Mizo grammar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Mizo grammar is the grammar of the Mizo language, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by about a million people in Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Burma and Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. It is a highly inflected language, with fairly complex noun phrase structure and word modifications. Nouns and pronouns are declined, and phrasal nouns also undergo an analogous declension.

Word order[edit]

Mizo declarative word order is Object-subject-verb, as in:

Sava
bird
ka
I
hmu
see
Sava ka hmu
I see a bird
Thing
firewood
a
he

carries
Thing a pú
He carries firewood

Nouns[edit]

There is no grammatical gender in Mizo language, although some animals, birds etc. have names which contain one of the suffixes -nu, which means female, or -pa which means male. Examples include chingpirinu (a type of big owl), kawrnu (a type of cicada), thangfènpa (a nocturnal bird).[1]

Non-derived nouns[edit]

Mizo is an agglutinative language in which it is rare to find morphologically simple, non-derived nouns.[1] However, common everyday objects and domestic animals tend to fall in this category, that is, the category of morphologically simple, non-derived nouns. For example,

vạwk pig
ịp bag/sack
tláng mountain
sǎm hair
ár chicken
lụi river

Derived nouns[edit]

The most common form of noun is that of derived, morphologically complex, poly-syllabic nouns. Most abstract nouns belong to this category, and so do wild animals and other less common objects.[1] Examples include

1. sa-
animal
mak
strange
samak
rhinoceros
2. fa-
offspring
nu
female
fanu
daughter
3. süal-
wicked
na
-ness
sùalna
wickedness
4. mäwl-
stupid
na
-ness
màwlna
stupidity

Pluralisation[edit]

Nouns are pluralised by the addition of one of the suffixes -te, -ho, -teho and -hote. However, a non-pluralised noun can have the sense of a pluralised noun, and common nouns are usually not pluralised, as in:

Sava tam deuh ka hmù Sava tam deuh ka hmu
I see a lot of birds
bird/s many very I see

Here sava is not pluralised to savate or savaho; rather, sava functions as a plural.

Declension of nouns[edit]

Nouns are declined into cases as follows (here we show the tones in accordance with the usage in Mizo Wiktionary, which is an extension of the common usage in Mizo newspapers such as Vanglaini and monthlies such as Lengzem chanchinbu):[2]

Noun (Nominative case) Genitive case Accusative case Ergative case Instrumental case
nụlá
the/a girl
nụla
the/a girl's
nụlá
the/a girl
nụláịn
(by) the/a girl
nụláin
using/with a girl
tǔi
water
tǔi
tǔi tuiịn tuiin

Proper nouns are also declined in the same manner:

Noun (Nominative case) Genitive case Accusative case Ergative case Instrumental case
Thangạ Thanga Thangạ Thangȧ'n Thangạ-in/Thangạ hmangin

Nominalisation[edit]

Verbs and adjectives are nominalised by suffixing -na, and adjectives can also be nominalised by suffixing -zia. For example:

Verb Ajective Nominalisation by -na Nominalisation by -zia'
kal kạlna
süal sùalna
süal sùalzìa
vùa vûakna

When -na is suffixed to a transitive verb then the resulting noun means either the instrument with which the action described by the verb is achieved, or the object/sufferer of the action or the point of action of the verb. For example, vùa means to beat/strike with a stick, and vûakna means a whip, an object with which one can beat, or a point or place where the beating takes place, a point where something is beaten.

When -na is suffixed to an intransitive verb, then the resulting noun means a place etc. through which the action can take place. For example, kal means to go, kalna means where something/someone goes or can go, way, path. For example:

A kalna kan hre lo We do not know where he went/where he has gone.
Hei chu a kalna dik a ni lo tawp mai! This is definitely not the right way.

When -zia is suffixed to an adjective, the resulting noun means the condition of having the quality described by the adjective. For example, süal means evil, sùalzìa' means sinfulness, evilness.

Agentiviser[edit]

The suffix -tu in Mizo ṭawng is equivalent to the suffix -er or -or in English, as in:[3]

püan " ṭhui to sew a cloth
püanṭhuitu tailor
véng to protect
véngtû protector

Pronouns[edit]

Forms[edit]

All Mizo pronouns occur in two forms, namely in free form and clitic form:[4]

Free form Clitic form
kei(I) ka (I)
keimah (I)[5]
keini (we) kan (we)
keimahni (we)[5]
nang(you, singular) i (you, singular)
nangmah (you)[5]
nangni (you, plural) in (you, plural)
nangmahni (you, plural)[5]
ani (he, she, it) a (he, she, it)
amah (he, she, it)[5]
anni (they) an (they)
anmahni (they)[5]

The free form is mostly used for emphasis, and has to be used in conjuntion with either the clitic form or an appropriate pronominal particle, as shown in the following examples:

  1. Kei (=I free form) ka (=I clitic form)lo tel ve kher a ngai em?. This is a somewhat emphatic way of saying Ka lo tel ve kher a ngai em?
  2. Nangni (=you pl., free form) in (you pl., clitic form) zo tawh em? This is a somewhat emphatic way of saying Nangni in zo tawh em?
  3. Ani (he/she) a (s/he) kal ve chuan a ṭha lo vang.

The clitic form is also used as a genitive form of the pronoun.

Declension[edit]

Mizo pronouns, like Mizo nouns, are declined into cases as follows:

Pronoun (Nominative case) Genitive case Accusative case Ergative case
clitic form
ka ka mi, min keimahin=keima'n
kan kan min keimahni-in=keimahnin
i i che nangmahin=nangma'n
in in che u nangmahni-in=nangmahnin
a a amah amahin=ama'n
an an anmahni anmahni-in=anmahni'n
free form
kei keima keimah, keimah min keimahin=keima'n
keimah keima keimah, keimah min keimahin=keima'n
keini keini keini, keini min keini-in=keini'n
keimahni keimahni keimahni, keimahni min keimahni-in=keimahni'n
anni anni anni anni'n
anmahni anmahni anmahni anmahni-in=anmahni'n

Adjectives[edit]

Attributive[edit]

Mizo adjectives (Mizo: hrilhfiahna), when used attributively, follow the nouns they describe, as follows:

1. naupang fel a good child
child good
2. lehkhabu chhiartlâk a readable book
book readable
3. hmasawnna chhenfâkawm sustainable development
development sustainable
2. artui pum ruk six eggs
egg six

Predicative[edit]

When used predicatively, Mizo adjectives are syntactically verbs,[6] being usually preceded by the subject pronoun clitics, as in:

A fel
S/he or it is good
A ṭha
It is good

In these two sentences, a is the subject pronoun clitic, and the adjectives fel and ṭha function as verbs (syntactically).

Adjective sequences[edit]

When adjectives follow each other, the preferred order is the following:[4]

  1. color
  2. quality or opinion
  3. size
  4. shape

as in

Puan sen (color) mawi (quality) hlai (size) bial (shape) deuh.

Quantifiers[edit]

The most common quantifiers in Mizo ṭawng are zawng zawng (all/each and every), ṭhenkhat (some [of a whole]), väi (all/every), (all/every).[7] Some examples are given below:

1. varak
duck
zawng zawng
all
All the ducks
2. kan
we

all
All of us

Verbs[edit]

Occurrence[edit]

Verbs (Mizo: thiltih) and verb phrases occur last in a sentence. Since adjectives can function as verbs, it is common in sentences to have no true verb, as in:

A fel vek mai ang
A dik vêl vek!

In these two sentences, the adjectives fel and dik function syntactically as verbs, and there are no other verbs in either of them.

Tense[edit]

Mizo verbs are not conjugated by changing the desinence. The tense is clarified by the aspect and the addition of conjugating particles, such as

etc.

Adverbs[edit]

Occurrence[edit]

Adverbs usually follow the verbs or adjectives they describe.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Chhangte, Lalnunthangi, The Grammar of Simple Clauses in Mizo
  2. ^ This usage adapts Zoppen Club's usage.
  3. ^ Chhangte, Lalnunthangi, Op. cit., p. 137
  4. ^ a b Chhangte, Lalnunthangi, The Grammar of Simple Clauses in Mizo
  5. ^ a b c d e f This form is also used as the accusative.
  6. ^ Chhangte, Lalnunthangi, p. 107
  7. ^ Op. cit., p. 111
Others:
  1. Dokhuma, James, Mizo ṭawng kalphung
  2. Zoppen club, Mizo ṭawng thumal thar, 2011.
  3. SCERT, Mizo grammar and composition, cl XI & XII textbooks.