PDF A Short Grammar of East Circassian (Kabardian)

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In contrast to these three works, which were composed as a result of field work with native speakers from the Kabardian diaspora, this grammar attempts to describe the standard Kabardian language used in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic of the Russian Federation. This grammar is a result of my long-standing endeavor to learn this exciting and fascinating, though incredibly difficult language.

In a world in which a language dies out every fortnight, the linguist's task is at least to describe the small languages threatened by extinction. Although the statistics on the number of speakers of Kabardian does not lead one to think that Kabardian is in immediate danger of extinction, especially if compared with other small Caucasian languages in Russia, sociolinguistic data show that the number of native speakers is decreasing among the younger generations; it seems that it is especially in the diaspora that Kabardian is facing extinction.

Dixon wrote, anyone who calls themselves a linguist should assume the task of saving at least one endangered language from oblivion. This work is my response to this greatest challenge that linguists, as well as other people who care about the preservation of linguistic diversity, are facing today. Finally, I would like to thank Lemma Maremukova and Alim Shomahua for their help and for the examples they provided as native speakers of Kabardian.

Globalization, which is partly responsible for the mass extinction of languages, has, on the other hand, opened some, until recently unimaginable, possibilities for the investigation of languages over large distances, for "field work" via Internet. Download the full-text document in PDF format. Subscribe to Circassian World Newsletter Visit this group. Who Are They? Culture Language Mythology Personalities. Music Gallery. Login Register. Core cases, which express basic syntactic relations within a sentence, are nominative and ergative, and peripheral cases are instrumental and adverbial.

Definite forms consist of the ergative marker -m- and the suffix for the instrumental -'a. On this subject see Kumaxov 7 ff. By all accounts, the case system in the Adyghean-Ubykh languages is an innovation; the ProtoAbkhaz-Adyghean had no cases Kumaxov , The nominative is the case of the nominal predicate: Ia e m 'la-r- yampyawn-r that young man-NOM-af. Croatian, for example, which has the dative case: starcu se svialo govoriti lit. The ergative can correspond to the locative case in those European languages which have it, indicating a spatial or temporal location: xa I dy xda-m?

I aa Sa sy nb-m?

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In some constructions, the ergative can correspond to the English possessive genitive or prepositional phrase: a x a x Z mza-m xawa-nw-r z mxwa-m xawa-rt 1 month-ERG grow-inf. Nouns and adjectives in the adverbial case Rus. The adverbial can correspond to the genitive in the European languages: y g faww-w z kylawgram-m sugar-ADV 1 kilogram-ERG "I bought 1 kg of sugar " a q'a-s-xw-- dir.

The adverbial can be the case of the nominal predicate, corresponding to the instrumental in Slavic: Kumaxov ed. Also, nouns personal names in the "associative plural" see above show no case differentiaton: e aI Maryan sma m-k'wa M. Demonstrative pronouns differentiate cases, but personal pronouns of the 1st and 2nd person have only got the peripheral cases adverbial and instrumental , and not the core cases ergative and nominative.

This agrees entirely with Michael Silverstein's hierarchy28, according to which the most common case marking pattern in ergative languages is the one in which 1st and 2nd person pronouns do not differentiate core cases, while nominals and groups lower on the "animacy hierarchy" do cf. Since the category of case especially of primary cases is connected with the category of definiteness, and syntactical relations within a sentence are expressed by a system of personal prefixes on the verb see below , there is some uncertainty over the rules of case assignment with some speakers, especially in the case of complex syntactic structures just as there is often some uncertainty over the rules of the use of articles with speakers of languages which have the definite article.

See Kumaxov et alii This feature excludes Kabardian from the typological universal according to which languages that distinguish cases on 3rd person pronouns always distinguish cases on personal names as well but not vice versa. Dixon Qualitative adjectives typically follow the noun they modify: wna yn "big house" wna "house" , pa dxa "beautiful girl" pa "girl". Occasionaly they may also precede the noun, e.

Kabardian language | Revolvy

Adjectives are declined like nouns, but they show no number and case agreement. If See Kumaxov , where the grammaticalization of the definiteness marker -r- is discussed from the ending for the formation of participles, it seems. Qualitative adjectives mostly have analytical comparison: dxa "beautiful", na dxa "more beautiful", dda dxa "the most beautiful" or "very beautiful". The morpheme na is sometimes merged with the adjective into a compound, cf. There are also suffixes which express the elative superlative: -a, -?


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Adding the suffix -? The circumfix xwa Adjectives can be reduplicated, whereby the first stem receives the suffix -ra "and", and the second the adverbial suffix -w a. Such reduplicated adjectives have intensive meaning, e. Relational adjectives precede the head noun and they take no case and number endings; they can be formed by adding the relative particle -y to nominal and adjectival stems, e. Some adjectival meanings are expressed by suffixes: the suffix -xwa means "great", cf. It can often be translated as the English preposition without, but its adjectival status can be shown by the fact that nouns to which it is added can get the affirmative marker - to build a static verb see below : sa s-da-na na-na- I 1sg.

The personal pronouns of the first and second person are similar to, and presumably represent the origin of, the person markers on the verb. The pronouns of the 1st and 2nd person also have longer forms sara, wara, dara, fara, which are used as stems to which verbal suffixes can be added: ye a q'araway-r sar-q'm K. The pronominal declension is somewhat different from the nominal one: 1sg. In the first and second person singular the nominative form is always the same as the ergative form, which means that pronouns do not have the ergative alignment, as, for example, in Dyirbal. Unlike in Dyirbal, however, the clause alignment of personal.

The third person pronoun is formed with the stems -, m - and maw-. It can appear without the nominative -r which also expresses definiteness of personal pronouns : a a sa rsskaz-m I that story-ERG "I read that story" ea s-ya-d-- 1sg.

A Short Grammar of East Circassian (Kabardian) by Ranko Matasović

The difference in the usage of pronominal stems -, m - and maw- is not entirely clear, but - is the basic pronoun used in anaphora reference to what has already been mentioned in the discourse , while m- and maw- are in opposition with respect to the degree of distance from the speaker: m- refers to a closer object or person , and maw- to a more distant one. The stems which are used in the formation of demonstrative pronouns also serve to form pronominal prefixes, which are used instead of demonstrative pronouns: m- "this" maw- "that" x maw--xa-r those-tree-pl.

The Circassians (Kabardians)

NOM sg. In a larger sense, the category of demonstrative pronouns would also include pxwada "such, such as this" from - and pxwada "similar" , mpxwada "such, such as that", mawpxwada "such, such as that". As a rule, these words occur in the attributive position, in front of the noun they modify, cf.

There is also the relative possessive pronoun zy "whose", and the 3rd person attributive possessive pronouns yay "his", yy "their". The attributive possessives must be preceded by a head nominal in the ergative: b yay "his, that which belongs to him", 'm yay "old man's, that which belongs to the old man". Possessive pronouns are clitics, and they should perhaps be thought of as prefixes which express possession.

Sometimes they are written as one word with the word they refer to ie. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the Kabardian orthography over whether possessive pronouns should be written separately or as one word with the possessum. The relative-possessive pronoun zy "whose" always precedes the noun it refers to: zy r "whose horse". In addition to the basic clitic possessive pronouns there are also emphatic possessive pronouns, formed by reduplication: ssay "my", wway "your", dday "our", ffay "your", yy "their".

Unlike the clitic possessive pronouns, these can be inflected for case e. Interrogative pronouns are normally not inflected for case, though there is a growing tendency in the spoken language to use the case endings -m ERG , -r NOM , and -w ADV with the pronoun st st-w xx "What was he elected for? It emphasises the verb's subject and stresses it as the topic of the sentence theme. E a axa ay a Dlstan y-pw Badaxw y dxa-r Nrt Xakw-m?


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B about Yaz Dlstan-y y pw-m y dxa-m himself D. Dilahstan himself, having rejoiced at his daughter's beauty, boasted about it ". For example, the quantifier q'as "every" is not inflected for case this is what differentiates it from adjectives , and it follows the noun it modifies this is what differentiates it from pronouns : I aI c'xw q'as m-k'wa man every 3sg.

Perhaps the words za'a "whole" and ha "every" should also be thought of as quantifiers. Numerals sometimes merge with the noun which they precede, e. In the first example, the morpheme final of "horse" had been deleted, and the numeral received the stress; in the second example, the morpheme final -a- of a "cow" was preserved, together with its stress.

They can also take case endings: a aI mz-y-bw-ra mxw-y-bw-'a month-rel. The tens are formed on a decimal base, with the numeral "ten" reduced to -': t'wa' "twenty", a "thirty", p'' "forty", txw' "fifty", x' "sixty", etc. There are traces of the vigesimal system, manifested in the formation of tens as products of multiplication of the number twenty, t'wa': t'wa'-y-t' "forty", t'wa-y- "sixty", etc. In the standard language, these vigesimal formations are notably archaic, but they are alive in some dialects e.

Adyghe language

Besleney and in Adyghe. When counting above twenty, the counted noun or noun phrase is normally repeated before both constituent parts of the complex number: I aI I c'xw a'-ra c'xw-y--ra man thirty-and man-suf. Ordinal numbers behave like relational adjectives, so they can take the suffix -ray used for the formation of adjectives : yatxwnaray "fifth" etc. Adverbial numerals are formed from cardinal numbers by apophony, e. Distributive numerals are formed from cardinal numbers with the suffix - na: t'wna "a half", na "a third", etc.

Note also yz "one of two" and ztxwx one-five-six "about five or six". The possessive prefix y- can be added to nouns to form adverb-like expressions or "relational nouns"? There are also underived adverbs: nawba "today", pday "tomorrow", dwsa "yesterday", naba "tonight", dda "very much, just", wayblama "very much", mb "here": y e I st wa mb daym -p-'a-r The morpheme -r- can be analysed as an infix which is inserted between the reduplicated root syllable and the root, if we think of reduplication as a kind of modification of the root and not a special form of prefixation.

Postpositions are words which determine the grammatical relations of the nouns that precede them: naw "after", p'awnda "until", y day "at, in", ha'a "because, after", ypam "in front of", y'am "at the end, after", nam' "except", f'a' "except", xwada "like", pp''a "because, due to", zaxwakwa "between", y gww "about", nas "to, up to, until", "from", ndara "since", yp'a'a "instead of", da'a "behind".

Some of them govern the possessive pronouns, rather than personal pronouns, e. Others govern the personal pronouns cf. The majority of postpositions are derived from nouns, especially nouns denoting body parts, cf. Some postpositions can be inflected, e. This means that many Kabardian postpositions are quite like relational nouns in languages such as Tibetan.