Sentence Structure
Image source: Cape Promontory, Cape Lutkes on Unimak Island in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska by U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, via Wikimedia Commons.

What is sentence stucture?

Fun fact: sentence structure is also known as syntax.

Syntax is the way words come together to form sentences.

Story time: Ulax̂

Little house.

This story, written and illustrated by Nadesta Golley, is entitled ulax̂. It is part of a collection of stories in the book Hilada (which translates to 'Read') and was produced in Atka Village in 1973. The book is currently housed at the Alaska Native Language Archives (ID No. ALW973G1973b).

Hint/ ← Hover/click to reveal hint!

Part I: Meaning & Parts-of-Speech

Consider the following sentence:

← Click to listen

Let's break it down!

  • sabaakax̂: 'dog'
  • ulax̂: 'house'
  • alakux̂: 'he/she/it needs, wants'

Can you figure out what the sentence means now?

Using this knowledge, we can identify words that function similar to nouns (NOUN/N):

And words that act like verbs (VERB/V):

Part II: Syntactic Relations

Let's take another look at this sentence:

Here, sabaakax̂ is the subject (subject/subj) of the sentence - subjects perform the action of the verb. We can visualize it in the following way:

In the figure displayed above, sabaakax̂ is performing the action of the verb alakux̂.

Direct objects on the other hand receive the action of the verb. Do you have any idea what the direct object (object/obj) might be?

To briefly summarize this section, sabaakax̂ is the subject of the sentence and ulax̂ is the direct object:

Part III: Differences between Unangam Tunuu and English - Word Order

Let's consider one of the major differences between Unangam Tunuu and English.

What do you notice about the order of the subject, verb and object in the Unangam Tunuu sentence?

The order goes subject, object and, finally, verb!

Now, what about an English sentence?

The order in English is typically subject, verb and then object.

To be continued...