Link to enlarge K6042 (Las Bocas - Ceramic Vessel) THE FOUNDATION RESEARCH DEPARTMENT

A Grammar of the Yucatecan Mayan Language
by David & Alejandra Bolles


Verbs from Other Parts of Speech

98.  In the chapter on nouns it was noted that some nouns double as verbs or verb roots (Sections 23 and 24). For example, as noted in Section 23, in some instances the general form of the intransitive conjugation of a verb is also a noun:

hanal (to eat) hanal (food)
hucħ (to grind) hucħ (ground corn)
meyah (to work) meyah (work)
pocħil (to insult) pocħil (insult)
ximbal (to walk) ximbal (walk)

In these instances the verb can be distinguished from the noun only by syntax:

Yan in meyah.       "I have to work."

Utz tin uich in meyah.       "I like my work."

Some verb roots are also nouns in themselves as noted in the chapter on nouns in Section 24.

cah (to inhabit) cah (town)
cotz (to cut) cotz (piece)
miz (to sweep) miz, mizib (broom)
xul (to end) xul (end)


Xen a cotzic ten hunxet nok.     "Go cut me a piece of cloth."

Dza ten hun cotz.     "Give me one piece."

Other parts of speech, especially adjectives and adverbs, can become verb roots by the addition of various verbal suffixes.

caanal (to grow) caanal (high)
kaz (to be bad) kaz (bad, badly)
malob (to be good) malob (good, well)
utz (to be good) utz (good)
yaab (to increase, multiply) yaab (a lot)
zeb (to hurry) zeb (quickly)


Dzu yaabtal le cħicħobo.     "Those birds just multiplied."

In some instances the verbal suffixes already looked at in the preceding discussion about the three conjugations can be appended directly to the verb root. Frequently however special transforming suffixes must be used.


Specialized Verbal Suffixes which Transform Other Parts of Speech into Verbs

99.  There are three sets of companion suffixes which transform other parts of speech into verbs. In each case the linking particle between the verb root and the verbal suffixes for the transitive / passive suffixes is different from the linking particle for the intransitive suffixes. The reason why we call these sets "companion" is because verb roots which use the suffixes of the transitive / passive set frequently use the corresponding suffixes of the intransitive set. However, there are verb roots which will use suffixes from different companion sets as well, so this is not a firm rule.


100.  The following is the most common of the companion sets of verb suffixes.

Transitive and Passive Suffixes: The following sets of suffixes transform other parts of speech and some irregular intransitive verbs into transitive and passive verbs:

transitive passive
-cuntic -cuntaal
-cunzic -cunzaal
-cintic -cintaal
-cinzic -cinzaal


Kaz (bad, ugly)

kazcuntic, kazcuntah, kazcuntmah, kazcunt
"to make something bad, ugly, or broken"

kazcuntaal, kazcuntabi, kazcuntabaan, kazcuntabac
"to be made bad, ugly, or broken"

Alcab (to run)

alcabcunzic, alcabcunzah, alcabcunzmah, alcabcunze
"to make something run (away), to chase away"

alcabcunzaal, alcabcunzabi, alcabcunzaan, alcabcunzaac
"to be chased away"

Utz (good)

utzcintic, utzcintah, utzcintmah, utzcinte
"to make something good, to repair"

utzcintaal, utzcintabi, utzcintabaan, utzcintabac
"to be repaired"

Cħuy (to lift)

cħuycinzic, cħuycinzah, cħuycinzmah, cħuycinze
"to hang something up"

cħuycinzaal, cħuycinzabi, cħuycinzaan, cħuycinzabac
"to be hung up"

Also possible with cħuy are:

cħuycintic, cħuycintah, cħuycintmah, cħuycinte
"to hang something up" (same as cħuycinzic)

cħuycunzaal, cħuycunzabi, cħuycunzaan, cħuycunzabac
"to be hung up"

Notice that here, unlike with normal transitive and passive verbs, it does not matter in terms of meaning whether there is a -t- or -z- in the suffix (eg. -cintic / -cinzic). We cannot explain why there is need for the four different particles (-cint-, -cunt-, -cinz-, -cunz-), but in many instances one and only one of these particles can be used with certain words. For example, with the word kaz it would be impossible to use anything but -cunt- and with utz it would be impossible to use anything but -cint-. As is pointed out in the grammar written by Coronel in 1620, those verb roots which have the vowels a, e, and i in them take -cun- while those with o and u take -cin-, and generally this rule holds today. On the other hand as can be seen directly above, with the verb root cħuy various particles may be used.

In the colonial literature and dictionaries there are many examples of the particles -cin- and -cun- without the consonants -t- and -z-. (i.e. -cinic, -cunic, -cinabal, -cunabal) Today however it seems that the consonants must always be present.

Intransitive Suffixes: The following is the companion set of intransitive verb suffixes to the transitive / passive suffixes given above. Tal is the verb for "come", and the suffix -tal gives the sense of "becoming" to the verb to which it is attached. This suffix -tal may not be the same as the -tal already noted in Section 83 under intransitive verbs. That can be seen by the other three forms of the suffix. Furthermore, the suffix is not always -tal; the suffixes -hal and -chahal also belong to this suffix complex.

-tal, -hal, -chahal general form
-chahi second form
-chahaan, -aan third form
-chahac fourth form

Kaz (bad, ugly)

kaztal, kazchahi, kazchahaan / kazaan, kazchahac
"to become bad, to become broken"

Malob (good)

malobtal, malobchahi, malobchahaan, malobchahac
"to become good, to get well, to improve"

Uinic (person, man)

uinichal, uinicchahi, uinicchahaan, uinicchahac
"to become a person, to become a man"

Muc (to bury)

mucchahal, mucchahi, mucchahaan / mucaan, mucchahac
"to become buried"

Some examples of verb roots which use both the transitive / passive set of verb suffixes and also the intransitive verb suffixes are:

Caanal (high)

caanalcunzic, caanalcunzah, caanalcunzmah, caanalcunze
caanaltal / caanalhal / caanalchahal, caanalchahi, caanalchahaan, caanalchahac
caanalcunzaal, caanalcunzabi, caanalcunzaan, caanalcunzaac

Kaz (bad, ugly)

kazcuntic, kazcuntah, kazcuntmah, kazcunt
kaztal, kazchahi, kazchahaan / kazaan, kazchahac
kazcuntaal, kazcuntabi, kazcuntabaan, kazcuntabac

Uinic (man)

uiniccunzic, uiniccunzah, uiniccunzmah, uiniccunze
uiniccuntic, uiniccuntah, uiniccuntmah, uiniccunte
uinichal / uinicchahal, uinicchahi, uinicchahaan, uinicchahac
uiniccunzabal, uiniccunzabi, uiniccunzabaan, uiniccunzabac

Utz (good)

utzcintic, utzcintah, utzcintmah, utzcinte
utztal, utzchahi, utzchahaan, utzchac
utzcintaal, utzcintabi, utzcintabaan, utzcintabac


101.  The following is the second set of companion suffixes which is not as commonly used as the set given above.

Transitive Suffixes: The transitive suffixes of this set are:

-intic general form
-intah second form
-intmah third form
-inte fourth form

We have not come across examples of passive verbs using this form of suffix.

Intransitive Suffixes: Yan is the verb "to have" as well as "to exist", and -ancil has the sense of "having".

-ancil general form
-anchahi second form
-anchahaan third form
-anchahac fourth form

Al (child)

alintic, alintah, alintmah, alinte
"to bear a child"

alancil, alanchahi, alanchahaan, alanchahac
"to bear, to give birth"

He (egg)

yelintic, yelintah, yelintmah, yelinte
"to lay an egg"

yelancil, yelanchahi, yelanchahaan, yelanchahac
"to lay (an egg)")

Buc (clothes, covering)

bucintic, bucintah, bucintmah, bucinte
"to get dressed in something, to try on something"

bucancil, bucanchahi, bucaan, bucanchahac
"to get dressed"

Lol (flower)

lolancil, lolanchahi, lolanchahaan, lolanchahac
"to flower"

Cil (pulsation; now archaic)

cicilancil, cicilanchahi, cicilanchahaan, cicilanchahac
"to tremble"

Papal (to beat, to knock about)

papalancil, papalanchahi, papalanchahaan, papalanchahac
"to tremble with fear"


Causative - Receptive Verb Complex

102.  The third companion set is called the causative - receptive verb complex. The causative form is transitive and the receptive form is intransitive. Notice that the receptive form is usually translated as a passive verb in English.

The causative form:

-bezic general form
-bezah second form
-bezmah third form
-bez, -beze fourth form

The receptive forms:

-chahal -pahal -lahal general form
-chahi -pahi -lahi second form
-chahaan -pahaan -lahaan third form
-chahac -pahac -lahac fourth form

Buc (noun for "covering, clothes")

bucbezic, bucbezah, bucbezmah, bucbez
"to dress someone or something"

bucinchahal, bucinchahi, bucinchahaan, bucinchahac
"to be dressed"

(Note the retention of the particle -in- which was present in this verb as shown in Section 101.)

Cim (verb root for "to die, to hurt")

cimbezic, cimbezah, cimbezmah, cimbeze
"to hurt something"

cimpahal, cimpahi, cimpahaan, cimpahac
"to be hurt"

Tu cimbezah ten le kiixo.     "That thorn hurt me."

Cimpahen holace.     "I was hurt yesterday."

Chuc (verb root for "to complete")

chucbezic, chucbezah, chucbezmah, chucbeze
"to complete something"

chucpahal, chucpahi, chucpahaan / chucaan, chucpahac
"to be completed"

Ma chucpahi le zio.     "The (quantity of) firewood was not completed."

He in chucbezic le zio zamal.      "I will complete the (quantity of) firewood tomorrow."


103.  Some verb roots can take on more than one of the intransitive verbs suffix sets. In these cases it does not necessarily follow that because the verb root uses the transitive verb suffixes from one companion set that it must also use the intransitive suffix set from that same companion set as already stated above. Some examples:

Hau (verb root for "to turn right side up")

haucintic, haucintah, haucintmah, haucinte
haucuntic, haucuntah, haucuntmah, haucunte

"to turn something right side up"

hauchahal, hauchahi, hauchahaan, hauchahac
haupahal, haupahi, haupahaan, haupahac
haulahal, haulahi, haulahaan, haulahac

"to be turned right side up"

Noc (verb root for "to turn upside down")

noccintic, noccintah, noccintmah, noccinte
noccuntic, noccuntah, noccuntmah, noccunte
noccinzic, noccinzah, noccinzmah, noccinze

"to turn something upside down"

nocchahal, nocchahi, nocchahaan, nocchahac
nocpahal, nocpahi, nocpahaan, nocpahac
noclahal, noclahi, noclahaan, noclahac

"to be turned upside down"


Further Discussion about Intransitive Verb Suffixes

104.  Notice that there are three very similar intransitive transforming verb suffixes:

-chahal      -pahal      -lahal

Some verb roots take all three suffixes. A look at these verb roots with these three suffixes indicates that there is no significant difference in the meaning imparted to the verb roots by these suffixes.

Hau (verb root for "to turn right side up")

hauchahal, hauchahi, hauchahaan, hauchahac
haupahal, haupahi, haupahaan, haupahac
haulahal, haulahi, haulahaan, haulahac

"to be turned right side up"

Lik (verb root for "to get up")

likchahal, likchahi, likchahaan, likchahac
likpahal, likpahi, likpahaan, likpahac
liklahal, liklahi, liklahaan, liklahac

"to be picked up"

Noc (verb root for "to turn upside down")

nocchahal, nocchahi, nocchahaan, nocchahac
nocpahal, nocpahi, nocpahaan, nocpahac
noclahal, noclahi, noclahaan, noclahac

"to be turned upside down"

There is a fourth suffix which is also similar but less used:


This suffix also shares the same properties of those given above:

Men (verb root for "to make")

menchahal, menchahi, menchahaan, menchahac
menlahal, menlahi, menlahaan, menlahac
mentahal, mentahi, mentahaan, mentahac

"to be made"

There seems to be no discernable rule which would aid the reader in knowing which of the above verb suffixes should be used with which verb root.

It is interesting that of the various consonants which are used in making the full uncontracted sets of intransitive verb suffixes discussed in Section 83, namely n, ch, l, p, t, k, and dz, that set which uses n (i.e. -nahal, -nahi, -nahaan, -nahac) is missing from the above sets of transforming intransitive verbs suffixes. At the present the n set as a complete set is reserved for transforming Spanish verbs into Mayan intransitive verbs. Still, it is our opinion that the n set was at one time the primary set, but that its existence has long since decayed into the contracted forms now considered to be the standard intransitive verb suffixes.


Other Intransitive Verb Suffixes

There is what appears to be an incomplete intransitive suffix set:

-mal, -mi, (?), -mac

Yul (verb root for "to trowel", "to smooth out by troweling")

yulmal, yulmi, yulmac

Mudz (verb root for "to curl up leaves of plants due to drought")

mudzmal, mudzmi, mudzmac

Than (verb root for "to coagulate")

thanmal, thanmi, thanmac

-ebal: The verbal suffix -ebal seems to an alternative fourth form suffix for intransitive and passive verbs. Thus for example for the verb root dzoc = "to finish", for the intransitive:

dzocol, dzoci, dzocaan, dzococ
dzocol, dzoci, dzocaan, dzocebal

and for the passive:

dzoczabal, dzoczabi, dzoczabaan, dzoczabac
dzoczabal, dzoczabi, dzoczabaan, dzoczabebal

However, as can be seen in the examples below, the fourth form with the suffix of -ebal takes the Set A pronouns in the first and second persons instead of the Set B pronouns as happens with the suffix -Vc, and remains without the third person pronouns as happens with -Vc.

Bal tah etel bin in hoppebal tin meyah a uicnal?    "What are you going to give me to start working with you?"

Ua bici u beele bay bin botabebal.    "According to his work he will be paid."

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