Kaingang/Grammar

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Singular and Plural

Many nouns don't have a distinction between singular and plural. Plural isn't simply denoted by adding a marker, so plural forms are treated as separate words.

Plural in a verb indicates the action is done multiple times.

  • If it is a transitive verb, the action is repeated because the object is plural (object plurality will only be shown in the verb).
    • rĩnh<v><tv><pl> ↔ rĩnh (to carry many things)
    • rĩnh<v><tv><pl> ↔ rĩnh tĩ ((a person) carrying many things)
    • rĩnh<v><tv><pl> ↔ rĩnh mũ ((many people) carrying many things)
  • If it is an intransitive verb, the action is either done by many agents or by the same agent many times.
    • te<v><iv><sg> ↔ te (to carry something)
    • te<v><iv><sg> ↔ te tĩ ((a person) carrying something)
    • te<v><iv><sg> ↔ te mũ ((many people) carrying something)

If an action is done by a group, even if there are many objects or many agents, the singular form of the verb can be used. The plural/singular of nouns can be specified by the use of demonstrative pronouns in the plural/singular form.

[Dicionário PT-KG, p162]

Conjunctions

There are some conjunctions that introduce sentences and or follow phrases, like the circumstance markers. The opinion markers hã and ge are used with certain circumstance markers to create other conjunctions.

<hã> means similar, and it's used in many conjunction phrases.

Common Conjunctions
ge ra as so, even so
hã jé for this end
hã kato instead of this
hã kỹ because of this
hã ra but, on the contrary of
hã ri similar to
hã to instead of
hã tugrĩn because of this, for that
hã tỹ because of this, for that
jarĩnmỹ although
jãvo but, on the contrary of
jo but
kỹ therefore, for this end
mũ ra as so, even so
mỹr’ meanwhile

[Dicionário PT-KG, p155-156]

Interjections

Interjections are replies to questions or simply exclamatory words.

he I agree
hẽ’ Darn it
hỹ That's true
kunĩg Come!
kuri Hurry!
kunĩg Go!
mẽ’ Really?
mũ jé ha Let's go
nejé I disagree
se Push!
Catch!
tón ra! Go ahead!
vãrỹ Scoundrel!
Isn't it?/It isn't (?)

[Dicionário PT-KG, p160]

Pronouns

There are personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, and interrogative pronouns.

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns work as a subject, object, ergative, and possessive.

Subject
Person Singular Plural
1 inh
2 ã ãjag
3m ti ag
3f fi fag

Examples:

  • Genderable nouns receive "suffixes" for pluralization and gender.
    • Kanhgag<n><nf><sg> ↔ Kanhgag ti "Indigenous (male)"
    • Kanhgag<n><f><sg> ↔ Kanhgag fi "Indigenous woman"
    • Kanhgag<n><nf><pl> ↔ Kanhgag ag "Indigenous men"
    • Kanhgag<n><f><pl> ↔ Kanhgag fag "Indigenous women"
  • Some irregulars such as <mynh> "mother" when pluralized mean something completely different.
    • mynh<n><f><pl> ↔ mynh fag "parents"

Reflexive Pronouns

There are two reflexive pronouns that function as an object or possessive, but not as a subject or ergative.

Kaingang type English
jagnẽ object, possessive pronoun: reciprocal one another
vẽnh object pronoun: reflexive of himself/of herself

Demonstrative Pronouns

Anaphoric (leftwards reference) Exophoric close Exophoric far
ẽn tag (this) (that) (followed by circumstantial indicator)
Combinations
tag ti this, this one tag ag these ones
tag fi this one (feminine) tag fag these ones, this couple (feminine)
ẽn ti that, that one ẽn ag those ones
ẽn fi that one (feminine) ẽn fag those ones, that couple (feminine)
  • Morphology of these combinations:
    • tag<prn><dem><dst><nf><sg> ↔ tag
    • tag<prn><dem><dst><nf><sg> ↔ tag ti
    • tag<prn><dem><dst><f><sg> ↔ tag fi
    • tag<prn><dem><dst><nf><pl> ↔ tag ag
    • tag<prn><dem><dst><f><pl> ↔ tag fag
    • ẽn<prn><dem><dst><nf><sg> ↔ ẽn
    • ẽn ti<prn><dem><dst><nf><sg> ↔ ẽn ti
    • ẽn<prn><dem><dst><f><sg> ↔ ẽn fi
    • ẽn<prn><dem><dst><nf><pl> ↔ ẽn ag
    • ẽn<prn><dem><dst><f><pl> ↔ ẽn fag

Interrogative Pronouns

Who What Which
ū ne hẽ

Ex. 1: Ū ne? who is it?

Ex. 2: Ne ne? what is it?

[Pronoun document, 378-379]

Relative Pronouns

There's a relative pronoun that is used to begin a relative construction that is a noun construction. <ūn> means "he who/she who," as in the phrase "she who dares."

Indefinite Pronouns

: Indefinite marker

There are two indefinite pronouns: <ũ> meaning somebody, and <vẽnh> meaning of somebody.

[Dicionário PT-KG, p160-162]

Nouns

  • There are nouns that are independent of other nouns and nouns that depend on either a noun from the first group or a pronoun. For example,
    • <ĩn> or house, is independent
    • <jãnkã> or door, is dependent on
      • a noun such as <ĩn>: <ĩn jãnkã> or house door
      • a pronoun such as <ti>: <ti jãnkã> or his door
  • Words usually identified as adjectives can be found in the second group.
    • <mág>: big
    • <ĩn mág>: big house
    • <ũn mág>: someone big


  • Nouns take on different morphology based on whether they are agents, subjects, or objects. These markers appear at the end of the noun phrase:
    • kẽnkẽr "parrot"
    • kẽnkẽr<n>< nom> ↔ kẽnkẽr vỹ "the parrot"
    • kẽnkẽr<n><agent> ↔ kẽnkẽr tỹ "the parrot"
    • kẽnkẽr<n><acc> ↔ kẽnkẽr tỹ "the parrot" (Only applies if object is fronted from its usual location directly antecedent to the verb)
  • Kaingang doesn't mark definite nouns. However, Kaingang has an (optional, but to reduce ambiguity we will always add it) indefinite marker.
    • jynhkén "lizard"
    • jynhkén<n><def> ↔ jynhkén "the/a lizard"
    • jynhkén<n><indef> ↔ jynhkén ũ "a lizard"
  • Kaingang nouns can all take genitive markers that are conjugated for number, person, and gender (in the third person)
    • mynh "mother"
      • mynh<n><px1sg> ↔ inh mynh "my mother"
      • mynh<n><px2sg> ↔ ẽg mynh "your mother"
      • mynh<n><px3sg> ↔ ti mynh "his mother"
      • mynh<n><px1pl> ↔ fi mynh "her mother"
      • mynh<n><px1plnf> ↔ ãjag mynh "our mother"
      • mynh<n><px1plf> ↔ ãjag mynh "you all's mother"
      • mynh<n><px3plnf> ↔ ag mynh "their mother"
      • mynh<n><px3spf> ↔ fag mynh "their (f.) mother"

Verbs

  • Verbs come in one of three classes: intransitive, transitive, and semi-transative. Semi-transitive verbs can only take objects with the help of a post-position.
    • fyn<v><bas><tv> ↔ fyn "to divide"
    • ẽkrénh<v><bas><iv> ↔ ẽkrénh "to marry"
    • jé prẽr<v><bas>{tag ↔ sv|jé prẽr}} "to call (ã)"
  • Certain verbs have different forms that require minute changing of the base verb. Not all verbs have different forms at all. Among the verbs that do have different forms, not all of them contain a distinct spelling for all the different forms. These forms exist independent of the transitivity of the verb. What form a verb takes depends on where the verb is located within the sentence. No categorization defaults to basic?[Dic KG-PT 163]
    • fãn "to harvest corn"
      • fãn<v><bas> ↔ fãn
      • fãn<v><v1> ↔ fã
      • fãn<v><v2> ↔ fa
      • fãn<v><v3> ↔ fãg
    • rĩnh "to carry (pl.)"
      • rĩnh<v><bas> ↔ rĩnh
      • rĩnh<v><v1> ↔ rĩ
      • rĩnh<v><v2> ↔ rĩnh
      • rĩnh<v><v3> ↔ rĩg

The verb can then be followed by three more markers:

  • Modality Markers
    • sór "to want"
    • ẽgfãn "harvest corn"
      • ēgfãn<v><int><sg><bas><vaux> ↔ ēgfãn sór "want to harvest corn"
    • "to talk"
      • <v><iv><sg><bas><want> ↔ vĩ sór "want to talk"
    • kanãn "to smooth"
      • kanãn<v><iv><sg><bas><want> ↔ kanãn sór "want to smooth"
  • Aspect Markers
    • (habitual marker)
    • a'a'ke "to vomit"
      • a'a'ke<v><bas><int><hab> ↔ a'a'ke tĩ "to vomit repeatedly"
    • (continuous marker)
    • rãnhrãj"to work"
      • rãnhrãj<v><bas><int><con> ↔ rãnhrãj nĩ "to have work"

Vocatives

Used to get someone's attention.

'ladies!'
jỹ 'lady!'
'aunt!' or 'mother-in-law!'
'men!'
vỹ 'man!'

Or any expression used with <-’>, such as <kakrã’>, which means uncle!

[Dicionário PT-KG, p164-165]

Markers

Modality Markers

A modality marker modifies verbs or nouns when it follows them.

Follows only verbs (Adverb)

e "a lot"
kónãn "breaking/getting messed up/rotting"
kren "almost"
mãn "again"
rén "lastly"
sór "to want"
tãvĩn "focus, assertive"
vãnh "to not want"
vén "first of all"

Follows verbs, nouns, and other modality markers

gy "difficult"
ja "finished"
jãvãnh "to not know"
"to like"
mẽ "a lot/fast"
pẽ "true (focus, assertive)"
tãvĩ "focus, assertive"
"no"
ve "to appear as"

Aspect Markers

Aspect markers end a sentece, but can be followed by certain opinion markers.

Perfective Aspect Markers

There are perfective aspect markers that occur with the <v3> form of verbs that have this perfective form (groups 1 and 6). When the verbs don't have <v3>, the basic form is used.

They occur in the constructed sentences according to the nominative-accusative standard used in narration, description, and in the texts of procedures. They indicate an action from a global point-of-view. They differentiate an action for being done while standing, while sitting, while lying down, or while walking, by one person or many.

Perfective ("realis")
jẽ standing
jẽgtĩ habitually standing
jẽ nĩ in the situation of standing
doing
mũgtĩ habitually doing
mũ nĩ in the situation of doing
seated; in the situation of
nĩgtĩ habitually in the situation of
nĩ nĩ in the situation of sitting
nỹ lying down
nỹgtĩ habitually lying down
nỹ nĩ in the situation of lying down
  • Here, <mar> denotes a marker, <hab> denotes "habitually," and <sit> denotes "in the situation of."
    • jẽ<mar> ↔ jẽ
    • jẽ<mar><hab> ↔ jẽgtĩ
    • jẽ<mar><sit> ↔ jẽ nĩ

If a verb is put together with the aspect marker <vẽ>, it becomes perfective "irrealis":

Perfective ("irrealis")
jẽ vẽ (he/she) was supposed to be standing, but didn't
nĩ vẽ it was supposed to be/to happen, but didn't
tĩ vẽ it was supposed to happen habitually, but didn't

Grammatical Mood/Opinion Markers

Opinion markers express the attitude of the speaker about the transmitted information. They may occur in many different places in the sentence.

Kaingang Approximate Meaning
inhhã ‘only, focus marker’
ge ‘thus’
‘as well’
ha ’emphatic now’
‘emphatic focus, assertive’
hẽ ‘don't do!’
hẽ’ ‘it can't be done!’
hur ‘already’
huri ‘already’
hỹn ‘probably’
hỹn ‘where?’
ker ‘continued habitually, does not stop happening’
kur ‘fast,quickly, hurriedly’
mỹr ‘it's true, truthfully’
nẽji ‘as I have heard, it is said’
sir ‘thus, important information’
-' ‘doubtedly, emphatic focus marker, assertive’
[Diccionario PT-KG, p159]

Noun Markers

Subject markers are used to define the topic or subject of a given sentence. They typically follow the subject in a sentence.

They follow nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases when used as the subject. They are pospositions. When they occur, the subject is emphasized and precedes the verb (in many cases, it starts the sentence).

Only <tóg>, following a pronoun, can follow the verb in the sentence and doesn't emphasize the subject. <tóg> is also the only one that can occur with the third person singular and that can combine with other subject markers.

Another particular case is <tỹ>, used to indicate ergative and also with a topicalized constituent (?). In both cases, the constituent is the first one in the sentence.

Kaingang Approximate Meaning
subject expects/anticipates the action, speaker desires the action
mỹ subject of a yes-no question
ne subject is origin of the action
agent has feelings? (only in third-person)
nỹ subject is topic and contrasted with vỹ, subject shift/change
pijé subject does not do the action
tóg subject is agent
tỹ agent is ergative; topic marker
this subject does bad things
vỹ subject is topic

[Dicionario PT-KG 159-160]