Self-affective or self-benefactive action.
self-benefactive action is an action or state that affects the subject of the
sentence in some way, usually to h. benefit, but sometimes not in an
clearly beneficial way. (This is what has been called `reflexive' by
other grammarians, but is not an adequate description of many of its uses.)
Sometimes the benefaction is clearly for someone else, as in (5) below.
Beyond the benefaction, koo is essentially a completive aspect marker
as well, since whatever else happens, the implication is that the action was
definitely accomplished. That is, a sentence without koo such as
kumaar veele teeDinaan, aanaa keDekkalle
means that `Kumar looked for a job, but didn't find one.' But kumaar veele
teetikkiTTaan means `Kumar looked for a job and
found one' so cannot be followed by aanaa keDekkalle (`But
didn't get one') without contradiction. This is an example of what H&T
call cancellation of an implicature. The aspect marker koo
now has conversational implicature of perfectiveness, and this
perfectiveness can't be cancelled.
- payyan tanne aDiccu kiTTaan. `The boy hit
- raaman satte pooTTukko raan. `Raman dresses
- naan paNatte eDuttukkiTTeen. `I took the money
- niinga paattukkoonga ! `Watch out (for yourself)!'
- nii koRandengaLep paattukkaNum `You need to take care of
(watch) the children.' (Without ko the meaning would be
' ... see the children')
- kumaar nallaa naDantukiTTaan `Kumar behaved (himself) well.'
- raamacaami muDiye veTTikkiTTaan `Ramasamy cut his (own) hair (on purpose).
- raamacaami kayye veTTikkiTTaan `Ramasamy cut his
(own)hand (by accident).
If the third example were lacking have aspectual koo, i.e. were simply
naan paNatte eDutteen, the meaning would be `I took the money
(but not for myself, i.e. I transported it somewhere for someone else.')
The accidental and volitional meanings of koo are somewhat
problematical, since the last two examples above can also be reversed,
i.e., R. cut his hair by accident and R. cut his hand on
purpose, but since this is not what one usually expects of people,
the expected result is the preferred interpretation. One might find a
parallel to this in the English `aspectual commentary' verbal expressions
`manage to vb' and `go and vb', e.g. `Ramasamy managed to cut himself in
the hand' and `Ramasamy went and cut himself in the hand'. In both of
these the implication is that R. is not very competent or not very much
in control of his life, whereas `R. managed to get his hair cut' implies
that our incompetent R. finally did something positive in getting his
hair cut. The decision as to whether an action was deliberate or
accidental depends on how society evaluates the effect.
koo is often used as an AVP ( kiTTu )
attached to one or more non-finite verbs (AVP's) to indicate that those
actions are simultaneous with (either completely, or just partly) another
action. Often English `while' can be used to translate this. Sometimes
simultaneity is explicitly emphasized by adding emphatic ee, as in (1)
- naan saappiTTukkiTTee vandeen. `I was eating
while I came.'
- seruppe pooTTukkiTTu, kooyilukkuLLee poohakkuuDaadu.
`Do not go into a temple while wearing shoes.'
- oru kolakkareyle oru puli kaNNe muuDikkiTTu okkaand-iruntadu.
`(While) its eyes (were) closed, a tiger was lying
the side of a tank.'
- oru naaL oru vyaabaari oru kaaTTuvaRiyee muuTTeye
eDuttukkiTTu poonaan. `One day a merchant was
going along a forest path, (while) carrying a
Because of the multiple semantic interpretations of lexical and aspectual
/koo, it is sometimes possible to interpret it in various ways.
Sometimes `simultaneous' koo may be interpreted as `self-
affective', i.e. in example 2 above, poottu-koo could also mean
`having put on' rather than `while wearing', since poottu-koo does
mean `wear' (this is one of those examples mentioned above where
koo has become part of the stem of the lexical entry); The
sentences in examples (1) and (4) could be either interpreted as the
lexical verb kondupoo `take (s.t.)', as simultaneous koo
`while taking, was carrying', or self-affective koo `was carrying
along with him' (for his own benefit). In sentence (1) emphatic
ee has been added to block this interpretation. But the ambiguity
in such circumstances, if any, is usually trivial.
Durative or Continuative Action.
Durative or continuous action similar to the `progressive' construction
verb+ing in English, is expressed in Tamil by combining koo in
its AVP form kiTTu with the `stative' aspectual verb iru,
i.e. kiTTiru, and affixing this to the AVP of a main verb:
vandu + kiTTirundeen `I was com-ing.' The expression of
durative/continuous action (a semantically separate kind of aspectual
contrast) will be dealt with in more detail in a later lesson, but a few
examples are given here.
peecikkiTTirundaanga `Everyone was talking.'
saappittukkiTTirukkraaru `Raman is eating.'
- kamalaa vanda
poodu, naan paDiccukkiTTirundeen. `When Kamala arrived,
I was reading.'
- koRande eeru maNikkuLLee
tuungikkiTTirukkum. `By 7:00, the child will be sleeping.'
- engee pooykkiTTirukkriinga ? `Where are you going?'
Inchoative and Punctual notions.
Examples of contrast between verbs without koo and with koo are:
- adu enakku teriyum `I know that.'
- naan ade terinjukiTTeen `I realized (came to
- avar solradu ungaLukkup puriyumaa? `Do you understand
what he says?'
- avar solradu purinjukiTTiingalaa ?' `Did you
what he is talking about? (Did the nickle finally drop? Do you get
- okkaarunga `Please remain seated.'
- okkaandukoonga `Please be seated; please sit
down' 'Have a seat'
(Please enter the state of being seated.)
In modern Tamil, especially in Spoken,
there are lexical verbs that no longer occur without an aspectual verb, i.e.
they have been relexicalized with the aspectual verb incorporated, as it were,
into the stem. Such verbs as kaa `wait' now occurs almost
exclusively with (aspectual) koo or aspectual iru attached,
i.e kaattukkoo or kaattiru. In such cases, the aspectual
value of koo is weakened and the compound simply becomes the
lexical form of the verb. Thus there can be a sort of `sliding scale' or
continuum from lexical to grammatical, with some combinations of main
verb and koo being primarily lexical, with very little aspectual
`meaning', but at the other end of the scale the occurrence of koo
will be minimally lexical but maximally aspectual.
There is also the problem that the AVP of koo (in its LT form
koNDu ) is utilized with verbs of motion, to produce the lexical verbs
"take" and "bring" i.e. koNDupoo lit.
'hold and go' and
koNDuvaa lit. hold and come (also phonologically reduced to
koNDaa ). The older, LT form of the AVP is retained in these forms,
which only mean 'take/bring a thing' (not a person). For bringing
and taking people, other forms, kuuTTi-kiTTu poo and
kuuTTi-kiTTu vaa (also phonologically reduced to kuuTTikTu poo
and kuuTTikTu poo or even kuuTTiTTu poo/vaa in
some dialects.) are used.
Restriction is also the case with the verb kal `learn'
occurs only with koo or iru attached: kattukoonga
`(please) learn (it)'. But this contrasts with kal with
iru attached: kattiru `be learning'; for some reason this
combination can be sarcastic or ironic:
tamiR enge katt-irukkiinga
literally means `Where have you learned Tamil?', but instead it has the
illocutionary force of `Where (the hell) did you
learn Tamil? (with the sarcastic
implicature of 'you don't know Tamil!)'
- tamiR enge katt-kiTTiinga on the other hand
implies (conventional implicature of completedness ) that you
did learn Tamil, i.e. learning was accomplished and
Use of koo with some other verbs also contrasts with non-use in
an almost purely lexical way: pooDu `put, drop' means `put on'
but pooTTukkoo has the implicature of
completing putting on, i.e. `wearing'.
Proceed to Next section.
Feb 8, 2005