Wenja Grammar: Reflexive -ra

Today’s grammar post will focus on the reflexive marker -ra.  Reflexives are always object markers that refer to the subject of the sentence.  A good example is seen in the following sentence, where “himself” and “he” are the same person.

So how do you do this in Wenja? Recall the all-important Sentence Starters in Wenja: words like nu ‘now’, tu ‘then, until’, ma ‘but’, na ‘not’, may ‘don’t’, etc.  The reflexive marker is always going to attach itself to the sentence starter(s).  

  1. Nu-ra pacham.  ‘And I see myself.’
  2. Na-ra Udam hada. ‘An Udam doesn’t eat himself.’
  3. May-ra kayda. ‘Don’t hit yourself.’

If there’s not a sentence starter, then -ra will attach itself to whatever word is at the beginning of the sentence:

  1. Udam-ra hada. ‘An Udam eats himself.’
  2. Kayda-ra! ‘Hit yourself!’
  3. Winja-ra nartar lajarsh. ‘Wenja gather (themselves) in the east.’ (from the game)

Some verbs, such as bawga be useful; use’ have different meanings depending on if the -ra particle is used.  Compare:

  1. Hisu bawga.  ‘An arrow is useful.’
  2. Hisu-ra bawgam. ‘I use an arrow.’

Another example is bida ‘serve; respond, answer’:

  1. Nakway bidam. ‘I serve no one.’ (from the game)
  2. Nakway-ra bidam. ‘I respond to no one.’

Next grammar post we’ll look at an extremely common verb that’s super weird — wayda ‘know; find’.

4 thoughts on “Wenja Grammar: Reflexive -ra

  1. Reofive says:

    Very interesting! =)
    But in the last sentences, the -ra particle seems to have rather an objet-marking function, doesn't it? How does "-ra" change the meaning of "bida" in "Nakway bidam"?

  2. Andrew Byrd says:

    Great question. The use of -ra with both of these roots is idiosyncratic. Deep down, however, it's invoking the mediopassive of PIE (which ends in -r, by the way), that allows for similar contrasts.

  3. Dansurka says:

    "Hisu-ra bawgam" makes total sense to a Southerner: "I use myself an arrow".��
    A question regarding "bayda"; why is the 1st person singular "bidam" and not "baydam". A rule, or an idiosyncratic verb?

  4. Andrew Byrd says:

    As a fellow Southerner I absolutely agree. This is called the "middle" use of the reflexive, and that's exactly what's going on here. Regarding "bayda", that's a typo (which I have now fixed), it should be "bida". "Bayda" means to "rip, tear", and is the source of our word "bite".

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