Back to list

Detail of contribution


The parameters of agglutination/fusion and the morphological typology of Kartvelian languages

Abstract/Résumé: Kartvelian languages (Georgian, Svan, Megrelian-Laz) are often considered as agglutinative. In the paper it is argued, that Georgian and Svan are dominantly fusional, whereas Mengrelian and Laz, due to the analogical processes, are moving in the direction of agglutination. Following data display the fusional character of Georgian and Svan: The nominal declension systems of Georgian and Svan are very irregular. The qualitative and quantitative ablaut takes part in creating the case distinctions. The process of vowel reduction which determines the subtypes of noun declension in Georgian is not automatic (e.g. bal-i "cherry", bl-eb-i PL, kal-i "woman", kal-eb-i PL; mt'er-i Nom “enemy”, mt'r-is Gen; mc'er-i Nom “insect”, mc'er-is Gen). The case system in Svan has at least five subtypes. Dative and ergative cases have several unpredictable exponents. Many nouns distinguish the nominative and dative cases by vowel alternation. The verb system is even more irregular – modern investigations distinguish 66 paradigms in the conjugation system of Georgian, members of which must be cited as a list, as no automatic rules can be stated for the distribution of verb roots among the inflectional types. There are many forms, where the change of the root vowel is connected with the change of the grammatical meaning, e. g. in Georgian: man txar-a “he dug", txr-a "to dig"; drek'-a "to bend", man drik'-a "he bent"-Trans, is [še]-drk'a “he bent”-Refl. Vowel ablaut distinguishes the active and passive, imperfective and perfective forms of the verb. In Svan the irregularity is even higher. There are attested 6 grades (a / e / i / ə / ī / 0) of morphologically relevant vowel alternations. Morphemes have often two and more meanings. One morpheme can express case and number, person and number, person, tense and aspect, tense, aspect and mood, version and voice oppositions. In Kartvelian languages the direction of phonemic processes is generally regressive. Such are all the assimilative interactions of vowels and consonants in Georgian and Svan. E.g. Geo. erdguli < ertguli “faithful”, ak'eteps < ak'etebs “makes”, umlaut in Svan; Regressive alternations are more characteristic for the fusional languages. The agglutinative languages tend to the progressive alternations. There is much evidence that the Common Kartvelian was fusional in even higher degree than the modern Kartvelian languages (Gamkrelidse, Machavariani, 1965).