Time and time again: The evolution of ‘time’-nouns into temporal clause markers in three Daghestanian languages
Andi, Botlikh and Avar mostly use native ‘time’ nouns to form temporal subordinate clauses. In Andi and Botlikh the cognate nouns rihi and rihu // riw are morphologising towards temporal converb markers, however in Avar, there is no such development. meχ and other nouns in temporal expressions in Avar more frequently appear in ergative, but only zaman appears more frequently in locative. In temporal subordinate clauses with a participle this difference disappears. Possibly zaman + locative is contact-induced through (Kipchak). Turkic languages spoken in the area though this requires further investigation.
The paper considers the grammatical expression of information source with past tense forms of the verb in the Nakh-Daghestanian languages. These languages are spoken on a relatively compact territory in the North Caucasus and, partly, in the Transcaucasian area. The area is part of a larger area ranging from the Balkan Peninsula to Central Asia, which includes the Caucasus, and where similar verb forms used to express information source are found. It is considered plausible that these forms arose as the result of language contact with Turkic, and for some languages (e.g. Armenian, Georgian), this is confirmed. The paper compares the characteristics of these forms in the Nakh-Daghestanian language family based on descriptive grammars, and illustrates their genetic and areal distribution on a map. I will show that the areal vs. genetic distribution is not trivial. There are three distinct zones within the territory of the Nakh-Daghestanian languages: more grammaticalized forms are attested in the nortwestern region, partly grammaticalized forms are dominant in the central region, and in the southern area the feature is absent. It is currently impossible to establish how these forms appeared in the Nakh-Daghestanian languages, through contact with which Turkic language exactly, and how this process took place. However, the distribution outlined in this article indicates that language contact played a role in their dissemination.
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.
The book includes papers devoted to relative clause constructions in the languages of the Caucasus and Iran.
This paper surveys relative clause constructions in West Circassian (Adyghe) and Kabardian.
The Caucasus is the place with the greatest linguistic variation in Europe. The present volume explores this variation within the tense, aspect, mood, and evidentiality systems in the languages of the North-East Caucasian (or Nakh-Daghestanian) family. The papers of the volume cover the most challenging and typologically interesting features such as aspect and the complicated interaction of aspectual oppositions expressed by stem allomorphy and inflectional paradigms, grammaticalized evidentiality and mirativity, and the semantics of rare verbal categories such as the deliberative (‘May I go?’), the noncurative (‘Let him go, I don’t care’), different types of habituals (gnomic, qualitative, non-generic), and perfective tenses (aorist, perfect, resultative). The book offers an overview of these features in order to gain a broader picture of the verbal semantics covering the whole North-East Caucasian family. At the same time it provides in-depth studies of the most fascinating phenomena.
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.
We provide a critical review of the distinction between “comparative concepts” and “descriptive categories”, showing that in current typological practice the former are usually dependent on the latter and are often vague, being organized around prototypes rather than having sharp boundaries. We also propose a classification of comparative concepts, arguing that their definitions can be based on similarities between languages, on differences between languages, as well as admittedly be “blind” to language-particilar facts. We conclude that, first, comparative concepts and descriptive categories are not so sharply ontologically distinct as some typologists would like to have it, and, second, that attempts at a “non-aprioristic” approach to linguistic description and language typology are more an illusion than reality or even desideratum.
Gradience in syntax is often described as having prototype-based architecture. However, the syntactic prototypes postulated in literature are not all alike. In this paper, we distinguish between (i) true prototypes, which are based on clear linguistic evidence, (ii) liminal prototypes, which are associated with diachronically unstable patterns and hence cannot be precisely determined, and (iii) fake prototypes, which are based on effects that only reflect the diversity of sources of a phenomenon. In relation to these three kinds of concepts, we discuss relative clause constructions, serial verb constructions and the notion of subject.
This book is an investigation into the grammar of Mehweb (Dargwa, East Caucasian also known as Nakh-Daghestanian) based on several years of team fieldwork. Mehweb is spoken in one village community in Daghestan, Russia, with a population of some 800 people, In many ways, Mehweb is a typical East Caucasian language: it has a rich inventory of consonants; an extensive system of spatial forms in nouns and converbs and volitional forms in verbs; pervasive gender-number agreement; and ergative alignment in case marking and in gender agreement. It is also a typical language of the Dargwa branch, with symmetrical verb inflection in the imperfective and perfective paradigm and extensive use of spatial encoding for experiencers. Although Mehweb is clearly close to the northern varieties of Dargwa, it has been long isolated from the main body of Dargwa varieties by speakers of Avar and Lak. As a result of both independent internal evolution and contact with its neighbours, Mehweb developed some deviant properties, including accusatively aligned egophoric agreement, a split in the feminine class, and the typologically rare grammatical categories of verificative and apprehensive. But most importantly, Mehweb is where our friends live.