November 09, 2012


A few reflections may be made here on the negative participles (dgag sgra) used in classical Tibetan. Of the four possible forms of negative particles (i.e. mamimed, and min), min can be ignored because it seems to be a mere abbreviation of ma yin and hence subsumed under ma

§1. med
The usage of med pa (“not to be there”), the negative form of the verb “to be there” (yod pa), is also relatively easy.
(a) ’di la rtsod pa’i gzhi med do || “There is no ground for dispute here” (RZ 1).
(b) There is a group of verbal adjectives (or adjectival verbs) which have the negative particle med. For examples: nges pa med pa “to be there no certainty = to be uncertain,” skyon med pa “to be faultless/innocent,” khyad par med pa “to be there no difference = to be similar,” bye brag med pa “to be there no difference = to be similar,” ’gal ba med pa “to be there no contradictory = to be non-contradictory,” bla/gong na med pa “to be the highest,” dka’ ba med pa “to be there no difficulty,” don med pa “to be fruitless,” gnas/skabs med pa “to be impossible,” dri ma med pa “to be stainless/pure,” thabs shes med pa “to be at one’s wit’s end,” rgyu mtshan med pa “to be without a reason,” ngo/khrel tsha med pa “to be shameless,” mtha’ med pa “to be endless,” and so on. Importantly all of these can be made into adverbs by adding la don particles (e.g. dka’ ba med par “easily”).
(c) The negative particle med can be used in idiomatic phrases such as ma ngu ka med “to be there no choice but to cry.”

§2. ma 
(a) The negative particle ma can be construed with past forms of autonomous and heteronomous verbs. For examples:
(1) byed pa pos ma byas (RZ 1: 319/440) “[It] is/was not created by the creator.”
(2) dbang phyug gis ma bskos/sprul (RZ 1: 319/440).
(3) rang bzhin gyis ma byung (RZ 1: 440).
(4) dus kyis ma bsgyur (RZ 1: 319, 440).
(5) rgyu med pa las ma byung  (RZ 1: 319, 440).
(6) phyi pa’i gzhung las grags pa rnams ni ’dir ma smras so || (RZ 1: 158).
(7) ma ’ongs pa “not [yet] come/arrived = future”
(b) The negative particle ma can be construed with the imperative forms (autonomous verbs). For example: bu ma ngu zhig || “O son, do not cry!”
(c) The negative particle ma can be construed with verbal adjectives (or adjectival verbs). For examples: ma dag pa “to be impure,” ma nor ba “to be unmistaken,” ma lus pa “to be without remainder,” etc.
(d) The negative particle ma can be construed with copular verbs (“to be”). For examples:
(1) ma yin, e.g. rtag pa ma yin (RZ 1: 319) or chad pa ma yin (RZ 1: 319), (2) ma lags, (3) ma mchis, e.g. sems ni sems ma mchis so ||, (4) ma red (Modern Tibetan), etc.
(e) ra ma lug “neither goat nor sheep”

§3. mi 
The negative particle mi can be construed with:
(a) present forms (of main) verbs: ’di la rtsod pa mi byed do || “One does not dispute this.” 
(b) future forms (of main) verbs: the tshom za bar mi bya’o || “One should not doubt.”
(c) present/future forms of adjectival verbs: mi rigs pa,  mi ’thad pa, mi nus pa, mi rung ba, etc.
(d) copular verbs, e.g. mi mnga’o || (RZ 2: 74)
(e) auxiliary verbs, e.g. mthong bar mi ’gyur ro. 

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