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4. Syntax

This chapter deals with the structure and types of sentences and word order in Karbi. An attempt is made to describe only the formal surface structure and not the semantic deep structure of sentences. The term ‘sentence’ refers to a well-formed utterance which conveys a complete meaning.


The structure of simple sentences in Karbi is dealt with in this section. A sentence consists of a noun phrase (NP) and a verb phrase (VP).


Noun Phrase

The noun phrase consists obligatorily of a noun and optionally a set of elements, viz., adjectives, numerals, case, postpositions, and particles. The noun may be simple, compound or derived. It may be followed by gender, honorific, number, adjectives, etc.

A sentence may consist of only one or more than o ne noun phrase. The noun phrase which is independent of th ever phrase functions as the subject of the sentence. The other noun phrase's form part of the verb phrase and function variously as the object (direct or indirect), instrument, source, path, goal, location, purpose, etc., with respect to the action mentioned by the verb. The noun phrase which functions as the subject of the sentence is in the nominative case. Though functionally and on the basis of constituent structure, two types of noun phrases could be distinguished, they are not treated separately in the present sketch as both of them have similar general formal structure. More than one noun phrase may occur in a verb phrase
methan i?uk
‘the dog barks’


na -la-lo

‘I see you’

‘Ram gave me the book’

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