Negation in Mapudungun

Zúñiga, Fernando (2018). Negation in Mapudungun (Unpublished). In: Syntax of the World's Languages VIII. Paris, France. 03.09.2018.

Based upon original data and the extant descriptions of Mapudungun (unclassified, Chile and Argentina), the present paper presents a comprehensive picture of negation in the language according to the guiding principles detailed in Veselinova (2014) and Miestamo (2016). Mapudungun has a heavily skewed distribution of negative markers: while ki and -la are only found with imperative and indicative verbs (1), nu ~ nu is found with all other verbs (e.g. nonfinite forms) (2), as well as with non-verbal elements (e.g. in nominal clauses) (3): (1) a. Langüm-ki-fi-nge tüfa-chi üñüm! kill-NEG-3OBJ-2SG.IMP this-ATTR bird ‘Don’t kill this bird!’ (finite verb, imperative) b. La-le-la-i tüfa-chi üñüm. die-RES-NEG-IND[3SG] this-ATTR bird ‘This bird has not died.’ (finite verb, indicative) (2) a. Feyengün aku-nu-fu-le! 3PL arrive-NEG-RI-3.SBJV ‘If only they (PL) would not arrive!’ (finite verb, subjunctive; Smeets 2008: 184) b. Ngilla-la-a-i kofke nie-nu-lu plata. buy-NEG-FUT-IND[3SG] bread have-NEG-NFIN money ‘He who has no money will not buy bread.’ (nonfinite verb; Smeets 2008: 189) (3) a. Feyti ruka nu. DEM house NEG ‘That is not a house.’ (nominal clause; Smeets 2008: 244) b. chem rume [what ever] ‘whatever’ vs. chem nu rume [what NEG ever] ‘nothing’ c. Dewma mari tripantu nie-el tripa-n already ten year have-NFIN exit-1SG.IND ñi küdaw-a-el, welu müte kamapu nu. 1SG.PSR work-FUT-NFIN but very far.away NEG ‘When I was already ten years old, I went away to work, but not very far away.’ (Smeets 2008: 245) Such a distribution is interesting for a cross-linguistic characterization of negation on several grounds. First, unlike in other languages, there is no tense-aspect-related allomorphy of the negative markers in Mapudungun. Second, the standard negator la is not the default option despite its high frequency (indicative clauses are indeed quite common both in everyday use and in narrative texts). Third, the default negator nu is currently encroaching upon the imperative realm; double-marked forms (-ki-nu) or even simply imperatives that use nu instead of ki are increasingly common. (This is possibly due, or at least reinforced, by contact with Spanish, which uses subjunctive forms in parts of the imperative paradigm. To judge from its age and consistency through time, however, nu ~ nu itself is unlikely to be a Spanish loan.) Fourth, the different kinds of stative predications (Payne 1997) show a differentiated picture: equation is expressed by nominal clauses in Mapudungun and therefore always use nu; all other subtypes (i.e., proper inclusion, property attribution, existence, location, and possession) are expressed by verbal clauses and therefore show the mood- and finiteness-related allomorphy shown in (1-2). Fifth, even though the default negator nu is used with negative indefinites (see (3b)), none of the negators are used in lexeme derivation—i.e., not even the default negator can be used as Latin/Spanish dis- with nominal or verbal stems, or as English less.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Zúñiga, Fernando


400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 490 Other languages




Fernando Zúñiga

Date Deposited:

10 Sep 2018 14:05

Last Modified:

10 Sep 2018 14:05


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