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NATLANG: Russkii morphology (was: "Each Other")

From:Isaac Penzev <isaacp@...>
Date:Friday, January 23, 2004, 13:32
Rob Haden wrote:

<<This should really be another topic, but those examples made me suddenly
curious about Russkii morphology.  I take it that the -s' in "ja uchus' -
I'm learning" is a suffix; what does it mean?>>

No, it is not. _-s'_ is a reflexive particle, traditionally written together
with the verb (or verbal) that it modifies. Reflexive verbs have rather wide
range of meanings. They may be express reflexive, passive or medial (as here)

<<Is iz- a prefix?>>

It is. Russian heavily uses prefixes both as morphological devices and for word

<<What is the -aj for?>>

An suffix. The matter is that Russian (and other East Slavic languages) verbs
have two stems: past stem and non-past stem. Infinitive is formed from the
*past* stem, or, in most cases, you'll get past stem if you drop the infinitive
suffix _-t'_: _brosat'_ 'to throw' > _brosa-_. By adding preterite suffix _-l_
to this stem you'll get preterite (aka past tense):  _brosal_. It doesn't work
for infinitives in _-ch'_, they have fusion of the stem and of the infinitive
suffix: _berech'_ 'to keep' < _bereg-_ + _-t'_; past: _bereg_ < _bereg-_ +
To form present tense, you'll need the non-past stem. For different verb classes
it is formed in different ways. Verbs with "thematic suffix" _-a-_ change it
into _-aj-_. So you get _brosaj-_. Adding personal endings, you'll get
_brosaju_, _brosajesh'_, _brosajet_ etc. Other classes will do it their way. The
above mentioned _berech'_ will do it like this: _beregu_, _berezhesh'_,
_berezhet_ etc.

<<I know that -u is the 1st person singular suffix (from PIE -o:).>>

It is. But I doubt such direct connection. In East Slavic it comes from
Proto-Slavic _-o~_. So it would have smth like _-on_ at the earlier stages. I
don't care. I don't believe in PIE (don't ask for expalnations, they were given
a couple of months ago).

<<Would the infinitive be uchat'?>>

No. This root cannot be used without prefixes. So you get _izuchat'_ 'to study',
_obuchat'_ 'to teach', _pouchat'_ 'to instruct'. If you use this stem
independently, you'll need a different verb class: _uchit'_.

>себя - sebja - is Acc., adcentral version needs Dat.: >я куплю СЕБЕ машину - ja kuplju *sebe* mashinu.
<<So a literal translation would be "I buy for myself car," equivalent to colloquial English "I'm buyin' me a car"?>> Yes. But _kuplju_ is not present in meaning. It is present only in form. But since the verb _kupit'_ is perfective, the form _kuplju_ will have meaning of FUTURE! Perfective verbs can render only past and future meanings! To say it in present, you need its *imperfective* counterpart _pokupat'_. Quite regular. Class -a. _Ja pokupaju_.
>He. _vekara ze el ze veamar_ 'and (each one) was crying one to another and >saying'.
<<What's the literal translation?>> That's not a conlang. That's Hebrew. Literally it means 'and-he.cried this to this and-he.said'.
> - Rob
Smile, -- Yitzik


Pavel Iosad <edricson@...>