January 02, 2014


The Tibetan verb byed pa (present) “to do” is quite productive (not only as a verbalizer in Modern Tibetan) but also in Classical Tibetan. But I realize that students often have difficulties in getting the right meaning in the right context. Here is an attempt to systematize its usages. §1. The easiest and commonest usage is perhaps in structures such as: “X (substantive) + byed” (which can simply be rendered as “to do X”). For example: dper na glang po che ma thul ba myos pa rnams ni  | … sems can gsod pa la sogs pa’i las byed de | (RZ 1: 147).  §2. A bit trickier is the usage of byed when construed with verbs. Here perhaps we can simply watch out whether the verb with which byed is construed is “autonomous” or “heteronomous.” (a) If construed with an autonomous verb, it does not seem to add much to the meaning of the verb except that it disambiguates the tense. It thus seems that bza’ = bza’ bar byed’gro = ’gro bar byed. Obviously bza’ bar byed simply means “eat” and not “cause someone to eat” and similarly ’gro bar byed simply means “go” and not “cause someone to go.” This is perhaps also true in cases such as (RZ 1: 168): … rtogs pa bskyed par byed pas de skad ces bya||). Causative sense, if required, would be expressed by words (I call them modal verbs) such as bcug, and hence, bzar bcug’gror bcug, and bskyed du bcug. (b) If, however, byed is construed with a heteronomous verb, then it certainly changes to the meaning of the verb. Thus, for example, ’grub par byed (as in sdug bsngal gyi las mngon par ’grub par byed do ||) is not semantically identical with ’grub. Here, byed indeed makes the verb causative. Similarly shes “to know” is not semantically identical with shes par byed, which means “to cause someone to know” or “to ensure that one/someone knows.”

No comments:

Post a Comment