How to learn conjugation: the Kaqchikel edition II

…and after all of that, now we can conjugate both consonant-initial AND vowel-initial intransitive verbs IN THE FIRST PERSON SINGULAR PRESENT TENSE ONLY. Persistence, persistence!

Want to learn how to conjugate verbs in French? No problem–you can look them up lots of places on line, you can buy a book on the topic at pretty much any train station in France, and the French Verb Forms app will give you many happy hours of practice. (Seriously, I use it often.)

Want to learn to conjugate verbs in a less-commonly-studied language? Good fucking luck. You have two basic options:

  1. Get a “FLAS.” Foreign Language Area Studies fellowships fund students to do intensive courses in languages that the US has a national interest in having Americans know how to speak. (Seriously, it’s not a coincidence that they used to be called National Defense Foreign Language fellowships.) You either have the wonderful luck to be at a university that offers courses in your (relatively) obscure language of choice, or you snag a $2,500 summer grant to go take an intensive course somewhere. (Indiana University Bloomington is currently offering FLAS language courses in Akan, Bosnian, Czech, Dari, Estonian, Finnish, Georgian, Hungarian… You get the picture.)
  2. Figure it all out for yourself.

Option #2, “figure it all out for yourself,” is the one that you pick if you are a bald old fat fuck such as myself who is not going to be getting a FLAS summer fellowship any time soon. Option #2 begins with figuring out what the characteristics of verbs are in your language of choice, such that those characteristics might affect how you go about learning to conjugate them. We worked our way through this in a previous post. I’ll sum up the outcome like this:

The main things that differentiate amongst verbs in Kaqchikel are

  1. Whether they are transitive, or intransitive
  2. Whether they began with a consonant, or with a vowel

Last time we worked on consonant-initial intransitive verbs. This time, we’ll move on to vowel-initial intransitive verbs. First thing we need: a list of such verbs. To put one together, we’ll go through the glossary at the end of the only English-based Kaqchikel textbook that I know of: ¿La Ütz Awäch?, by R. McKenna Brown, Judith M. Maxwell, Walter E. Little, and Angelika Bauer.

I am simplifying the Kaqchikel transitivity situation quite a bit. This will not shock Americanists (linguists who work on the indigenous languages of the Americas).

-achik’to dream
-ach’ixïnto sneeze
-ajanto brush, to sculpt
-ajilanto count
-ajinto be Ving (a progressive)
-ak’walanto procreate
-aläx peto be born, to sprout
-animäjto run from, to flee
-animajinto escape, to flee
-aninto run
-aponto arrive there
-aq’ab’anto rise before dawn

All of these verbs begin with -a because I started at the beginning of the glossary, and it happens to be in alphabetical order. But, the observant reader will also have noted that many of these verbs end with n. Is this significant? Probably, but I don’t yet know why.

Want to know how to pronounce these verbs? See this post on my adventures in learning the pronunciation of Kaqchikel consonants.


OK, we’ve got some vowel-initial verbs, and we did consonant-initial ones last time, so let’s compare them. We’ll start with the first person singular of the present tense. Last time we learned the prefix yi- for consonant-initial vowels; for vowel-initial ones, we instead use yin-. Let’s look at examples of them side by side, and then we’ll practice the vowel-initial variant using the same technique that we learned last time. Remember that you will look at the example, then cover the second column of the table and work your way down it row by row, doing whatever the example showed you to do.

-sik’in (to read)yisik’in-aq’ab’an (rise before dawn)yinaq’ab’an
-tzijon (to talk)yitzijon-achik’ (to dream)yinachik’
-tz’ib’an (to write)yitz’ib’an-ach’ixïn (to sneeze)yinach’ixïn
-samäj (to work)yisamäj-ajilan (to count)yinajilan
-wa’ (to eat)yiwa’-anin (to run)yinanin
-b’iyin (to walk)yib’iyin-apon (to arrive there)yinapon
Example: -oq’ (to cry)yinoq’
-achik’ (to dream)yinachik’
-ach’ixïn (to sneeze)yinach’ixïn
-ajilan (to count)yinajilan
-anin (to run)yinanin
-apon (to arrive there)yinapon
-aq’ab’an (to rise before dawn)yinaq’ab’an

Following the same strategy that we learned last time, we will now alternate between the two of them…

Example: -wäryiwär
b’ixan (to sing)yib’ixan
-ach’ixïn (to sneeze)yinach’ixïn
-kemon (to weave)yikemon
-atin (to bathe)yinatin
-wa’ (to eat)yiwa’
yinaq’ab’an

…and then mix them randomly:

Example: -oq’ (to cry)yinoq’
-samäj (to work)yisamäj
-tz’ib’an (to write)yitz’ib’an
-atin (to bathe)yinatin
-kemon (to weave)yikemon
-aq’ab’an (to rise before dawn)yinaq’ab’an
-ach’ixïn (to sneeze)yinach’ixïn

…and after all of that, now we can conjugate both consonant-initial AND vowel-initial intransitive verbs IN THE FIRST PERSON SINGULAR PRESENT TENSE ONLY. Persistence, persistence!

The picture at the top of this page is of a Kaqchikel singer I like a lot named Sara Curruchich. You can buy her stuff on Apple Music, and I’m sure elsewhere, as well. Picture source: https://assembly.malala.org/stories/kaqchikel-artist-guatemala. No English or French notes today, but here is one of her songs–I’ll post the words in Kaqchikel and in Spanish below.

IXOQI/MUJERES

xub’ij ri wati’t’ chuwe’: (Mi abuela me dijo:)

Noya, at achiel, at achi’el ri ruwächulew (Sos como la madre tierra)

at achi’el ri ruwächulew (Sí, como la tierra)

CORO.

Ri niya’on riquchuq’a (Quien nos da fuerza, valentía)

Ri niya’on rutz’intz’ojil ri qak’aslem (quien alumbra nuestra vida)

Ri qanaoj, chuqa k’a ri qab’ey (siembra pensamientos, sabidurías y los caminos plurales)

Ri niya’on ri ya’, ri kaq’ïq’, ri q’aq’ (Como agua, viento y fuego)

At keri’ rat wal (así sos)

At keri’ rat wal (“Así, así sos) nïm riaq’ij wal (Es inmenso e importante tu existir”)

Xcha’ ri watit pa jun wachik’ (Dijo mi abuela en mis sueños)

Man junb’ey xtnumestaj ta (Nunca olvidaré su palabra)

Jantape’ k’o pa nuk’u’x re (Se han aferrado a mi corazón)

CORO.

Ri niya’on riquchuq’a (Quien nos da fuerza, valentía)

Ri niya’on rutz’intz’ojil ri qak’aslem (quien alumbra nuestra vida)

Ri qanaoj, chuqa k’a ri qab’ey (siembra pensamientos, sabidurías y los caminos plurales)

Ri niya’on ri ya’, ri kaq’ïq’, ri q’aq’ (Como agua, viento y fuego)

At keri’ rat wal (así sos)

Cada paso que doy

Me acerca a mis hermanas

A la igualdad soñada

Merecida y trabajada

Cada paso que doy

Deja una huella sutil

Un camino que puede seguir

Un destino

CORO.

Ri niya’on riquchuq’a (Quien nos da fuerza, valentía)

Ri niya’on rutz’intz’ojil ri qak’aslem (quien alumbra nuestra vida)

Ri qanaoj, chuqa k’a ri qab’ey (siembra pensamientos, sabidurías y los caminos plurales)

Ri niya’on ri ya’, ri kaq’ïq’, ri q’aq’ (Como agua, viento y fuego)

At keri’ rat wal (así sos)

K’aslem (Vida)

A Cada paso que das

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