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Willem de Reuse
University of North Texas

Denominal verb derivation in three closely related Apachean languages (Navajo,

Chiricahua Apache, and Western Apache) is not elaborate. The nouns involved are
limited to body parts in Navajo, to kinship terms in Chiricahua Apache, and to skin
ailments or substances typically clinging to the body in Western Apache. These differ-
ences suggest that diachronically the patterns arose independently from one another.
The most interesting pattern is that of Western Apache (it also might exist in embryonic
fashion in Navajo and Chiricahua Apache) and is due to the grammaticalization of a
proclitic and enclitic complex around a noun. This complex was then reinterpreted as
adjectival verb morphology, and the resulting word can be inected as an adjectival
[Keywords: Navajo, Chiricahua Apache, Western Apache, body-part terms, kinship
terms, denominal verb formation, nonverbal predicates]

1. Introduction. This paper is a survey of denominal verbs in Navajo,

Chiricahua Apache, and Western Apache, three languages of the Apachean
or Southern Athabascan subfamily of the Athabascan family.1 In these lan-
guages, denominal verb formation can involve deriving a verb to have the
Athabascan is also spelled Athabaskan; in this paper, I use the spelling Athabascan, recom-
mended by the Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Navajo, with
over 100,000 speakers in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, is the largest and best documented
Apachean language. Western Apache is spoken by about 7,000 people in eastern and central
Arizona. There are Chiricahua Apaches on the Mescalero Apache reservation in New Mexico
and at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. There might be between 20 and 40 speakers of Chiricahua Apache
on the Mescalero Reservation, but there are no longer any uent speakers in Oklahoma (Michael
Darrow, personal communication, 2002). The other Apachean languages are Mescalero, Jica-
rilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache (formerly called Kiowa-Apache). With the exception of Plains
Apache, which is quite distinct, the Apachean languages form a chain, or rather remnants of a
chain, with mutual intelligibility between geographically contiguous languages varying from
near-perfect, as between Chiricahua and Mescalero; to rather limited, as between Western Apache
and Chiricahua; to rather marginal, as between Navajo and Western Apache. This paper was
rst presented at the SSILA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, January 4, 2002. I thank Donna
Gerdts, Steve Marlett, Keren Rice, Leslie Saxon, and an IJAL Associate Editor for comments
on this paper. I am grateful to the following consultants for their help and patience: Robert
Young and MaryAnn Willie (Navajo); Michael Darrow (Chiricahua), Phillip Goode (deceased),
Jennifer Dosela, Joycelene Johnson, Bernadette Adley-Santamaria, and Elizabeth Rocha (West-
ern Apache). The research underlying this paper was funded by a grant from the National Science
Foundation to the University of Arizona (no. SBR-9408543) and one to the University of North
Texas (no. SBR-9896227). This support is hereby gratefully acknowledged.

[IJAL, vol. 74, no. 4, October 2008, pp. 42338]

2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

424 international journal of american linguistics

eyes of an eagle, to be eagle-eyed from the noun eye (Navajo), the verb
to be ones mother from the noun mother (Chiricahua Apache), and the
verb to be hairy from the noun hair (Western Apache).
Since the Apachean languages are closely related, one might expect to
nd similarities in the patterning of denominal verbs, particularly since the
morphology for deriving verbs from nouns is not elaborate by Athabascan
standards. However, denominal verb formation is apparently different in
the three languages under consideration; it remains to be seen if the other
Apachean languages have denominal verbs and, if so, how these are formed.
In this paper, I am not going to discuss verb formation by zero-derivation
from nouns. There are cases, described in de Reuse (1995) for Western
Apache and in Young and Morgan (1987:|7|)2 for Navajo, where nouns can
be used predicatively, i.e., without any verbal morphology. I do not consider
cases of zero-derivation to be denominal morphology, because they arguably
have no morphology.
Also, I do not deal here with the somewhat controversial issue of verb
stems derived from noun roots. Apachean languages have about 120 basic
monosyllabic roots which are considered to be nominal, on the basis of their
semantics and their usual morphological behavior. Of these roots, approxi-
mately 50 can be used as verb stems, with verbal morphology. However,
there is no evidence for deciding whether we have a situation where the verb
stems are derived from noun roots, or whether we have a situation where the
noun stems are derived from verb roots, because the morphology involved
in the verbs is not clearly denominal. Sapir (1923) argued that such roots were
underlyingly nominal, whereas Reichard (1951:4647) was of the opinion
that such roots are underlyingly verbal.3 Since there are arguments for either
position, it is preferable to postulate roots unspecied as to lexical category,
from which both noun and verb stems can be derived, as suggested in Rice
(1989:161) for Slave, a Northern Athabascan language.

2. Denominal verbs in Navajo. The Navajo data discussed here are

from the monumental Young and Morgan dictionaries (1987; 1992). The
only verbs clearly derived from nouns in Navajo are composed of prexes
and body-part nouns in the position of the verb stem. Body-part terms are
very concrete and noun-like, and it would be very hard to make a case in
Athabascan (and, I suspect, in most languages) that body-part terms are un-
derlyingly verbal. So, if one has to verbalize something that is denitely not
2 The grammar part of Young and Morgan (1987) is paginated separately, with numbers en-
closed in vertical bars.
Young and Morgans (1987: |13536|) Navajo grammar appears to adopt a position some-
where between Sapir and Reichard since they mention 25 roots which they consider to be un-
derlyingly verbal, and 11 roots which they consider to be underlyingly nominal, but the criteria
for this decision are not specied.
denominal verbs in apachean languages 425

a verb, body-part terms are a good place to start. Young and Morgan give two
denominal verb patterns for Navajo, both largely limited to body parts. For
the rst pattern, I quote from Young and Morgan (1987:|135|):4
Stem nouns that represent body parts, functioning as the stem in a Neuter
Perfective theme with the shape ay -l-X (in which X = any body part
noun) to have a large body part of the type designated by the stem, as:
-kee, foot/feet: ay shkee, I have big feet, I am big-footed.
-be, breast: ay lbe, she has large breasts, she is big-busted.
-tsii, head: ay nltsii, you have a big head, you are big-headed.
The rst word, ay, is an adverb meaning greatly, remarkably. The prex
sequences involved in the quotation above are sh- for rst-person singu-
lar, nl- for second-person singular, and l- for third-person singular.
These prex complexes contain the appropriate prexes for person and the
Y-perfective mode,5 and the prexes - and l- which are thematic.6 The
resulting construction is syntactically intransitive and semantically adjectival.
A list from the body of Young and Morgans dictionary (1987:2) is given
in table 1.7 The entries are given in the rst-person singular. Table 1 includes
all the entries in Young and Morgan. The fact that Young and Morgan go to
the trouble of listing the resulting forms is evidence that the construction is
not productive.8
What Young and Morgan have to say about the second Navajo construc-
tion with body-part or plant-part nouns is quoted below (1987:|135|):

The standard Navajo spelling is used for the Navajo data. Hoijers spelling of Chiricahua
has been converted to the spelling used by the Fort SillChiricahuaWarm Springs Apache
Nation; it is very close to the Navajo spelling, the main difference being that u is used where
Navajo would have o. The spelling system of Western Apache is also similar to the one used
for Navajo, the main difference being that Western Apache mid tones are marked with a macron
on the vowel. A fuller discussion of the Western Apache spelling system is in de Reuse
(2003:98) and de Reuse and Goode (2006:730).
The morphophonemic rules of prex combination resulting in the surface forms are complex
and will not be explained here. An introduction to these rules is in Faltz (1998). In Athabascan
languages, certain prexes select certain types of perfectives. In these forms, the Y-perfective
is selected by the prex -. Note that this is a neuter verb, which means that it cannot be inected
for different modes (i.e., aspects in Athabascanist terminology).
Thematic prexes, in Athabascanist terminology, are those prexes which do not have a
clearly isolatable grammatical or lexical meaning, but have to occur with certain stems. They
function to distinguish stems, somewhat in the way that the English elements cran- and boysen-
in cranberry and boysenberry distinguish types of berries.
7 The heading of the corresponding paradigm in Young and Morgan (1987:2) is neuter

imperfective. This is a typo for neuter perfective, as conrmed in Young and Morgan
(1992:255, 318, 640).
Dr. MaryAnn Willie, a native-speaker linguist, notes (personal communication) that not all
native speakers accept the forms listed in table 1. This is additional evidence that the construc-
tion is not productive.
426 international journal of american linguistics

Navajo Entries from Young and Morgan (1987:2)

Noun Stem Gloss Denominal Verb Gloss

-be breast ay shbe I am big-busted
-bid belly ay shbid I am big-bellied
-ch h nose ay shch h I am big-nosed
-jd leg ay shjd I am big-legged
-jaa ear ay sjaa I am big-eared
-kee foot ay shkee I am big-footed
-tlaa buttocks ay shtlaa I am big-buttocked, steatopygous
-tss body ay stss I am big-bodied

Stem nouns that represent body or plant parts function as the stem in Neuter
Imperfective verb themes with the shape yi-ni-l-X, to have a part that is
shaped like or otherwise resembles a designated object with which it is com-
pared, as:
-n;, eyes: ats yinishn, I have the eyes of an eagle, I am eagle-eyed.
-tsoo, tongue: tliish yiltsoo, he has a tongue like a snake.
-tsii, head: bgashii yinltsii, you have a head like a cow, youre cow-headed.
In this construction, the comparandum precedes the verb and is typically an
animal name, such as ats eagle, tliish snake, and bgashii cow. The
prex sequences involved are yinish- for rst-person singular, yinl- for
second-person singular, and yil- for third-person singular. These prex
sequences contain the prexes for person and a zero imperfective mode, and
the three thematic prexes yi- like, akin to, ni- a formative of neuter im-
perfective adjectivals, and l-. Under the entry referring to the prexes in the
body of the dictionary, Young and Morgan (1987:767) point out that this
construction may occur with virtually any body part noun (including the
parts of plants) and do not list any entries in the dictionary. This is evidence
that this construction is fully productive. Examples of its usage in sentences
are (1)(4) from Young and Morgan (1987:767), (5) and (6) from Young and
Morgan (1992:319, 640), and (7) and (8) from Reichard (1951:253):
(1) d l bgashii yiltsii
this horse cow 3s.Imperf.head9
this horse has a head like a cow, the head of this horse resembles that
of a cow
Abbreviations used in analyses, glosses, and paradigms are: - prex boundary; = proclitic
or enclitic boundary; 1d rst-person dual subject; 1p rst-person plural subject; 1s rst-person
singular subject; 2d second-person dual subject; 2p second-person plural subject; 2s second-
person singular subject; 3dp third-person dual or plural subject; 3s third-person singular subject;
3os third-person singular object; 3p third-person plural subject; 3s third-person singular sub-
ject; Imperf imperfective mode; Perf perfective mode; pdr past deferred realization particle (de
Reuse 2003:8288); neg negative proclitic and enclitic (conventionally written separately and
without =); sub subordinating enclitic; top topic particle or enclitic.
denominal verbs in apachean languages 427

(2) nagh ashkii mogitsoh yilgaan

that boy ape 3s.Imperf.arm
that boy has arms like an ape
(3) shicheii ats yiln
my.grandfather eagle 3s.Imperf.eye
my grandfather has the eyes of an eagle
(4) sh jaaaban yinishjaa
1 top bat 1s.Imperf.ear
I have the ears of a bat
(5) d tlii bi 4i 4h yilkee
this burro deer 3s.Imperf.foot
this burros feet look like those of a deer
(6) d l bisodi yiltss
this horse pig 3s.Imperf.body
this horse has a pig-like body
(7) shash yiltsii
bear 3s.Imperf.head
he has a head like a bear
(8) Jaan yinishchah
John 1s.Imperf.hat
I have a hat like Johns10

As shown in (1)(6), the construction has two arguments, since there is both
subject inection in the verb (the rst argument) and another noun (a second
argument) preceding the verb. However, as in an equational sentence, there
is no transitivity. We know this because third-person subject sentences are
obligatory marked for transitivity (with a third-person object prex) in
Apachean, and there is no such prex in (1)(3) and (5)(7).

3. Denominal verbs in Chiricahua Apache. The only evidence for a

denominal pattern is found in Hoijers unpublished lexicon of Chiricahua
Apache stems (ca. 1930). Chiricahua Apache has a different denominal verb
pattern when compared with Navajo. The complete set of data available is

Example (8) might be unusual since the verb stem refers to an item of clothingchah
hatrather than to a body part. The case of chah is mentioned in Young and Morgan
(1992:98) but not in Young and Morgan (1987).
428 international journal of american linguistics

Chiricahua Denominal Data from Hoijer (ca. 1930)

Noun Stem Gloss Denominal Verb Gloss No.
-bzh stepfather; fathers O-ni-. . .-bzh to be . . . stepfather 11
-bzhe stepfather, stepchild O-ni-. . .-bzhe to be . . . stepfather, 12
-ch mothers mother; O-ni-. . .-ch to be (his) . . . 102
daughters children
(woman speaking)
-dai mothers siblings; sisters O-ni-. . .-dai to be 17
child someones . . .
-la4h sister, man speaking; O-ni-. . .-la4h to be . . . sister, 107
brother, woman brother
-m mother O-ni-. . .-m to be someones 14
-tsy mothers father; O-ni-. . .-tsy to be . . . mothers 85
daughters children, father, etc.
man speaking

in Hoijer (ca. 1930) and is given in table 2. The forms are uninected
stems.11 Each of the resulting verbs is an imperfective neuter. I gather from
Hoijers practice in this stem lexicon, that O- stands for an object prex such
as shi- me, ni- you, bi- him, her, etc., and that the indication . . . stands
for the place where the subject prexes are inserted. So, using the subject
prex sh- rst person, I assume the existence of inected forms such as
ninishbzh I am your stepfather, binishbzh I am his/her stepfather;
ninishm I am your mother, binishm I am his/her mother, and so on.
We do not know whether the construction can derive verbs from the other
kinship terms of Chiricahua Apache. For example, we do not know if on
the basis of -taa father (Hoijer ca. 1930:22) one can derive a hypothetical
O-ni-. . .-taa to be . . . father, assumed to be inected as ninishtaa I am
your father, binishtaa I am his/her father, and so on.

A search through Hoijers Chiricahua text collection (Hoijer 1938) did not uncover any
examples of the pattern. I have not yet checked the pattern described here with speakers.
denominal verbs in apachean languages 429

Western Apache Denominal Verb
Paradigm Pattern Showing Prexes and Clitics (Imperfective)

1s. d=n-sh-noun=zh 1d. d=n-l(d)-noun=zh 1p. d=da-n-l(d)-

1st-person subject singular 1st-person subject dual 1st-person subject plural
form form form

2s. d=n-noun=zh 2d. d=n-ol-noun=zh 2p. d=da-n-ol-noun=zh

2nd-person subject singular 2nd-person subject dual 2nd-person subject plural
form form form

3s. d=noun=zh 3dp. d=da-noun=zh

3rd-person subject singular 3rd-person subject dual or plural form

4. Denominal verbs in Western Apache.12 Western Apache has yet

another denominal verb pattern when compared to either Navajo or Chir-
icahua. The elements that are relevant for an understanding of the Western
Apache denominal verbs are two elements that are historically clitics (as
discussed further in 5 below), the proclitic d=, translatable as only, and
the enclitic =zh , also translatable as only. Therefore, I call the Western
Apache denominal verb construction the d=. . .=zh construction. The
d=. . .=zh construction can derive verbs from nouns of skin ailments or
afictions or from nouns referring to substances typically (or metaphori-
cally) viewed as clinging to the body or sometimes to other surfaces. Thus
the meaning of the d=noun=zh construction is to be covered with noun
or to be nouny. When this construction is inected for subject, it follows
a typical verbal inectional paradigm. The question of whether the resulting
forms are adjectives does not arise, since there is no morphological evidence
for the existence of an adjective lexical category in Apachean languages.
Table 3 charts the morphology involved in the paradigm.
In table 3, the non-third-person subject inectional prexes appear; they
are sh- for rst-person singular, (high tone) for second-person singular, l(d )-
for rst-person nonsingular, and ol- for second-person nonsingular. These
four prexes are preceded by a thematic n-, a formative of neuter imper-
fective adjectivals, which is typical of neuter imperfective verbs in the rst
and second persons, and cognate with the ni- in the second Navajo denom-
inal construction, as discussed in 2 above. Tables 4 and 5 illustrate the forms

The Western Apache data are from my eldnotes (1992present) on all dialectal varieties
of Western Apache. The three dialects mentioned in this paperDilz (abbreviation D, formerly
called Tonto [de Reuse 2002]), San Carlos (abbreviation SC), and White Mountain (abbreviation
WM)are representative of the full extent of dialectal variation in Western Apache.
denominal verbs in apachean languages 430

Western Apache (SC, WM) Paradigm of to be dirty (Imperfective)

1s. dnshchi 4zh 1d. dnlchi 4zh 1p. ddanlchi 4zh

2s. dnchi 4zh 2d. dnolchi 4zh 2p. ddanolchi 4zh
3s. dchi 4zh 3dp. ddachi 4zh

Western Apache (WM) Paradigm of to be bloody (Imperfective)

1s. dnshdilzh 1d. dnldilzh 1p. ddanldilzh

2s. dndilzh 2d. dnoldilzh 2p. ddanoldilzh
3s. ddilzh 3dp. ddadilzh

of table 3 with paradigms for to be dirty and to be bloody, respectively.

(9) and (10) are rst-person subject examples in sentences, and also show
that the second verb to become agrees in person and number with the
d=. . .=zh construction.
(9) Mgashi bnlahgo dnshdilzh
cow 3os.1s.Perf.butcher only=1s.Imperf.blood=only
sli i . (WM)
I became covered with blood butchering the cow.
(10) Dnshgzh 13 sli i lh. (WM)
only=1s.Imperf.sugar=only 1s.Perf.become pdr
I must have become diabetic or I am diagnosed as diabetic.
Examples with third-person subjects are much more common than forms in
other person subjects. Table 6 includes all third-person subject forms I found
in texts or which I was able to elicit. Incidentally, the nouns used in the pro-
cess can be loanwords such as bsoh from Spanish peso, shg from English
sugar, and zhaali from Spanish real. (11)(18) show the forms of table 6 in
sentence contexts.
(11) Choshta dcha4a4zh . (WM)
diaper only=3s.Imperf.excrement=only
The diaper is full of excrement.
(12) Doo dchi 4zh da. (SC, WM)
neg only=3s.Imperf.dirt=only neg
S/he is clean.

In this form, the sequence n-sh-sh . . . becomes nsh . . . by regular morphophonemic rules.
denominal verbs in apachean languages 431

Western Apache Attested Examples of the Denominal
Verbal d=noun=zh Construction, in the Third-Person Subject Imperfective

Noun Gloss d=noun-zh Gloss
bsoh money dbsohzh s/he is full of money (WM)
cha4a4 excrement dcha4a4zh it is full of excrement (WM)
chi 4h dirt dchi 4zh it is dirty, grimy, lthy (D, SC, WM)
dil blood ddilzh it is covered with blood, bloody (WM)
he e s itch dhe e szh it is itchy all over (SC)
his pus dhiszh it is full of pus (WM)
hozh wrinkle dhozhzh it is wrinkled (SC)
ighaa fur, hair dighaazh it is furry, hairy (WM)
shi 4i 4h salt dshi 4i 4hzh it is salty (WM)
itsin bone ditsinzh it is a skeleton, it is all bones (D, SC, WM)
lood sore dloodzh it is covered with sores (WM)
s sand dszh it is sandy (WM)
shg sugar dshgzh it is sugary, s/he is diabetic (WM)
tu water dtuzh it is watery (SC, WM)
zhaali money dzhaalizh s/he is full of money (WM)

(13) Shigan dhe e szh . (SC)

my.arm only=3s.Imperf.itch=only
I have itches all over my arm.
14) Ninii dhozhzh . (SC)
your.face only=3s.Imperf.wrinkle=only
Your face is all wrinkled.
(15) Shinii dighaazh . (WM)
my face only=3s.Imperf.fur=only
My face is hairy.
(16) Shash dighaazh . (WM)
bear only=3s.Imperf.fur=only
The bear is hairy.
(17) Itoo dshi 4i 4hzh . (WM)
soup only=3s.Imperf.salt=only
The soup is too salty.
(18) Binii dloodzh . (WM)
his/her.face only=3s.Imperf.sore=only
His/her face is covered with sores.
432 international journal of american linguistics

Not every noun referring to a substance that can stick to the body can be used
in this way. For example, goshtlish mud cannot be used in this construc-
tion since *dgoshtlishzh it is muddy was rejected.
Furthermore, one would expect all the constructions in table 6 to be inected
following the paradigm in table 3. I have not been successful in eliciting
many of the third-person subject forms for other subject persons. Examples
of rejected forms with rst-person subjects are *dnshighaazh I am
hairy, *dnshshi 4i 4hzh I am salty, *dnszh 14 I am sandy, *dnsh-
tuzh I am watery, and *dnshaalizh I am full of money. Part of the
problem is obviously pragmatic, since it is hard to think of contexts where
some of the above forms would be appropriate. Saying that one is full of
money, for example, is culturally inappropriate and is inviting trouble upon
oneself. Note, however, that to be sugary (10 above) is possible with the
idiomatic meaning to be diabetic. The other part of the problem is that disyl-
labic words such as ighaa fur or shi 4i 4h salt look less like verb stems, since
ighaa contains an indenite possessor prex i-, and shi 4i 4h might at least
diachronically contain a prex as well. Verb stems are not expected to start
with this prex, and there might be a reluctance to inect such obvious
nouns as verbs.15
I did elicit the rst-person subject Dilz dialect form (19), which did not
appear possible for the speakers of San Carlos and White Mountain I con-
sulted. Here, the prex i- or ichin appears to have been reinterpreted as a
thematic prex and to take the place of the thematic n- attested in the other
non-third-person forms. I do not know whether this is a Dilz idiosyncrasy
or whether other dialects can also do this.
(19) s dishchinz (D)16
I only=1s.Imperf.bone=only
I am nothing but bones
I now turn to the question of the morphological status of the elements d=
and =zh . As shown in 5 below, these were originally clitics, i.e., elements
functioning syntactically as separate particles but which are phonologically
part of a following word (if proclitics) or phonologically part of a preceding
word (if enclitics). So, originally d= was a proclitic and =zh was an en-
clitic. One might ask whether in the denominal construction, these elements
are still enclitics or whether the proclitic has become a prex and the enclitic
has become a sufx. Because my denition of a clitic is predicated upon it
14 Inthis form, the sequence n-sh-s . . . would become ns . . . by regular morphophonemic
The speaker who rejected the forms earlier in this paragraph was a very pragmatics-
conscious speaker; it is not impossible that other speakers would have accepted them.
The enclitic =zh is often =z in Dilz ; also, an alternate Dilz pronunciation of this
form is distsinz .
denominal verbs in apachean languages 433

being phonologically afx-like, phonological evidence for distinguishing

clitics from afxes is not available.17 My sense is that speakers treat the d=
proclitic as a preverbal prex, which is not surprising since a well-formed
Apachean verb word must contain at least one prex. There is better evi-
dence regarding the enclitic no longer being interpreted as an enclitic. The
nal vowel of =zh can be reinterpreted as a stem-nal sufx and its initial
consonant can be reinterpreted as the last consonant of the verb stem. Instead
of dnshchi 4zh I am dirty (table 4), some speakers have a diachronically
more opaque form, given in (20).
(20) dnshchi 4zh (SC)
I am dirty
It makes sense to change, analogically, the nal - to an -, because the
only disyllabic verb stems occurring in Western Apache end in a vowel
(originally a sufx) -. Examples of such disyllabic verb stems in - are
-t h be thin, -ts s or -ch sh be small, and -ts s be slender. Like
the denominal verbs, these stems are neuter. Thus, the phonologically unusual
stem -chi 4zh has been redone in a better-looking disyllabic verb stem -chi 4zh.
It is important to note, at this point, that since third-person subject inec-
tion is always zero in Apachean, one cannot tell on the basis of the construc-
tions in table 6 (exemplied in 1118) whether these forms are actually
inected as verbs. On the surface, these constructions do not look different
from nonverbal predicate constructions (to be discussed in 5 below). In both
constructions, a noun appears to be surrounded by a proclitic d= and an
enclitic =zh .
For example, in sentences such as (21) and (22), the interpretation of the
construction as nominal appears to be possible, since it is followed by the
verb sili i it becomes, which is often preceded by a noun.
(21) Li i bigod dhiszh sili i
horse its.knee only=3s.Imperf.pus=only 3s.Perf.become
lh. (WM)
The horses knee got full of pus.
There is, however, phonological evidence for the lexicalization of some word + enclitic
combinations. Consider the form dchi 4zh from example (12) and table 4. Since this form is
based on the noun chi 4h dirt, one would expect *dchi 4hzh . The enclitic has caused deletion
of the nal consonant. In nondenominal examples with the enclitic =zh , the same phenomenon
also takes place. The adverb dkazh (example 30) contains kad soon, so one would expect
*dkadzh . Such enclitic-induced stem-nal consonant deletion does not occur regularly in
Western Apache, but it is not rare as a sporadic phenomenon and therefore deserves extensive
study. It seems to point to a greater degree of lexicalization of the resulting combination but is
not evidence for a change from enclitic to sufx.
434 international journal of american linguistics

(22) Kyaah dszh sili i

eld=top only=3s.Imperf.sand=only 3s.Perf.become
lh. (WM)
The eld got too sandy.
However, we do not have to accept the nominal interpretation, because, as
shown in (9) and (10) above, there also exists a construction where the verb
to become agrees in person and number inection with a clearly verbal
d=. . .=zh construction.
Further evidence for the verbal interpretation of third-person subject
d=. . .=zh constructions is the following. There also exist cases like (23),
where the construction is subordinated by the general purpose subordina-
tor =go. When =go has a clear function as a subordinator, it only occurs
after verbs, as shown by Potter (1997:35470) and de Reuse and Goode
(2006:32325), which is evidence that the third-person subject construction
is not nominal.
(23) Tlhil dtuzh go nlaa
coffee only=3s.Imperf.water=only=sub 2s.Perf.make
lh. (WM)
You made the coffee too watery.
There are also cases like (24), where the construction contains the plural-
izing prex da-, which generally occurs on verbs only.
(24) Inaa bazhaan ddatuzh . (SC)
white.person unattached.woman only=3s.Imperf.water=only
They are watery white women.18
This piece of evidence for a verbal interpretation is less convincing, since
da- does occasionally occur on nouns and postpositional stems as well. An
example of da- with a noun is:
(25) Ai dabim tee. (SC)
that their.infant
That is their infant.

5. The historical origins of Western Apache denominal verbs. I

pointed out at the beginning of 4 that Western Apache denominal verbs con-
This statement was intended to refer to white women whose skin was so light as to look
almost translucent.
denominal verbs in apachean languages 435

tain two elements that are historically clitics. These are the proclitic d=,
translatable as only (cognate with the Navajo particle t and the Chir-
icahua proclitic d=), and the enclitic =zh (cognate with a nonproductive
Navajo element -zh ), also translatable as only. These do not only occur in
the denominal d=. . .=zh construction discussed in 4, they also occur to-
gether to focus on nouns, pronouns, or adverbs, as shown in (26)(30). Such
focusing usages of d= and =zh combinations do not form denominal
verbs.19 It is clear, however, that these elements are cognate with the pho-
nologically identical elements in the denominal d=. . .=zh construction.
(26) dMaryzh
only=(proper name)=(only)
only Mary
(27) dshiizh
only me, I am the only one
(28) dnzh
s/he only, s/he is the only one
(29) dNdaakehgozh
only in English
(30) dkazh
almost, about to (in time)
Note that (27) and (28) cannot display any verbal morphology, since what
is framed by the focusing d=. . .=zh construction are pronouns, and not
nouns. Nevertheless, from the gloss, we can see that these constructions can
be interpreted as nonverbal predicates. This situation is similar to the third-
person subject constructions in table 6, which also do not display any non-
zero verbal morphology. If we are not sure these third-person constructions
are inected verbs, we can interpret them instead as nonverbal predicates,
since they are denitely predicative. So it appears that a nonverbal predica-
tive d=. . .=zh construction might have arisen from a nonverbal and non-
predicative focusing construction.

Examples also exist where just the proclitic d= or the enclitic =zh occurs. These also
translate as only and these constructions do not appear to vary much in meaning from the con-
structions with both clitics, except that they are perhaps less emphatic or more lexicalized.
436 international journal of american linguistics

I propose that the nonverbal predicative use of a d=. . .=zh construc-

tion is the historical link between the focusing construction (2630) and the
denominal, i.e., verbal construction discussed in 4. As discussed in de Reuse
(1995) and de Reuse and Goode (2006:9296), nonverbal predicate construc-
tions involving nouns are not uncommon in Western Apache. Such construc-
tions include two nouns, the rst of which is generally a body part, and the
second being a skin ailment or a substance clinging to the body, with the
meaning: the second noun is located on or covers the rst noun. An example
of this construction is (31). There is no way to inect (31) as a verb. This
same construction is also used with the enclitic =zh , as in (32). Again, there
is no way to inect this construction as a verb. Finally, some speakers have,
and some prefer, the construction with a proclitic d= as well (33), which is
formally identical to the denominal d=. . .=zh construction discussed in 4.
The three constructions in (31)(33) mean essentially the same: His/her
face is covered with sores, with the possibility that for some speakers the
emphasis on a multiplicity of sores is not present in (31); for those speakers,
(31) can mean there is a sore on his/her face.
(31) Binii lood. (SC)
his/her.face sore
(32) Binii loodzh . (SC, WM)
his/her.face sore=only
(33) Binii dloodzh . (WM)
his/her.face only=sore=only only=3s.Imperf.sore=only
His/her face is covered with sores.
The diachronic claim I make is that (33) has its semantic and predicative
origins in constructions of the type shown in (31), but it has its formal origins
in the focusing construction (see 2630). Maybe by analogy to the wider use
of the focusing construction, type (33) took on a life of its own, expanding
into contexts not literally referring to skin ailments or substances clinging to
the body. In these more metaphorical contexts, illustrated by (10) and (19)
above, constructions like (31) or (32), an intermediate stage, are not possible.
Some evidence that (31) exemplies the oldest predicative construction is
perhaps that constructions similar to (31) can be found in Navajo (34) and
in Chiricahua Apache (35), even though they are not mentioned in the litera-
ture on these languages. I have not found constructions corresponding to
the denominal verb construction of (33) in any other Apachean languages.
It might well be that these constructions are simply not present in the sources
that I looked at. Note that the Navajo construction in (34) requires a nal
particle tiy only and thus is structurally more similar to the intermediate
construction exemplied in by (32).
denominal verbs in apachean languages 437

(34) Binii ld tiy. (Navajo, Robert Young, p.c.)

his/her face sore only
His/her face is covered with sores.
(35) Mai l3 (Chiricahua Apache, Michael Darrow, p.c.)
coyote sore
coyote has sore(s) (a proper name, spelled in English as Mithlo)
It should be noted that not all constructions of the type in (33) are expected
to have type-(31) equivalents. As mentioned above, there seem to be more
semantic and pragmatic restrictions on type-(31) than there are on type-(33)
Once type (33) is reached, reinterpretation as a denominal verb is possible
because all verbs must have at least one prex, and the proclitic d= can be
reanalyzed as a verb prex. Verb prexes of the shape d- are not uncommon
on neuter verbs. Once this reanalysis is accomplished for third-person forms
(assuming a zero subject prex), prexes typically present for other persons
in neuter verbs can be added, resulting in the transparently inected forms
in tables 4 and 5.

6. Conclusion. From a diachronic or comparative point of view, it is hard

to draw a conclusion regarding the Navajo and Chiricahua Apache denom-
inal constructions. One Navajo construction appears to be nonproductive
and another appears to be productive. The Chiricahua construction is differ-
ent from either Navajo construction and might well be productive. The Navajo
constructions operate on body-part nouns, the Chiricahua one on kinship
nouns. These differences suggest that diachronically the patterns arose inde-
pendently from one another.
I am assured by native speakers of Navajo and Western Apache that the
Chiricahua construction does not exist in Navajo or in Western Apache. Since
I have not talked to uent speakers of Chiricahua, I do not know whether the
Navajo or Western Apache constructions exist in Chiricahua.
More can be concluded regarding the Western Apache denominal verbs.
The interest of the Western Apache construction is that it is clitics rather than
derivational prexes (as in Navajo and Chiricahua) that appear to make the
verbal inection possible. Thus, the clitics are becoming derivational mark-
ers, in a process of grammaticalization from a procliticstemenclitic com-
bination to a verb prexdisyllabic verb stem combination. The construction
that might ultimately have given rise to the Western Apache denominal con-
struction is a nonverbal focusing construction, which could also be used as
a nonverbal predicate construction. That nonverbal predicate construction
was then reanalyzed as a verbal construction and consequently gained the
potential for overt verbal inection.
438 international journal of american linguistics


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