11. Peculiarities of the Tibetan Article

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What have been called Articles by Csoma and Schmidt, are a number of little affixes: pa ba ma po bo mo, and some similar ones, which might perhaps be more adequately termed denominators, since their principle object is undoubtedly to represent a given root as a noun, substantive or adjective, as is most clearly perceptible in the instance of the roots of the verbs, to which pa or ba impart the notion of the Infinitive and Participle, or the nearest abstract and nearest concrete nouns that can possibly be formed from the idea of a verb. These affixes are not, however, - except in this case - essential to a noun, as many substantives and adjectives and most of the pronouns are never accompanied by them, and even those which usually appear connected with them, will drop them upon the slightest occaision.


Almost the only case in which a syntactical use of them, like that of the English definite Article, is perceptible, is that mentioned 20.3; a formal one, that of distinguishing the Gender, occurs in a limited number of words, where mo denotes the female, po the masculine.

Thus: rgyal po ,king', rgyal mo ,queen'. Or, if the word in the masculine (or rather common) gender has no article, mo is added: seng ge ,lion', seng ge mo ,lioness'.


In most instances, by far, their only only use is to distinguish different meanings of homonymous roots, e.g. ston pa ,teacher'; ston mo ,feast'; ston kha ,autumn'. Even this advantage, however, is given up, as soon as a composition takes place, and then the meaning can only be inferred from the context, or known from usage: ming ston (from ston mo) ,name feast' (given on the occaision of naming or christening an infant); ston zla (from ston kha) ,autumnal month'. In some instances the putting or omitting of these articles is optional; more frequently the usage varies in different provinces.


The peculiar nature of these affixes is most clearly shown by the manner in which they are connected with the indefinite article 13.

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