A Grammar of Yami

5 Word Order of Predicational Constructions
 5.1 Nominal predicate clauses
 5.2 Verbal clauses
 5.3 Topicalized constructions
 5.4 Agent initial word order

  In conversations and narrative style, the Agent occurs in initial word order to indicate the progressive aspect or the recent past, as in (40)-(41). The younger generation (under forty years of age) prefers the SVO order, probably due to language contact with Chinese (Rau 2002a ).


(40) ka m-angay jino mo keypong?

2.S.NOM AF-go where 2.S.GEN dear

‘Where are you going, dear?'

(41) na ni-yokay yaken ni Apo ito a.

3.S.GEN PA.PF-waken 1.S.NOM GEN Grandson that PAR

‘Grandson woke me up.'

  The conditions which bring about fronting of pronominal arguments are not only age-related but have a linguistic orientation. However, an extensive study on word order variation is beyond the scope of this paper. More examples are provided as follows to showcase the correlation between pronominal fronting and proximity (progressive or recent past). Examples ( 1a ), ( 2a ), and ( 3a ) with Agent occurring in sentence initial position indicate either progressive or recent past.

(1) a. ko koman so wakay . ‘I am eating a sweet potato.'

b. koman ko so wakay. ‘I want to eat a sweet potato.'

(2) a. ko koman rana so wakay. ‘I am eating a sweet potato already.'

b. koman ko rana so wakay. ‘I am about to eat a sweet potato.'

(3) a. ko nikoman rana so wakay. ‘I just ate a sweet potato.'

b. nikoman ko rana so wakay. ‘I have eaten a sweet potato.'