Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gender marking in Tanii

In Tanii a in most Tibeto-Burman languages there is no gender inflection for nouns as there is, for example, in hindi. There are, however, a series of compounds denoting gender for animal species, all formed the same way : a gender marking suffix is added to the reduplicated root of the generic name

prefix
root
reduplicated root
gender suffix
a
ki
ki
bo

aki-kibo = male dog

The Tanii gender suffixes are -bo,or -po, for males, -nii for females, and -chu for infants (juveniles, babies). Nii may derive from anii, 'mother'.

aki-kibo = male dog, or simply => kibo
aki-kinii = female dog (bitch), or simply => kinii
aki-kichu = puppy, or simply => kichu

In kibo, kinii, kichu, ki identifies the type of animal (dog), whereas -bo, -nii and -chu specify the gender (male, female, infant). This construction is very much similar to the one used for counting objects (see previous post). Gender differentiation is not marked for all animals, but it is the case for the most prominent species :

species
Engl.

Male
Engl.
Female
Engl.
Infant
Engl.
aki
dog
kibo
male dog
kinii
bitch
kichu
puppy
ami
cat
mipo
tomcat
minii
she-cat
ami atu
kitten
alyi
pig
lyipo
boar
menii
sow
alyi atu
piglet
subu
mithun
subu-siibo
mithun bull
subu-siinii
mithun cow
subu atu
mithun calf
sii
cattle
siibo
bull
siinii
cow
sii atu
calf
paro
chicken
ropo
cock
ronii
hen
pachu
chick
siibi
monkey
bipo
male monkey
binii
female monkey
siibi atu
baby/ juvenile monkey
siidin
deer
dimbo
male deer, hart, stag
dinnii
female, deer, doe
siidin atu
deer calf

Note the irregularity of menii for sow (female pig). Suffixation with -chu is not possible for every generic name; more often, juveniles or babies are identified by adjunction of the adjective atu, meaning 'small'.

Gender distinction for humans, especially among kin categories, is normally unmarked. Children only are differentiated between sons and daughters by the addition of milobo (male) and nyimii (female) respectively to the generic word (iinga) :

=> iinga milobo (boy)
iinga (child)
=> iinga nyimii (girl)
PB

5 comments:

Kanno said...

I think male and female mithuns are subu-siinii and subu-siibo. And the baby mithun is subu-atu. Similarly, baby cow is sii-stu.

Kanno said...

Sorry for the blunder. Male mithun = subu-siibo. Female mithun = subu-siinii.

PB said...

@ Kanno,
Thanks, your corrections have been added.

yasiyalow said...

"Biser" is a monkey with long tail and "bidii" is a monkey with stubbed/vey short tail. During Myoko festival, "bidii" is hunted. It is one of the most adventurous hunting occassion, to which every male member of clan looks forward to and compete to bring this trophy for his clan. Who ever brings it , is the toss of the clan.
I think baby moneys are called sibi atu.

PB said...

@ Yasiyalow,
Thanks for this comment. I was a bit doubtful about that word "biser" which I got from one source only. When I was at Ziro we too were told about that difference between biser and bidii according to the length of the tail. Both seems to refer primarily to macaque species : Rhesus macaque, Assamese macaque, Arunachal Macaque or Tibetan macaque. Of those 4, the latter one has the shortest tail : "The Tibetan macaque is a large primate with a short, stump-like tail, a diagnostic feature of the species. The fur is brown on the back and creamy-buff to grey on underparts, with a prominent, pale-buff beard and full-cheek whiskers framing the hairless face".
Could it be the one ?...
If you are interested you can get more information and see some pictures of this species at the following links :
http://anthropology.buffalo.edu/Faculty/berman/BasicE.htm
http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/mammals/Macaca_thibetana/GES022577.html?offset=-419px
http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/may102005/1387.pdf