Chukchi Language - Grammar

Grammar

Chukchi is largely agglutinative and has ergative‚Äďabsolutive alignment. It also has very pervasive incorporation.

In the nominals, there are two numbers and about nine grammatical cases (absolutive, ergative, instrumental, locative, ablative, allative, orientative, two comitatives and a designative). Nouns are split into three declensions influenced by animacy: the first declension, which contains non-humans, has plural marking only in the absolutive case; the second one, which contains personal names and certain words for mainly older relatives, has obligatory plural marking in all forms; the third one, which contains other humans than those in the second declension, has optional plural marking.

Verbs distinguish three persons, two numbers, three moods (declarative, imperative and conditional), two voices (active and antipassive) and six tenses: present I (progressive), present II (stative), past I (aorist), past II (perfect), future I (perfective future), future II (imperfective future). It is interesting that past II is formed with a construction meaning possession (literally "to be with"), similar to the use of "have" in the perfect in English and other Western European languages.

Both subject and direct object are cross-referenced in the verbal chain, and person agreement is very different in intransitive and transitive verbs. Person agreement is expressed with a complex system involving both prefixes and suffixes; despite the agglutinative nature of the language, each individual combination of person, number, tense etc. is expressed in a way that is far from always straightforward. Besides the finite forms, there are also infinitive, supine (purposive), numerous gerund forms, and a present and past participle, and these are all used with auxiliary verbs to produce further analytic constructions.

The numeral system was originally purely vigesimal and went up to 400, but a decimal system was introduced for numerals above 100 via Russian influence. Many of the names of the basic numbers can be traced etymologically to words referring to the human body ("finger", "hand" etc.) or to arithmetic operations (6 = "1 + 5" etc.).

The word order is rather free, though SOV is basic. The possessor normally precedes the possessed, and postpositions rather than prepositions are used.

Read more about this topic:  Chukchi Language

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