A Grammar of Yami

6 Structure of Verbal Clauses
 6.1 Constructions with auxiliary verbs
 6.2 Constructions with multiple verbs
 6.3 The form of verbs

  Yami verbs can be classified into dynamic verbs and stative verbs, corresponding to the verb classifications of Philippine languages, proposed by Reid & Liao (2004). Dynamic verbs include: (1) intransitive verbs with affixes such as -om-, mi-, ma-, maN-, maka-, and maci- , and (2) transitive verbs with affixes such as -en, -an, and i- . Stative verbs include stative ma- , potential ma- , and involuntary ka-an verbs. Other derivational verb affixes include causative pa- (Section 6.6), perfective ni- (Section 6.3.1 ., and polysemous ka- (Section 10). The following discussion focuses on the distinction between dynamic and stative verbs.


6.3.1 Dynamic verbs Transitive vs. Intransitive

  Transitive verbs occur with two arguments, one Genitive Agent and the other Nominative Patient. Intransitive verbs occur with one Nominative Patient, but no Genitive Agent is allowed. Intransitive verbs Intransitive verbs with affixation

  In the following paragraphs, we only discuss the indicative forms of the verbs. The inflectional subjunctive forms were presented in Tables 5, 6 and 7. Reflexes of PEF *-um-/*mu-/*m-

  The Yami reflex of the Philippine UM verb infix (PEF *-um- /* mu- /* m-) is -om- , or traditionally called the AF affix, expressing punctual or inchoative actions. Reflexes on historically underived verbs

  Dynamic intransitive affix -om- is inserted between the initial consonant and vowel of the roots whose initial consonant is /s/, /t/, /k/, or /g/. If the initial consonant of the roots is /l/, /d/, /r/, or /z/, -om- can be either an infix or a prefix om- . Otherwise, -om- is prefixed to the roots, which can be semantically transitive or intransitive. The following examples in (73) illustrate the indicative form of the UM verbs. The subjunctive forms of the dynamic intransitive verb were presented in Table 6.1


(73) UM verbs




‘stand up'




‘go down vertically'


‘go out to the sea'




‘eat breakfast'


‘fall flat'


‘walk fast'






‘rise, hoist'




‘ooze pus'


‘go down on a slant'


‘drink soup'


‘build waves'




‘count, read'


‘step on' Reflexes on historically derived verbs

  The infix -om- can combine with other stem-forming prefixes pi- , pa- , paN- , paka- , and paci- to form the following dynamic intransitive prefixes: mi- , ma- , maN- , maka- , and maci- . Reflexes of PEF *maR-

  The Yami reflexes of the Philippine MAG verb prefix (PEF *maR-) are mi- and ma- . Verbs with mi- usually occur with one argument to express durative or reflexive/reciprocal actions. Examples of mi- verbs are provided in (74).


(74) mi- verbs

mi-alalam ‘play'

mi-moa ‘plant'

mi-palit ‘exchange'

mi-tatanek ‘stand'

mi-valiw ‘become'

mi-yowyaw ‘stroll about'


Now, compare the semantic differences between the -om- verbs and the mi- verbs in (75).


(75) -om- vs. mi- verbs

-om- verbs

mi- verbs

k-om-alay ‘hold someone's hand'

mi-kalay ‘hold each other's hand'

k-om-alopkop ‘carry something'

mi-kalopkop ‘embrace each other'

om-lolo ‘drag something'

mi-lolo ‘follow each other'


The pi- prefix will emerge in their transitive counterparts or nominalization of the mi-verbs, as shown in (76).


(76) Noun or transitive verb with prefix pi- :


‘play with something'






‘place where one stands'




‘place where one strolls about'


The subjunctive forms of the transitive verbs with pi- after the auxiliary verbs to or ji basically follow the pattern presented in Table 7, except that the prefix pi- remains unchanged, e.g., to pi-alalam-a ‘then take something and play with it'.

Verbs with ma- , such as ma-noma ‘do first', ma-ganam ‘dance', ma-lalayo ‘run', ma-nanala ‘wait', also usually occur with one argument. The pa- prefix will emerge in their transitive counterparts, or as nominalization of the ma- verbs, and remains unchanged after the auxiliaries to or ji , e.g., to na pa-nanala-a ‘then he kept waiting'. Reflexes of PEF *maN-

  The Yami reflex of the Philippine MANG (*maN-) verb prefix is maN- . The maN- verbs usually co-occur with two or three arguments. The Patient is in the Oblique case. The maN- verbs refer to distributive activity, i.e., with many people carrying out multiple activities in wide time and space. Example (77) illustrates the maN- verbs in the indicative form.


(77) maN- verbs

mamnek (< maN-bnek) ‘appoint'

manba (< maN-tba) ‘fell'

manazang (< maN-sazang) ‘buy'

mangap (< maN-hap) ‘take'


The paN- prefix will emerge in their transitive counterparts or nominalization of the maN- verbs, as shown in (78).


(78) Noun or transitive verb with prefix paN- :

pamnekan (paN-bnek-an)

‘designated place, squatter's rights'

panban (paN-tba-an)

‘place where one felled'

panazangan (paN-sazang-an)

‘place where one bought'

pangapan (paN-hap-an)

‘place where on took'


  The capital N- in maN- ( paN- ) represents the concept of archiphoneme in that the nasal sound is not fixed but assimilates to the feature of the segment following it. Table 8 shows the morphophonemics of maN- . N- is assimilated to the initial segments /p/, /b/ or /v/ of the following root to become /m/; N- is assimilated to /k/, /h/, or vowels to become /ng/; N- is assimilated to /t/, /d/, /s/, or /c/ to become /n/. Elsewhere, the initial segment remains unchanged, while N- becomes /n/.


Table 8: Morphophonemics of maN-



Base form

Change to

maN + Base





mamili ‘choose'





mamedbed ‘tie'





mamono ‘poke eyes'

[+velar] or




or any vowel





mangaod ‘row a boat'

mangap ‘take'

mangitem ‘combine'








manapang ‘sew'

manokdok ‘knock, beat'





manazab ‘roast'





manila ‘pick up food scraps to eat'




maN- + Base






manzogazoga ‘bark wildly'





manlangi ‘harvest millet'





man'agnat ‘lift'





manwagwag ‘abandon'





man-gazot ‘reed cut'





manmama ‘chew betel nut'





mannakenakem ‘think'





manngo ‘how'





manraherahet ‘criticize, speak evil of'


The subjunctive forms after the auxiliary verbs to or ji follow the pattern in Table 7. The prefix paN- becomes maN- (Table 6), e.g., to manazang-i ‘then buy'. Reflexes of PEF *maka-

  The Yami reflex of Philippine MAKA verb prefix (*maka-) is maka- , derived from - om- combined with paka- . It expresses ability and potential. Examples of maka- verbs are shown in (79).


(79) maka- verbs

maka-cita ‘can see'

maka-mizing ‘can hear'

maka-vonas ‘can remove'

maka-pinan ‘can grab'

maka-teneng ‘get to know'

maka-pía ‘do carefully and slowly'


The paka- prefix will emerge in their transitive counterparts or nominalization of the maka- verbs, as shown in (80).


(80) Noun or transitive verb with prefix paka- :

paka-citá-en ‘must see clearly'

paka-mizíng-en ‘must listen carefully'

paka-vonas-en ‘must remove'

paka-pinán-an ‘must grab tightly'

paka-teneng-an ‘must know'

paka-piá-en ‘do well, fix'


The subjunctive forms after the auxiliary verbs to or ji follow the pattern in Table 7. The prefix paka- becomes maka- (Table 6), e.g., to makamizing-a ‘then listen carefully, hear something all of a sudden'. Reflexes of PEF *maki-

  The Yami reflex of Philippine MAKI verb prefix (*maki-) is maci- , derived from - om- combined with paci- . It expresses the concepts of engaging in an activity or following along with someone to do something. Examples of maci- verbs are shown in (81).

(81) maci- verbs


‘follow along with someone'


‘engage in work with someone'


‘engage in distribution'


‘engage in killing'


The paci- prefix will emerge in their transitive counterparts or nominalization of the maci- verbs, as shown in (82).


(82) Noun or transitive verb with prefix paci- :


‘follow along someone'


‘engage in work with someone'


‘engage in distribution'


‘engage in killing'


The subjunctive forms after the auxiliary verbs to or ji follow the pattern in Table 7. The prefix paci- becomes maci- (Table 6), e.g., to macivazay-i ‘then engage in work with someone'. Transitive verbs

  A transitive verb has at least two nominal complements. One is the Genitive Agent or actor macrorole and the other is the Nominative Patient or undergoer macrorole. Transitive verbs with affixation

  The Yami transitive affixes -en, -an, and i- are traditionally analyzed as PF (Patient focus), LF (Locative focus), and IF/BF (Instrument/Benefactive focus), respectively, in the Philippine focus system. For ease of comparison, Table 9 lists the four major focus affixes in Yami and its corresponding classifications in Reid and Liao's typological framework. Their inflectional pattern was presented in Tables 5 and 7.


Table 9: Yami focus affixes

( AF )

( PF )

( LF )


Dynamic Intransitive









6.3.1 . Reflexes of PEF *-ən

  The Yami reflex of the Philippine EN verbs suffix (*-ən) is -en , referring to the direct and complete effect of the action on the Patient. The tense/aspect of -en verbs usually indicates future tense or progressive aspect and hence is imperfective, e.g., kan-en ‘eating or will eat'. The perfective marker in Yami is ni- , e.g., ni-akan ‘ate or have eaten'.


6.3.1 . Reflexes of PEF *-an

  The Yami reflex of the Philippine AN verb suffix (*-an) is -an , referring to the partial, superficial or consequential effect of the action on the Patient. It also refers to the source or goal of a movement. As a metaphorical extension, it can refer to the cause of an action. Compare the -an verbs with the -en verbs in (83). The effect on the former is partial whereas that on the latter is total.


(83) Comaprison beteen -an verbs with -en verbs

-an verbs

-en verbs

akan-an ‘eat some'

kan-en ‘eat up'

inom-an ‘drink some'

inom-en ‘drink up'

kodkod-an ‘scrape'

kodkod-en ‘scrape off'

akdot-an ‘pinch'

akdot-en ‘pinch out' Reflexes of PEF *?I-

  The Yami reflex of the Philippine I verb prefix (*?I-) is i- , expressing the following meanings: (1) conveyence of an object, (2) a tool used to carry out an action, (3) a cause or feeling due to an action, or (4) the beneficiary of an action. The following examples of I- verbs in (84) refer to causes or feelings.


(84) I-verbs


‘cry because …'


‘hit because…'


‘embarrassed because…'


‘scratch the itch because…'


‘amused because…'


‘killed because'

i-pika -zazakat

‘cause to die one by one'


‘cause to grow boils in many parts of the body'



note:The following pair contrasts in meaning: makapía (penultimate stress) ‘do something slowly and carefully' vs. makapia (ultimate stress) ‘do something nicely and well'.

note:The following pair, similar to footnote 11, also contrasts in meaning depending on whether the stress is on i or a : e.g., pakapíaen ‘must do something slowly and carefully' vs. pakapiáen ‘must do something nicely and well.'

note:A closely related prefix masi- expresses reciprocity, e.g., masikakey ‘love one another', masika'oya ‘hate one another'. The prefix maci- can be combined with other derivational prefixes, such as paN- , pa- , and ka- to form the following words: macipangayongayo (maci-paN-kayo-kayo) ‘follow a crowd to split wood', macipaganaganam (maci-pa-gana-ganam) ‘follow a crowd to go dancing', macikazakat (maci-ka-zakat) ‘follow along to die', macikararoa (maci-ka-ra-roa) ‘go to help someone'.

note:pika- also means ‘gradually, one after another, or affecting the whole group', e.g., mika-zazakat ‘all died', mika-yokayokay ‘wake up one after another', ma-pika-raherahet ‘cause total chaos'

6.3.2 Stative verbs

  Stative verbs are intransitive. The only complement of stative verbs is the Patient or undergoer. Reflexes of PEF *ma-

  The Yami reflex of the Philippine MA verbs (*ma-) is ma- . The stative ma- verbs, as opposed to the dynamic intransitive verbs, do not have any derivational relationship with p- forms. As discussed previously, all dyamic intransitive verb affixes, such as mi-, ma-, maN-, maka-, and maci- , are the result of the combination of -om- with pi-, pa-, paN-, paka- , and paci- , respectively. That is why the p- forms reappear in nominalization or the transitive counterparts of the intransitive verbs. Although ma- verbs are not derivable from p- forms, they might be related to the ka- verbs, as all the stative verbs in (84) are prefixed with ka- . This will be further discussed in Section 6.3.2 .2. The examples in (85) indicate the major semantics of ma- verbs, expressing the perfect aspect or relating the relevance of the event to the current state.


(85) ma- verbs:

ma-cimoy ‘rain'

ma-sálit ‘difficult'

ma-rilaw ‘sympathetic'

ma-táva ‘fat'

ma-téneng ‘intelligent'

m-ámo ‘embarrassed'

ma-óyat ‘strong, industrious'

 Potential direct affect statives

  Stative ma- verbs have a derivational relationship with the transitive verbs, most commonly with the -en verbs. In (86)-(87), the stative verb mapno ‘full' has its transitive conterpart apnoen ‘fill'. Both the Agent and the Patient occur in the transitive clause (86), but only the Patient occurs in the stative clause (87).


(86) apno-en mo o vanga no wakay.

fill-PF 2.S.GEN NOM pot GEN sweet.potato

‘Fill the pot with the sweet potatoes.'

(87) ya ma-pno do yala o ko

AUX SV-full LOC basket NOM 1.S.GEN

ni-kali a wakay.

PA.PF-dig LIN sweet.potato

‘The basket is full of the sweet potatoes I dug.'


  Another stative verb affix ka-an expresses involuntary, negative or unfortunate events. The stative ka-an verb in (89), kadasan ‘caught up with the urge to have a bowel movement', also has its transitive counterpart in (88), adasen ‘catch up'.


(88) maká-gza ka, ta na imo adas-en.

AF.VF-fast 2.S.NOM because 3.S.GEN 2.S.NOM catch.up-PF

‘(Walk) faster because he will catch up with you (soon).'

(89) ko ka-das-an.

1.S.NOM VF-catch.up-VF

‘I am about to have a bowel movement (lit. I got caught up).'


  Other Yami stative affixes include (1) mapaka- ‘pretend', e.g., mapaka-toktoklay ‘pretend to limp', mapaka-ititkeh ‘pretend to sleep', (2) mala- ‘taste or look like', e.g., mala-kakagling ‘gamey flavor, taste like lamb, or smell like goat', and mala-ngépen ‘bucktoothed', and (3) ma-…-en ‘love to do such and such', e.g., ma-miyimíying-en ‘love to laugh', ma-lavláv-in ‘a cry baby'. Statives with expressed actors

  Stative verbs can be reanalyzed as transitive verbs, with both the Agent and Patient co-occurring with the verbs, expressing ability, potential or perfectivity, as illustrated in the following examples (90)-(92).

(90) ma-kala ta o mogis nio?

able.PF-find 1.P.GEN.INCL NOM rice 2.P.GEN

‘Can we find your rice?'

(91) ko ma-cita imo ya om-avang do aleleh.

1.S.GEN able-PF-see 2.P.NOM AUX AF-load LOC car

‘I saw you getting in the car.'

(92) ko ká-tenng-an imo.

1.S.GEN VF-know-VF 2.S.NOM

‘I know you.' Reflexes of PEF *ka-

  The Yami reflex of the Philippine KA verb prefix (*ka-) is ka- , referring to a stative verb. The prefix ka- in ika- will appear in transitive verbs formed with the stative MA verbs, as illustrated in (84) and repeated in (93).


(93) Comparison between MA verbs and IKA verbs

MA verbs (Stative)

IKA verbs (Dynamic transitive)

ma-zakat ‘die'

i-ka-zakat ‘killed because'

má-miying ‘laugh'

i-ká-miying ‘amused because'

The KA verbs have derivational relationships with MA verbs in the distinction of mood. The MA verbs are realis whereas the KA verbs are irrealis. In (94a), the speaker had some control over the fact that he was filthy, and he felt embarrassed because of it. But in (94b), the speaker had no control over the situation and would not have felt embarrassed if he had not gotten so filthy.

(94) a. ya ko má-snek, ta ya ko ma -loit

AUX 1.S.NOM SV-embarrassed because AUX 1.S.NOM VF-filthy

‘I was embarrassed because I was filthy.'

(94) b. ya ko má-snek do ya ko ka -loit.

AUX 1.S.NOM SV-embarrassed LOC AUX 1.S.GEN VF-filthy

‘I was very embarrassed because I happened to get so filthy.'