There are a total of twelve verbs in sodemadu. These come in two categories: the verbs of motion, which encode motion along various types of paths, and the verbs of stance, which might arguably be a single verb with multiple suppletive forms which encode the shape or stance of the subject. There are eight basic verbs of motion and four verbs of stance.
All verbs inflect for aspect (imperfect, perfect, iterative) and evidentiality (visual, non-visual, inferred, reported). The verbs of motion deal with a journey. The subject of the verb is the person or thing in motion and on the journey. When expressed, the source can be the point of origin or the impetus for the journey. Likewise, when expressed, the destination is the end-point or goal of the journey. The verbs of stance deal with more static expressions regarding the subject.
The aspectual distinctions in the verbs of motion deal with the state of the journey: imperfective is for an ongoing journey, perfective for a finished journey, and iterative for multiple journeys of the same or similar type. In the verbs of stance they are closer to a more typical tense system: non-past for imperfective, and past for perfective.
The evidential distinctions form a four-way system. These are visual, non-visual/sensory, inferred, and reported. The visual evidential is used for things that the speaker has directly witnessed or experienced. It can also be used for generally known and observable facts, i.e. the things that are certain. The visual evidential, however, is zero-marked. Verbs in subclauses need not take any evidentials, so they are also zero-marked for evidentiality. The non-visual/sensory evidential is used for things the speaker has heard, smelled, tasted, and felt inside, i.e. emotions, thoughts, and physical states like hunger and thirst, heat and cold, and illnesses. It is also used for negative visual evidence. Furthermore, it can be used where the visual evidential would normally be used in order to convey non-volitional actions by the speaker. The inferred is used for things based on sensory evidence, including the sense of touch. It is also used to comment on other people’s mental and physical states. Reported is used for anything else. Specifically, it is for things the speaker knows from hearing it from someone else, learning it from a teacher or a book, or reading it somewhere.
The eight verbs of motion are tɨŋi, aŋi, kiɬi, duso, ono, pɛsi, evi, and ɛmɛmɛ.
Tɨŋi is the most basic, being simply "→" and allowing for optional source and a required destination. The optional source, if sessile, is the point of origin or the impetus of the journey. If motile, it is the agent who is sending the subject on the journey.
Tɨŋi can take prefixes to change the valency. E-tɨŋi removes the source, thus putting more emphasis on the destination. It therefore allows for a motile destination, who would be the 'leader' of the subject, the one the subject is following. With mɛh-tɨŋi, the subject is leading the source, and the destination is unimportant and therefore removed. Dan-tɨŋi removes both source and destination, and carries the idea of the subject as going along about its business. Finally, the negative form is vu-tɨŋi. This can negate all the forms of tɨŋi, though using the adverb voya with any form of tɨŋi is always an option.
Aŋi is a variation on tɨŋi where the end-point or goal of the journey is vast or amorphous, and therefore the journey continues within the destination. aŋi is denoted as "→◯" and can be thought of as "go about in". Note that tɨŋi and aŋi have the same forms in the perfect.
Technically, aŋi can take all the prefixes that tɨŋi can, but it doesn't necessarily make logical sense to do so. Aside from the negative vu-aŋi, the most often seen prefixed form is e-aŋi, which carries with it a stronger idea of "going about in" or of "going through" a destination.
With kiɬi, the destination is bypassed or moved beyond. This is denoted as "→̥". The negative form is vu-kiɬi.
Duso has a basic meaning of to move back and forth between a source and a destination, denoted as "←→". This is the usual metaphor for speech and other two-way interactions. Essentially, the source and destination interact with each other using the subject. Or, the subject goes back and forth between a source and destination. In speech, the source and destination are the participants, and the subject is the speech. With e-duso, the subject is generally a person and the destination a location the person returns to on a cyclical basis. eduso is not normally used for describing speech. mɛh-duso removes the destination, so the source is saying something (the subject), and the audience is assumed or otherwise unimportant. With dan-duso, the subject is something said by someone unexpressed. Finally, the negative is vu-duso.
With ono ("←"), the arrow of motion is reversed, so the destination is coming to the subject. Ono is the default way to express ingestion, sensing, feeling, and thinking. When used for sensing, the subject is often a body part: "eye" for "seeing", "ear" for "hearing", "mouth" for taste and smell, "skin" for feeling temperature, and so on. The source, then, can be the owner of the body part. E-ono is used when something is sensed directly, with the subject usually being the person sensing the destination. mɛh-ono involves a subject moving towards a source. Dan-ono involves the subject experiencing something at a remove. The most common usage involves a peripheral phrase with mo, denoting that the subject knows something about the object of the preposition mo. The negative form of this verb is vu-ono or vono.
Pɛsi ("→→") can be thought of as a special form of tɨŋi with a required source and an unexpressed destination "away". E-pɛsi removes the source, giving the meaning of the subject simply going away or disappearing. The negative form is vu-pɛsi.
Evi involves the subject moving out in all directions or expanding from a source. This is denoted as "↖↗". E-evi, expressed as ŋevi, removes the source. The negative is vu-evi or veve.
Ɛmɛmɛ involves the subject moving inwards from all directions or collapsing into a source, making it the opposite of evi. This is denoted as "↘↙". E-ɛmɛmɛ, expressed as ŋeme, removes the source. The negative is vu-ɛmɛmɛ or vɛmɛ. ɛmɛmɛ is often used to denote creation or making, where the subject is created by the source.
The verbs of stance are tɛndɛ, sɛdɛ, daɬa, and their negative vuye. These verbs are grouped together because they each essentially function as a copula and verb of existence. Each can take either a motile or sessile subject, whichever is basic to the noun class of the subject. They don't take actual destinations, but sometimes a refining adjective, inflected to match the subject, can be found in the destination slot.
The differences between the three positive verbs of stance have to do with the shape of the subject. Tɛndɛ ("■") takes a subject that can be conceived of as a round, compact, or a point object, like a rock or a person sitting on the ground. Sɛdɛ ("|") takes a subject that can be conceived of as having a vertical orientation, like a tree or a person standing up. Daɬa ("–") takes a subject that can be conceived of as having a horizontal orientation, like a river or a person lying down. Daɬa also takes most abstract subjects.
A verb of stance can be used with a single argument A to express existence.
Aktɛ kyɛnɛ sɛdɛ.
A woman exists. or There is a woman.
A clause can appear as a single argument as well. When this happens, the verb in the clause operating as an argument loses any marking for evidentiality.
Gada daɬa taba piye tɛndo.
The water not being deep enough happens.
Some speakers prefer to have clauses appear only after a verb. In this situation, a dummy subject da or one of the demonstratives is used.
Da tɛndo gada daɬa taba piye .
It happens: the water not being deep enough.
When using a demonstrative as the subject of a verb of stance, the clause can be replaced with a simple noun phrase.
Duktɛ sɛdɛ kyɛnɛ.
That one exists, the woman.
The sentence above can be rewritten with both arguments in the subject slot.
Duktɛ kyɛnɛ sɛdɛ.
That woman exists.
As noted in the previous section, the verbs of stance can take a complement (either a noun phrase or a clause) in the destination slot.
Maktɛ sɛdɛ kyɛnɛ.
She is the woman.
Provided that both subject and complement are full noun phrases, they can be reversed.
Duktɛ kyɛnɛ sɛdɛ li mada.
That woman is my mother.
li mada sɛdɛ duktɛ kyɛnɛ.
My mother is that woman.
An adjective can also appear in the complement slot, expressing an attribute. Since a bare adjective is not a noun phrase, this relationship is not reversible.
li mada sɛdɛ ibibi.
My mother is very short.
Expressing posession, benefaction, location, and other concepts involve using the verbs of stance as intransitive verbs with peripheral arguments. Peripheral arguments have a preposition+classifier before the noun.
aŋopo kyune tɛndo paŋɛktɛ kyɛnɛ.
The rope belongs to the other woman.
allɛ idɛl tɛndɛ nɛmmuŋya siye.
The dear cat has a pair of long vertical dark stripes/splotches.
astɛ gyadad daɬa moduktɛ kyɛnɛ.
The ceremony is for that woman.
astɛ gyadad dattɛ odussi kyɛnɛ.
The ceremony was in that village.
Temporary Identity or Attribute
li mada sɛdɛ goktɛ dona.
My mother is a traveler.
ahɨmɨ gɛdɛ daɬo vonɨde atad.
The boat is made from the (felled) atad tree.
ahɨmɨ gɛdɛ daɬo togɨŋi kyasa.
The boat is made with a hand axe.