Mingrelian grammar

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Mingrelian is a Kartvelian language that is mainly spoken in the Western Georgian regions Samegrelo and Abkhazia. In Abkhazia the number of Mingrelian speakers declined dramatically in the 1990s as a result of heavy ethnic cleansing of ethnic Georgians, the overwhelming majority of which were Mingrelians.

Mingrelian has two dialects: Zugdidi-Samurzaqano (north-western) and Senaki-Martvili (south-eastern). The dialects are extremely close to each other.

Grammatical cases[edit]

Megrelian has nine grammatical cases: nominative, ergative, dative, genitive, lative, ablative, instrumental, adverbial and benefactive. For pluralization the suffix -ep is used, which is inserted between stem and case marker.

Case Singular Plural
Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan
Nominative -i -i/-e -i -i -ep-i -ep-e -eb-i -är
Ergative -k -k -ma -d -ep-k -epe-k -eb-ma -är-d
Dative -s -s -s -s -ep-s -epe-s -eb-s -är-s
Genitive - - -is - -ep-iš -epe-š -eb-is -are-š
Lative -iša -iša n/a n/a -ep-iša -epe-ša n/a n/a
Ablative -iše -iše n/a n/a -ep-iše -epe-še n/a n/a
Instrumental -it -ite -it -šw -ep-it -epe-te -eb-it -är-šw
Adverbial -o(t) -ot -ad -d -ep-o(t) n/a -eb-ad -är-d
Benefactive -išo(t) n/a -isad -išd -ep-išo(t) n/a -eb-isad -är-išd

Nouns[edit]

Megrelian shares a noun classification scheme with other Kartvelian languages and classifies objects as:

  • Animate entities (question mi? "who?")
  • Inanimate entities (question mu? "what?)

Noun classification scheme[edit]

Concrete Abstract
Animate Inanimate
Human and "human-like" beings (e.g. God, deities, angels) Animals Inanimate physical entities Abstract objects
Animate Inanimate
mi? ("who?") mu? ("what?")

Noun declension[edit]

Declension of noun stem ḳoč ("man") in comparison to corresponding Laz ḳoč (id.), Georgian ḳac (id.) and Svan č'äš (husband) forms:

Case Singular Plural
Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan
Nominative ḳoč-i ḳoč-i ḳac-i č'äš ḳoč-ep-i ḳoč-ep-e ḳac-eb-i č'äš-är
Ergative ḳoč-k ḳoč-i-k ḳac-ma č'äš-d ḳoč-ep-k ḳoč-epe-k ḳac-eb-ma č'äš-är-d
Dative ḳoč-s ḳoč-i-s ḳac-s č'äš-s ḳoč-ep-s ḳoč-epe-s ḳac-eb-s č'äš-är-s
Genitive ḳoč- ḳoč- ḳac-is č'äš- ḳoč-ep-iš ḳoč-epe-š ḳac-eb-is č'äš-är-iš
Lative ḳoč-iša ḳoč-iša n/a n/a ḳoč-ep-iša ḳoč-epe-ša n/a n/a
Ablative ḳoč-iše ḳoč-iše n/a n/a ḳoč-ep-iše ḳoč-epe-še n/a n/a
Instrumental ḳoč-it ḳoč-ite ḳac-it č'äš-šw ḳoč-ep-it ḳoč-epe-te ḳac-eb-it č'äš-är-šw
Adverbial ḳoč-o n/a ḳac-ad č'äš-d ḳoč-ep-o n/a ḳac-eb-ad č'äš-är-d
Benefactive ḳoč-išo n/a ḳac-isad č'äš-išd ḳoč-ep-išo n/a ḳac-eb-isad č'äš-är-išd

Adjectives[edit]

Adjectives in Megrelian are declined like nouns.

Example of adjective declension[edit]

Declension of stem ǯveš ("old") in comparison to corresponding Laz (mǯveš), Georgian (ʒvel) and Svan (ǯwinel) forms:

Case Singular Plural
Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan
Nominative ǯveš-i mǯveš-i ʒvel-i ǯwinel ǯveš-ep-i mǯveš-ep-e ʒvel-eb-i ǯwinel-är
Ergative ǯveš-k mǯveš-i-k ʒvel-ma ǯwinel-d ǯveš-ep-k mǯveš-epe-k ʒvel-eb-ma ǯwinel-är-d
Dative ǯveš-s mǯveš-i-s ʒvel-s ǯwinel-s ǯveš-ep-s mǯveš-epe-s ʒvel-eb-s ǯwinel-är-s
Genitive ǯveš- mǯveš- ʒvel-is ǯwinl- ǯveš-ep-iš mǯveš-epe-š ʒvel-eb-is ǯwinel-är-iš
Lative ǯveš-iša mǯveš-iša n/a n/a ǯveš-ep-iša mǯveš-epe-ša n/a n/a
Ablative ǯveš-iše mǯveš-iše n/a n/a ǯveš-ep-iše mǯveš-epe-še n/a n/a
Instrumental ǯveš-it mǯveš-ite ʒvel-it ǯwinel-šw ǯveš-ep-it mǯveš-epe-te ʒvel-eb-it ǯwinel-är-šw
Adverbial ǯveš-o mǯveš-ot ʒvel-ad ǯwinel-d ǯveš-ep-o n/a ʒvel-eb-ad ǯwinel-är-d
Benefactive ǯveš-išo n/a ʒvel-isad ǯwinel-išd ǯveš-ep-išo n/a ʒvel-eb-isad ǯwinel-är-išd

Numerals[edit]

The Megrelian numerals are almost identical to Laz with minor phonetic differences. The number system is Vigesimal like Georgian.

Cardinal numbers[edit]

The most of Megrelian cardinal numbers are inherited from Proto-Kartvelian language, except arti (one) and eči (twenty), which are considered as a Karto-Zan heritage, since there are no regular equivalents in Svan.

Cardinal numbers' table
  Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan
1 arti ar(t) erti ešxu
2 žiri/žəri žur/ǯur ori yori
3 sumi sum sami semi
4 otxi otxo otxi oštxw
5 xuti xut xuti woxušd
6 amšvi anši ekvsi usgwa
7 škviti škvit švidi išgwid
8 ruo/bruo ovro rva ara
9 čxoro čxoro cxra čxara
10 viti vit ati ešd
11 vitaarti vitoar tertmeṭi ešdešxu
12 vitožiri vitožur tormeṭi ešdori
13 vitosumi vitosum cameṭi ešdsemi
14 vitaantxi vitotxo totxmeṭi ešdoštx
15 vitoxuti vitoxut txutmeṭi ešdoxušd
20 eči eči oci yerwešd
21 ečdoarti ečdoar ocdaerti yerwešdiešxu
30 ečdoviti ečdovit ocdaati semešd
40 žaarneči žurneči ormoci woštxuešd
50 žaarnečidoviti žurnečdovit ormocdaati woxušdešd
60 sumoneči sumeneči samoci usgwašd
70 sumonečdoviti sumenečidovit samocdaati išgvidašd
80 otxoneči otxoneči otxmoci arašd
90 otxonečdovit otxonečidovit otxmocdaati chxarašd
100 oši oši asi ašir
101 ošarti oši do ar aserti ašir i ešxu
102 ošžiri oši do žur asori ašir i yori
110 ošviti oši do vit asati ašir i ešd
200 žiroši žuroši orasi yorašir
500 xutoši xutoši xutasi woxušdaršir
1000 antasi šilya/vitoši atasi atas
1999 antas čxoroš

otxonečdovitočxoro

šilya čxoroš

otxonečdoviṭočxoro

atas cxraas

otxmocdacxrameṭi

atas čxara ašir

chxarašd chxara

2000 žiri antasi žuršilya ori atasi yori atas
10000 viti antasi vit šilya ati atasi ešd atas

Ordinal numbers[edit]

In Megrelian the circumfix ma-...-a produces ordinal numbers, which is a Common-Kartvelian heritage, since it has regular phonetical equivalents in Svan and Georgian (me-...-e in both)

Ordinal numbers' derivation rule
Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan
ma-NUMBER-a ma-NUMBER-a(ni) me-NUMBER-e me-NUMBER-e
Ordinal number's table
  Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan
1st ṗirveli maartani ṗirveli manḳwi
2nd mažira mažura meore merme
3rd masuma masuma mesame meseme
4th maotxa/mantxa maotxa meotxe meuštxwe
5th maxuta maxuta mexute meuxušde
6th maamšva maanša meekvse meusgwe
7th maškvita maškvita mešvide meyšgwide
8th maruo maovra merve meare
9th mačxora mačxora mecxre meyčxre
10th mavita mavita meate meyšde
11th mavitaarta mavitoarta metertmeṭe meyšdešxue
12th mavitožira mavitožura metormeṭe meyšdore
20th maeča maeča meoce meyerwešde
21st ečdomaarta ečdomaarta ocdameerte
30th ečdomavita ečdomavita ocdameate mesemešde
100th maoša maoša mease meašire
101st ošmaarta ošmaarta asmeerte
102nd ošmažira ošmažura asmeore
110th ošmavita ošmavita asmeate
200th mažiroša mažuroša meorase meyorašire
500th maxutoša maxutoša mexutase meuxušdašire
1000th maantasa mavitoša meatase meatase

Fractional numbers[edit]

The fractional numbers derivation rule in Megrelian is akin to Old Georgian and Svan.

Fractional numbers' derivation rule
Megrelian/Laz Georgian Svan
Old New
na-NUMBER-al/or na-NUMBER-al me-NUMBER-ed na-NUMBER-al/ul
Fractional numbers' table
  Megrelian/Laz Georgian Svan
Old New
whole teli (m)

mteli (l)

mrteli mteli tel
half gverdi naxevari naxevari xənsga
1/3 nasumori nasamali mesamedi nasemal
1/4 naotxali (m-l)

naantxali (m)

naotxali meotxedi naoštxul
1/5 naxutali naxutali mexutedi naxušdal
1/6 naamšvali (m)

naanšali (l)

naekvsali meekvsedi nausgwul
1/7 naškvitali našvidali mešvidedi nayšgwidal
1/8 naruali (m)

naovrali (l)

narvali mervedi naaral
1/9 načxorali nacxrali mecxredi načxaral
1/10 navitali naatali meatedi naešdal
1/11 navitaartali (m)

navitoartali (l)

natertmeṭali metertmeṭedi naešdešxul
1/12 navitožirali (m)

navitožurali (l)

natormeṭali metormeṭedi naešdoral
1/20 naečali naocali meocedi nayerwešdal
1/100 naošali naasali measedi naaširal
1/1000 naantasali (m)

navitošali (l)

naatasali meatasedi naatasal

Pronouns[edit]

Personal pronouns[edit]

  Megrelian Laz Georgian
I ma ma me
You (sing.) si si šen
That (close to speaker) ena aya es
This ina ia is
We čki/čkə čki čven
You (pl.) tkva tkvan tkven
Those enepi antepe eseni
These inepi entepe isini

Possessive pronouns[edit]

  Megrelian Laz Georgian
My čkimi/čkəmi čkimi čemi
Your (sing.) skani skani šeni
His/her/its muši muši misi
Our čkini/čkəni čkini čveni
Your (pl.) tkvani tkvani tkveni
Their inepiš mutepeši mati

Verbs[edit]

The Megrelian verb has the categories of person, number, version, tense, mood, aspect, voice, and verbal focus.

Personality and Number[edit]

In Megrelian the verbs can be monovalent, bivalent or trivalent. This feature is also shared with other Kartvelian languages.

  • Monovalent verbs are represented only by subjective person and are always intransitive.
  • Bivalent verbs together with subject have also one object (direct or indirect). They are:
    • transitive in the case of direct object
    • intransitive if the object is indirect
  • Trivalent verbs have one subject and always both, direct and indirect objects and are ditransitive.

Table of verb personality[edit]

Unipersonal Bipersonal Tripersonal
intransitive transitive intransitive ditransitive
Subject + + + +
Direct Object + +
Indirect Object + +

The person may be singular or plural.

Subject and object markers in Mwgrelian are roughly the same as in Laz

Subject markers[edit]

  Singular Plural
S1 v- v-...-t
S2 ∅- ∅-...-t
S3 ∅-...-∅/-s/-u ∅-...-an/-es

Object markers[edit]

  Singular Plural
O1 m- m-...-an/-es/-t
O2 g- g-...-an/-es/-t
O3 ∅- ∅-...-an/-es

In pre-consonant position the markers v- and g- may change phonetically:

  • v- → b- (in Zugdidi-Samurzaqano dialect)
  • g- → r- (in both dialects)

Version[edit]

In Megrelian there are four types of version marking like in other Kartvelian languages:

  • subjective - shows that the action is intended for oneself,
  • objective - action is intended for another person,
  • objective-passive - the action is intended for another person and at the same time indicating the passiveness of subject,
  • neutral - neutral with respect to intention.
Version markers
Version Megrelian Laz Georgian Svan
Subjective -i- -i- -i- -i-
Objective -u- -u- -u- -o-
Objective-passive -a- -a- -e- -e-
Neutral -o-/-a -o- -a- -a-

Tenses[edit]

In total there are 20 screeves in Megrelian. They are grouped in four series.

Verb screeves (sample conjugation)
I series
Screeve Stem: č'ar- "to write" Translation
present č'aruns s/he writes
imperfect č'arundu s/he was writing
imperfective optative č'arundas s/he were writing
imperfective conditional č'arundu-ḳon if s/he were writing
future imperfect č'arundas

iʔuapu(n)/iʔii(n)

s/he will be writing
conditional of future

imperfect in the past

č'arundu-ḳon

iʔuapudu/iʔiidu

if she were writing
future doč'aruns s/he will write
future in the past doč'arundu s/he would write
future optative doč'arundas
II series
aorist č'aru s/he wrote
aorist optative č'aras should s/he write
aorist conditional č'aru-ḳon if s/he wrote
III series
inferential I uč'aru(n) (it seems) s/he has written
inferential II uč'arudu (it seems) s/he had written
inferential optative I uč'arudas may s/he have written
inferential conditional II uč'arudu-ḳon if s/he have written
IV series
inferential III noč'arue(n) (it seems) s/he has written
inferential IV noč'aruedu (it seems) s/he had written
inferential optative III noč'aruedas may s/he have written
Inferential conditional IV noč'aruedu-ḳon if s/he have written

Mood[edit]

Indicative

Indicative statement claims that the proposition should be taken as an apparent fact.

Interrogative

There are two ways to express interrogative mood:

  • with interrogative words. E.g. mi? (who?), mu? (what?), so? (where?), mužams? (when?), muč'o? (how?) etc. This rule is shared with other Kartvelian languages.
  • by attaching an interrogative particle -o to the end of a verb. Cf. the interrogative particles in Laz -i, Old Georgian -a and Svan -ma/-mo/-mu.

Imperative

Indicates a command or request. The aorist form is used when addressing 2nd person (singular/plural) and aorist optative in all other cases.

Subjunctive

Expresses possibility, wish, desire. The subjunctive mood in Megrelian is provided by optative screeves.

Conditional

Indicates condition in contrary to a fact. It is produced by adding a verbal suffix -ḳo(ni) to the end of a verb.

Aspect[edit]

In Megrelian the verbs may have two aspects depending on the completeness of action (perfective aspect) or the lack of it (imperfective aspect). The perfective aspect is derived by adding a preverb to the verb.

In 2nd, 3rd, 4th series the verbs equally have both aspect forms, while in the 1st series the screeves are distributed between two aspects.

Aspect distribution in the 1st series
Imperfective Aspect
Screeve Stem: č'ar- "to write" Translation
present č'aruns s/he writes
imperfect č'arundu s/he was writing
imperfective optative č'arundas s/he were writing
imperfective conditional č'arundu-ḳon if s/he were writing
future imperfect č'arundas

iʔuapu(n)/iʔii(n)

s/he will be writing
conditional of future

imperfect in the past

č'arundu ḳon

iʔuapudu/iʔiidu

if she were writing
Perfective Aspect
future doč'aruns s/he will write
future in the past doč'arundu s/he would write
future optative doč'arundas

Voice[edit]

References[edit]

  • Chikobava, Arn. (1936). Grammatical analysis of Laz with texts (in Georgian). Tiflis. 
  • Chikobava, Arn. (1938). Chan-Megrel-Georgian Comparative Dictionary (in Georgian). Tbilisi. 
  • Fähnrich, H. & Sardzhveladze, Z. (2000). Etymological Dictionary of the Kartvelian Languages (in Georgian). Tbilisi. 
  • Kajaia, O. (2001–2002). Megrelian-Georgian dictionary. 3 Vols. (in Georgian). Tbilisi. 
  • Kartozia, G. (2005). The Laz language and its place in the system of Kartvelian languages (in Georgian). Tbilisi. 
  • Klimov, G. (1964). Etymological Dictionary of the Kartvelian Languages (in Russian). Moscow. 
  • Klimov, G. (1998a). Etymological Dictionary of the Kartvelian Languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 
  • Klimov, G. (1998b). Languages of the World: Caucasian languages (in Russian). Moscow: Academia. 
  • Marr, N. (1910). Grammar of Chan (Laz) with reader and wordlist (in Russian). St. Petersburg. .
  • Qipshidze, I. (1914). The Grammar of Megrelian (Iver) Language with reader and dictionary] (in Russian). St. Petersburg. . (Russian)(Mingrelian)
  • Shanidze, A. (1973). Essentials of Georgian Grammar (in Georgian). Tbilisi. 
  • Topuria, V. & Kaldani, M. (2000). Svan Dictionary (in Georgian). Tbilisi.