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Article

Bagvalal place names as adverbs

Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung - STUF. 2019. No. 72(3). P. 297-311.

In Bagvalal (East Caucasian), native place names show strongly reduced morphological inflection. They combine with spatial suffixes identical to those used on nouns and spatial adverbs and with attributive and plural suffixes identical to those of nominal genitive and plural and thus have mixed adverbial nominal morphology. Place names are unmarked in spatial function but marked in argument position. To occur in the latter, they require a nominal head with an abstract meaning such as ‘village’ or ‘place’. Bagvalal place names are syntactically adverbs rather than nouns. Considering syntax and morphology together, they constitute a morphosyntactic class intermediate between nouns and adverbs. Mixed properties of Bagvalal place names are functionally motivated. Place names are, first of all, locations (hence spatial inflection), but also territories associated with specific ethnic and sub-ethnic groups (hence attributive and plural inflection). I conclude by briefly reviewing evidence from some other East Caucasian languages, to show that Bagvalal is not an exception.