Verb Genders in Rawang Ata: A Summary

Rawàng Ata, unusually, divides its verbs into three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Semantically, these are usually verbs of action, condition and motion respectively, although there are many exceptions. Some verbs may be used as either masculine or feminine.

The species of a verb is significant in four ways: personal agreement, verb ‘controls’, gender agreement, and argument marking. Verbs all agree in person with at least one argument, called its ‘control’. Masculine and neuter verbs take the subject as their control, and agree through prefixes; feminines take the object as their control, and agree through suffixes.

For example:

datta rafaringa lònangam (masculine verb)

sailor 3h-kicks pot-ACC

“the sailor kicks the pot”

lònangya moyisara kòma (feminine verb)

pot-ERG distaste-3h

“the pot is distasteful to the girl”

kōba rakolùma

noble 3h-litter

“the nobleman travels by litter”

When a female has control of a masculine verb with a male object, an agreement particle must be added. Sometimes this also occurs when the object is strongly associated with a male (an inalienable possession, or a tool, for instance).

datta rafaringa kòman

“the sailor kicks the girl”

kòma kirafaringa dattam

“the girl kicks the sailor”

The marking of agreements for the different species is/will be described elsewhere in more detail, but this table may be of assistance as a summary:

Middle Intransitive Transitive Ditransitive
Subject Object Subject Object Subject Object Subject Direct Object Indirect Object
Masc. Active Ergative Acc. Direct Acc.
Passive Erg. Direct
Antipassive Direct Erg.
Applicative Direct Erg. Erg.
App.+Pass. Erg. Erg. Erg.
Fem. Active Acc. Direct Erg. Direct
Antipassive Direct Erg.
Neut. Active Direct Direct Acc. Erg.
Passive Erg. Acc. Erg.
Applicative Direct Erg.
App.+Pass. Erg. Erg.

Note: “Middle” indicates verbs that are not distinguished with respect to transitivity. Bolding marks the control of the verb.


3 thoughts on “Verb Genders in Rawang Ata: A Summary

  1. Doctor Slack says:

    I’m intrigued… a lot of conlangs seem to have tri-gendered systems featuring a neuter gender. Among them, mine, Dhumagwara. I wonder what it is about tri-gendering that so many of us find attractive!

    Rawang Ata is very impressive, by the way. Sorry I haven’t commented on it before, it all seems so well worked out that there isn’t much to say.

  2. vacuouswastrel says:

    Well, my nouns are tri-gendered, but in animacy, as well as peripheral notice of sex. My verbs are tri-gendered because the neuter verbs didn’t really seem to fit in with the masculines.
    As to why it’s popular: probably because it seems more logical to many people than bi-gendering.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    [Oh, and the speakers, for what it’s worth, have 5 genders]

  3. miekko says:

    I suspect another reason for the popularity of three-gendered systems is that it’s rich enough but not too rich; in 5+ systems, you’ll end up having an explosion of required forms if you have a case system or verb system that agrees for gender – epsecially if gender carries over to number in any way; meanwhile, poorer systems don’t provide enough distinctions, I guess – the chance that all participants in a sentence will be of the same gender is pretty high in a two-gender system, (unless it’s animacy based, when the chance somewhat is reduced), so agreement and such isn’t enough to distinguish stuff, and three genders is notably better at that despite the small difference. This , naturally, has to do with design considerations and not with natural language evolution, where two gender systems do pop up and linguistic evolution probably optimizes it for whatever benefit.

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