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Verbs table

gloss layer m cert f cert n cert m foc f foc n foc m f n
I see X lexeme tahjqenn tahjqeèn hahjqn tahjqeştj tahjqeştn hahjqeştn
I see X prefix t t h t t h t t h
I see X suffix nn en n nn en n j n n
X ran lexeme okèʔnn okèʔèn okèʔştn
X ran prefix zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero
X ran suffix nn en n nn en n j n n

Selknam notes

  • Gender (manifested through suffix agreement) is lexically specified. Male and female animates belong to masculine and feminine gender, respectively (Najlis 1973: 17f), but there are inanimates in both genders, alongside a third, neuter, gender. Gender agreement is manifested both as prefixes and suffixes. Rojas Berscia (2014) describes the prefixes as animacy markers rather than gender markers ( they always conflate masculine + feminine), but this would imply e.g. that an inanimate feminine noun should take a feminine suffix and an inanimate prefix, which is contradicted by such examples in Najlis (1973: 41), where inanimates have contrasting prefixes that agree with their lexical gender:

    k-àştèr-èn nèj-n sorèn
    M/F.FOC-narrow-F pres-F/N bag(F)
    'the bag is narrow'

    h-àştèr-n nèj-n Ɂòlj
    N-narrow-N pres-F/N dress(N)
    'the dress is narrow'

    (Note that Najlis 1973 identifies the identical prefixes used as noun formatives as animate/inanimate.) - Verbs agree in gender and animacy with the absolutive argument; the pattern of gender agreement is sensitive to the distinction between certitive mood forms and other forms (Najlis 1973: 19). - Verbs fall into two classes: those that take gender prefixes and those that do not. According to Rojas Berscia (2014), the copula and verbs of motion are typically non-prefixing, while most other verbs take prefixes.


Najlis, Elena. 1973. Lengua Selknam (Filologia y lingüística 3.). Buenos Aires: Instituto de Filología y Lingüística, Universidad del Salvador.

Rojas Berscia, Luis Miguel. 2014. A Heritage Reference Grammar of Selk'nam. M.A. thesis, Radboud University.