East Caucasian preverbs and the compounding -
derivation - inflection continuum

Pavia (Italy) 11 September 2014

held in connection with SWL 6

Link Labex
 Papers & Program



The East Caucasian language family, though spoken in a compact area, is characterized by homogeneity in terms of its basic syntax but at the same time a remarkable typological diversity in its word formation devices, due to time depth and independent drift as well as external and internal contact. The use of preverbs is one of many parameters of this diversity, and although sets of preverbs have for the most part been exhaustively listed for the individual languages which have them, their syntax in relation with the corresponding locative cases and copulas, their history, and their development or decay over time have not been subject to a comparative investigation.

Some seven or eight branches of East Caucasian can be identified, namely (from north-west to south-east): Nakh, Andic and Avar, Tsezic, Lak, Dargic, Lezgic, Khinalug. A rather clear-cut geographical division can be drawn between the north-western area (Nakh, Andic and Avar, Tsezic), where number-gender S/P agreement on verbs is almost exclusively prefixal, and the south-eastern area (Lak, Dargic, Lezgic, Khinalug), where number-gender S/P agreement on verbs is often mostly, and sometimes exclusively (for instance in Budugh), infixal. The infixes come from prefixes trapped between the root and the preverb. One of the major challenges for comparative research in this language family and reconstruction of the main features of the proto-language may well be to determine whether the languages of the West have lost pre-agreement elements, or if instead the languages of the East have developed preverbs as a common innovation and therefore should be considered a separate clade.

Aside from questions of genetic classification, the issue of preverbation is also of paramount importance in understanding the morphological and morphosyntactic evolution of East Caucasian languages from a typological point of view. Some "western" languages have recent compound verbs including an adverbial element with reduced autonomy, which shed light on how preverbs arise. The same evolution might have taken place much earlier in "eastern" languages. Within the latter subgroup, the productivity of preverbation can vary widely. Some languages, like Archi, seem to have lost all productivity in this sphere a long time ago, while others like Aghul seem to have increased it substantially, and Tabasaran eventually comes to use preverbs even for TAM inflexion. In the Lezgic sub-family, where the diversity of preverb systems reaches the extreme, and where some languages can stack up to three preverbal slots associated with different semantic domains, the origin of preverbation should probably be attributed to several different sources, including adverbial (locative) morphemes, verb serialization, the fusion of ideophonic elements and even noun incorporation.

This workshop will bring together experts in languages of all major branches of East Caucasian, with an emphasis on those (Dargic and Lezgic) that have the richest array of preverb systems. It will address the issue of preverbation from a broad range of different perspectives, both synchronic and diachronic, and will pay attention to the syntax as much as to the morphology and semantics of preverbation.



9:15-9:45 Gilles Authier : "Introduction"
9:45-10:30 Bernard Comrie, Diana Forker and Zaira Khalilova : "Opaque first elements of verbs in Tsezic"
10:30-11:00 Michael Daniel and Monika Rind-Pawlowski : "Preverbs in Khinalug"
11:00-11:30 Johanna Nichols and Zarina Molochieva : "Locative particles in Chechen"
11:30-11:50 Coffee break
11:50-12:20 Michael Daniel and Nina Dobrushina : "Archi infixes: synchronically and diachronically"
12:20-12:50 Ayten Babaliyeva : "Derivational vs TAM-inflection preverbs in Tabasaran"
12:50-13:30 Timur Maisak and Solmaz Merdanova : "Preverbs in Aghul"
13:30-14:45 Lunch break
14:45-15:30 Diana Forker and Rasul Mutalov : "Preverbs in Standard Dargi and Icari/Sanzhi"
15:30-16:00 Victor Friedman : "Pre-thematic derivational verb morphology in Lak"
16:00-16:30 Gilles Authier : "Reanalysis of loan verbs and bipartite verb stems in three Lezgic languages"
16:30-17:00 Discussion
16:50-17:10 Coffee break



Università degli studi di Pavia
Link Uni Pavia



 Conference Syntax of the World's Languages VI (SWL6)
 Workshop "Ditransitive constructions in a cross-linguistic perspective"
 Università di Pavia