called Lexical Valency, is related to the above, but is far richer than the numerical notion inherited from chemistry

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UKT notes


aorist Grammar n. Abbr. aor. 1. A form of a verb in some languages, such as Classical Greek, that expresses action without indicating its completion or continuation. 2. A form of a verb in some languages, such as Classical Greek or Sanskrit, that in the indicative mood expresses past action. [From Greek aoristos indefinite, aorist tense a- not; See a- 1 horistos definable( from horizein to define) ;See horizon ] -- AHTD

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aorist 090914

Aorist (from the Greek: ἀόριστος, aristos, "without horizon, unbounded") is an aspect or, used more specifically, a verb tense in some Indo-European languages such as Greek. The term is also used for unrelated concepts in some other languages, such as Turkish.[1] In contrast to the imperfective aspect, which refers to an action as continual or repeated, or to the perfect aspect, which calls attention to the consequences generated by an action, the aorist aspect has no such implications, but refers to an action "pure and simple".[2]

In the indicative mood, the aorist refers to a past action, in a general way or as a completed event. It may also be used to express a general statement in the present (the "gnomic aorist"). Used this way, it is described as the aorist tense. In other moods (subjunctive, optative, and imperative), the infinitive, and (largely) the participle, the aorist is purely aspectual. In these forms, it has no temporal meaning, and acts purely as an alternative to the other aspects.

The aorist aspect is used, for example, in the Lord's Prayer :

in Matthew 6:11, which says "Give (δὸς ds, aorist imperative) us this day our daily bread").

In contrast, the similar passage

in Luke 11:3 uses the imperfective aspect, implying a sense of continuation with "Give (δίδου ddou, present imperative) us day by day our daily bread."

In Proto-Indo-European [PIE], the aorist may have originated simply as an aspect of syntactic inflection, but later it probably developed into a combination of tense and aspect, a similar syntax being evident in Sanskrit. Many Indo-European languages have lost the aorist as a distinct feature. In the development of Latin, for example, the aorist tense merged with the perfect.


In the Indo-European languages Greek and Sanskrit, the aorist is marked by several morphological devices, but [the following] three stand out as most common:

Morphological device : S-aorist
  Position : 1st
  Description :

The s-aorist or sigmatic aorist, so called because an 's' is inserted between the root and the personal ending. In Greek, ἀκούω akoō means "I hear", while ἤκουσα ēkousa means "I heard." (Grammatical note: the first letter of ἤκουσα is an eta, and not an alpha, because of a Greek verbal augment that marks the past indicative tense.) In Greek, this is called the first aorist, or the weak aorist.

Morphological device : Ablaut
  Position : 2nd
  Description :

This process is a change in vowel grade. IE [languages] made great use of ablaut to express semantic changes morphologically; in fact, English uses ablaut as well, creating such verb forms as:

<swim> , <swam> , <swum> 
<come> , <came> , <come>
<take> , <took> , <taken> 

English further uses ablaut in extended forms, such as:

<sit> , seat, sat, set (etymologically, to set is to cause to sit);
<lie> , lay, lain, laid, laid, layer ; and
<sing> , <sang> , <sung> , <song>

And Greek λείπω lepō "I leave", but ἔλιπον lipon "I left". In Greek, this is called the second aorist or the strong aorist.

Morphological device : Reduplication
Position : 3rd
Description :

While a reduplication is more commonly associated with the morphology of the perfect, there are sporadic verbs which use it in the aorist. The reduplicated aorist is more common in Sanskrit than in other IE languages, but an example in Greek is the verb ἄγω "I lead", which has the aorist ἤγαγον ēgagon "I led," (Grammatical note: the first letter of ἤγαγον is an eta, and not an alpha, because of a Greek verbal augment that marks the past indicative tense.)


UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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Excerpt from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophony 090915

In linguistics, apophony (also ablaut, gradation, alternation, internal modification, stem modification, stem alternation, replacive morphology, stem mutation, internal inflection) is the alternation of sounds within a word that indicates grammatical information (often inflectional)


Apophony is exemplified in English as the internal vowel alternations that produce such related words as :

<sing>, <sang>, <sung>, <song>
<rise>, <raise>
<bind>, <bound>
<goose>, <geese>

UKT: See the complete article in harmo.htm

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preterit or preterite Grammar adj. Abbr. pret. pt. 1. Of, relating to, or being the verb tense that describes a past action or state. n. Abbr. pret. pt. 1. The verb form expressing or describing a past action or condition. 2. A verb in the preterit form. [Middle English from Old French from Latin (tempus) praeteritum past (tense) , neuter past participle of praeterreto go by praeter beyond, comparative of prae before; See per 1 in Indo-European Roots. re to go; See ei- in Indo-European Roots.] -- AHTD

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syncope n. 1. Grammar The shortening of a word by omission of a sound, letter, or syllable from the middle of the word; for example, bos'n for boatswain. 2. Pathology A brief loss of consciousness caused by a temporary deficiency of oxygen in the brain; a swoon. See note at blackout . [Middle English sincopis from sincopene from Late Latin syncopēn ,accusative of syncopē from Greek sunkopē from sunkoptein to cut short sun- syn- koptein to strike] -- AHTD

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telicity 090913

In linguistics, telicity (from the Greek τέλος, meaning "end" or "goal") is the property of a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being complete in some sense. A verb or verb phrase with this property is said to be telic, while a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being incomplete is said to be atelic.

Testing for telicity in English

One common way to gauge whether an English verb phrase is telic is to see whether such a phrase as in an hour, in the sense of "within an hour", (known as a time-frame adverbial) can be applied to it. Conversely, a common way to gauge whether it's atelic is to see whether such a phrase as for an hour (a time-span adverbial) can be applied to it. [1] [2] [3] [4] This can be called the time-span/time-frame test. According to this test, the verb phrase built a house is telic, whereas the minimally different built houses is atelic:

Fine: "John built a house in a month."
Bad: *"John built a house for a month."
   → built a house is telic

Bad: *"John built houses in a month."
Fine: "John built houses for a month."
   → built houses is atelic

Other phrases can b6tested similarly; for example, walked home is telic, because "John walked home in an hour" is fine, while "John walked home for an hour" is bad, and walked around is atelic, because "John walked around in an hour" is bad, while "John walked around for an hour" is fine.

In applying this test, one must be careful about a number of things.

The tense and aspect of a verb may affect the result of this test; for example, phrases with progressive verb forms (is going, was talking, has been doing, and so on) almost always accept for an hour and almost never accept in an hour. The test is therefore primarily of interest for verb phrases with verbs in the simple past tense.

The phrase in an hour, and phrases like it, are ambiguous; they can mean either "in the span of an hour", i.e. "within an hour", or "one hour from now". Only the former meaning is of interest; "She will be coming in an hour" is fine, but that says nothing about the telicity of the phrase will be coming.

Strictly speaking, there is a context in which "John built houses in a month" is fine; consider "Jack took three months to build a house, while John built houses in a month." Here, what is meant is "John built houses; he built each house in a month"; and in this sense, built houses is actually telic. It can be argued that the verb phrase "build houses" is, in fact, telic at one level and atelic at another: the telicity applies to the verb without the plural object, and the atelicity applies to the verb and the object together.



Having end points

One often encounters the notion that telic verbs and verb phrases refer to events that have endpoints, and that atelic ones refer to events or states that don't have endpoints. [UKT ]

The notion of having endpoints applies to events in the world rather than the expressions that refer to them. This is the most criticized property of this definition. [5] In fact, every event or state in the world begins and ends at some point, except, perhaps, for states that can be described as "the existence of the universe." Certainly, John's being angry has a beginning, and, unless John is somehow eternally angry, it also has an endpoint. Thus, it is doubtful that one can define telic expressions by means of properties of the events or states that they refer to (a very similar problem arises with the notion that mass nouns refer to things that can't be counted). Thus, recent attempts at making the notion explicit focus on the way that telic expressions refer to, or present events or states.

Put differently, one can simply define telic verbs and verb phrases as referring to events conceptualized or presented as having endpoints, and atelic verbs and verb phrases as those conceptualized or presented as lacking endpoints.

This type of exercise can serve as a reminder of the futility of trying to link linguistic semantics to the real world without considering the intermediary agent of human cognition.

Tending towards a goal

According to Garey who introduced this term, telic verbs are verbs expressing an action tending towards a goal envisaged as realized in a perfective tense, but as contingent in an imperfective tense; atelic verbs, on the other hand, are verbs which do not involve any goal nor endpoint in their semantic structure, but denote actions that are realized as soon as they begin. [6]

Quantization and cumulativity

Perhaps the most commonly assumed definition of telicity nowadays is the algebraic definition proposed by Manfred Krifka. Krifka defines telic expressions as ones that are quantized. Atelic ones can be defined in terms of cumulative reference. An expression 'P' can be said to be quantized if and only if it satisfies the following implication, for any choice of x and y:

If x can be described by `P`, and y can also be described by 'P', then x is not a (mereological) proper part of y.

Suppose, for example, that John built two houses. Then each of the two building events can be described as built a house. But the building of the one house isn't, and indeed cannot be thought of a proper part of the building of the second. This contrasts with states describable as, say, walk around aimlessly. If John walked around aimlessly for two hours, then there will be many proper parts of that, that last, say 10 minutes, or 1 hour, etc. which also can be described as walk around aimlessly. Thus, for walk around aimlessly, there will be many choices of x and y, such that both can be described as walk around aimlessly, where x is a proper part of y. Hence, build a house is correctly characterized as telic and walk around aimlessly as atelic by this definition. Quantization can also be used in the definition of count nouns.

An expression 'P' is said to have cumulative reference if and only if, for any choice of x and y, the following implication holds:

If x can be described as 'P', and y can also be described as 'P', then the mereological sum of x and y can also be described as 'P'.

For example, if there is an event of John walking around from 1pm to 2pm, and another event of his walking around from 2pm to 3pm, then there is, by necessity, a third event which is the sum of the other two, which is also an event of walking around. This doesn't hold for expressions like "built a house." If John built a house from time 1 to time 2, and then he built another house from time 2 to time 3, then the sum of these to events (from time 1 to time 3) is not an event that can be described by "built a house." Cumulativity can also be used in the characterization of mass nouns, and in the characterization of the contrast between prepositions like "to" and "towards," i.e. "towards" has cumulative reference to (sets of) paths, while "to" does not.[7]


Telicity or telic aspect has been reading as a grammatical aspect lately, indicating a reached goal or action completed as intended. Languages that contrast telic and atelic actions are Pirah and Finnic languages such as Finnish and Estonian; Czech also has a perfective suffix pre-, which is additionally telic.

In Finnish, the telicity is mandatorily marked on the object: the accusative is telic, and the partitive is used to express atelicity. It should be noted that the terms telic and atelic are not traditionally used in Finnish grammatical description; instead, it is customary to speak of resultative and irresultative sentences.

An example of the contrast between resultative and irresultative in Finnish:

Kirjoitin artikkelin. wrote-1sg article-accusative "I wrote the article (and finished it)"
Kirjoitin artikkelia. wrote-1sg article-partitive "I wrote/was writing the article (but did not necessarily finish it)"

The telic sentence necessarily requires finishing the article. In the atelic sentence, it is not expressed whether or not the article is finished. The atelic form expresses ignorance, i.e. atelic is not anti-telic: Kirjoitin artikkelia ja sain sen valmiiksi "I was writing the article-[partitive] and then got it-[accusative] finished" is correct. What is interpreted as the goal or result is determined by the context, e.g.

Ammuin karhun "I shot the bear (succeeded)"; i.e., "I shot the bear dead". ← implicit purpose
Ammuin karhua "I shot (towards) the bear"; i.e., "I shot at the bear (but it did not die)".

There are many verbs that correspond to only one telicity due to their inherent meaning. The partitive verbs are the same as atelic verbs in Garey's definition, that is, the action normally does not have a result or goal, and it would be logically and grammatically incorrect to place them in the telic aspect. However, even inherently atelic verbs such as rakastaa "to love" can in semantically unusual constructions, where a kind of result is involved, become telic:

Hn rakastaa minua. (s)he love-3sg me-partitive "(s)he loves me"
Hn rakastaa minut kuoliaaksi. (s)he love-3sg me-accusative dead-translative "(s)he loves me to death"

Furthermore, the telicity contrast can act as case government, so that changing the case can change the meaning entirely. For example, nin hnet (I saw him-acc) means "I saw him", but nin hnt (I saw him-part) means "I met him". This is often highly irregular.

The use of a telic object may implicitly communicate that the action takes place in the future. For example,

Luen kirjan. "I will read the book"; the action can only be complete in the future.
Luen kirjaa. "I am reading a book" or "I will be reading a book"; no indication is given for the time.

Often telicity is superficially similar to the perfective aspect, and one can find descriptions such as "roughly perfective/imperfective". However, lexical pairs of perfective and imperfective verbs are found in Finnish, and this contrast can be superimposed with the telicity contrast.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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The two-three tone problem

by UKT

Our task of comparing English to Burmese is not easy because English have only two "tones" for vowels the short and the long, whereas Burmese has three, the creak, the modal, and the emphatic. The one way to reconcile them is to think in terms of 5 registers:

creak, short, modal, long, emphatic

The English short vowel is sometimes close to creak and sometimes to modal. Similarly the English long vowel is between modal and emphatic. For the vowel /a/, we have

{aa.}, {a}, {/ə/}, {aa}, {aa:}
-- the short-a and the long-a are transcribed as a and ā in Pali-Latin. I am citing Pali because it can serve as the bridge between Burmese and English. Since both Burmese and English do not have dedicated graphemes to represent the central vowel, schwa /ə/, I have to use {/ə/} for the modal. The Burmese schwa is found in words like {a.ni} meaning the "color red" in which schwa is represented by {a.}. In most Burmese-Myanmar words {a.} stands for the sound of {aa.} .

This problem (as far as I know) lacks a concise name, because of which I will refer to it as the 2-3 tone problem.

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umlaut Linguistics n. 1. a. A change in a vowel sound caused by partial assimilation especially to a vowel or semivowel occurring in the following syllable. b. A vowel sound changed in this manner. Also Called vowel mutation . 2. The diacritic mark ( ) placed over a vowel to indicate an umlaut, especially in German. v. tr. umlauted umlauting umlauts 1. To modify by umlaut. 2. To write or print (a vowel) with an umlaut. [German um- around, alteration( from Middle High German umb-) (from umbe) (from Old High German umbi) ;See ambhi in Indo-European Roots. Laut sound( from Middle High German lūt ) (from Old High German hlūt ) ; See kleu- in Indo-European Roots.]

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vriddhi 090915

Vriddhi (वृद्धि, vṛddhi ) is a Sanskrit word meaning "growth" [1] (from PIE *werdh `to grow' [2]). In Panini's grammar, it is also a technical term for a group of long vowels. In Indo-European linguistics, it has become a term for the lengthened grade of the ablaut vowel gradation peculiar to the IE languages. A vriddhi-derivation is a word that is derived by such lengthening, a type of formation very common in Sanskrit, but also attested in other languages.

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