lemÌc. Lemizh grammar and dictionary

Unit 14. Dependent clauses: non-finite

Human fate is fulfilled in failure. And from failure to failure, you get used to never getting beyond a draft.

(Guillaume Laurant/Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain)

We should now have a solid idea how to translate infinitive clauses, exemplified by sentences with modal verbs. Let us take a closer look at non-finite constructions in general, and let’s not shy away from the subtleties of English infinitives and gerunds.

Infinitive clauses

As we have seen, there is only one difference between a dependent clause and a whole sentence in Lemizh. The dependent clause is, well, dependent. Recall that the agent of the dependent clause has to be omitted if it is known from the main clause.

dmetfáw amelÌi.Amélie is watching television.
television-fact1 Amélie-acc-dat2a.
láxt veè dmetfáwy amelÌi.I want Amélie to watch television.
want-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a.
Ràks dmetfáwy amelÌi. dmetfawRáks amelÌi.Amélie should watch television.
should-fact1 television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a. television-fact-should-fact1 Amélie-acc-dat2a.
wráj amelyè dmetfàwy.Amélie dares (to) watch television.
dare-fact1 Amélie-acc-nom2a television-fact-acc2.
wílv amelyè dmetfàwy.Amélie has decided to watch television.
decide-cons1 Amélie-acc-nom2a television-fact-acc2.
wáx vìe.You are speaking.
speak-fact1 PIn−2-dat-nom2a.
dàxt wáxy zìe. waxdáxt vìe.You must speak. It is necessary for you to speak.
must-fact1 speak-fact-acc2 PIn−3-dat-nom3a. speak-fact-must-fact1 PIn−2-dat-nom2a.

As we know from the previous unit, Lemizh sentences are often clearer if certain elements (‘Amélie’, ‘summer’ and ‘[for] you’ in the above examples) are considered part of the dependent clause rather than the main clause. Translations on the lines of wantá veè amelyì televisionày. are possible but can be ambiguous.

You surely have noticed that not all examples translate with a full (‘to’) infinitive. This is due to irregularities of English grammar – some verbs want the full, others the bare infinitive. It does not make any difference in Lemizh.

Topicalisation of infinitives

Infinitives, like finite verbs, can be topicalised.

láxt veè gwìlty oranutnyÌ amelÌi.I want Amélie to know about orangutans.
want-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a teach-cons-acc2 orangutan-acc-acc3 Amélie-acc-dat3.
láxt veè ganéRy amelÌe.I want Amélie to start singing.
want-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a sing-ing-acc2 Amélie-acc-nom3a.


In all of the above sentences, the dependent clause is the accusative object of the main predicate. However, some infinitives have final meaning.

fná amelyè gwáty veì strÌgy.Amélie is trying to learn about the box.
try-fact1 Amélie-acc-nom2a teach-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-dat3a box-acc-acc3.
xOáj amelyì gwátUl veì strÌgy.Amélie is listening to learn about the box.
hear-fact1 Amélie-acc-dat2a teach-fact-fin2 PIn−2-nom-dat3a box-acc-acc3.
dà wytxÌ àshUl.I give you a book to read.
give-fact1 book-acc-acc2 read-fact-fin2.

Subtly different from the final is the tentive case, which does not express a purpose (an intended consequence) of, but an intended identity to, the main action. (The final is the agent-centered equivalent of the consecutive, while the tentive is the agent-centered equivalent of the factive.)

xOáj tyè ujrào.He produces a sound intending to roar.
He produces a sound that is meant to be a roar.
hear-fact1 this-acc-nom2a roar-fact-ten2.

Infinitives in combination with ‘enough’ and ‘too’ are straightforward. An exception is ‘enough’ with a consecutive infinitive, which, while it could be expressed as we would expect, is simpler phrased as a comparison.

lýxt yhwè Ìvyn.There is what the horse wants of the food.The horse has got enough to eat.
want-acc1 horse-acc-nom2a eat-acc-partacc2.
filttìlcd yhwè prèem jìrxy.The horse is faster than overtaken ones [than the ones to whose front someone moves].The horse is too fast to be overtaken.
fast-cons-more-cons1 horse-acc-nom2 front-nom-qualnom2 move-ill-acc3.
fìlt yhwè rístem làqky.The horse is as fast as a winner of the race.The horse is fast enough to win the race.
fast-cons1 horse-acc-nom2 win-dat-qualnom2 race-fact-acc3a.

Some infinitives convey modal information and are translated accordingly.

gwatdáxt viì strÌgy.You must learn about the box.You are to learn about the box.
teach-fact-must-fact1 PIn−2-dat-dat2a box-acc-acc2.
ìlx waxRìksy.He is the man one should speak to. The man should be the recipient of speaking.He is the man to speak to.
male-cons1 speak-fact-should-dat-acc2.

Gerund clauses

Gerund clauses translate just like infinitives. Again, the difference is only in English grammar.

dmetfáw amelÌi.Amélie is watching TV.
television-fact1 Amélie-acc-dat2a.
dmàt [veì] dmetfáwy amelÌi.I see Amélie watching TV. Amélie is seen watching TV.
see-fact1 [PIn−2-nom-dat2] television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a.
màxk.He is lying.
lìl giljdkyà màxky.(predicate noun; or factive case for ‘lie’)Telling lies / Lying is bad behaviour.
do-cons1 good-cons-opposition-acc-fact2 lie-fact-acc2.
dàcj.He plugs it in.
smradnilsbvà dàncju.Maybe it works by plugging it in-ins.
function-fact-certain-cons-1/2-fact1 plug-partfact-ins2.

Perceptual verbs are yet another example of how the agent of the dependent clause can alternatively be placed as an object of the main clause, only this time it is the nominative: seeà veì amelyè televisionày..

Gerund clauses also appear as attributes, in which case they typically form factive brackets. We have already met such a construction, namely ‘the art of riding’.

Topicalisation of gerunds

Topicalising a gerund, e.g. for marking a verb as receptive, is not necessarily a good idea. For example, topicalising the dative in ‘I see Lucy getting a bottle from Father Christmas’ drops the information that I see the action of her getting the bottle. If it is important that I actually saw the transaction, the factive should remain in place. As ‘I see Father Christmas giving a bottle to Lucy’ is better translated with an agentive Father Christmas, the ambiguity is minimal.

dmàt dày lusyì dwywÌ fOpysrÌfe.I see Lucy getting a bottle from Father Christmas.
see-fact1 give-fact-acc2 Lucy-acc-dat3 bottle-acc-acc3 FatherChristmas-acc-nom3.
dmàt dìy lusyì dwywÌ fOpysrÌfe.(topicalisation with unwanted result)I see [the image of] the one getting / the one who got a bottle from Father Christmas, [which is] Lucy.
see-fact1 give-dat-acc2 Lucy-acc-dat3 bottle-acc-acc3 FatherChristmas-acc-nom3.

More subtleties

English gerunds can (like nouns) be modified by adjectives and possessive attributes, or (like verbs) by adverbs, subjects and objects – making no difference in Lemizh. We have already encountered a similar situation when we talked about the genitive case: ‘the baby’s sleep’ (possessive attribute of a noun) = ‘The baby sleeps’ (subject of a verb).

lacwnà nenàe fÌta.Fast running / Running quickly didn’t help.
help-fact-not-fact1 run-fact-nom2 fast-acc-fact3.
sklàg gryÌ sráji amelyè ninÌji.Amélie’s / Amélie meeting Nino proved difficult.
prove-fact1 difficult-acc-acc2 meet-fact-dat2 Amélie-acc-nom3a Nino-acc-dat3.


Given that the accusative denotes the content of an action, there is an ambiguity with language related verbs. The following encompasses a number of perceptual verbs, especially ‘hear’ and its sub-category verbs ‘speak, tell’ etc., ‘read’ (basically a sub-category verb of ‘see’), as well as ‘write, think, teach’, the latter being in a way also a perceptual verb. It has already been mentioned that ‘know’ translates as ‘having seen / read / been taught etc.’, so it belongs here as well. (See Stative verbs in unit 10 and the footnote for ‘can’ in unit 13.) Accusative objects of such verbs can either translate as ‘hear/speak/etc. something’ (a direct object) or ‘hear/speak/etc. about something’ (a prepositional object).

When we say we hear a living being or thing, we mean it is the sender of the sound, so we use the nominative; the accusative names the conveyed information. Thus, ‘Lucy sees the lion-nomvs. ‘Lucy sees the lion’s-acc image’ (unit 3) correlates to ‘Lucy hears the lion-nomvs. ‘Lucy hears about the lion-acc’. When we say we hear actions – words with inner factives, English gerunds and abstract nouns with gerund-like meaning – the difference is less marked; we always say we hear the lion’s roaring whether we think about it as the source or the content of the sound. When Lucy hears about the lion’s roar, the content is not the action itself but the fact of the lion roaring, wanting an inner affirmative. ‘teach’ is similar with respect to what is taught, but the sender is of course the teacher.

English also uses direct objects for hearing/teaching/speaking ‘a lot, a bit’, but such qualifying information really comes under strengthening and weakening: inversion of the constructions we already know results in factive or consecutive objects forming brackets to their predicates. ‘hear good/bad things about someone’ translates into a predicative-like coordination: ‘hear good things about the girl’ is related to ‘hear about the good girl’ like ‘drink one’s coffee black’ to ‘drink black coffee’.

The upshot is: the accusative object translates as an English direct object only if it has an inner factive. To translate a direct object which is not a gerund or abstact noun, we need to switch from the accusative to a different object, typically a nominative, factive or consecutive (but the nominative is possible for gerunds as well). Conversely, to translate a gerund in a prepositional object, we have to use a non-factive inner case: the affirmative suits our needs here. Now it helps that topicalising a gerund results in something that isn’t a gerund.

Maybe some examples are in order here:
gwìlt xaxsày.I have been taught the action of waltzing.I have been taught the waltz. I know how to waltz. I can waltz.
teach-cons1 waltz-fact-acc2.
gwìlt xaxsàly.I have been taught the fact of waltzing.I have been taught about the waltz. I know about the waltz.
teach-cons1 waltz-aff-acc2.
xOìlj dmetfàwy.I have heard her watching TV.
hear-cons1 television-fact-acc2.
xOìlj dmetfàwe.The action of watching TV produces a sound.I have heard her watching TV.
hear-cons1 television-fact-nom2.
xOìlj dmetfàlwy.I have heard about her watching TV. I know about her watching TV.
hear-cons1 television-aff-acc2.
xOàj bÌe.The girl produces a sound.I hear the girl.
hear-fact1 female-acc-nom2.
dmìl xOìljy bÌy. xOìlj dmyìly.I have heard a lot about the girl. I know a lot about the girl.
3/4-cons1 hear-cons-acc2 female-acc-acc3. hear-cons1 3/4-acc-cons2 female-acc-acc2.
xOàj gyjdÌy.I am hearing good things about the girl.
hear-fact1 good-acc-acc2 female-acc-acc2.

With a number of other verbs, the accusative unambiguously translates as ‘about’, even with an inner factive: for example ‘speak, read, write, think’, as we can’t speak an action of giving or a war, ‘be angry/happy about, be certain about (or “that”), be indifferent about’. Other verbs cannot be phrased with ‘about’ in English; for example, translating seeà lionÌy. as ‘She sees [information] about a lion’ would have been more palpable than ‘She sees the lion’s image’ if the former sentence didn’t mean something else in English.

Language related objects

Language related nouns such as ‘language, sentence, word; story, poem; text; book, letter’ not only occur as prepositional objects (translated as accusative objects) but also as direct objects, e.g. of ‘hear, teach, speak, read, write, think’. Having inner non-factives, they can only be treated as ‘qualifying information’ unless the nominative is an option. Predicates indicating production also allow for a translation with an inner plus an outer factive.

wàx osyshà lÌwy. osÌsh wàxy lÌwy.The action of telling is a poem.I tell you a poem about a lion. a poem [told] about a lion
speak-fact1 poem-acc-fact2 lion-acc-acc2. poem-acc1 speak-fact-acc2 lion-acc-acc3.
wàx osÌshy.I tell you about a poem.
speak-fact1 poem-acc-acc2.
xOìlj osÌsha. xOìlj osÌshe.I know a poem.
hear-cons1 poem-acc-fact2. hear-cons1 poem-acc-nom2.
ásh tryxkùl ynù wytxè lywÌ cnÌi.(non-sending ‘read’ with agentive instrumental)The beaver reads a book about a lion to the children.
read-fact1 beaver-acc-mot2a PIIn-partacc-ins2 book-acc-nom2 lion-acc-acc2 child-acc-dat2.
sráb tryxkè watxà lÌwy.The action of writing is the action of making a book.The beaver writes a book about a lion.
write-fact1 beaver-acc-nom2a book-fact-fact2 lion-acc-acc2.

The last construction can be generalised to writeà màa. writeàa. ‘something made in writing = the writing (concrete noun)’, singàa. ‘the song’, paintàa childÌy. ‘a painting of the child’, etc.

Shared properties of infinitives and gerunds

Passive and perfect

Infinitive and gerund also have passive and perfect forms, which are translated accordingly – with a pronoun if necessary. Topicalisation of the consecutive is not a problem, even with gerunds. (See the exercises for an infinitive example.)

ràh lusyè dày dwywÌ vèi.Lucy likes being given a bottle.
like-fact1 Lucy-acc-nom2 give-fact-acc2 bottle-acc-acc3 PIn−2-nom-dat3.
fnàsf gyjdà sklìlOl.(The reason for feeling good is having built a bridge.)Having built a bridge-psu feels good.
feel-fact1 good-acc-fact2 bridge-cons-psu2.

Degree of reality

Another point to watch is the degree of reality. In some of the above examples, the dependent clause is pragmatically real like the mice in ‘I see white mice’ (see Rule Seven): if I see Amélie watching TV, or Lucy getting a bottle, that is very likely to really happen (although it might be a hallucination). A different situation is ‘I didn’t see Amélie watching TV’ in a context of ‘Sorry, I missed that completely’. The seemingly obvious translation seeanà veì televisionáy amelÌi. says absolutely nothing about whether she was actually watching the telly. This problem can be solved by swapping degree of reality with an inversion. Just as in the chapter on modal adverbs, the resulting bracket serves for conferring reality, so that my ignorance does not lose its top-level status.

dmatnà veì dmetfáwy amelÌi.I didn’t see Amélie watching TV [so I don’t know whether she did].
see-fact-not-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a.
dmetfáw amelyì dmatnÌa zèi.Amélie watched TV unseen by me. (adverbial participle)I didn’t see Amélie watching TV [but she did].
television-fact1 Amélie-acc-dat2a see-fact-not-acc-fact2 PIn−3-nom-dat3.
là laxtkýa zèe.It happened unwanted by me.I didn’t want this to happen.
do-fact1 want-fact-opposition-acc-fact2 PIn−3-nom-nom3a.

Differences between infinitives and gerunds

Sometimes English uses the gerund to express a difference to the infinitive. This can affect person …

ràh veè dráwy vèe.I like to dance. / I like dancing [my dancing].
like-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 dance-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-nom3a.
ràh veè dráwy gwÌy.I like dancing [watching someone dance].
like-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 dance-fact-acc2 any-acc-acc3a.

… aspect/tense …

rahkà veè waRxvày.(present tense)I hate to speak [now].
like-fact-opposition-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 speak-temp-PIn−2-fact-acc2.
mìl veÌ rahkèy wàxy.(gnomic aspect)I [generally] hate speaking.
make-cons1 PIn−2-nom-acc2 like-fact-opposition-nom-acc2 speak-fact-acc3.

… inner case (typically factive vs. affirmative) …

smàj wàxy lòy zìe.She remembered to tell me her intentions.
remember-fact1 speak-fact-acc2 do-ten-acc3 PIn−3-dat-nom4.
smàj wàlxy lòy zìe.She remembered telling me her intentions.
remember-fact1 speak-aff-acc2 do-ten-acc3 PIn−3-dat-nom4.

– or with an inversion to make it quite clear that the telling really did happen …

wàx loÌ smÌja.She told me her intentions, having remembered it.She remembered to tell me her intentions.
speak-fact1 do-ten-acc2 remember-acc-fact2.

… outer case (a different object, in other words) …

fnà khnày.She tried to shout [but this was difficult because of her sore throat].
try-fact1 shout-fact-acc2.
fnà khnànu.She tried shouting [as he hadn’t heard her when she had spoken quietly].
try-fact1 shout-partfact-ins2.

… or something else, depending on the main predicate. In other words: don’t memorise, analyse.

khnà prilcÌwbaR.She shouted immediately afterwards.She went on to shout.
shout-fact1 front-cons-1/8-acc-temp2.
khnìRy. khniRnà.(compare the phrasing for a purpose not achieved)She went on shouting.
not-fact1 shout-egr-acc2. shout-egr-not-fact1.

I hate to repeat myself, but: keep in mind that you need not express the differences if they are irrelevant or clear from context.

ràh veè dràwy.I like to dance/dancing.
like-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 dance-fact-acc2.
rahkà veè wàxy.I hate to speak/speaking.
like-fact-opposition-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 speak-fact-acc2.

Actually, I rather like repeating myself.

Participial clauses

Participial clauses have already been discussed in the chapter on adjectives and participles as attributes in unit 5: ‘milk spilt on the ground’, ‘a man speaking to a child about elephants’. Being attributive clauses, they are translated with cumulative or partitive brackets or coordinations.

Circumstantial clauses are participial clauses at the beginning (or end) of a sentence that are separated from the main clause with a comma: ‘Convinced of his knowledge, the man spoke to the child about elephants’; ‘Speaking to the child about elephants, the man forgot to buy the artichokes’. These are treated in the next unit.


Amélie hopes to find Nino.Solve
She is running to do so (i.e. to find him).Solve
Amélie didn’t want to be seen.
(three possibilities, one implying that she was seen)
The sweet’s joy of having been eaten surprises me.Solve
She stopped to speak to me vs. She stopped speaking to me.Solve
You would have had to help him, I say / in my opinion.Solve
I have heard about a lot of things.Solve
  Can’t ‘book’ be absorbed in the phrase writeà bookàa.?Solve