Ingush (Nakh-Daghestanian, Caucasus) offers a variety of contexts with contrast, variation, or speaker choice between agreement and non-agreement and between overt and null arguments, which provide speakers many opportunities to manipulate agreement and argument marking. Ingush discourse is therefore a good test case for the plausible hypothesis that agreement and overt arguments are in complementary distribution. I survey referential density in a corpus of about 5000 words and find no evidence of either straightforward complementarity or expected incidental effects of such complementarity, and some evidence going against it. Some additional, orthogonal distributions were evident, showing that the corpus is large enough to reveal discourse effects if they were present. Ingush agreement is in gender, not person, and there is an arbitrary and strictly lexical bifurcation of verbs into those that do and those that do not have gender agreement; these typological points raise comparative and theoretical issues of interest.
The article deals with the phenomenon of lability (ambitransitivity), in other words, the ability of a verb to be either transitive or intransitive. I analyze the historical development of verbs which are currently labile in modern Russian. The main group of Russian labile verbs contains verbs of motion. On the basis of corpus and dictionary data, I conclude that the behaviour of the lexemes under analysis is far from being uniform. However, interestingly, for most of them, e.g., lit' 'flow', gonjat' 'urge, drive', and kružit' 'roll', the proportion of the intransitive use grows throughout the period under analysis, though for the verb kapat'/kapnut' 'drip', in contrast, the transitive use becomes more and more frequent.
In the cases when the intransitive use becomes more frequent, the semantic change matches the statistical one. In the beginning, verbs of this subtype were only used intransitively in a restricted type of contexts (e.g., for gonjat', hunting contexts represent this restricted class), where the intransitive use might be a result of object omission. Later on, the semantic range of the intransitive use became wider and the lability was no longer semantically related to object omission. I conclude that the semantic change of the uses of labile verbs often go together with semantic changes. Importantly, the borderline between A- and P-lability is not as strict as it is put sometimes: P-lability (the causative/non-causative alternation) can in some cases be traced back to A-lability (object omission).
A crosslinguistically unusual case of morphological fusion, in which two clauses fuse morphologically in the absence of preceding syntactic fusion or clause union, is found in the East Caucasian language Agul. This phenomenon involves a set of “verificative” verbal forms (forms that seek ‘to find out the truth value or the value of an unknown variable’). The verificatives are completely morphologically bound, but manifest clear biclausal properties: in particular, the introduction of a new agentive argument by the verificative (the ergative “verifier”) causes no change in the argument structure of the embedded clause. This article argues that the Agul verificative has grammaticalized from the matrix verb ‘see’ plus an indirect question complement in the conditional form: over time, the two verbal heads have fused into one form. Partial parallels to this development can be found in the related languages Archi and Lezgian, where a semantic shift from ‘see’ to ‘check, find out’ is attested, together with a change in subject encoding from typically experiential (dative) to canonically agentive (ergative). Still, the complete morphologization of the verificative structure in Agul dialects remains exceptional given its comparatively recent origin, the infrequency of the construction, and the general absence of observed cases in which matrix verbs become fused with their complements.
In this article, I consider Russian triclausal constructions (complex sentences including three clauses, one main and two dependent). More specifically, I analyze constructions where C1 (the main clause) embeds C2 (an embedded clause), while C2 in turn embeds C3. In the paper, I mainly concentrate on sentences where C2 is a clause with an unreal meaning, for instance, an argument clause hosted by the verb xotet’ ‘want’, and C3 is an adjunct (temporal) clause. I pose the following questions: 1. How is tense assignment in C3 organized? Is it fully described by the rules of tense assignment that apply to biclausal structures? The answer is that tense assignment in C3 varies significantly from one sentence to another: for instance, in C3 the tense can be interpreted with respect to the event in C2, which is atypical for Russian adjunct clauses. Moreover, in many cases all three of the existing variants (tense marking anchored to the moment of speech, to the event in C1, or to the event in C2) can be used. 2. Are there any syntactic phenomena that are typical for triclausal structures? I claim that there is a special phenomenon, which can be called “syntactic doubling” or “copying,” whereby the verb form in C2 influences the form in C3. Importantly, the situation cannot be described in terms of classical form assignment, where the verb in C2 requires a particular form in C3: rather, the syntactic pattern of the verb in C2 allows different forms to be used in C3, the only requirement being that the forms in C3 and C2 are identical. Sometimes a version of doubling is also observed in biclausal structures, but only one of the types of doubling described here (doubling in argument clauses) can be found in biclausal constructions.
Grammaticalization is often considered to reflect frequent co-occurrence of certain elements in certain positions. This paper tests the frequency-based account of the grammaticalization of person agreement, comparing the grammaticalization of person agreement in Tabasaran, a Lezgic language, with the syntax of free pronouns in closely related Agul. Our assumption is that the situation in Agul, where person marking is not grammaticalized, approximately reflects a diachronic stage prior to the grammaticalization of person marking in closely related Tabasaran. We find little evidence in support of a frequency-based approach, at least when frequency is treated in terms of global frequencies. We do, however, identify a highly frequent verb that already in Agul appears to regularly associate with the pattern that has generalized to become person agreement in Tabasaran. We suggest specific information structural configurations associated with this verb, which have provided the impetus for the development. More generally, we show that while global measures of frequency may not yield the correct predictions, investigating the syntactic constructions associated with individual lexical items may be more revealing, and provide a more realistic model for reconstructing the paths of syntactic change involving the generalization of existing and quite local patterns.
The semantic domain of pain seems to be unique in that, crosslinguistically, it includes few predicates that are specifically dedicated to pain (like hurt or ache); instead, the major part of the field is constituted by lexical units drawn from other semantic domains, which are applied to pain through processes of semantic derivation (like my eyes are burning, my throat is scratching). After discussing methodological considerations concerning data collection, the article first analyzes the semantic sources for pain predicates and addresses the issue of their typological consistency, based on data from over 20 languages It is then demonstrated that the evolution of a pain meaning cannot be reduced to a merely semantic process, since the meaning shift may be accompanied by changes in the morphological, morphosyntactic and/or syntactic properties of the source verb. We suggest the term “re-branding” for the complex meaning changes of this kind and discuss their theoretical relation to the well-established notions of metaphor and metonymy.
In my paper, two approaches to verb classification in Adyghe, a language of the West Caucasian family, are discussed. The first approach is a purely morphological classification based on the choice of person cross-referencing prefixes. The second one is a derivational classification which builds on the morphological mechanisms of reciprocalization and reflexivization. The main research question which lies behind the classification study is whether verbs derived by means of the reciprocal or reflexive marker behave in the course of further valency-changing operations differently from nonderived verbs.
I show that verb classification in Adyghe has some typologically peculiar properties, the main one being that the derivational classification distinguishes more specific classes than the purely morphological one. In other words, the fact that a verb is derived is crucial for its behavior. The language-specific properties of Adyghe are also typologically relevant. They show that derived verbs and derivational mechanisms are of particular relevance in verb classification and should be given more attention in linguistic work on verb classification than is currently done.
In polysynthetic West Caucasian languages, the morphological verbal complex amounts to a clause, with all kinds of participants cross-referenced by affixes. Relativization is performed by introducing a relative affix in the cross-reference slot which corresponds to the relativized participant. However, these languages display several cross-linguistically rare features of relativization. Firstly, while under the view of the verbal complex as a clause this affix appears to be a relative pronoun, it is an unusual relative pronoun because it remains in situ. Secondly, relative affixes may appear several times in the same clause. Thirdly, relative pronouns are not expected to occur in languages with prenominal relative clauses. Fourthly, in the Circassian branch, relative pronouns are identical to reflexive pronouns. These features are explained by considering relative prefixes to be resumptive pronouns. This interpretation finds a parallel in the neighboring East Caucasian languages, where reflexive pronouns also show resumptive usages. Finally, since in some West Caucasian languages the relative affix is a morpheme with a dedicated relative function but still shows properties of a resumptive pronoun, our data suggest that the distinction between relative pronouns and resumptive pronouns may not be so clear as is usually assumed.
The form whose main function is to express indirect commands, called the third person Imperative, Jussive or Exhortative, when compared to the prototypical (second person) Imperative, shows semantic and formal similarities and distinctions at the same time. The study describes formal and functional patterns of Jussive and places this category within the typology of the related categories, such as Imperative and Optative, based on data from six East Caucasian languages (Archi, Agul, Akhvakh, Chechen, Icari and Kumyk). Five formal patterns of Jussive are attested in these languages, including a specialized form, constructions derived from want, from tell him to do and from make him do and the Optative. Jussive forms may express such meanings as third person command, indirect causation, permission, indifference towards the accomplishment of an action and an assumption. While the Jussive is crucially different from the second person Imperative in that it introduces a third participant, this article shows that it is the addressee, not a third person, who is the central participant of a Jussive situation from both formal and functional points of view.