Tibetan Grammar - 'la don' particles

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WORK IN PROGRESS: the grammar articles are being edited for wiki publication. During editing, the content might be incomplete, out of sequence or even misleading. In the verb section the approach to explain Tibetan verbs is changed to that of the "three thematic relations: Theme, Location, and Agent" - there will be discrepancies to the other grammar section until they are matched with it
2017 - The treatment of the la don particles will be (in time) changed into that of three different particles - which they are.

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by Stefan J. Gueffroy[1] [fka Eckel]

The la don Particles

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Case Particles
Second Case: Objective Case, ལས་སུ་བྱ་བའི་སྒྲ་ སུ་, རུ་, ཏུ་, དུ་, ན་, ར་, ལ་
Fourth Case: Purposive Case, དགོས་ཆེད་ཀྱི་སྒྲ་ སུ་, རུ་, ཏུ་, དུ་, ན་, ར་, ལ་
Seventh Case: Locative Case, རྟེན་གནས་ཀྱི་སྒྲ་ སུ་, རུ་, ཏུ་, དུ་, ན་, ར་, ལ་

Each of these three Tibetan cases refer to the same set of seven particles. These are the la don particles ལ་ན་སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་. The la don particles are in essence three particles ལ་, ན་ and སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་(which are the five different spellings of one particle) which have overlapping usages within these three cases.

There is no connection between the fact that the la don are actually three different particles and the fact that Tibetan place them together into three cases coming from Sanskrit i.e. Objective Case ལས་སུ་བྱ་བའི་སྒྲ་, Purposive Case དགོས་ཆེད་ཀྱི་སྒྲ་, Locative Case རྟེན་གནས་ཀྱི་སྒྲ་.
It is simply a coincidence that there are three Tibetan particles-combined as the la don-that have overlapping functions which are similar to those found in the three Sanskrit cases.

This is not in any way to disregard the feats of the great Tibetan grammarians and must not and by no means be understood as a lack of appreciation of their marvelous works. Please refer to Nicolas Tournadre in "The Classical Tibetan cases and their transcategoriality, From sacred grammar to modern linguistics"[2] for a presentation on the particular value, importance and uniqueness of the Tibetan grammar literature.


three different case marking particle combined into one group applied to three different cases taken form Sanskrit
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The three different particles of the la don are not identical in their function.[3] And though they might at times presented as generally to be at least nominal equivalent in their function, practically this equivalence does not appear.
Because of their overlapping usage and the Tibetan way of combining them as la don these three particles are treated here together. (An exclusive or predominate usage of the particles for a given function will be pointed out.)


Overview of the Functions

Note: not all functions are included in the overview

  སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་ ལ་ ན་
functions within a clause location in space and time location in space and time location in space and time;
adverbs of time
  referential  
  topical  
  recipient, purpose,
direction of the action of a verb
 
adverbs    
qualifier of identity,
qualifier of equivalence
   
identity of transformation    
verb - verb connection,
verb - adjective connection
   
substitute for associative particle དང་    
coordination of clauses adverbial / simultaneity simultaneity: "while", "and",
"while (this is that is not)"
conditional and temporal
"if", "when"


Independent of Verb Type

Location in Space

Place of Activity

Objective case, Tib. ལས་སུ་བྱ་བའི་སྒྲ་

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Direction

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Location in Time

Locative case

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Adverb of Time with ན་

from སྔ་མ་: "in the past, before, past time, earlier"

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Note: also སྔར་ "in the past, preceding, former, before", with a frozen la don (see: "frozen particles")

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Purpose

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Referential Qualifier

A referential qualifier is marked by ལ་.

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Topical

A topical element can be marked by ལ་

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Adverbial

Only སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

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Template:Gsample མྱུར་བ་


Template:Gsample དེ་ལྟ་བུ་


Template:Gsample རྒྱུན་


Template:Gsample རྟག་པ་


Qualifier of Identity / Equivalence

Only སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

For a note about ambiguities see: Note on ambiguities.

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Identity of Transformation

What something is transformed into is marked by སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

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Joining of Noun and Verb

With སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

These may form new lexicalizedTemplate:Gfooter words.

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Template:Gfooter To make or coin a new word or accept a new word into the lexicon of a language.

Verbs with la don

The topic here is the usage of the la don particles directly between a (nominalized) verb or a clause ending in a verb and another verb or adjective. e.g.: བླང་བར་རུང་. This usage quite often expresses an infinitive construction or gerund from an English point of view. (There are different approaches and opinions on how to treat this grammatically.)

For the usage between clauses see: Coordination.

See: Note on classifications for verbs with la don and Note on omissions.

Direct verb-verb relation

Only སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

Verb and auxiliary verb

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Modal Relation

Modality: covering expressions of how the world (situation, circumstances) might be and should be; this includes expressions of necessity, permissibility and probability, and negations of these.

See: Note on classifications for verbs with la don and Note on ambiguities for a further explanation of these relations and the reasons for the coming classifications and their names.

Expressing a Quality

epistemic status

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Evaluative status

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Expressing a Feature

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"In this world, if tamed and brought onto the path) there is nothing other (that will obey and) is as easy to be tamed like the mind."

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Qualifier of an Intransitive Verb

Only སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

Ability

see: Note on classifications for verbs with la don

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Place, time, purpose, etc.

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Identity

Same as Qualifier of identity / equivalence

see: Note on ambiguities

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Verbal Clause as the Theme of a Verb

Only སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

The theme of the verb can be a verb or a whole clause itself which is nominalized and marked by the la don. Verbs which have their theme (intransitive subject, transitive object) normally in མིང་ཙམ་ have in this case their object marked by the la don ར་.

In some of the following examples the usage of the la don can be interpreted in different ways. Yet in most examples the interpretation of a verbal clause as the theme looks less constructed then its alternative; see: Note on ambiguities.
With verbs of "perception and mental activity“

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Verbs like སེམས་པ་ "to think" can also have their object marked with the la don ལ་, giving it the meaning " to think about, to meditate on"; see: Patient (object) of a transitive verb and Verbs which change their meaning with different syntaxes.

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Verbs of "communication"

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With verbs of "command, request and supplication" showing the purpose

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Adverbial / Simultaneity (of Verb-Verb)

Only སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

This usage occurs between two verbs. It can also coordinate a clause within a larger clause or one clause with an other clause (see Adverbial / simultaneity).

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With omission of the la don

(from the same text as the previous example)

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Coordination

Adverbial / Simultaneity

This is similar to Adverbial / simultaneity (of verb-verb), but here the clause is not directly before the second verb. The meaning is again that of "simultaneity" or "adverbial".

In most cases the first statement is a negative statement (has a negated verb).

First clause with negated verb

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Example with a positive first clause

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The Temporal and Conditional ན་ After a Clause

Note: This is the most used function of ན་ vastly outnumbering all it's others usages[4].

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The Coordinating ལ་ After a Clause

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The same type of coordination occurs with adjectives.

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Postpositions

local

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purpose

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Second Pleonastic Particle ན་

from πλεονασμóς / pleonasmos "excess"

See also "two particles after another x.xx.x"

When ན་ stands as second particle after another particle (mostly agentive - reason), it doesn’t add any meaning (beside making it easier to spot that the agentive case is marking a reason).

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ན་ for ཞེ་ན་

ན་ stands for ཞེ་ན་ after a clause where the clause is a question with an interrogative pronoun.

ཞེ་ན་ / ཅེ་ན་ / ཤེ་ན་ translated as "If one asks..." is short for ཅེས་སྨྲས་པ་ན་ "if one says ..." J.Rockwell Jr., pg. 145, 12.3

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Dependent on Verb Type

For the usage of the la don with verbs that can have a verbal clause as the theme, see: Verbal clause as the theme of a verb.


Agentive Directed Verb

Commonly ལ་ (སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་ only as substitute for ལ་ .)


See the verb section for agentive directed verbs.


With intentional verbs of perception

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Verbs of benefit / harm

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Source: བོད་རྒྱ་ཚིག་མཛོད་ཆེན་མོ།

With verbs expressing mental activity

Verbs like སེམས་པ་ "to think" and སྒོམ་པ་ "to meditate, to cultivate" can have their theme (object) marked with the la don ལ་. If the theme (object) is a whole clause, the la don སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་ are used. (See Verbal clause as the theme of a verb.)

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Recipient (Indirect Object) of a Ditransitive Verb

A ditransitive verb is a verb that has both a theme (direct object) and a recipient (indirect object).

Mostly ལ་, sometimes སུ་རུ་ཏུ་དུ་ར་

Note: In Tibetan grammar (following the Sanskrit model) the recipient (indirect object) of a ditransitive verb, where the action brings no direct nor indirect benefit to it, and the recipient to which the action does bring direct or indirect benefit are considered to be in different cases ( both are marked by the la don). The former would be in the objective case ལས་སུ་བྱ་བའི་སྒྲ་, the latter the purposive case དགོས་ཆེད་ཀྱི་སྒྲ་.

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Verbs of Motion: Destination

Objective case, Tib. ལས་སུ་བྱ་བའི་སྒྲ་

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Qualifier / Complement of an Intransitive Verb

This is covered above by the usage of the la don particles for location in space and time, adverbial and so on.

For other usage together with verbs see Direct verb-verb relation and Qualifier of an intransitive verb.

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Verb of Dependence: qualifier—what it is Depended Upon la don

The la don ལ་ is being used most commonly.

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Attitude Verbs

That what the attitude is towards is marked by la don ལ་

In the བོད་རྒྱ་ཚིག་མཛོད་ཆེན་མོ་, those are ཐ་མི་དད་པ་-classified verbs.

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Verbs of Necessity

  • qualifier—that what needs: la don, theme—that what is needed: ming tsam (no particle)

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Verbs of Living: Place of Living

locative case

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Verbs of Existence: Place of Existence

locative case

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Inclusion

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Verb of Possession

locative case

  • Possessor: la don, what is owned: ming tsam (no particle)

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Verbs of Avoidance

  • That which is avoided:voriginative or la don or ming tsam

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Verbs Expressing "to Make Effort, to Engage"

  • What is the effort towards: la don

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la don as substitute for དང་ with verbs using དང་

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Endnotes

  1. recently adopted
  2. Nicolas Tournadre, University of Provence and CNRS, Lacito, The Classical Tibetan cases and their transcategoriality, From sacred grammar to modern linguistics, Himalayan Linguistics, Vol. 9(2): 87-125
  3. Nicolas Tournadre (ibid.) proposes Tibetan to have teen cases all together, three of those in regard to the different the la don: Dative ལ་ , Locative ན་ and Purposive དུ་.
  4. and is somewhat under-represented here