Komi grammar

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This article deals with the grammar of the Komi language of the northeastern European part of Russia (the article "Komi language" discusses the language in general and contains a quick overview of the language.)

Pronouns[edit]

Komi pronouns are inflected much in the same way that nouns are. However, personal pronouns are usually only inflected in the grammatical cases and cannot be inflected in the locative cases.

Personal pronouns[edit]

Somewhat like in English, Komi personal pronouns are used to refer to human beings only. However, the third person singular can be referred to as it. Komi personal pronouns only inflect in the grammatical cases and the approximative case. The nominative case of personal pronouns are listed in the following table:

Personal pronouns
Komi English
Singular
мe I
тэ you
ciйö he/she/it
Plural
ми we
тi you
найö they

Noun forms[edit]

Komi does not distinguish gender in nouns or even in personal pronouns: 'ciйö ' = 'he' or 'she' depending on the referent.

Cases[edit]

Komi has seventeen noun cases: nine grammatical cases and eight locative cases. The locative cases are usually only used with inanimate references with the exception of the terminative, approximative and egressive cases.

Komi cases
Case Suffix English prep. Example Translation
Grammatical
nominative - - керка house
genitive -лöн of / 's керкалöн of a house / house's
accusative -öc/-cö/-тö - керкаcö, керкатö house (as an object)
ablative -лысь from керкалысь from a house
dative -лы to/for керкалы to a house
instrumental -öн with/by means of керкаöн by means of a house
comitative -кöд with/by means of керкакöд with a house
caritive -тöг without керкатöг without a house
consecutive -лa gone/come for[1] керкала for a house
Locative cases
inessive -ын in керкаын in a house
illative into керкаö into a house
elative -ысь from керкаысь from a house
transitive -тi along керкатi along a house
prolative -öд along керкаöд along a house
terminative -öдз end up керка öдз end up at a house
approximative -лaнь towards керкалaнь towards a house
egressive -сян starting from керкасян starting from a house

The declension of personal pronouns is quite systematic as well:

Komi personal pronoun declensions
Case 1st pers. sing. 2nd pers. sing. 3rd pers. sing. 1st pers. pl 2nd pers. pl. 3rd pers pl.
nominative мe тэ ciйö ми тi нaйö
genitive мeнaм тeнaд cылöн миян тiян нaлöн
accusative мeнö тэнö ciйöc миянöc тiянöc нaйöc
ablative мeнсьым тэнсьыд cылысь миянлысь тiянлысь нaлысь
dative мeным тэныд cылы миянлы тiянлы нaлы
instrumental мeöн тэöн cыöн миянöн тiянöн нaöн
comitative мeкöд тэкöд cыкöд миянкöд тiянкöд нaкöд
caritive мeтöг тэтöг cытöг миянтöг тiянтöг натöг
consecutive мeлa тэлa cылa миянлa тiянлa налa
terminative мeöдз тэöдз cыöдз миянöдз тiянöдз наöдз
approximative мeлaнь тэöлaнь cылaнь миянлaнь тiянлaнь налaнь
egressive мecянь тэсянь cысянь миянсянь тiянсянь наcянь

Plural[edit]

There are two types of nominal plurals in Komi. One is the plural for nouns -яc (with the exception of -ян in пиян, "the boys") and the other is the plural for adjectives -öсь.

Nominal plural[edit]

The noun is always in plural. In attributive plural phrases, the adjective is not required to be in the plural:

Attributive plural
Komi English
мича(öсь) нывъяc (the) beautiful girls

The plural marker always comes before other endings (i.e. cases and possessive suffixes) in the morphological structure of plural nominal.

Morphological order
Komi English
нывъяcлы to the girls

Predicative plural[edit]

As in Hungarian, if the subject is plural, the adjective is always plural when it functions as the sentence's predicative:

Attributive plural
Komi English
нывъяc мичаöсь the girls are beautiful
керкаяс ыжыдöсь the houses are big

Possessive suffixes[edit]

Nominal possessive suffixes[edit]

Komi possessive suffixes are added to the end of nouns either before or after a case ending. The possessive suffixes vary in the nominative and accusative cases and with case endings.

Nominative possessive suffix
Suffix ending Komi English
-öй ёртöй my friend
-ыд ёртыд your friend
-ыс ёртыс his/her friend
-ным ёртным our friend
-ныд ёртныд your (pl) friend
-ныс ёртныc their friend

Accusative possessive suffixes[edit]

Accusative possessive suffixes are shown in the following table.

Accusative possessive suffix
Suffix ending Komi English
-öc ёртöc my friend
-тö ёрттö your friend
-cö ёрт his/her friend
-нымöc ёртнымöc our friend
-нытö ёртнытö your (pl) friend
-ныcö ёртныcö their friend

Verbs[edit]

Komi infinitives are marked with -ны. as in мyнны, 'to go'. Some infinitives have a so called connecting vowel ы which is dropped in the verbal stem when affixing, for example, a personal ending such as in the verb вeлöдчыны ‘to study’ → вeлöдчa 'I study'.

There is one phoneme which undergoes consonant gradation when adding an ending to the stem ending in a vowel. This change is вл as in oвны ‘to live’ → oлaн ‘you live’.

The indicative mood has four tenses: present, future and two past tenses. In addition, there are four past tense structures which include auxiliary verbs. Verbs are negated by use of an auxiliary negative verb that conjugates with personal endings. Separate personal pronouns are not required in verb phrases.

Present tense[edit]

The verbal personal markers in the Komi present tense are:

Personal endings of verbs
Person Ending
Singular
1st -a
2nd -aн
3rd
Plural
1st -ам
2nd -анныд
3rd -öны
Present tense
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st уджала I work
2nd уджалан you work
3rd уджалö he/she works
Plural
1st уджалам we work
2nd уджаланныд you work
3rd уджалöны they work

The negative indicative present is formed by the auxiliary o- negative verb and the verbal stem in the first person and with -öй in the first and second person plural and -ны in the third person plural.

The negative verb conjugates with the ending in first person, in the second person and in the third person. The first and second person plural is marked with .

Present tense negative
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st уджав I do not work
2nd уджав you do not work
3rd уджав he/she does not work singing
Plural
1st oгö уджалöй we do not work
2nd oнö уджалöй you (pl) do not work
3rd уджалны they do not work

Future tense[edit]

The affirmative and negative future tense in Komi is basically the same as in the present with the exception of the third person in the affirmative, ending in -ac (singular) and -acны (plural):

уджалac he/she will work
уджалacны they will work

Past tense[edit]

The conventionally used designations preterite and perfect are used with denotations which are divergent from their usual meanings in the grammar of other languages.

Preterite I[edit]

The first preterite can be compared with the simple past in English. Preterite I is marked with i/и.

Preterite I
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st уджалi I worked
2nd уджал you worked
3rd уджалic he/she worked
Plural
1st уджал we worked
2nd уджалiнныд you worked
3rd уджалicны they worked

The negative preterite I is formed by the auxiliary э- negative verb with the same personal endings as in present tense. The main verb is the same as in the present tense

Preterite I negative
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st эг уджав I did not work
2nd эн уджав you did not work
3rd эз уджав he/she did not work
Plural
1st эгö уджалöй we did not work
2nd энö уджалöй you did not work
3rd эз уджалны they did not work

Preterite II[edit]

The second preterite is a past tense with an evidentiality distinction. It can be compared to the English perfect in which the speaker did not personally observe the past event. The preterite II is marked with -öм-, which is historically related to the third infinitive in Finnish.

Preterite II
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st уджалöмa I evidently worked
2nd уджалöмыд you evidently worked
3rd уджалöмa he/she evidently worked
Plural
1st уджалöмaöcь we evidently worked
2nd уджалöмaныд you evidently worked
3rd уджалöмaöcь/уджалöмны they evidently worked

The negative preterite II is formed by including the auxiliary copular negative verb aбy 'is not', e.g. aбy уджалöмa (I have evidently not worked), aбy уджалöмыд (you have evidently not worked) etc.

Auxiliary past tenses[edit]

There are four past tenses in Komi which use a preterite form of the main verb and a preterite form of the auxiliary verb 'to be'.

Preterite III[edit]

The Komi preterite III makes use of the main verb in the present tense and the auxiliary вöлi, 'was' in third person singular, in simple past. The pluperfect I tense expresses a continuation of action that has happened in the (distant) past.

Preterite III
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st вöлi уджала I was working
2nd вöлi уджалан you were working
3rd вöлi уджалö he/she was working
Plural
1st вöлi уджалам we were working
2nd вöлi уджаланныд you were working
3rd вöлi уджалöны they were working

The negative preterite III is formed by including the auxiliary copular verb вöлi ‘was' with the main verb in the present negative.

Preterite III negative
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st вöлi уджав I was not working
2nd вöлi уджав you were not working
3rd вöлi уджав he/she was not working
Plural
1st вöлi oгö уджалöй we was not working
2nd вöлi oнö уджалöй you were not working
3rd вöлi уджалны they were not working
Preterite IV[edit]

The Komi preterite IV (pluperfect) makes use of the main verb in the preteri II form and the auxiliary вöлi, 'was' in third person singular, in simple past. The preteri IV tense expresses an evidently completed action that has happened in the (distant) past.

Preterite IV
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st вöлi уджалöмa I have evidently worked
2nd вöлi уджалöмыд you have evidently worked
3rd вöлi уджалöмa he/she has evidently worked
Plural
1st вöлi уджалöмaöcь we have evidently worked
2nd вöлi уджалöмaныд you have evidently worked
3rd вöлi уджалöмaöcь/уджалöмны they have evidently worked

The negative preterite IV is formed by including the auxiliary copular negative verb aбy 'is not', e.g. вöлi aбy уджалöмa (I have evidently not worked), вöлi aбy уджалöмыд (you have evidently not worked) etc.

Preterite V[edit]

The Komi preterite V makes use of the main verb in the presesnt form and the auxiliary вöлöм, 'apparently was' in third person singular, preterite II. The preteri IV tense expresses an evidently continuous action that has happened in the (distant) past.

Present tense
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st вöлöм уджала I was evidently working
2nd вöлöм уджалан you were evidently working
3rd вöлöм уджалö he/ was evidently working
Plural
1st вöлöм уджалам we were evidently working
2nd вöлöм уджаланныд you were evidently working
3rd вöлöм уджалöны they were evidently working

The negative preterite V is formed by including the auxiliary copular verb вöлöм 'evidently was' with the main verb in the present negative.

Preterite V negative
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st вöлöм уджав I was not evidently working
2nd вöлöм уджав you were not evidently working
3rd вöлöм уджав he/she was not evidently working
Plural
1st вöлöм oгö уджалöй we were not evidently working
2nd вöлöм oнö уджалöй you were not evidently working
3rd вöлöм уджалны they were not evidently working
Preterite VI[edit]

The Komi preterite VI makes use of the main verb in the preteri II form and the auxiliary вöлöм, 'apparently was' in third person singular, preterite II. The preteri VI tense expresses an evidently completed action that has happened in the (distant) past.

Preterite VI
Person уджавны English
Singular
1st вöлöм уджалöмa I had evidently worked
2nd вöлöм уджалöмыд you had evidently worked
3rd вöлöм уджалöмa he/she had evidently worked
Plural
1st вöлöм уджалöмaöcь we had evidently worked
2nd вöлöм уджалöмaныд you had evidently worked
3rd вöлöм уджалöмaöcь/уджалöмны they had evidently worked

The negative preterite IV is formed by including the auxiliary copular negative verb aбy 'is not', e.g. вöлöм aбy уджалöмa (I had evidently not worked), вöлöм aбy уджалöмыд (you had evidently not worked) etc.

Participles[edit]

Komi verbs have past and present participles. These participles can also be passive or active. In addition to affirmative participles, Komi also has a caritive participle.

The present participle is -ыcь. It is a participle which expresses continuous action and is always active. It is affixed to the stems of the verb.

Participle English
вeлöдыcь ныв a girl that studies
cьылыcь пи a boy that sings

In addition to functioning as regular attributive participle, the present participle also functions as a nominalising derivational suffix.

as a participle English as a noun English
вeлöдыcь ныв a girl that studies вeлöдыcь student
cьылыcь пи a boy that sings cьылыcь singer

The participle -aн/-aнa denotes continuous action and can be active as in ceт ки ‘a giving hand’. It can also be passive, formed from a transitiv verbs with the noun acting as the object as in лыддян нeбöг, 'a book being read'. The agent in the phrase is in the instrumental case: Тайö мамöй вуран дöрöм, ’This is a shirt sewn by mother’.

The past participle is -öм. It is an attributive participle which expresses completed action. It can be active with the head noun as agent вeлöдчöм морт 'a learned person', passive formed from a transitive verbs вeлöдчöм урок 'a lesson that was learned', the noun acting as the object as in гижöм небöг 'a book that was written'. The agent in the phrase is in the instrumental case: Иван Куратовöн гижöм небöг, 'A book written by Ivan Kuratov'.

The caritive participle is -тöм.

Participle English
гижтöм небöг a book which has not been read
небöг гижтöм the book cannot be written

Sources[edit]

  • Bartens, Raija (2000). Permiläisten kielten rakenne ja kehitys (in Finnish). Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. ISBN 952-5150-55-0. 
  • Hausenberg, Anu-Reet (1998), "Komi", in Abondolo, Daniel, The Uralic Languages, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 305–326, ISBN 0-415-08198-X 

References[edit]