Kamakawi Noun Phrases

This section will be about Kamakawi noun phrases. It will necessarily be incomplete, and will have to refer to other sections, like the section on pronouns. We'll do our best, though, Champ; we'll do our best.

What's a Noun Phrase?

Noun phrases are like nouns, but bigger, sleeker, more powerful, easy to handle, and now with a $2,500 cash back guarantee, if you purchase before December 3rd. There's never been a better time to buy!

Noun phrases are things that nouns belong to. The crucial part of a noun phrase is a noun. Unless, of course, you think that noun phrases don't exist, in which case the determiner would be the crucial part of a...determiner phrase... Hmm...

Let's say this: man, in English, is a noun. The really big man I saw last Saturday holding my money saying, "Oh yeah? And what are you, the common taxpayer, gonna do about it?!", on the other hand, is a noun phrase. It's the largest bit that can be considered to be about a solitary noun (in this case, man), if that makes sense. Even if it doesn't, we're moving on.

Kamakawi Noun Phrases (The Return!)

Kamakawi noun phrases are different from English noun phrases in exactly one way: The way they're put together, along with the bits that go into it. (That's technically one thing. If I'd said "and" instead of "along with", it would've been two things, but the "along with" makes it one. Check with a lawyer.) So let's think about what types of things can go into noun phrases:

Time's up. The kinds of things that go into noun phrases are: Adjectives, adverbs, verbs, conjunctions, determiners, prepositions, other nouns, entire sentences... Pretty much anything. It's the way they're put together, though, that makes the difference. So let's start with one little bit: Determiners.

What's a Determiner?

Better to say "What's a specifier?" Good question. A determiner is a word like "a", "an" or "the". Further, a deter—what's that? Specifier? Who said anything about specifiers? I know I certainly didn't.

Anyway, as I was writing, a determiner has the additional caveat (I hope I used that word right, Virgil) that only one can appear—ever. EVER! You could never say *The a man in English, or *Un el hombre in Spanish, or *Al kitaab in...oh, wait. Skip that last example.

The point is you can only get one per noun phrase. With that in mind, I'd like to move onto a section I like to call:

Lies My Teacher Told Me

Your teacher probably told you that America is the land of the free. But I ask you: Is it really? IS IT REALLY?!?!

By that, of course, I mean that, for pedagogical purposes, I have, up to this point, referred to e and u as "determiners", corresponding to "the (singular)" and "the (plural)". But I ask you: Are they really? ARE THEY REALLY?!?! Well, there's only one way to find it: Let's put it to a test. (This is what we do in linguistics. It's boring beyond belief. It's something akin to NASCAR. You know what's racing [cars], you know that some are going to crash [i.e., failed tests], and that eventually there can be only one winner in the end, and if you actually pay attention to the season, you probably have a good idea who's going to be the winner. Thus, there's no point in watching it: It's just a waste of your life.)

Assume the following (because I tell you that it's true): iko "this", ipe "that", iumi "some", and uila "all", are all specifiers. Note their behavior:

iko nawa = "this fish"
ipe nawa = "that fish"
iumi nawa = "some fish"
uila nawa = "all fish"
*uila ipe nawa = *"all those/that fish"
*iumi iko nawa = *"some (of?) this/these fish"

Note: It's not impossible to say, for example, "all those fish"; you just need to use a different form of the adjective uila. It is impossible to do it this way, though.

Now consider our old friends e and u. Are they determiners? That is, are they the singular and plural definite article, repsectively? Take a look (note: Both e and u attach to the object marker i. The phrases below represent the direct object noun phrase of a sentence):

i hopoko = "a man"
ie hopoko = "the man"
iu hopoko = "the men"
ie iko hopoko = "this man"
*i iko hopoko = *"this man"
iu iumi hopoko = "some men"
*i(e) iumi hopoko = *"some man/men"

So, what do you think? Looks to me like e and u are not, in fact, determiners at all! So why did I tell you that they were determiners? A good question. Personallly, I think it's useful, coming from English, to think of them as determiners, at first. That time has come to pass, though. Time for the red pill, Neo.

As a quick sidebar, before I move on, if you consider the examples I've given before:

E nawa i nawanaka. = "The fish is a goldfish."
U nawa iu nawanaka. = "The fish are goldfish."

You'll notice that the initial e and u, at least, are acting like determiners. I mean, what else could they be translated as, right? Am I right, folks? Consider the following:

Ke nawa i nakanawa. = "The fish was a goldfish."
Ku nawa iu nawanaka. = "The fish were goldfish."

What happened to the articles?! Well, I'll tell you: The e and u from the first examples were never articles: THEY WERE TENSE MARKERS!!! Mwa, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!! Yes, indeed. And, in fact, you'll see that they act quite similarly in all environments (though not entirely so). At any rate, you'll find that if you stick a verb in between the e or u and the rest of the sentence, you'll get a normal declarative. The sentences you have above indicate that the subject is already known. Usually you omit the subject in such cases. In the case of equatives, though, you can't, because there's a rule in Kamakawi (which hasn't been discussed yet) whereby a particle can't be left floating. So, while e i nawa could make sense, semantically, it's ungrammatical.

The Actual Noun Phrase

Back to the noun phrase. So, thus far we've seen that a noun phrase can take maximally one specifier. So, what about other adjectives? Not a problem. Adjectives simply follow the noun. In what order, you might ask? Much study has been devoted to this, cross-linguistically. Generally, the advice to language learners is to place them in the order that "makes sense" (this would loosely correspond to: colors, quantifiers, intensifiers, numbers, if the noun stem comes first, and the opposite if it comes last), but why does this order make sense? Why does "three really big green folders" make more sense than "green really three big folders"? I have no answer. At any rate, Kamakawi obeys the same order. Here's an example:

nawa falele elea kavi upe = "seven big happy green fish"

Now, if you flip-flopped "happy" and "green", you'd think, in English, that there was a type of fish called a "happy fish", and the same is true for Kamakawi. That's just how it goes. Notice, though, what to do in the case of the dual and trial:

nawaka falele elea = "two happy green fish"
nawano falele elea = "three happy green fish"

Also, remember how I said there were other forms of "all" and "some"? For example, what if you wanted to say "some of those happy green fish"? Here's how you'd do it:

ipe nawa falele elea umi = "some of those happy green fish"
ipe nawa falele elea uila = "all of those happy green fish"

In the case of both of these adjectives, they always come last. (Also, note that the form for "all" is identical whether it's an adjective or specifier. Only it's placing determines which it is.) That does it for adjectives. For more on them, see the section on adjectives and adverbs.

Other Add-Ons

In English, you can add prepositional phrases to nouns, such as "men without hats", or "alice in chains". Also in English, you can add entire sentences (with a piece crucially missing) to a noun, such as "the ones who help to set the sun", and "these fragments I have shored against my ruins". Again in English, you can say thing's like "the fish's dance", or "the dance of the fish". All three of these phenomena are dealt with in exactly the same way in Kamakawi (more on this in the section on relative clauses). Here are some examples:

hopoko poe ae ie pale = "man inside the house"
apela oie'opoko = "sibling-in-law of the man"
hopoko po'havai'i = "man from Hawai'i ala"
hopoko poke mata i'i = "man who saw me"
hopoko poke mata'u ti'i = "man who I saw/was seen by me"
apule poke mataka'u ie hopoko tie nawa = "store where the woman saw the fish"
eine poke nemileleke'u i'i tie hopoko = "woman I killed a man for"

Before you ask the screen questions, the point here is not to explain relative clauses; simply to explain noun phrases. For more info on relative clauses in Kamakawi, go here.

Final Thoughts

So, what is a noun phrase? It's a collection of the things I mentioned above, of course. It's also anything that falls under the NP node of a syntactic tree. An easy way to judge, though, is to replace it with a pronoun. And what better segue to the section on pronouns!

Back to Kamakawi Main

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