A Grammar of Yami

1 Introduction
2 Phonology & Orthography
 2.1 Consonants and vowels
 2.2 Long consonant
 2.3 Stress
 2.4 Syllable structure
 2.5 Monosyllabic bound roots

  There are two types of monosyllabic bound roots that undergo vowel epenthesis in word formation. Type A contains consonant clusters in the bound roots that violate the canonical syllable structure, e.g., -bhes ‘throw a stone at someone', while Type B contains either a CVC bound root, e.g, - kan ‘eat'or a bound root with a glide, e.g, -vias ‘sweep'. The Type A bound roots are either prefixed with a- in the imperative form, e.g., a-gcin ‘Go down!' or inserted with the mid central vowel /e/ to derive new words in reduplication, e.g, b e he-b e hes-an (< -bhes ) ‘throw stones at someone'. However, if the root contains a round vowel /o/, the inserted vowel is also /o/ in reduplication, as in mi-d o -dpon-an (< -dpon ) ‘pile up'. The feature [+round] is observed in the vowel harmony. More examples for Type A roots are illustrated as follows:


Type A: Monosyllabic roots with consonant clusters


Bound form


Inserted /e/ or /o/ in reduplicated form

throw stone at someone


a- bhes

b e he-b e hes-an

pile up


a- dpon

mi-d o- dpon-an

go down


a- gcin

mi-g e- gcin

put aside


a- ptad

mi-p e ta-p e tad

  Type B roots can be either prefixed with a- or without a- , depending on the type of roots and the type of transitive or intransitive affixes. The following examples illustrate the two subtypes of Type B roots.


Type B: Monosyllabic CVC roots or roots with a glide


CVC bound root

a -prefixation

No a -prefixation


- kan

a-kan ‘Eat!'

a-kan-an ‘place to eat'

k-om-an ‘intransitive verb'

kan-en ‘food'

ka-kan-an ‘plate, taste'

wash clothes


a-pis-an ‘transitive verb'

mi-pi-pis ‘intransitive verb'

ni-pis-an ‘transitive, perfective verb'


Bound root with a glide





a-vias-an ‘transitive verb'

mi-vias ‘intransitive verb'

vi-vias ‘broom'



a-doa ‘two

ipi-doa ‘twice'