AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Reflexive and Passive Categories in Languages of the Volga Region : An Areal Typological Study

by Merja Salo

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, Humanistinen tiedekunta
Year: 2015
Keywords: suomalais-ugrilainen kielentutkimus
Record ID: 1139974
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/154132


All of the Volga region languages investigated in this study (Mordvin, Mari, and Chuvash) have a rich derivational morphology. In general linguistics terms, they all have a passive classified as a reflexive passive. The relationship between the derivative and the root verb is described using the valence roles of case grammar. The role of the first, or primary, actant is crucial in defining all the different meanings of the derived verbs in question. The main roles used to express the first actants are: AGENTIVE, ACTOR, NEUTRAL, EXPERIENCER, and FORCE. In Mordvin, passive sentences contain a special polyfunctional derivative suffix, -v-, which also renders the automative, reflexive, perfective and unintentional meaning, as well as dynamic modality. Besides the -v-, the rare and almost forgotten -t-, shares most of these meanings. Moreover, in many respects, these suffixes show parallel development. Contemporary speakers use these t-verbs to express unpleasant feelings and negative physiological states. t-derivatives can also be used to describe weather conditions as the only constituent part of a sentence, but this use is marginal. These two usages bring the t-derivatives close to the impersonal in the Indo-European languages. Furthermore, Mari and Chuvash have very similar suffixes, the reflexive-passive -ǝlt- or -Alt-, and the passive -l- and the reflexive -n-, respectively. Their passives do not permit an agent, and automative meanings are common, as are reflexives. My material proves that both Chuvash suffixes can have identical meanings. Interestingly, in all three languages, zero meaning occurs with intransitive root verbs. Finally, meteorological verbs in 14 Uralic languages were studied from a syntactic perspective. Some verbs have zero valence, others display a more or less semantically faded subject, while others feature an object. With causative transitive verbs, the prevailing restriction seems to be that either a subject or an object is possible, but both are not. Earlier, it was assumed that the sentence type V is Uralic, but according to my findings it is absent in some of the Samoyed languages and that the SV or VS type is more widely known. The introduction provides background information on the history of the Volga region and the many alternative ways of expressing passive and related meanings in the Uralic languages. An agent in a passive sentence is rare, and thus special attention is given to its expression. It seems obvious that the agent has been completely absent in passive sentences in the Uralic and Turkic languages. Many of these languages, however, have now developed an agent under the influence of the Indo-European languages. Furthermore, the construction with a dummy subject has started to spread and now occurs in the Saami and Finnic languages. Kaikilla tutkimukseen kuuluvilla Volgan seudun kielillä: mordvalla, marilla ja t uvassilla verbien morfologia on runsas lukuisine johtimineen. Myös niiden kaikkien passiivi on samaa tyyppiä, yleisen kielitieteen termein: refleksiivinen…