Expressing absence in the Turkic languages of the Volga-Kama Sprachbund: Chuvash and Bashkir
The paper describes means of expressing absence and non-participation in (Maloye Karachkino = Poshkart) Chuvash and (Kubalyak) Bashkir, two Turkic languages of the Volga-Kama Sprachbund. The field data were collected in Bashkortostan (2011–2016) and Chuvash Republic (2017–2019). Additionally, we bring into comparison available data on Tatar from existing grammars, dictionaries, and corpora (and, for some aspects, from native speakers). The presented data reveal that Chuvash, Bashkir, and Tatar use very similar sets of markers to express absence or non-involvement of a participant. In each language, one of the markers (Chuvash ɕok, Bashkir juq, Tatar juk) can be described as a negative existential/possessive copula, another one (Chuvash -SƏr, Bashkir -hEð, Tatar -sEz) functions as a caritive (abessive) suffix. These markers are cognate to each other in all three languages. These markers also have the very similar ranges of basic syntactic positions and semantic functions. Syntactically, the copulas form separate clauses and usually occur as predicates of independent clauses. The caritive markers can be used in different syntactic positions: attributive, adverbial, depictive, or predicative (where they compete with the copulas). Semantically, the copulas express meanings expectable for negative existentials: existential negation proper, presentative locative negation, negation of various types of possession, and ‘no’ reply. The caritive markers express the basic caritive meanings: non-involvement or absence of a companion, of an instrument, of various types of possessees (legal and temporary possessees, body parts, relatives, parameters, etc.). Interestingly, the distribution of affirmative counterparts of the caritive marker is practically the same in Bashkir, Chuvash, and Tatar, despite the fact that these comitative-instrumental markers have different morphosyntactic nature: the Chuvash suffix -PA(lA) vs. the Bashkir and Tatar postpositions menæn and belæn. However, there is a number of differences between these three systems. First, the markers in question can have uses as part of larger constructions that differ in Chuvash, Bashkir, and Tatar. The Bashkir copula juq can combine with the participle form (in -GAn) in experiential contexts, as well as the Tatar copula juk, but not the Chuvash copula ɕok. The copula ɕok in Chuvash can be used with the infinitive in -mA to express impossibility, which has not been attested for Bashkir and Tatar. Also, only Chuvash has a complex verbal form combining an infinitive (in -mA) with the caritive marker -SƏr which functions as a “negative converb”. Chuvash has an exceptive construction which includes the caritive marker: -SƏr poɕnʲa, while in Bashkir and Tatar cognate exceptive postpositions baʃqa/baʃka are used with the ablative marker. The Chuvash and Tatar markers ɕok and juk can be used attributively without overt marking of subordination, while the Bashkir marker juq demands an additional auxiliary verb in such contexts. The Chuvash marker -SƏr displays the most features of case markers: unlike the Bashkir marker -hEð and the Tatar marker -sEz, it can combine with possessive markers and wordforms with this marker can have nouns as its dependents. And the Chuvash marker and the Tatar marker are similar in that, unlike the Bashkir marker, wordforms with them can have personal pronouns as dependents. In general, all three Turkic languages of Volga-Kama Sprachbund have similar systems of expressing absence or non-involvement of a participant. They differ only in a number of details, where Tatar has an intermediate position between Chuvash and Bashkir. This is in line with the geographical distribution of the three languages: Chuvash in the West, Bashkir in the North, and Tatar in the middle between the two.