Mixe and English/Contrastive Grammar

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Grammatical differences

1 & 2

very different grammatical tags on verbs

Verb grammatical tags
mto eng
aspect: <icpl>, <cpl>, <irr> tense: <pres>, <past>, etc.
independent vs. dependent predicates; <idt>, <dep> --

On predicate types in mto:

  • Independent predicates are part of an affirmative clause that has no pre-verbal elements that are associated with dependent clauses. Such elements include adverbs, interrogative pronouns, quantifiers, auxiliary verbs, negation, and others.

clause type


  • (mto) këp mits mtönït → (eng) tomorrow you will work
    (mto) këp<adv> mits<prn><p2><sg> tön<v><dep><irr><p2> → (eng) tomorrow<adv> you<prn><pers><p2><mf><sg> will<vbmod><pres> work<vblex><pres>


  • (mto) jaꞌatseꞌe väämp → (eng) that one says
    (mto) jaꞌa<prn> väꞌän<v><idt><icpl><p3> → (eng) that<det><dem><sg> one<num><sg> says<vblex><pres><p3><sg>

This example also adds "one" in the English translation. Also, I'm not sure of the best way to tag "one" here.

=tense and aspect

3 & 4

In Mixe, the order of subject, object, and agent arguments is relatively free compared to in English.

Most common word orders in Mixe:

  • SV
  • V (with the subject or agent not explicit)
  • OV

For verbs with two explicit arguments, both SOV and OSV are common. S and O are distinguished by verb morphology, not by argument order.

In English, on the other hand, clauses are often SVO, and argument order distinguishes between types of arguments.

order of verb arguments

  • (mto) ꞌëts känäriu mpuꞌup → (eng) I am planting chili-apple
    (mto) ꞌëts<prn><p1><sg> känäriu<n><sg> pöꞌöj<v><tv><idt><icpl><a_p1> → (eng) I<prn><subj><p1><mf><sg> be<vbser><pres><p1><sg> plant<vblex><ger> chili-apple<n><sg>
  • (mto) mits Märiä mꞌëëjp → (eng) you scold Maria
    (mto) mits<prn><p2><sg> Maria<n> ꞌooj<v><tv><idt><icpl><a_p2> → (eng) you<prn><pers><p2><mf><sg> scold<vblex><pres> Maria<np><ant>

explicit vs. non-explicit arguments


In Mixe, a possessed noun is marked with a possessive prefix. The possessor (if pronounced) precedes the possessed NP. The possessor can be a noun or a pronoun; possessive pronouns are the same as regular personal pronouns.

In English, a possessed noun isn't marked for possession. The possessor precedes the possessed NP and can be a noun or determiner, but English possessive determiners are different than its regular personal pronouns.

  • (mto) ꞌëts ntëjk → (eng) My house
    (mto) ꞌëts<prn><p1><sg> tëk<n><sg><px1> → (eng) my<det><pos><p1><mf><sg> house<n><sg>
  • (mto) mteꞌe → (eng) your father
    (mto) teꞌe<n><sg><px2> → (eng) your<det><pos><p2><mf><sp> father<n><sg>