Bounded versus Unbounded Verb

There are many ways to classify verbs in any language. For the most part, we have classified verbs as of two types of verbs in Arawakan language: Reflexive and Irreflexive. Reflexive verbs are of two types: 1) simply personal or intransitive; or 2) reflexive. Oftentimes the same verb is of both types.

As for irreflexive verbs that are derived from verbals (see note Four Parts of Arawakan Speech), they can be transitive or intransitive. But, the easier to distinction by which to classify is 1) the unbounded verb, and 2) the bounded verb.

Bounded Verb

Bounded verbs are characterized by the ending “o, i, ai, e, or ei” for verbals. Bounded verbs do imply a happening in a specific time, to an object, or for a certain goal or destination. They have a target in mind. For example, “adikei”. This word implies that you are seeing something specific;[1] you spot something. Compare this to the “adika”, which only means “see” or “look”.[2]

Unbounded Verb

The unbounded verb ends with the vowel “a” for verbals, or with “ta, ka, ra, da, etc.” for verbals. The verb is usually intransitive, but not always. However, the emphasis is on the action; not on the occurrence, the end, or goal to be had. For example, the word “sika”, which means “give”, is not confined to a specific event in time. It does not mean to deliver, to direct, etc. In other words, it does not automatically imply a specific target.[3] Or, for example, “ajiya”. This word means “talk”, but it does not necessitate that there be a specific audience.


Keeping the above in mind, let’s try to better understand with another example.

In Loko, “Morodo” means (Fly), and “Moroda” means (Fly around).

Let’s look at a couple of sentences:

Me: “Where are you going today?”

You:  “Dmorodobo Cuba muñ” (I am flying to Cuba).


Me : “What is that bird doing?”

You: “Tmorodabo.”  (It is flying around.)

Important Note

The preceding notes that the verbs will carry different connotations of the same meaning. However, sometimes the shifting between the unbounded and bounded forms will change a meaning completely. For example, in Loko, “Thimi (swim)” and “Thima (cross)”. There are numerous other examples, but note the poetic touch that such inflection can create.

[1] “O, kaama, waxeri, wadikei kawoona yari.”

[2] Adukha, ariha, e’rrá in Loko, Karifuna, and Wayuu etc.

[3] Although, “Sika” in the Suriname dialect can imply bringing something to somewhere. So, like in any language, the speakers inevitably make their own rules.


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