Lesson Nineteen - Part Three
Proximate/Obviative with Transitive Verbs



If you have a transitive verb, you only mark the proximate person on the verb. Here's a sentence with noohow- meaning 'to see someone':


Hinén nonoohówoo-t hísei-n.
Man see-3 woman(obv)


So what does the above sentence mean in Arapaho? It means: "a man (prox) sees a woman (obv)." At first, it might not seem clear whether the woman is seeing the man, or the man is seeing the woman. In fact, here's a very similar sentence in Arapaho:


Hinén nonoohobéí-t hísei-n.
Man see-3 woman(obv)


This sentence means 'the woman sees the man.' As you can see, the order of the words in Arapaho doesn't have anything to do with the meaning of the sentence (unlike in English). In fact, the only thing that changes from one sentence to the other is that the verb noohow- has a special ending -oo- on it in the first sentence, and a different ending -ei- (which causes the final -w to turn into a -b) on it in the second sentence.

What's happening here is that the little endings -oo- and -ei- are 'direction of action' markers. The marker -oo- tells you that the proximate person is doing something to the obviative one, while the marker -ei- tells you that the obviative person is doing something to the proximate one.


Hinén nonoohów-oo-t hísei-n.
Man see-prox>obv-3 woman(obv)
'A man sees another woman.'

Hinén nonoohob-éí-t hísei-n.
Man see-prox<obv-3 woman(obv)
'Another woman sees a man.'


Here are three more examples, this time with an adjective-like descriptive verb thrown in:


Nonoohów-oo-t hiinóno’éini-ní3 hísei-n.
see-3 Arapaho-4 woman(obv)
‘He sees the Arapaho woman.’

Nonoohob-éí-t hiinóno’éini-ní3 hísei-n.
see-3 Arapaho-4 woman(obv)
‘The Arapaho woman sees him.'

Nonoohów-oo-t hiinóno’éíni-t hísei-n.
see-3 Arapaho-3 woman(obv)
‘The Arapaho sees the woman.’



Exercises for Lesson Nineteen