I'm running into a bit of trouble constructing a tree for the following Lakota sentence:

Wičháša ki  hokšíla ki  hená  mathó wã wãyákapi ki    slolyé 
man     the boy     the those bear  a  see      COMP  know
'The man knows that the boys saw a bear.'

At the moment I've split it with NP (the man) VP (everything else) and then within the VP have a V slolyé and everything else as a CP

I'm just not sure where to go from here - are NP or DP better to define such constituents as hokšíla ki hená?

  • 4
    Did you have a specific reason for assuming that there is a VP based on the facts of Lakota syntax? Or, that there is actually a DP in Lakota? It's kind of hard to answer the question if you don't say what theory you're assuming.
    – user6726
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 4:32
  • I think OP needs answer constructing syntax tree based on theoretical CS (if I remember correctly, Gazdar's approach on parsing syntax trees does not have phrases like DP, IP etc. The approach itself deals with just parsing tree for computational purposes but not cognitive assumptions.)
    – Eray Erdin
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 9:07

2 Answers 2


Here's my best attempt (with intermediate levels collapsed). enter image description here

But some parts are likely to be wrong, since I don't speak Lakota. For example, I treated ki hená as two separate determiners, but if hená can only be used after ki you could instead treat them as a single D. I also don't know enough about inflection in Lakota to label the I's properly.


To do this exercise, not knowing Lakota, I would assume that English and Lakota are almost exactly alike, except that the morphemes sound different and the order of parts in each constituent may differ from English. That is, make a tree for the English sentence, replace each English morpheme by a Lakota morpheme that means the same, then shuffle the order of parts in each constituent as required to get the entire Lakota sentence.

You may have to make some arbitrary adjustments to get this to work. If you suspect that the English sentence has some idiosyncracies that you wouldn't necessarily expect to see turn up in another language, feel free to change those parts first.

The assumption of the exercise is that all human languages are pretty much the same except for the pronunciations of the morphemes and the order of constituents. If that's not true, it might not be possible to do the exercise.

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