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Copula constructions in Uralic languages

In our presentation we provide a cross-linguistic analysis of the copula constructions in several Uralic languages. We examine languages belonging to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic language family (eg. Finnish, Erzya, Udmurt, Hungarian, Khanty), as well as, to the Samoyedic branch (eg. (Forest) Enets, Forest and Tundra Nenets, Nganasan). Our research is primarily based on data found in grammars and other published sources, furthermore (by some languages) on corpus analyses and elicited data. Copula constructions are typically serve to express nonverbal predicates in these languages. According to Dryer (2007), there are (at least) three types of clauses with nonverbal predicates, neverheless, we restrict our analysis to the so-called true equational clauses and clauses that express true nominal predicates (ie. equative and inclusive clauses; cf. Dryer 2007: 233 and Payne 1997: 114). Consequently, we analyse solely those clauses in which there is a NP functioning as predicate. One of the most common properties of these languages is that they express copula constructions by a verbal BE-type copula. However, the grammatical parameters of using (or lacking) this copula may show differences in the described languages, eg. in Tundra Nenets the copula is covert in all person in present tense (but verbal suffix appears on the predicate NP; see 1), while in Hungarian the two NPs are juxtaposed only in 3rd person present tense (and there isn't any verbal suffix on the predicate NP; see 2). In contrast, in Finnish the use of the copula is always obligatory and it bears the grammatical features (see 3). (1)Tundra Nenets tiɁ lekara-dmɁ. mań 1SG reindeer.PL doctor-1SG ‘I am (a) vet.’ (Nenyang 2005: 93) (3)Finnish Hän on lääkeri. 3sg cop.3sg doctor ‘He is doctor.’

(2)Hungarian Ő orvos. 3SG doctor ‘He is doctor.’

Thus, in many Uralic languages the use of the copula is grammatically conditioned. In our presentation, we firstly describe those grammatic conditions (i.e. agreement, tense, aspect, mood etc.) that license the use of the copula in the given languages. Besides, we also analyse those structures, where the copula is covert. Finally, we present the grammatic properties of the copulas in these copula constructions (such as agreement etc.).

References Dryer, Matthew S. 2007. Clause types. In Timothy Shopen (Ed.) Clause Structure, Language Typology and Syntactic Description, Vol. 1, pp. 224-275. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press. Nenyang, M. A. [Ненанг, М. А.] 2005. Русско-ненецкий разговорник. Санкт-Петербург: Дрофа. Payne,Thomas E. 1997. Describing morphosyntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

19 copula constructions in uralic languages