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The archaic tenseless negative.

ST retains in modern usage the relic of an archaic tenseless negative Old Tamil where PNG markers are added directly to the stem with no tense marker intervening. This formation is preserved mainly in certain idiomatic expressions, e.g.:

Here the PNG marker ѣ -oom `first person plural' is added directly to the stem of the verb kaan `see', a verb not generally in use in ST. This expression is used idiomatically to mean something like `I don't see a soul; there's nobody around, nobody in sight.' This negative cannot be generated indiscriminately, since it is unproductive.The practice of affixing PNG markers directly to the stem is common in Old Tamil, where it was a productive negativizing process---the absence of a tense marker indicated negation, and complete negative paradigms of verbs could be generated. Remnants of this process are preserved also in the future negative animate, where PNG markers are affixed directly to the stem ԥ maatt (cf. § 5.114).



Harold_F.Schiffman