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Classroom talk: LING2211, NTNU - Ilocano - Understanding Bloomfield (1942)

  • so far we have pronominal forms characterised as absolutive and ergative, straight and oblique. What is the relation between straight pronoun forms and the rest?
  • Word form pronominals are complex units. What does their formation tell us about the semantics of the proclitics.

The wikipedia describes the Ilocano determiner system as follows':

  • Does that description square with what we found in the Bloomfield article?

Ergative/absolutive case in general

The relation to subject/object of the ergative/absolutive cases differs from how nominative and accusative case behaves. The chart in this PDF file provides us with an overview of the difference.


Ilokano has two sets of articles, common and personal. Personal articles are used for people, names, and personal titles. Common articles are used with all other nouns (including names of countries and cities).

Case Singular Plural
Core ti dagiti
Oblique iti kadagiti
Case Singular Plural
Core ni da
Oblique kenni kada

Kinship terms such as "mother" or "uncle" can take either set of articles. Preceded by the common article, the term is more generalized or conceptual; preceded by a personal article, the reference is more specific (the speaker refers to a member of his or her family).

Napan ti ama idiay eskuelaan ti anakna.
The father went to his child's school.

Napan ni ama idiay eskuelaan ni kabsat.
Father went to sister's/brother's school.

The same can also be said of titles or offices.

Nakitak ni maestra idiay padaya.
I saw teacher at the party.
(referring to the speaker's teacher in school)

Nakitak ti maestra idiay padaya.
I saw a teacher at the party.
(any teacher)

Enclitic Sequences in Ilocano

Ergative (Subject) Absolute (Object)
1.SG 2.SG 3.SG 1.DU 1PL.EX 1PL.INC 2.PL
1.SG kuka ku kuta kukami kutayu kukayu
2.SG muak mu muta mukami mutayu mukayu
3.SG -nak naka nata nakami natayu nakayu
1.DU taak taka ta takami tatayu takayu
1PL.EX miak mika mi mita mitayu mikayu
1PL.INC tayuak tayuka tayu tayuta tayukami tayukayu
2.PL yuak yuka yu yuta yukami yutayu
3.PL -dak daka da data dakami datayu dakayu