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


Is there a phonologically bound S argument index that precedes its verbal host (i.e. attaches to it as a prefix or a proclitic)?


  1. Consider the section in the grammar that deals with verbal morphology, specifically the sections 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 precede 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 prefix or proclitic, 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.


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. There is no indexing by prefixes. English is coded as 0.

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

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

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

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

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

For coding one considers only the major pattern (here Class 5 with prefixes). Thus, Bukiyip is coded as 1.

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

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 prefixes. Makasae-Makalero is coded as 0.

a. Ani hai  mu’a-li’an. 
   1SG 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)

Further reading

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

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.


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

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.)

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Alena Witzlack-Makarevich