Volume 22, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1606-822X
  • E-ISSN: 2309-5067



Choswateng Tibetan, spoken in the south-eastern corner of the Khams region, has three negative prefixes: /ȵi-/, /ma-/, and /ka-/. The first two are derived from two morphemes which are ubiquitous across Tibetic languages, whereas the third is a newly generated negative prefix found in Choswateng Tibetan as well as its surrounding dialects belonging to the rGyalthang subgroup of Khams and its neighbours. This article describes the morphological feature and use of the prefix /ka-/ in Choswateng Tibetan. Morphologically, the prefix /ka-/ can co-occur with most verbs except for the copulative verb /ˊreʔ/. Pragmatically, the prefix /ka-/ occurs and is restricted in the following ways: (1) expresses ‘definitely not’ for statements regarding the self, and ‘possibly not, judging from the speaker’s knowledge’ for statements regarding others; (2) co-occurs with egophoric and sensory evidentials; (3) is not used for a negation of accomplished aspect; and (4) does not deprive the function of the other two negative prefixes. These two analyzes are mutually related; it is suggested that the reason why /ka-/ cannot co-occur with the copulative verb /ˊreʔ/ is triggered by a contradiction of implied evidentials: /ka-/ is related to egophoric and sensory, whereas /ˊreʔ/ is statemental. Following the description of its use, we discuss the origin of /ka-/, claiming a possible grammaticalization from an interrogative word (‘where’ in Literary Tibetan and common throughout the rGyalthang area) in a rhetorical question to a prefix. Referring to several morphological features of /ka-/, we consider its grammaticalization as ongoing, but most advanced in Choswateng Tibetan.

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