Chapter Three:

3.0 Definite Articles: Location

Sentences that indicate existence, like those dealt with in the previous chapter, often have indefinite nouns: There is water-some water, water in general. There is a party, etc. One can also speak of things that are definite: the water or the tortillas or the party (which we have already mentioned in discourse). A noun in Tzotzil has the following form:

(Article) + Noun (+ Demonstrative) (+ Enclitic)

(where elements in parentheses are optional). An indefinite noun consists of the noun by itself, without an article.

vo` water
`ixim corn
k'in party

A definite nouns has an article and ends with an enclitic:

li vo` e the water
li `ixim e the corn
li k'in e the party

Li is a definite article that signals the proximity of a specific thing: li is equivalent to "the." ti vo` e the water (remote) ti `ixim e the corn

Furthermore, the article ti indicates that the noun, which is as definite and specific as it would be if it carried li, is remote and distant in time and space.
li vinik e the man (already referred to, and also nearby)
ti vinik e the man (already referred to, but dead, distant, or remote)

Personal names also co-occur with definite articles.1 li Xun e John (literally: the John) li Manvel e Manuel ti Petule Peter (for example, a character in a myth who is named Peter) li Loxa e Rose li Maruch e Mary

Examples of each article's use follow: li vo` li` e this water (here) li Xune le` e John, who is over there li vitz taj e that mountain (already mentioned) vitz, "mountain"

The elements li` "here," le` "there," and taj "this, that" combine with a definite noun to indicate the relative proximity of a referent. Taj ordinarily indicates that something is distant and not visible. Taj can also function as an article.
(`a) taj Xun e that John (about whom we are speaking)
taj `ixim e the already mentioned corn

The contrast between these forms can be seen with personal names:

li Xun e John (some definite person)
li Xun li` e this John here
li Xun le` e that John there
li Xun taj e John, who is over there (nearby, but not visible)
taj Xun e the already mentioned John
ti Xun e John (who is far away and lived in the past)

3.1 Locative Sentences

`Oy vo` li` to e There is water here.
`Oy `ixim le` to e. There is corn there.
`Oy vitz taj to e. There is a mountain over there.

Expressions with li`, le`, and taj combine with to to function in sentences that indicate existence, just like locative phrases with ta. Note that locative phrases with ta can also take the enclitic -e [and demonstrate calificacion].
`Oy vo` ta k'ib. There is water in the jug.
`Oy vo` li` ta k'ib e. There is water here in the jug.
`Oy ch'ivit taj ta Jobel e. There is a market over there in San Cristobal.
`Oy sik le` ta `ak'ol e. It is cold up there.
sik, "cold"
`ak'ol, "up"

These sentences express the existence of things that are definite, while at the same time indicating their location. In these sentences, the word `oy means, "There isń" Such sentences contrast with locative sentences, which specify the place where some definite thing can be found.

Li` `oy li `ixim e. The corn is here.
Li` `oy `ixim. There is corn here.

The second example sentence indicates existence (the existence of a certain quantity of corn) with the locative constituent li` preceding it. The first example sentence-whose topic is a definite noun (the corn)-indicates location. In sentences of the this type (that is, locative sentences) the word `oy can be eliminated.

Li` li `ixime. The corn is here.
Mi li` li `ixime? Is the corn here?
Mi li` xa li `ixime? Is the corn already here?
Li` xa. It is already here.
Mi le` to `oy li nae? Is the house over there?
na, "house"
Le` to `oy. Yes, over there.

Like the main word of the predicate, li` "here" can function without the particle to, but the predicate le` to "over there" seems indivisible.

`Oy vo` ta k'ib. There is water in the jug.
Te `oy ta k'ib li vo` e. The water is there in the jug.

Similarly, locative sentences can be based in phrases with ta. The place, the location, is indicated with the preposition ta. The central word of the predicate is te "in such a place" together with `oy and the word `oy can be dropped.

Mi te ta na li tz'i` e? Is the dog in the house?
tz'i`, "dog"
Te ta na. He is (in the house).
Te li tz'i`e. The dog is there (in the place mentioned).
Te (`oy). Yes, he is there.
Mi te to ta te`tik li tzeb e? Is the girl still in the forest?
Te to. She still is (there).
Te to `ox ta Jobel nax li Xun e. John was in San Crist█bal earlier today.
Mi te to lavi e? Is he still there?

The negative forms of these locative sentences show the presence of the word `oy in their basic template.

Mi te ta na li luk e. Is the billhook still in the house?
luk, "billhook"
Ch'abal te. Ch'abal. It isn't there. There isn't one.
Mi te to ta p'in li 'ul e? Is the atole still in the pot?
Mu`yuk xa. Not now.
Mi li` xa li Xune? Is John here yet?
Mu to bu li`e.
Ch'abal to li`e. Not yet.

Locative assertions negate easily with forms of `oy-ch'abal, mu`yuk, muk' bu. With the particle to and xa, the negative forms mu xa bu "not now" and mu to bu "not yet" are used. I will give a few more examples.

Mi li` to `ox ta Nabenchauk li mol e? Was the old man here in Nabenchauk earlier?
mol, "old man"
Mu to `ox bu li` e. Ch'abal to `ox. No, he wasn't he earlier.
Mi te ta vitz li krus e? Is the cross there on the mountain?
Muk' bu te. Mu`yuk. No, it isn't there.
Mi li` ta na li tz'i`e? Is the dog here in the house?
Mu li` uk e. He isn't here.
Mi te to ta muk'ta be li karo e? Is the car still on the highway?
muk'ta, "big"
Mu xa te uk. Not now.

The negative particle mu, and the enclitic -uk that accompanies it, can combine directly with locative words like te and li`. In this way, the predicate li` "here" or te "in such a place" is directly negated-to suggest that the topic is neither here nor there but rather in another specified place.

Muk' bu li`e. NO Gloss.
Ch'abal li`e. NO Gloss.
Mu`yuk li`e. It isn't here (neutral sense).
Mu li` uke. It isn't here (but is in another place).

3.2 Emphasis, Fronting, and Definiteness

Contrast the word order and meaning of the following sentences:

(Te) `oy `ixim ta moch. There is corn in the basket.
moch, "basket"
Te (`oy) ta moch li `ixim e. The corn is in the basket.

(The words in parentheses in each sentence can be omitted. Note the difference.) The most definite noun in each sentence occupies the final position. In the sentence that indicates existence, the noun `ixim "corn" is indefinite-it means "some corn, an indefinite amount of corn"; `ixim does not carry an article, and it occupies an intermediary position. On the other hand, ta moch "in the basket" is more definite, although it does not carry the definite article li. In reality, the objects of the preposition ta never carry articles, or, better said, the articles appear to be dropped after ta, a preposition that contain a definite sense by itself. Thus, the phrase ta moch "in the basket"-being the most definite constituent of the sentence-goes to the end (2).

In the sentence

Te ta moch li `ixim e.

the subject-the noun in final position-li `ixime is very much definite: "the corn" (for example, the corn that we are looking for). It is possible to move the subject to the beginning of the sentence, for greater emphasis or to focus attention on the topic (in this case, the corn).

`Ali `ixime, te ta moch. As for the corn, it's in the basket.
The particle `a- combines with the article at the beginning, and a pause separates the fronted subject from the rest of the sentence.

We have already observed that a noun inside a locative phrase with ta cannot carry an article, because the preposition ta has a sense of definiteness. Consider how one constructs a locative phrase with ta based on a definite noun like one of the following:

li be li`e the road here, this road
li na le`e the house there, that house
ti vitze the mountain (remote)
li nab taje the lake in that direction

All the nouns are deictic: they signal what we see or remember, and they carry demonstrative articles, which indicate the position of the named object relative to the speaker. Observe how one incorporates these nouns in phrases with ta:

`Oy vo` li` ta be e. There is water here on the road.
`Oy k'ok' le` ta na e. There is fire there in the house.
`Oy to `ox pukuj (te) ta vitz e. There was a demon (there) on the mountain.
`Oy choy taj ta nab e. There are fish over there in the lake.

Here one sees that the basic form of a locative phrase with ta is:

Locative Particle + ta + Noun

The locative particle can be deictic (demonstrative like li`, le`, etc.) or neutral, like te. And the neutral particle te can be dropped completely. Note that it is the locative particle that is negated in negative sentences with a locative phrase with ta.

Mi te to ta na li Xun e? Is John still in the house?
Mu xa te uk.
Mu xa bu te.
Ch'abal xa te. Not now (he isn't).

In locative sentences (of the form "X is in Y"), the entire locative expression-with a locative particle, and ta plus a noun-functions as predicate.

3.3 Questions of Location

Bu (`oy) li Xun e? Where is John?
Te ta na. (He's) in the house.
Bu li muk'ta be e? Where is the highway?
Te ta `ak'ol. Up above.

The word bu (which we have already seen in negative expression like muk' bu) means "where." In questions of location, bu functions as an interrogative locative expression.

Li` ta k'ib li vo`e. Here in the jug there is water.
Bu li vo`e? Where is the water?

Bu ordinarily occupies the initial position. But it is possible to front subjects for a different focus.

`Ali Xune, buy? And John? Where is he?

(Bu and buy are alternative forms, like te and tey.)

Sentences that indicate existence can also become questions by means of the word bu.

Li` ta k'ib `oy vo`. Here in the jug there is water.
Bu `oy vo`? Where is there water?

Here bu replaces a locative phrase in initial position.

Bu `oy vaj? Where are there tortillas?
Muk' bu `oy. There aren't any.
Mu xa bu `oy. There aren't any now.

In these examples one can see that negative expressions with bu represent the direct application of negative particles to the word bu: muk' bu `oy means, literally: "there is no place where there is/are."

3.4 Other Interrogative Words

`Oy vo` ta k'ib.

We have already learned how to question the existence and location of things whose existence is asserted in sentences like the one above. Thus:

Mi `oy vo` ta k'ib?
Bu `oy vo`?

One can also form another question, questioning the topic.

K'usi `oy ta k'ib? What is there in the water jug?

K'usi "what" alternates with the short form k'u, which appears frequently in negative forms.

K'usi te ta k'ibe? What is there over there in the water jug?
Muk' k'u `oy.
Muk' k'usi. Nothing. There's nothing.

(The expression muk' k'usi usually contracts to muk'usi.) In a similar manner, one can form questions with the word much'u (which in the speech of many Zinacantecos is buch'u) "who(m)."

Much'u li`e? Who is here?
Li` li Xune. John is here.
Much'u te ta jobel? Who is in San Cristobal?
Te li Paxku`e. Paxku is (here).
Much'u `oy ta na? Who is (literally: who is there) in the house?
Muk' buch'u `oy. There isn't anyone.
Much'u te ta jol vitz? Who is on the peak of the mountain?
Muk' buch'u tey. No one is there.
jol, "peak, top; head"

We will treat compound expression like jol vitz (literally: "the head of the mountain," in other words, "the mountaintop") in the following section.

These interrogative words are also used as relative pronouns, like their English equivalents. In sentences that indicate existence, it is possible to say, for example: "there is someone who is in the house"-in other words, "someone is in the house." In such contexts, the interrogative pronouns function as indefinite pronouns, like the English words "someone," "somewhere," "something," etc.

Mi `oy buch'u te ta na? Is there someone in the house?
`Oy. Te li Manvele. There is. Manvel.
Mi `oy k'usi li` ta k'ibe? Is there something in the water jug?
Mu k'usi `oy. Ch'abal xa li vo`e. There isn't any. There is no water now.
Mi `o bu `oy chenek' lavie? Is there a place where there are beans now?
`Oy le` ta ch'ivit. There are over there in the market.

In questions, the interrogative words always comes at the beginning, except when other constituents have been fronted for emphasis.

K'usi li` ta k'ibe? What is there in the water jug?
Li` ta k'ibe, k'usi? Here in the water jug, what is there?

(Note that the initial particle `a-, which combines with the article li when a definite noun is fronted, does not combine with li`.) On the other hand, in its relative uses, such words like k'usi, much'u, etc., go at the beginning of the constituents to which they pertain:

Mi `oy k'usi li` ta k'ibe?
° exists something here in the water jug?
Is there something here in the water jug?

In this sentence, the entire expression k'usi li` ta k'ibe functions as a single noun, the subject of the predicate `oy, which indicates existence.

Another indefinite use of the interrogative words can be seen in the following examples.

Bu li j`ilol e? Where is the curer?
j`ilol, "curer"
Te nan buy. Someplace (Who knows where?)
nan, "perhaps (indicates uncertainty)"
K'usi taj ta ba tontik? What is there over there on top of the rocks?
ba, "on top, face"
ton, "rock"
tontik, "rocky place"
Te nan k'usi. Something. (Who knows what?)
Much'u to `ox li` e? Who was here?
Te nan much'u. Someone. (Who knows who?)

As the previous examples have shown, the negative forms of these words are also equivalent to "no one," "nothing," "never," and "nowhere."

Muk' buch'u te ta na. There is no one in the house.
Muk' kusi li` ta k'ib. There is nothing in the water jug.
Muk' bu (`oy) vo`. Nowhere is there water.


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