Umu: Comment-Topic Construction


Umu displays a consistent COMMENT-TOPIC structure: modifiers precede heads, prepositions exists (instead of postpositions), verbs precede their arguments.

The TOPIC always comes last. Topics are old information or information which the speaker assumes the listener has some knowledge about. Topics need not be overt—they can drop off. They’re always assumed DEFINITE and glossed with the definite article the.




TOPICS  can “possess” COMMENTS. All modified words take the genitive case. There is a liaison of sound and thought. The words fuse and are conceptualized as a single entity. Panín po’i black hair, a new concept, separate from both pani black and pu’i hair.




The COMMENT is new information. What about the hair? It’s black. Black // Hair. What about the woman? she’s black-haired. Black-hair // Woman.





Compounds go on to form larger compounds. Black hair woman — [ (black (hair)) woman ]. The woman of the hair of black.


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