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Can the S argument be indexed by a suffix/enclitic on the verb in the simple independent clause?


Is there a phonologically bound S argument index that follows its verbal host (i.e. attaches to it as a suffix or an enclitic)?


  1. Consider the section in the grammar that deals with verbal morphology, specifically the subsections on (pronominal) agreement or argument cross-referencing.
  2. Code 1 if there is a phonologically bound element that indexes the S argument on the verb or auxiliary. The index needs to follow the verbal host it is bound to.
  3. If there is some variation in the position of the S index conditioned by the verb (e.g. most verbs code the S argument with a suffix, but a couple use a prefix, this might be the case in the so-called split-S/stative-active languages), consider only the patterns which occur with large classes of verbs.
  4. If the verb shows overt indexing only with some arguments (e.g. only with animate arguments or only with first person singular arguments, the situation known as differential argument indexing), this still counts as 1.
  5. If the S argument is indexed but not by a suffix or enclitic, code 0.
  6. If there is no indexing of the S argument, code 0.
  7. If only a small set of verbs (fewer than a dozen) indexes S arguments, code 0.
  8. Ignore all other ways of indexing arguments (e.g. via a stem alternation, stress or tone), they are not covered by any of the Grambank features.


Korowai (ISO 639-3: khe, Glottolog: koro1312)

Independent verb forms express status, subject (S and A) person-number, mood, and aspect. They are used in independent (final) clauses, subordinate clauses, and chained (medial) clauses (de Vries & van Enk 1997: 87-90, 183). Dependent verb forms do not express S/A person and number. Code as 1 (the fact that there are zero morphemes and syncretism of second and third person does not matter).

The person-number suffixes in the realis are as follows:

This same set is used with small variations for the other statuses, moods, and aspects. Intentional and imperative mood take an entirely different set of person-number endings, distinguishing second from third person in both singular and plural. The 'zero' ending (stem-only form) is the usual non-1SG realis form.

ye   khén-telo-do          yakhatimekho
he   angry-be.3SG.REAL-DS  renounce.3SG.REAL
‘He went angry and she renounced.’ (de Vries & van Enk 1997: 183)

English (ISO 639-3: eng, Glottolog: stan1293)

The verb shows overt indexing with S arguments via suffixes with third person singular arguments in present, as in he sleep-s vs. we sleep. English is coded as 1.

Bukiyip (ISO 639-3: ape, Glottolog: buki1249)

Argument indexes (person-number-gender) vary depending on the verb class (see Conrad & Wogiga 1991: 25–33). There are two intransitive classes:

For coding we consider only the major pattern (here Class 5 with prefixes, as in (a)). Class 6 with S suffixes from the object suffixes paradigm, as in (b), is a minor pattern limited to a small set of verbs and should be ignored. Bukiyip is thus coded as 0.

a. Major pattern:
   Ny-é-nak-moli         malmu?
   2SG.SBJ-REAL-go-come  why
   ‘Why did you come?’ (Conrad & Wogiga 1991: 42)

b. Minor pattern:
   ‘I am ashamed’ (Conrad & Wogiga 1991: 31)

Cashinahua (ISO 639-3: cbs, Glottolog: cash1254)

There is no person indexing in Cashinahua. The verb indexes only the number of the subject (S and A), whereby the singular is zero marked. Moreover, there is no indexing on the verb if the subject is the 1PL or 2PL pronoun (Camargo 2007: 1876). Code as 1.

a. kaman-an baka  ʂau  pi-mis-bu.
   dog-ERG  fish  bone eat-HAB-PL
   ‘The dogs eat fish bones.’ (Camargo 2007: 1877)

b. paku-n    nam-ɨ-Ø   pi-mis.
   Paku-ERG  meat-OBJ  eat-HAB
   ‘Paco always eats meat.’ (Camargo 2007: 1873)

c. ɨa, ɨn  daja-mis-ki.
   me  I   work-HAB-ASS
   ‘As for me, I work.’ (Camargo 2007: 1875)

d. nun tsaka-mis-ki.
   we hunt-HAB-ASS
   ‘we always hunt.’ (Montag 2005: 6)

Makasae-Makalero (ISO 639-3: mkz, Glottolog: maka1316)

In Makasae-Makalero most verbs do not index core arguments, as in (a)-(d). A set of five verbs index the number of S and A arguments via suppletive stem allomorphs (Huber 2011: 130). This set is not sufficient for coding as 1: it is a small set of verbs and the respective indexes are not suffixes. Makasae-Makalero is coded as 0.

a. Ani hai  mu’a-li’an. 
   1s  NSIT ground-fall
   ‘I already fell down.’ (Huber 2011: 146)

b. Ani  ei  pase.
   1SG  2SG beat
   ‘I beat you.’ (Huber 2011: 218)

c. Ei  ani pase.
   2SG 1SG beat
   ‘You beat me.’ (Huber 2011: 218)

d. Ina-uai	ni-mata	     uaro
   mother-HON	REFL-child   wash
   ‘The mother is washing her child’ (Huber 2011: 391)

(Abbreviations: NSIT new situation)

Sochiapam Chinantec (ISO 639-3: cso, Glottolog: soch1239)

In Sochiapam Chinantec S arguments are indexed via tone and stress alternations, not by a suffix/enclitic (Foris 2000: 83–182). Sochiapam Chinantec is coded as 0.

        1sg         1pl        2          3
PRS     cuon²       cuóun²³    cuounh³²   cuon²
(Foris 2000: 149)

Further reading

Haspelmath, Martin. 2013. Argument indexing: A conceptual framework for the syntactic status of bound person forms. In Dik Bakker & Martin Haspelmath, Languages across boundaries: Studies in memory of Anna Siewierska, 198–226. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Siewierska, Anna. 2013. Alignment of verbal person marking. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath (eds), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.


Camargo, Eliane. 2007. Reciprocal, response reciprocal, and distributive constructions in Cashinahua. In Vladimir P. Nedjalkov, Emma Š. Geniušienė & Zlatka Guentchéva (eds), Reciprocal constructions, 1865–1912. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Conrad, Robert J. & Kepas Wogiga. 1991. An outline of Bukiyip grammar. (Pacific Linguistics: Series C, 113.) Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University.

de Vries, Lourens & Gerrit J. van Enk. 1997. The Korowai of Irian Jaya: Their language and its cultural context. (Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics, 9.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Foris, David P. 2000. A grammar of Sochiapan Chinantec. (Summer Institute of Linguistics: Publications in Linguistics, 135.) Dallas, Texas: The Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington.

Huber, Juliette. 2011. A grammar of Makalero: A Papuan language of East Timor. Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. (Doctoral dissertation.)

Montag, Richard. 2005. Participant referencing in Cashinahua. (2005-013.) SIL Electronic Working Papers (SILEWP 2005-013).

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Alena Witzlack-Makarevich