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SIL Electronic Working Papers 2003-002

I want to but I can’t: the frustrative in Amahuaca

Author  Chávez, Margarethe S.

Amahuaca belongs to the Panoan language family and is spoken in the southern part of the Peruvian Amazon Basin as well as in the border areas with Brazil. Typologically, Amahuaca is an agglutinative language with some twenty-seven switch reference markers which I call interclausal reference markers (IRM). The morpheme -pana- (and, but, however, although), which primarily expresses some type of frustration, functions as a conjunction. Among other idiosyncrasies it reflects singular/plural, case markings, in a limited way co-reference between subjects of adjacent clauses and in a few cases also between subject and object of two clauses. Depending upon the context it can be preceded or followed by different morphemes which makes the use of the frustrative very flexible. As far as the meaning is concerned, it expresses frustration due to unrealizable goals or a pleasant outcome of a situation due to fortunate circumstances. Furthermore, it allows for a variety of meanings, ranging from misunderstandings to contradictions and from mild accusations to protests. The frustrative is used in declarative sentences and in questions. It is frequent in everyday conversation, narratives reporting daily events, and particularly in legends, myths, folktales, and trickster stories.

  I want to but I can’t: the frustrative in Amahuaca
Published  2003
Language  Amahuaca [amc]
Country  Peru
Subject  Mood (grammatical)
Keywords  frustrative; agglutinative; Mood (grammatical)