Non-verbal predicates in Qári

I’m on a bit of a grammar kick at the moment – doing Lexember is a brilliant way of identifying holes not only in vocabulary but also in grammar.

Sensu stricto, Qári lacks a copula, preferring instead to make use of an atelic verb iqé. Etymologically, this means to ‘to sit’. However, the verb is now restricted in the classical language to its functions described in this post, with ‘to sit’ expressed by the verb ikópér

The case frame of this verb is simple, with its only core argument always marked as an agent (i.e. in the active voice). By means of adding adjunct phrases to this verb, nominal, locative and possessive predicates are formed. Unusually, predicate adjectives do not always make use of the same construction: see the penultimate section of this post for further details.

Predicate nominals

Predicate nominals are introduced with the equative preposition tle:

Já iqé tle txumat.
1sg be equ man
I am a man.

Telini iqé tle ixá paka.
PN be equ woman intelligent
Telini is an intelligent woman.

Só iqé tle sakar i yé uqxeri balatxar ajá.
3sg be equ priest act pst teach glyph-pl all.1sg
He is the priest who taught me how to write.

Predicate locatives

Predicate locatives are introduced with the locative preposition xe:

Hará iqé xe luqátxá.
2pl be loc exchange
You are at the exchange.

Ilmár iqé xe lupsit lukána Idéyasa.
PN be loc bank north PN
Ilmár is on the right bank of the Idéyasa.

Of course, the noun introduced by xe can be a “compound preposition”:

At kitsámal iqé x’ayeqa at tihó.
def warrior-pl be loc=eye def gate
The warriors are in front of the gates.

At sidána iqé x’óló kalóhit.
def idol be loc=inside shrine
The statue of the god is inside the shrine.

Predicate possessives

Predicate possessives are introduced by one of two prepositions, either the comitative le or the allative ma. The distinction here is one of animacy: the comitative is used where the possessed is animate, while the allative is used where the possessed is inanimate:

Yata hori iqé le Telini.
son ugly be com PN
Telini has an ugly son.

Payat iqé m’at sagya!
knife be all=def boy
The boy has a knife!

Predicate adjectives

To express an adjectival predicate, Qári has two strategies. The first and least marked is a clause using iqé and introducing the adjective with the perlative preposition he:

Rá iqé he hagóli tipót.
2sg be perl bad_tempered today
You’re moody today.

At felar iqé he pongqóli atxe.
def scribe be perl unhelpful very
The scribe is very unhelpful.

At kitsán iqé he pagórat.
def warrior be perl cowardly
The warrior is cowardly.

The second strategy is highly marked, and more restricted in its availability: an adjective unmarked for definiteness or number is placed before a noun phrase:

Pagórat at kitsán.
cowardly def warrior
The warrior is cowardly.

There is no distinction in meaning between the iqé-strategy and and the inversion strategy – the difference is stylistic, with the inversion strategy being highly marked as archaic, formal or poetic.


Finally, presentative or existential constructions are not formed with a verb at all. Instead, they are introduced with the invariant particle :

Pé txumat.
exist man
There’s a man.

The noun phrase so introduced can be further qualified with an attributive adjective, a relative clause or a prepositional phrase:

Pé txumat óqi atxe xe tihó i sehu ólatya at áda.
exist man old very loc gate act want enter def house
There’s a very old man at the gates who wants to enter the house.

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