The Aorist / Perfect distinction in Nizh Udi
The paper considers the two main synthetic past tenses in Udi and argues that they should be identified as the aorist (‘perfective past’) and the perfect (‘past with present relevance’) respectively. While the former is the main means of foregounding in discourse, the latter has the prototypical ‘current relevance’ meaning, and is also used with experiential and resultative functions. The perfect is also the source for the pluperfect, derived by means of the “retrospective shift” enclitic. The hypothesis put forward in the paper deals with the putative grammaticalization paths of the two forms: most probably, the aorist was based on the perfective converb, and the perfect on the construction with the perfective participle. The evidence for such a development is both typological / comparative (especially stemming from the data of genetically related languages) and language-specific. In particular, it is the perfect in Udi that has a special negative construction involving a perfective participle and a postpositional negation, which may point at the participle as a diachronic source of this particular form.