chapter  4
VERBS AND MULTI-VERB CONSTRUCTIONS IN LAO
ByN. J. Enfield
Pages 101

The following Lao sentence shows six verbs in a row, in a single prosodically integrated unit, with no inflection or explicit marking of the grammatical relationship between them.1

(1) caw4 lòòng2 mèè4 qaw3 paj3 hêt1 kin3 beng1

2SG try.out PCL take go make eat look ‘You go ahead and take (them) and try cooking (them)!’(38.12)

This sentence – the words of a merchant giving a sales pitch for her sausages – is no mere ‘string of verbs’. Such sequences in Lao can be analysed in terms of nested (usually binary) relationships. In example (1), a left-headed complement-taking adverbial lòòng2 ‘try out’ combines with a right-marking adverbial beng1 ‘look’ in bracketing a complex verb phrase consisting of a ‘disposal’ construction expressing focus on manipulation of an object (with the combination qaw3-hêt1 ‘take (and) do/make’), incorporating paj3 ‘go’ as an inner directional particle, in a purposive clause chain with kin3 ‘eat’. The surface string of six contiguous verbs in (1) is highly structured, yet there is little if any surface indication of such structure in the language.