Since TA verbs agree with both their subject and object, there are 49 different forms possible when a TA verb is conjugated, e.g., the Independent Indicative Present. The following table, Possibilities of Person Combinations in TA Verbs, illustrates this. (Note: Reflexive and reciprocal combinations are not included).
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By observing the richness of TA conjugations, we can identify subclasses organized according to the interaction between participants and the person of the verb. The forms can be described as being governed by a person hierarchy, where the 2nd person takes precedence over the 1st and the 3rd, the 1st over the 3rd, the 3rd over the 4th (obviative) and the 5th (surobviative). Since TA verbs only have animate persons, only the left part of the hierarchy applies.
Subclasses of TA Verb Forms
An initial classification of the TA verb forms reveals three distinct groups of forms:
- local: where the participants of the verb, i.e. the subject and the object to which the verb refers, can only be 1st or 2nd persons, excluding the participation of a 3rd person (e.g. tshuapamitin I see you: 1st and 2nd persons);
- mixed: where one 1st or 2nd person participant, subject or object, interacts with a 3rd or 4th person subject or object (e.g. tshuapamau you see him/her: 2nd and 3rd persons);
- non-local: where the participants, subject or object, can only be 3rd or 4th (or 5th or 6th) persons, excluding 1st and 2nd persons (e.g. uapameu s/he sees him/her (obv): 3rd and 4th persons).
A second classification reflects the situation of the subject with respect to the person hierarchy. Thus, we have the following forms:
- have a subject whose person is higher in the hierarchy of persons than that of the object (e.g. tshiminuashin you like me: 2nd and 1st persons; niminuatau I like him/her: 1st and 3rd persons);
- in the Independent, the prefix, which always reflects the person who has precedence in the person hierarchy, refers to the subject (tshuitshin you help me: 2nd and 1st persons; nuitshiau I help him/her: 1st and 3rd persons);
- have a subject whose person is lower in the person hierarchy than that of the object (tshimińuatitin I like you: 1st and 2nd persons; nimińuatiku s/he likes me: 3rd and 1st persons);
- in the Independent, the prefix, which always reflects the person who has precedence in the person hierarchy, refers to the object (tshuitshitin I help you: 1st and 2nd persons; nuitshiku s/he helps me: 3rd and 1st persons);
Joining these two classifications together, we get six subclasses of TA verb forms:
- local direct (tshuapamin you see me, tshuitshinan you help us)
- local inverse (tshuapamitin I see you, tshuitshitinan we help you)
- mixed direct (nuapamau I see him/her, tshuitshianan we help him/her)
- mixed inverse (nuapamiku s/he sees me, tshuitshikunan s/he helps us)
- non-local direct (uapameu s/he sees him/her (obv), uitshieu s/he helps him/her (obv))
- non-local inverse (uapamiku s/he (obv) see him/her, uitshiku s/he (obv) helps him/her)