Miskito/Grammar

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Parts of Speech

Nouns

Determiners/Articles

In Miskito, the determiner follows the noun rather than precedes it like in English. In Miskito, ba and na are used as articles interchangeably depending on the proximity of the noun. "Na" is used if the noun is closeby. For example,

  • aras<n><sg><def><dst>|aras ba : if the horse is distant, or
  • aras<n><sg><def><prx>|aras na : if the horse is nearby (proximate).
  • aras<n> ↔ aras
  • ilili<n> ↔ ilili
  • luhpia<n> ↔ luhpia
  • bip<n> ↔ bip
  • ba<det><def><dst> ↔ ba
  • na<det><def><prx> ↔ na
  • ap<det><ind> ↔ ap
  • kum kum<det><ind> ↔ kum kum


Additionally, kum (a), kum kum (some), and ap (some) are used as articles in the exact same way. For instance,

  • aras<n><sg><ind>|aras ap : some horse. Also written as
  • aras<n><sg><ind>|aras kum kum

Plural

The plural marker is "nani". To make a noun plural, "nani" should be used after the noun. If there is an article, it will follow the noun and the plural. For example,

  • aras<n><pl><def><dst> ↔ aras nani ba : the horses
  • ilili<n><pl><def><dst> ↔ ilili nani ba : the sharks
  • luhpia<n><pl><def><dst> ↔ luhpia nani ba : the children

Gender

Gender should be placed directly after the noun. If there is an article, it will follow the noun and gender. "waitna" is used for male, "mairin" is used for female, and "wainhka" is used for male (animal). For example,

  • aras<n><f><sg><def><dst> ↔ aras mairin ba
  • aras<n><m><sg><def><prx> ↔ aras wainhka na
  • tuktan<n><m><sg><def><dst> ↔ tuktan waitna ba

Plural and Gender

In the case both plural and gender are used, the sequence is noun followed by gender followed by plural followed by determiner. For example,

  • bip<n><f><pl><def><dst> ↔ bip mairin nani ba
  • aras<n><m><pl><def><prx> ↔ aras wainhka nani na
  • tuktan<n><m><pl><def><dst> ↔ tuktan waitna nani ba

Adjectives

Adjectives in Miskito should be tagged <adj>.

In Miskito, there are two types of qualified adjectives.

  1. Accidental qualities. When we say dus kum (a tree); wahya kum (a leaf), or sadik kum (a grapefruit), we don’t know the color or size of the item.
  2. Explicative Qualities – these adjectives denote permanent specific qualities of the noun.

Different to Spanish and English, the explicative adjective comes after the noun. When the noun refers to a person, some qualified adjectives can optionally precede the noun. In these cases, the noun takes the constructive state.

Comparative Adjectives

There are comparatives for inferiority, superiority, and equality.

For comparative adjectives of inferiority, we use Kau wiria + wal

  • Nikarawa<n><sg><def><dst><comp><adj> ↔ Nikarawa ba kau wiria tara sa Tech wal : Nicaragua is less big than the US
  • Nikarawa<n><sg><def><dst><comp><adj> ↔ Utla ba kau wiria sirpi sa dus wal : The house is less small than the tree

For comparative adjectives of superiority, we use Kau + wal

  • Gul<n><sg><def><dst><comp><adj> ↔ Gul ba kau mana sa aian wal : Gold is more expensive than iron

For comparative adjectives of equality, we use Pali + Baku

  • Sika<n><sg><def><dst><comp><adj> ↔ Sika ba nit pali sa daktar baku : The medicine is as necessary as the doctor

Miskito Verb Tenses

Verbs in Miskito should be tagged <v>. The person tags needed will be <p1>, <p2>, <p3>, <p4>, <p5>, <p6>.

Simple Past

The simple past tense of verbs is formed by combining a verb stem with a set of endings. The set of endings used depends on the ending of the verb stem: either a consonant or the vowels «i» or «u».

«prukaia» (to hit) with the stem «pruk»- ends in a consonant:

  • prukaia<v><past><p1> ↔ prukri
  • prukaia<v><past><p2> ↔ prukram
  • prukaia<v><past><p3> ↔ prukan

«diaia» (to drink) with the stem «di»- ends in a vowel «i»:

  • diaia<v><past><p1> ↔ diri
  • diaia<v><past><p2> ↔ diram
  • diaia<v><past><p3> ↔ din

«buaia» (to rise/get up) with the stem «bu»- ends in a vowel «u»:

  • buaia<v><past><p1> ↔ buri
  • buaia<v><past><p2> ↔ buram
  • buaia<v><past><p3> ↔ buan


Plural personal pronouns (e.g. 'We', 'They') utilize the same verb conjugations as the singulars. The construction just adds 'nani' to the singular pronoun: <n> + nani + <v>

«pulaia» (to play) with the stem «pul»- ends in a consonant:

  • pulaia<v><past><p1><sg> ↔ pulri
  • pulaia<v><past><p2><sg> ↔ pulram
  • pulaia<v><past><p3><sg> ↔ pulan
  • pulaia<v><past><p4><pl> ↔ yang nani pulri
  • pulaia<v><past><p5><pl> ↔ man nani pulram
  • pulaia<v><past><p6><pl> ↔ witin nani pulan