Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 111
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 111
anything else in the proposition is in the least concerned with the plurality or the diminutiveness of the fire. Hence, while Nootka recognizes a cleavage between concrete and less concrete within group II, the less concrete do not transcend the group and lead us into that abstracter air into which our plural -s carries us. But at any rate, the reader may object, it is something that the Nootka plural affix is set apart from the concreter group of affixes; and may not the Nootka diminutive have a slenderer, a more elusive content than our -let or -ling or the German -chen or -lein? 17
  Can such a concept as that of plurality ever be classified with the more material concepts of group II? Indeed it can be. In Yana the third person of the verb makes no formal distinction between singular and plural. Nevertheless the plural concept can be, and nearly always is, expressed by the suffixing of an element (-ba-) to the radical element of the verb. “It burns in the east” is rendered by the verb ya-hau-si “burn-east-s.” 18 “They burn in the east” is ya-ba-hau-si. Note that the plural affix immediately follows the radical element (ya-), disconnecting it from the local element (-hau-). It needs no labored argument to prove that the concept of plurality is here hardly less concrete than that of location “in the east,” and that the Yana form corresponds in feeling not so much to our “They burn in the east” (ardunt oriente) as to a “Burn-several-east-s, it plurally burns in the east,” an expression which
Note 17.  The Nootka diminutive is doubtless more of a feeling-element, an element of nuance, than our -lung. This is shown by the fact that it may be used with verbs as well as with nouns. In speaking to a child, one is likely to add the diminutive to any word in the sentence, regardless of whether there is an inherent diminutive meaning in the word or not. [back]
Note 18.  -si is the third person of the present tense. -hau- “east” is an affix, not a compounded radical element. [back]


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