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Working paper

Mehweb verb morphology

In this paper, I provide an overview of the verb morphology of Mehweb, a lect of the Dargwa branch of East Caucasian languages, spoken in the village of the same name in the Gunib district of the Republic of Daghestan. The paper is mostly focused on formal and synthetic morphology. Periphrastic forms are treated only peripherally, and the semantics of the TAME categories is not discussed at all. As a result, labels provided for different inflectional categories are conventional and to a large extent based on previous research. While formation of deverbal nominal forms – nominalizations and participles – is covered, their further inflection as nominals is also left out. The previous treatment of the Mehweb morphology, (Magometov 1986), provided basis for many analytic solutions.   The paper treats various elements of verbal inflection in the following order.   Mehweb verbs agree with the gender (nominal class) of their nominative argument, distinguishing three primary classes – masculine (M), feminine (F) and neuter (N), and human plural (HPL) and non-human plural (NPL) in the plural. There is an additional class of unmarried girls and women. Agreement marking is largely similar to agreement in adjectives, spatial forms, numerals etc., which are not treated in this paper. Agreement morphology is discussed in Section 2. Additionally, and unlike other parts of speech, some verbal forms show special inflection with the subject of the first or second person, depending on the illocution. The subject forms are discussed in Section 3. The whole inflectional paradigm of the verb is divided into two parallel sets of forms, based on perfective and imperfective stems, whose relation to each other is complex and follows several different formal patterns with most verbs and is irregular with the few irregular verbs. Many forms are formed from both stems. This is discussed in Section 4. In Mehweb, there are three distinct verbal inflectional classes, distinguished by the suffix they take in the perfective past (aorist), -ib, -ur or -un. The aorist stem is used in the participle and the forms derived from it. Many other forms, including all forms in the imperfective, are however formed in the same way for all verbs. This is discussed in Section 5, which also provides a table showing all inflectional forms known so far. Verbal negation is discussed in Section 6. The structure of the verbal paradigm as a whole is discussed in Section 7. Some of the forms follow specific rules, independent from the classification into three inflectional classes. These include imperatives and infinitives and are described in Section 8. Inflection of the copula are discussed in Section 9. Verbs with irregular morphology are discussed in Section 1; and verbs of motion, highly irregular, in Section 10.