Leiho berri batean UPV/EHUren hasierako orria zabalduko da

Euskara Institutua
6. INFLECTION

1. Verbal Inflection.

Let us now leave the main verb and its morphology, to focus on the information that the auxiliary verb carries in it. As we saw briefly in the introduction to this chapter, in the discussion of examples (1) to (4), the Inflection of the verb can carry information about:

(a) the arguments of the verb, not only the subject, but also the object and the indirect object; whether they are first, second or third person; whether they are singular or plural;

(b) the tense of the sentence, whether it is present or past, or neither of the two;

(c) whether there is a modal force to the sentence and if so, of what kind;

(d) whether the sentence is matrix or embedded, and if so, of what kind;

(e) in some varieties, the verbal inflection can also carry information about the person we are addressing, whether it is male or female.

1.1. Auxiliary selection. We will start by considering the different types of auxiliary verbs that are available. As we have already seen in section 2.1., through our discussion of transitivity, there are mainly two auxiliaries in Euskara: the auxiliary izan 'to be', and the auxiliary ukan 'to have'. In general terms, the auxiliary ukan 'to have' is used when there is an ergative phrase in the sentence. Otherwise, the auxiliary izan 'to be' is used. We illustrate this contrast in (33):

(33)
  1. igela agertu da
    frog-det appeared is
    'the/a frog has appeared'

  2. Josebak igela ikusi du
    Joseba-E frog-det seen has
    'Joseba has seen the/a frog'

As the pair illustrates, a sentence with no ergative phrase like (33a) selects a form of the auxiliary izan 'to be', in this case a present tense third person singular form. However, a sentence with an ergative phrase, such as (33b) selects a form of the auxiliary ukan 'to have', in this case a present tense third person singular subject and third person singular object.

If there is a dative phrase in the sentence, it does not affect this basic contrast, although the morphology of the auxiliary changes to reflect the dative phrase:

(34)
  1. Aitziberri igela agertu zaio
    Aitziber-D frog-det appeared is
    'the/a frog appeared to Aitziber'

  2. Josebak Aitziberri igela eman dio
    Joseba-E Aitziber-D frog-det given has
    'Joseba has given the/a frog to Aitziber'

In the sentences in (34), the auxiliary verbs have changed their form to reflect the presence of the dative phrase (we discuss changes of this kind in the section devoted to 'agreement'), but the auxiliary is a form of izan 'to be' in (34a) and a form of ukan 'to have' in (34b).

For the sake of thoroughness, it must be said that the actual root of the auxiliary verb in (34b) belongs to an extinct verb *edun (the asterisk here means that the verb is a 'reconstruction', that is, historical linguists think this is most plausibly the participial form of the verb), which can no longer be used as a normal verb. But in terms of auxiliary selection, we can group these forms under the general group of ukan 'to have' auxiliaries. There is a small number of extinct verbs like *edun whose roots are used to inflect verbal forms with modal morphemes, but we will not enter into a discussion of those in this grammar, and we will stick to the basic distinction between izan 'be' and ukan 'have'.

There is one exception to this distribution of auxiliary verbs: it involves a case where the auxiliary form used is ukan 'to have' despite the fact that there is no ergative phrase in the sentence. This use of ukan in ergative less sentences takes place when the verbal inflection carries in it an agreement marker for the addressee of the speech.

1.2. Agreement. Verbal inflection in Euskara carries information about the absolutive phrase in the sentence, the ergative phrase if there is one, and also about the dative phrase if there is one. The auxiliary verb carries some markers, or morphemes, which indicate whether these phrases are first or second person, singular or plural. As we will try to illustrate, it is also the case that sometimes the absence of morphemes provides information. Typically, absence of morphemes indicates the presence of a third person phrase, as we will see.

1.2.1. How agreement works: the basic combinations. Let us start with a few examples, as usual:

(35)
  1. ni erori naiz
    I fallen am

  2. hi erori haiz
    you fallen are

Here, in (35), we see examples of auxiliaries that provide us with information about the absolutive phrase in the sentence. The main verb chosen is intransitive erori 'to fall', therefore it only takes an absolutive phrase, and it takes as an auxiliary verb a form of the verb izan 'to be'. In (35a), the absolutive phrase happens to be a first person singular pronoun ni 'I'. The auxiliary verb reflects this fact, by means of the morpheme n, which only appears if there is a first person singular absolutive phrase in the sentence. In (35b), the absolutive phrase happens to be a second person singular pronoun hi 'you'. The auxiliary verb reflects this fact, now by means of the morpheme h, which only appears if there is a second person singular absolutive phrase in the sentence.

The reader must remember that when we talk about the presence of a given phrase in the sentence, we do not necessarily mean that the phrase is overtly manifest in the sentence. Thus, for instance, in the examples in (35), the agreement markers in the auxiliary must be there regardless of whether the pronouns are manifest or absent. What we mean by the presence of a phrase is that the phrase is part of the sentence, whether manifest or not.

As we have seen in (35), then, whenever there is a first person singular absolutive phrase, the morpheme n will appear in the inflection. Let us see another example, which incorporates a first person singular absolutive phrase, and something else:

(36)
hik ni ikusi n-au-k
you-E I seen me-have-you(male)
'You have seen me'

Comparing (36) and (35a) we see that the main verb is no longer the intransitive erori 'to fall', but rather a transitive, ikusi 'to see'. Accordingly, there is an ergative phrase, hik 'you', that is, a second person singular ergative phrase, and the auxiliary is now a form of ukan 'to have'. As you can see for yourself by comparing (35a) and (36), what concerns the absolutive first person singular has not changed: the marker continues to be n, and it sits in the same position in the auxiliary, that is, at the beginning. What has changed is the morphological material that accompanies the first person singular marker. Thus for instance, the root of the auxiliary is no longer aiz, as in (35a), but au, the root the verb ukan 'to have'. And following the root of the auxiliary verb we find a morpheme for the ergative phrase. In this case, the morpheme is k, which reflects the fact that the ergative phrase is a second person singular, and moreover, that the individual the ergative phrase denotes is male.

You can see that the glosses of example (36) include this information, and that the example itself contains dashes separating the morphemes. We will continue doing this, in order to clarify the workings of the agreement morphology. In separating inflectional morphemes, we will try to make only those separations that are relevant to this discussion, glossing over others that are not. In particular, you will notice that the examples gloss over certain changes in the root area, that would complicate our description of the mechanics of the agreement system.

Looking at (36), you can see that:

(a) the marker corresponding to the absolutive phrase appears at the beginning of the inflected auxiliary, and

(b) the marker corresponding to the ergative phrase appears at the end of the inflected auxiliary, or at least it appears following the root of the verb. One more form will confirm this:

(37)
Nik hi ikusi h-au-t
I-E you seen you-have-me
'I have seen you'

In (37), the absolutive phrase is a second person singular pronoun, therefore the morpheme at the beginning of the auxiliary is h, the same one we find in (35b). The ergative phrase is a first person singular pronoun, and the t morpheme at the end of the auxiliary reflects this. The root is the same as in (36), only the agreement markers have changed.

Now let us consider a few examples that contain dative phrases as well. First, consider the sentences in (38), which are the equivalents of (35), with dative phrases added:

(38)
  1. ni hiri erori n-atzai-k
    I you-D fallen me-be-you(male)
    'I have fallen on you'

  2. hi niri erori h-atzai-t
    you me-D fallen you-be-me
    'You have fallen on me'

In (38a), there is a dative phrase hiri 'to you', which is reflected in the auxiliary verb. As you can see, the morpheme for the dative second person singular pronoun is k, and it follows the root of izan 'to be', which is in this case atzai. The morpheme for the first person singular absolutive continues to be n, of course, and it sits at the beginning of the auxiliary. If you now consider (38b), you will see that the agreement morpheme for the dative first person singular pronoun is t, and it also appears following the root atzai.

If you compare the forms in (36), (37) and (38), you can see that the agreement morphemes for the ergative phrases and the morphemes for the dative phrases are identical, k for second person singular male and t for first person singular. Moreover, these agreement morphemes appear after the root in both cases. So how are they distinguished? In the case of the examples we are considering here, the root of the auxiliary is different: in the cases where the morpheme signals the presence of an ergative phrase (36), (37), the root is au, that is, the auxiliary is a form of ukan 'to have'. But in the cases where the morpheme signals the presence of a dative phrase (38), the root is atzai, that is, the auxiliary is a form of izan 'to be'. Remember that ukan 'to have' is used as an auxiliary only if there is an ergative phrase in the sentence. Therefore, the morphemes in (38) correspond necessarily to dative phrases, since the auxiliary is a form of izan 'to be'.

Now we need to know how to handle a sentence where there are both ergative and dative phrases. Let us pick a couple of examples:

(39)
  1. Nik hiri liburu bat oparitu d-i-a-t
    I-E you-D book one present-made it-have-you-me
    'I have given you a book (as a present)'

  2. Hik niri liburu bat oparitu d-i-da-k
    You-E I-D book one present-made it-have-me-you
    'You have given me a book (as a present)'

Consider first the example in (39a): it is a sentence with an absolutive phrase liburu bat 'one/a book', an ergative phrase 'nik' 'I', and a dative phrase hiri 'to you'. The main verb is oparitu 'to make a present', which displays perfective aspect. The auxiliary verb contains the following elements, from left to right:

(a) the morpheme d, which appears in present tense forms if the absolutive phrase is a third person, as it is in this case;

(b) the morpheme i, the root of the auxiliary verb, which appears in this form only when there are both a dative and an ergative phrase in the sentence;

(c) the morpheme a, which indicates that the dative phrase is a second person singular male;

(d) and the morpheme t, which indicates that the ergative phrase is a first person singular.

Now consider (39b), which contrasts minimally with (39a): the morphemes are the same, except for the ones corresponding to dative and ergative. The morpheme corresponding to the dative is now da, which indicates first person singular, and the morpheme corresponding to the ergative is now k, indicating second person singular male.

As you have seen in these examples, the ergative agreement morpheme is the one that appears last. The dative morpheme appears after the root of the auxiliary, but it precedes an ergative morpheme if there is one. The absolutive morpheme appears at the beginning of the auxiliary verb.

Hopefully, the discussion of these examples has shown you that building an auxiliary form in Euskara, with all its agreement markers, is just a matter of putting a few pieces together. All you have to know is what the pieces are, and where they belong. So let us now take a look at the inventory of pieces, what linguists would call the paradigms of agreement morphology.

1.2.2. The paradigms of agreement morphology. Here we will provide the different morphemes that correspond to the different persons in the agreement morphology, depending on whether they correspond to absolutive, dative or ergative phrases in the sentence. The rest of the variables in the auxiliary verb will be kept constant, and will be discussed later. That is, we will stick to present tense forms, without modal markers. The only element that will vary is the root of the auxiliary, as you have already seen in the examples discussed above.

Only three paradigms are necessary, one for each case. Thus, we will have an absolutive paradigm, a dative paradigm and an ergative paradigm. In order to construct an inflected form the relevant morpheme is selected from the relevant paradigm, and placed in the appropriate position: the absolutive morpheme immediately before the root, the dative morpheme immediately after the root, and then the ergative morpheme.

Let us first see the agreement paradigms in isolation, and we will then combine them with the auxiliary roots to create actual inflected forms. Underneath the case names, you find in brackets the names those cases receive in Euskara. The cases are named after the personal interrogative pronoun, inflected for the corresponding case:

NOR is 'who' in absolutive, and the name of the absolutive case and agreement paradigm;

NORI is 'who' with the dative case morpheme, and the name of the dative case and agreement paradigm;

NORK is 'who' with the ergative case morpheme, and the name of the ergative case and agreement paradigm. If you ever decide to learn the language, that is how you will learn to name the cases and the verbal paradigms according to the number of cases they reflect.

PERSONS ABSOLUTIVE
(NOR)
DATIVE
(NORI)
ERGATIVE
(NORK)
NI N T/ DA T/DA
....... male
HI
.......female
H K/A K/A
H N/NA N/NA
HURA (D) O -
GU G GU GU
ZU Z ZU ZU
ZUEK Z ZUE ZUE
HAIEK (D) E TE

Let us now discuss a few issues concerning these paradigms.

1.2.2.1. The persons. Starting from left to right, let us consider the column corresponding to the person distinctions. You see that there are seven different categories in that column. The first three are singular persons, the first (ni), the second (hi) and the third (hura). The next four belong to the set of plural persons. Here we find the first person plural (gu), and two second person plurals, zu and zuek, which have been distinguished in the paradigm by calling the first one 'second person plural', and the second one 'second person plural plural'.

In older stages of the language, there was only one second person plural, zu. Later, this pronoun started being used as a polite form of addressing, and finally it took the place of a polite second person singular. A new second person pronoun was created, zuek, to denote only second person plural. As you can see and will see later, the morphology of zu makes it similar to plural forms, even though its meaning is nowadays singular. This is the reason why there are two second person forms in the verbal paradigms of modern Euskara, the original one, zu, and the second one, zuek, created on top of the original one.

1.2.2.2. Phonological changes. If you consider the dative and ergative paradigms, you will see that the first two persons in the singular group have two different markers. The one on the left is the one that surfaces if it happens to be at the end of the form. The one on the right is the one that surfaces if it happens to be followed by other morphemes. This alternation has already been illustrated in the examples in (39).

1.2.2.3. The third person. You can see that the morpheme corresponding to the third person singular and the third person plural appears in brackets. This is due to the fact that the shape of the third person morpheme varies depending on the paradigm and the tense or modality of the verbal form. Thus, for instance, in present tense paradigms, like the ones we discuss here, it is often a d that surfaces, and that is what the paradigms above show. In past tense forms, the third person marker can be a z, or nothing at all, and in forms with modals it can also be a l morpheme. We will discuss these variations when addressing the morphology of tense.

1.2.2.4. A few full paradigms and how to use them. Let us now consider a few actual paradigms of auxiliary verbs, where the agreement paradigms seen above are combined with auxiliary roots.

Let us start with a paradigm containing only absolutive agreement. The auxiliary root corresponds to the verb izan 'to be'. The following paradigm in (40) is thus both the auxiliary verb for intransitive verbs, and the paradigm for the verb 'to be'.

(40)
PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

absolutive

N

H

D

G

Z

Z

D

ROOT

AIZ

AIZ

A

ARA

ARA

ARETE

IRA

In this paradigm, the root varies quite a lot. It is often the case across languages that the paradigm of the verb 'to be', one of the most used verbs, presents a high degree of irregularity, and Euskara is no exception to this.

Consider now the paradigm of an auxiliary verb containing absolutive and a dative agreement. In the Basque grammatical tradition, the paradigm in (41) is called a NOR-NORI paradigm:

(41)
PERSON NOR ROOT NORI
NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NA

HA

-

GA

ZA

ZA

-

TZAI

TZAI

ZAI

TZAI ZKI

TZAI ZKI

TZAI ZKI

ZAI ZKI

T

K/N

O

GU

ZU

ZUE TE

E

Let us see how this paradigm works. In order to obtain the actual forms, what you have to do is pick the morpheme you need from each column, and put them together in the order indicated by the paradigm. For instance, suppose we had a sentence with a first person absolutive pronoun, and a second person plural (by this we mean zuek) dative pronoun. The sentence could be something like (42):

(42)
ni zuei etorri ........
I you-D come

In order to complete this sentence, we look in the NOR column and we select the morpheme corresponding to the first person singular: na. Now we take the root of the auxiliary, tzai, and then we select the morpheme corresponding to zuek in the NORI column, which is zue. We put all these together in the order NOR-ROOT-NORI, and the form is created: natzaizue. This is indeed the form needed to complete the sentence in (42):

(42)
ni zuei etorri natzaizue
I you-D come me-be-you
'I have come to you (plural)'

You have probably noticed that the plural persons have an extra morpheme te after the root. This morpheme indicates plurality of the absolutive phrase, so it is used when the sentence contains a plural absolutive phrase. For instance, suppose we have a sentence like (43):

(43)
gu amamari bisita egitera joan ......
we grandmother-D visit-det make-to gone

where the absolutive phrase is a first person plural pronoun gu 'we'. We look in the NOR column and we find the morpheme ga. Then we take the root tzai. Now, after the root morpheme we must also select the plural morpheme zki, and now we can consider the dative morpheme. In the sentence in (43), the dative morpheme is a third person singular amamari 'to grandmother', so we must select the morpheme o. We put everything together, and the resulting form is: gatzaizkio. Now we can complete our sentence:

(43)
gu amamari bisita egitera joan gatzaizkio
we grandmother-D visit-det make-to gone we-be-pl-her
'we have gone to grandmother to make a visit'

In the familiar second person singular hi, you can find two morphemes in the NORI (dative) column. The first one (k) corresponds to a male, the second one (n) to a female (gender). This is the only person where the morphology makes distinctions according to sex, and it only makes them in the NORI (dative) and NORK (ergative) paradigms. Compare the two examples in (44):

(44)
  1. gu hiri laguntzera etorriko gatzaizkik
    we you-D help-to come-irr we-be-pl-you(male)
    'We will come to you(male) to help'

  2. gu hiri laguntzera etorriko gatzaizkin
    we you-D help-to come-irr we-be-pl-you(female)
    'We will come to you(female) to help'

The third person singular and third person plural have zero morphemes in the NOR (absolutive) column. Thus, the forms for sentences with third person absolutive phrases look like the ones illustrated in (45):

(45)
  1. aititeri txapela erori zaio
    grandfather-D hat fallen it-be-him
    'The hat fell (to)from grandfather'

  2. amamari betaurrekoak erori zaizkio
    grandmother-D glasses-detpl fallen it-be-pl-her
    'The glasses fell (to)from grandmother'

Finally, note that there is a te morpheme following the NORI column and corresponding to the second person plural zuek. This te morpheme belongs to the NOR column, and it is used when the absolutive phrase is the pronoun zuek. It distinguishes a form where the absolutive phrase is the second person singular zu, from the plural with zuek, since only the latter adds this extra plural te marker at the end of the form. To see this with an example, consider the contrast in (46):

(46)
  1. niri zu gustatzen zatzaizkit
    I-D you like-impf you-be-pl-me
    'I like you(sing)'

  2. niri zuek gustatzen zatzaizkidate
    I-D you like-impf you-be-pl-me-pl
    'I like you(pl)'

Now let us consider another paradigm, this one including NOR (absolutive), NORI (dative) and NORK (ergative) agreement morphemes. First, let us see what the paradigm looks like and then we will see how to use it with examples. The paradigm in (47) is known as a NOR-NORI-NORK paradigm.

(47)
PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

D

D

ROOT

I

I

I

I

I

I

I ZKI

NORI

T(DA)

K(A)/N(NA)

O

GU

ZU

ZUE

E

NORK

T

K/N

-

GU

ZU

ZUE

TE

The first thing you probably noticed looking at this paradigm is that the NOR column only contains morphemes for third person, singular and plural. The reason is that there is a restriction in the NOR paradigm of NOR- NORI-NORK forms. Inflected forms with three agreement morphemes can only have third person agreement in the absolutive (48a). It is not possible to have auxiliaries that agree with three arguments if the absolutive agreement is first or second person. This is illustrated in (48b), where the form has been made up for this example. Although it is possible to combine the different morphemes that would yield the desired output, the combination is nevertheless ungrammatical.

(48)
a.Zuk niri liburua saldu d-i-da-zu
you-E I-D book-det sold it-have-me-you
'You have sold me the book'

b.*zuk harakinari ni saldu n-(a)i-o-zu
you-E butcher-D I sold me-have-him-you
'You have sold me to the butcher'

It is important to note that this restriction concerns only the inflection of Euskara. In infinitival sentences, which contain no overt auxiliary or agreement morphology, it is possible to have sentences like (48b). Thus, consider (49):

(49)
gaizki iruditzen zait [ zuk ni harakinari saltzea]
wrong look-impf it-be-me you-E me-A butcher-D sell-inf
'It seems wrong to me for you to sell me to the butcher'

As you can also see by looking at the paradigm, the only difference between third person singular and third person plural is the plural marker zki that appears after the root in the third person plural.

If you consider the NORI column, you will see that first and second person morphemes come in two different shapes, one of which appears in brackets. The first form, the one that is not in brackets, surfaces if it happens to be the last morpheme of the auxiliary verb, and the one in brackets surfaces if there are other morphemes following. As we have seen before, the familiar second person hi has different morphemes in the dative and the ergative, depending on whether the individual it denotes is male or female.

Now we are ready to construct a few examples. Consider a sentence like (51):

(51)
guk zuri liburu hau eman ......
we-E you-D book this given

The auxiliary needed here involves a third person singular NOR (absolutive), which is d. Then comes the root, which is i. Then we need a polite second person dative, which is zu. Finally, we need a first person plural ergative, which is gu. The form is dizugu:

(51)
guk zuri liburu hau eman dizugu
we-E you-D book this given it-have-you-we
'We have given you this book'

Let us try one more. Consider a sentence like (52):

(52)
gurasoek niri belarritako ederrak erosi ......
parent-detpl-E I-D earring beautiful- detpl bought

There is a third person plural absolutive phrase; looking at the paradigm, we see that the corresponding morpheme is d and then the root follows, i, and the plural marker, zki. There is a first person dative, and here we have to decide which one of the two forms to select. We must look to see whether the selection of ergative will add morphemes after the dative or not. The ergative phrase is a third person plural, so the morpheme to select is te. Therefore, the dative form must be da. The resulting form is:

(52)
gurasoek niri belarritako ederrak erosi dizkidate
parent-detpl-E I-D earring beautiful- detpl bought it-have-pl-me-they
'(my) parents have bought me beautiful earrings'

And finally, let us consider another type of paradigm that combines absolutive and ergative agreement. These paradigms are called NOR-NORK paradigms. We will illustrate the present tense NOR-NORK in (53):

(53)
PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

NA

HA

D

GA IT

ZA IT

ZA IT

D IT

ROOT

U

U

U

U

U

U ZTE

U

NORK

T

K/N

-

GU

ZU

ZUE

TE

Let us get some practice with this paradigm: suppose you wanted to say something like 'Miren sees Patxi'. Since this is a transitive sentence, it involves an ergative phrase Mirenek, and an absolutive phrase Patxi. There is the main verb ikus to which we attach the imperfective marker ten, resulting in ikusten. Now we are ready to figure out the auxiliary verb: it combines a third person NOR, so the morpheme we need is d, then comes the root which is u, and then it combines a third person NORK, so the morpheme we need is a zero. The resulting auxiliary verb is du. The sentence we wanted to say is 'Mirenek Patxi ikusten du'.

If you consider this paradigm, you will see that there is a zte morpheme follosing the root. This morpheme distinguishes auxiliary verbs that have a second person singular absolutive from forms that have a second person plural absolutive. The morpheme is only used when the auxiliary reflects agreement with a second person plural. For instance, take the sentence 'Miren sees you guys'. Think about it...

Yes! The answer is correct. This sentence in Euskara is 'Mirenek zuek ikusten zaituzte'.

As you see, the way to construct inflected verbs in Euskara is rather simple: it involves putting pieces together, one after the other in a fixed order. There are few instances where the order of the elements is altered, typically in forms involving third person absolutive phrases and past tense or modals. We will discuss those instances in the following sections, as we lay out the morphology of tenses and modals, which is simpler than the agreement morphology, because it involves alternations of less elements.

1.3. Tense. There are two tenses: past and present. Past tense is manifest in the verbal inflection by means of the morpheme n at the end of the inflected form. Present tense is a zero morpheme, as illustrated in the paradigms above. The presence of past tense alters the shape of the initial material of the verbal root, and it can also alter the order of morphemes, as we will see in 1.3.1.

Let us take some of the verbal paradigms we have already discussed and see what they look like when they are inflected for past tense.

Consider the paradigm of the verb izan 'to be', involving only absolutive agreement. In (40), it was inflected for present tense. In (54) below, the past tense forms are illustrated:

(54)
PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

Nin

Hin

Z

Gin

Zin

Zin

Zi

ROOT TENSE

TZE N

TZE N

E N

E N

E N

E TE N

RE N

Comparing (40) and (54) you find the following differences: in the column corresponding to the absolutive agreement (NOR), the marker for third person has changed from d to z. Present tense forms have d for third person absolutive, while past tense forms have z for third person absolutive. The vowel a that appeared in all other person morphemes has now changed into in. Concerning the root of izan 'to be', there have been changes as well. At the end of the form appears the past tense morpheme n.

Consider next a verbal paradigm containing absolutive and dative agreement, that is, a NOR-NORI paradigm. In (41), the present tense forms were illustrated, and (55) below illustrates the past tense paradigm:

(55)
PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

Nin

Hin

Zi

Gin

Zin

Zin

Zi

ROOT

TZAI

TZAI

TZAI

TZAI

TZAI

TZAI

TZAI

ZKI

ZKI

ZKI

ZKI

NORI

DA

A/NA

O

GU

ZU

ZUE

E

TENSE

N

N

N

N

N

TE N

N

As you can see by comparing (55) and (41), the absolutive agreement changes a little in the presence of past tense. In the NORI (dative) column, we have chosen to illustrate the markers da and a, na for first and second familiar persons. Recall that this is the form those agreement morphemes take when something else follows them in the auxiliary, as it is the case in past tense forms, where the final n is required to indicate past tense.

1.3.1.Past tense and ergative agreement. We can now consider past tense paradigms where there are ergative (NORK) agreement markers. In these paradigms, some forms present a different order of agreement morphemes. Let us first consider the forms where there is no morpheme-order alterations. In (56) below, you can see the overall NOR-NORK past tense paradigm. That is, the paradigm of forms containing NOR (absolutive) and NORK (ergative) agreement markers and past tense:

(56)
PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

Nind

Hind

{}

Gint

Zint

Zint

{}

ROOT

U

U

U

U

U ZTE

NORK

DA

A/NA

-

GU

ZU

ZUE

TE

TENSE

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

If you ignore forms that involve third person absolutive, which are discussed below in (57), the paradigm in (56) provides all the necessary combinations. A few changes occur in between absolutive agreement and the root, which we have put under absolutive agreement, and the final n morpheme is added. Otherwise, all remarks made concerning the present tense paradigm in (53) apply to this past tense paradigm as well.

But what about forms involving third person absolutive? These are the ones that present a slight change in the order of the agreement morphemes, so they are best discussed in a separate paradigm. Consider the paradigm in (57) below:

(57) PERSON NORK ROOT TENSE
NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

N

H

Z

G EN

Z EN

Z EN

Z

U

U

U

U

U

U TE

IT U TE

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

This is what happens when third person absolutive forms are involved in forms containing ergative agreement and past tense: the markers that usually signal the presence of an absolutive phrase now signal the presence of an ergative phrase, and no markers appear signaling the presence of the absolutive phrase, except fot the plural marker it. Let us consider a couple of examples. In (58), the contrast between a present tense form and a past tense form is illustrated:

(58)
  • Zuk emakumea ikusi d-u-zu
    you-E woman-det seen her-have-you
    'You have seen the woman'

  • Zuk emakumea ikusi zen-u-en
    you-E woman-det seen you-have-past
    'You saw the woman'

By comparing the inflected auxiliaries in (58a) and (58b), you can see that (58a) has markers for both the absolutive phrase emakumea'the woman', whose marker in the auxiliary is d, and the ergative phrase, zuk'you', whose marker in the auxiliary is zu. Moreover, those markers follow the standard order: absolutive precedes the root and ergative follows it. Now consider the form in (58b): there is no marker for the absolutive phrase, and in the place usually reserved for the absolutive phrase there appears a marker for the pronounzu, as if there were a second person absolutive pronoun in the sentence. In these forms, the ergative phrase is signaled in the auxiliary by means of the marker that normally signals absolutive, as the paradigm in (57)indicates.

Further, it must be noted that there remains one aspect in which the absolutive phrase gets reflected in the auxiliary in these cases: if the absolutive phrase is plural, a plural marker appears signaling the fact, as shown in (59), where again present tense and past tense forms are compared:

(59)
  • Nik liburuak irakurri d-it-u-t
    I-E book-detpl read it-pl-have-me
    'I have read (the) books'

  • Nik liburuak irakurri n-it-u-en
    I-E book-detpl read me-pl-have-past
    'I read (the) books'

As you can see comparing the forms in (59a) and (59b), the plural marker itsignals the plurality of the absolutive phrase liburuak'the books' both in the present tense form ditutand in the past tense form nituen, despite the fact that the way in which the ergative phrase nik'I' is marked has varied in form and place.This phenomenon is discussed by Ortiz de Urbina (1986)and Laka (1993), among others. It is also triggered in the case of forms involving modals, in hypotheticalforms.

Hence, the paradigm in (57)yields the following forms:

(60)
n(it)uen
h(it)uen
z(it)uen
gen(it)uen
zen(it)uen
z(it)uzten

Finally, we are ready to see the NOR-NORI-NORK past tense paradigm. That is, the paradigm to construct auxiliary forms that contain absolutive, dative and ergative agreement markers, and past tense. The paradigm is illustrated in (61):
(61) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NORK

N

H

Z

G EN

Z EN

Z EN

Z

ROOT

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

ZKI NORI

DA

A/NA

O

GU

ZU

ZUE

E

TE

TE

TENSE

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

Recall that tripersonal forms, that is, forms that contain all three agreement markers have a restriction regarding the absolutive, which must be third person. This is explained in the discussion of examples (48)and (49) above.

When we turn to the past tense paradigm, then, in the case of (61)all forms contain some ergative marker and a third person absolutive. As we have just seen before, in these cases the order of the morphemes changes, as in the paradigm in (57).

The paradigm in (61)reflects this alteration of the morpheme-order: now the morphemes in the leftmost column signal the presence of the ergative phrase. Let us see an example contrasting present (62a) and past tense (62b) forms:

(62)
  • zuk guri lore bat ekarri d-i-gu-zu
    you-E we-D flower one brought it-have-us-you
    'you have brought us one flower'

  • zuk guri lore bat ekarri z-en-i-gu-n
    you-E we-D flower one brought you-have-us-past
    'you have brought us one flower'

The only morpheme that is sensitive to the absolutive phrase in (61)can be found right after the root, in blue. It is the morpheme zki, which also appears in the paradigm in (55). It is to be used if the absolutive phrase in the sentence is plural, in the same way that the morpheme itis used in the NOR-NORKparadigm in (57), which we have discussed in examples (59)and (60). Thus, compare the form in (62b), which contains a singular absolutive phrase lore bat'one flower', with the form in (63), where the absolutive phrase is plural:

(63)
zuk guri lore batzu ekarri z-en-i- zki-gu-n
you-E we-D flower some brought you-have-pl-us-past
'you have brought us some flowers'

Finally, the temorpheme that appears after the NORI(dative) agreement column and immediately before the past tense morpheme nin the last two persons of the paradigm, is to be used when the sentence contains an ergative phrase that is either second person plural zuekor third person plural haiek. That is, this temorpheme is a continuation of the morpheme at the very beginning of the paradigm. Consider the examples in (64), and compare them with (62b)and (63) respectively:

(64)
  • zuek guri lore bat ekarri z-en-i-gu-te-n
    youpl-E we-D flower one brought you-have-us-pl-past
    'you(pl) have brought us one flower'

  • zuek guri lore batzu ekarri z- en-i-zki-gu-te-n
    youpl-E we-D flower some brought you-have-pl-us-pl- past
    'you(pl) have brought us some flowers'

So far, then we have managed to combine all agreement markers in present and past tense. It is time to talk about how to include modals in the picture.

Examples of the sort of (48b)can occasionally be found in literary works, and whether they ever existed in spoken language or are a literary creation has been a topic for debate among Basque grammarians for a long time. The modern varieties of Basque we are concerned with do certainly not allow forms like (48b).

1.4. Modality: the morhemes 'ke'and 'ba'. There are two kinds of modals that affect directly verbal inflection. The first one involves the morpheme ke, which is used to create potential forms like the one in (65a), and consequences of conditionals, like the one in (65b):

(65)
  • Mirenek Patxi ikus d-eza-ke
    Miren-E Patxi-A see him-root-mod
    'Miren can see Patxi'

  • itsua ez balitz, Mirenek Patxi ikusiko l-u-ke
    blind-det not if-were, Miren-E Patxi-A see-irr him-root-mod
    'If she were not blind, Miren would see Patxi'

As you can see in (65), the root of the auxiliary changes when the form is potential, and when it is a consequence of a conditional. The second modal morpheme in the auxiliary is the conditional 'if', and it involves the morpheme ba., which you see illustrated in the first half of (65b)

1.4.1. Modality and tense. In the previous sections, when discussing verbal paradigms, we have considered present tense forms and past tense forms. Inflected forms containing modal morphemes can also combine with present tense and past tense. But there is a third possibility, which we may call the 'hypothetical', which involves no tense at all. These hypothetical forms are neither present nor past. They lack a specification for tense. Examples of the three-way alternation are given in (66):

(66)
  • Mirenek Patxi ikus d-eza-ke
    Miren-E Patxi-A see him-root-mod
    'Miren can see Patxi'

  • Mirenek Patxi ikus z-eza-ke-en
    Miren-E Patxi-A see him-root-mod
    'Miren could see Patxi'

  • Mirenek Patxi ikus l-eza-ke
    Miren-E Patxi-A see him-root-mod
    'Miren could/might see Patxi'

If you consider the auxiliary forms in (66), you can see that (66a)contains a d morphemefor the third person absolutive phrase in the sentence. This is an indication that the form is a present tense form. In (66a), we find the equivalent form inflected for past tense: the past tensemorpheme nhas been attached to the modal morpheme ke, and an epentheticvowel ehas been inserted. The marker for the third personabsolutive phrase is now z. Finally, in (66c), we find a form that is neither present nor past. It is the hypothetical. In this form, the marker for third person is the morpheme l, and there is no tense morpheme attached at the end of te form.

Therefore, when considering hte various paradigms involving modal morphemes, we will often have to consider present tense forms, past tense forms, and hypothetical forms.

We will start considering paradigms containing the modal morpheme ke. In particular, we will start with forms denoting potentiality.

1.4.2. The modal morpheme 'ke': potentiality. In earlier stages of the language, this morpheme created future forms, but no longer (Lafon (1944)). The modal morpheme ke appears in inflected forms that indicate a potentiality, a possibility. For instance, if something may happen, or can be done. The appearance of this morpheme induces changes in the root of the auxiliary, as we will see in the paradigms.

The verbal participle or main verb displays no aspectmarker when it is used in conjunction with an inflected potential form, as you can see in theexamples. Thus, the verb etorri'to come' must display its root only, without any aspectual morpheme attached: etor.

We will now consider the paradigms that result from the combination if different agreement types and tense specifications. As we have done before, we start with forms that contain only one agreement marker, and we will built it up from there.

1.4.2.1. Potential paradigms: absolutive. For general instructions as to how to use these paradigms, see the previous paradigms. Special remarks concerning potential paradigms are discussed below, after each relevant paradigm. Examples of a few forms will be given at the end of each section.

  • Present tense potential paradigm
    (67) PERSON NOR ROOT MODAL
    NI

    HI

    HURA

    GU

    ZU

    ZUEK

    HAIEK

    Na

    Ha

    Da

    Ga

    Za

    Za

    Da

    ITE

    ITE

    ITE

    ITE Z

    ITE Z

    ITE Z

    ITE Z

    KE

    KE

    KE

    KE

    KE

    KE

    KE

    Past tense potential paradigm
    (68) PERSON

    NI

    HI

    HURA

    GU

    ZU

    ZUEK

    HAIEK

    NOR

    Nin

    Hin

    Zi

    Gin

    Zin

    Zin

    Zi

    ROOT

    TE

    TE

    TE

    TE

    TE

    TE

    TE

    Z

    Z

    Z

    Z

    MODAL

    KE

    KE

    KE

    KE

    KE

    KE

    KE

    TE TENSE

    eN

    eN

    eN

    eN

    eN

    N

    eN

In this paradigm, notice that an epenthetic vowel is inserted between the modal morpheme and the past morpheme. The epenthetic vowel is not necessary in the case of the second person plural, zuek, which inflects as zintezketen, because there is a morpheme in between the modal ke and the past tense morpheme n.

Hypothetical potential paradigm
(69) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

Nin

Hin

Li

Gin

Zin

Zin

Li

ROOT

TE

TE

TE

TE

TE

TE

TE

Z

Z

Z

Z

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

TE

By means of these paradigms, we can construct potential inflected auxiliaries for sentences involving only absolutive agreement. Some examples are given in (70):

(70)
  • Miren Bilbora etor daiteke
    Miren-A Bilbo-to come she-root-mod
    'Miren can come to Bilbo'

  • gu Bilbora etor gintezkeen
    we-A Bilbo-to come us-root-mod-tns
    'we could have come to Bilbo'

  • hi Bilbora etor hinteke
    you-A Bilbo-to come you-root-mod
    'you could come to Bilbo'

1.4.2.2. Potential paradigms: absolutive and dative. Next we will consider the inflected forms necessary to construct potential forms in sentences containing both an absolutive phrase and a dative phrase. For comparison, you may look back at the paradigms of absolutive-dative (NOR-NORI) we have already seen before.

Present tense potential, absolutive and dative agreement.
(71) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

Na

Ha

Da

Ga

Za

Za

Da

ROOT

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

ZKI

ZKI

ZKI

ZKI

NORI

DA

A/NA

O

GU

ZU

ZUE

E

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

TE

As we have done before, the morphemes in the dative (NORI) column are given in the form they must take when other morphemes follow. In this paradigm, the modal morpheme always follows the dative morpheme. The morpheme teat the end of the paradigm distinguishes the absolutive second person singular zufrom the absolutive second person plural zuek:

(72)
  • zu guri bisita egitera etor zakizkiguke
    you-A we-D visit make-to come you-root-us-mod
    'you can come to pay us a visit'

  • zuek guri bisita egitera etor zakizkigukete
    you(pl)-A we-D visit make-to come you-root-us-mod
    'you (pl) can come to pay us a visit'
Past tense potential, absolutive and dative agreement.
(71) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

Nen

Hen

Ze

Gen

Zen

Zen

Ze

ROOT

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

ZKI

ZKI

ZKI

ZKI

NORI

DA

A/NA

O

GU

ZU

ZUE

E

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

TE TENSE

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

Hypothetical potential, absolutive and dative agreement.
(71) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

Nen

Hen

Le

Gen

Zen

Zen

Le

ROOT

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

KI

ZKI

ZKI

ZKI

ZKI

NORI

DA

A/NA

O

GU

ZU

ZUE

E

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

TE

As you can see, in general the only difference between the past tense pradigm and the hypothetical is the lack of the final past tense morpheme, and the difference in marking third person. A few examples of the forms these paradigms generate are given in (72):

(72)
  • Patxi bihar etor dakiguke, nahi badu
    Patxi-A tomorrow come he-root-us-mod want if-has
    'Patxi can come to us tomorrow, if he wants'

  • atzo etor nenkizukeen, baina ez zenidan eskatu
    yesterday come me-root-you-mod-tns but not you-root-me-tns ask
    'I could have come to you yesterday, but you didn't ask me'

  • edonori eror lekioke teilatu zati bat
    anyone-D fall it-root-her/him-mod roof piece one
    'A piece of roof could fall onto anyone'

In these examples, some arguments are absent, only manifest in verbal inflection.

1.4.2.3. Potential paradigms: absolutive and ergative.

Present tense potential, absolutive and ergative.
(73) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

Na

Ha

De

Ga IT

Za IT

Za IT

D IT

ROOT

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE TE

KE

NORK

T

K/N

-

GU

ZU

ZUE

TE

The root of the auxiliaryhas now changed, because this is a transitive form. As you can see, ergative agreement follows the modal morpheme. The plurality morphemes for the absolutive phrases (it) precede the root of the transitive auxiliary, while they followed the root of the intransitive auxiliary the previousparadigms.

To create the past tense paradigm, we must add the past tense morpheme n, and as a result, we must now differentiate those forms that have third person absolutive, from the others. This phenomenon that alters the order of the morphemes has been discussed before, you may look back at it. here, we will first consider the past tense paradigm containing all persons except third persons in the absolutive class, and next to it the paradigm corresponding to third person absolutive, singular and plural, where the order of the morphemes is altered.
Present tense potential, absolutive and ergative.
(74) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

N int

H int

G int

Z int

Z int

ROOT

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

TE NORK

DA

A/NA

GU

ZU

ZUE

TE

TENSE

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

For the inflected forms involving third person absolutive phrases, the relevant paradigm is provided in (75):
(75) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NORK

N

H

Ze

Gen

Zen

Zen

Z

PLURAL

IT

ROOT

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

ZA

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE TE

KE TE

TENSE

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

In the hypothetical paradigm, this morpheme order is kept. To create the hypothetical paradigms, all that needs to be done is:

(a) to take off the past tense morpheme n at the end of paradigms (74) and (75), and

(b) to replace third person morpheme z with the hypothetical third person morpheme l and the hypothetical forms result (76d). We provide examples of present tense, past tense and hypothetical forms in (76):

(76)

  • Mirenek ni ikus nazake present tense (73)
    Miren-E I-A see me-root-mod
    "Miren can see me"

  • Zuk gu maita gintzakezun past tense (74)
    You-E we-A love us-pl-root-mod-you-tns
    "You could have loved us"

  • Nik Miren ikus nezakeen past tense (75)
    I-E Miren-A see me-root-mod-tns
    "I could see Miren"

  • Mirenek Patxi maita lezake hypothetical (75) altered
    Miren-E Patxi-A love her-root-mod
    "Miren might love Patxi"

1.4.2.4. Potential paradigms: absolutive, dative and ergative.

Present tense:
(77) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NOR

D

D

ROOT

IEZA

IEZA ZKI

NORI

DA

A/NA

iO

GU

ZU

ZUE

iE

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

NORK

T

K/N

-

GU

ZU

ZUE

TE

Examples of forms generated by this paradigm are given in (78):

(78)

  • Hik Alazneri larrosa eman diezaioken
    You-E Alazne-D rose-A give it-root-her-mod-you
    'You(fem) can give a rose to Alazne'

  • Neskek mutilei liburu bana opari diezaiekete
    Girl-pl-E boy-pl-A book one-distr present it-root-them-mod-they
    'The girls can give one book to each boy'
Past tense
(79) PERSON

NI

HI

HURA

GU

ZU

ZUEK

HAIEK

NORK

N

H

Z

Gen

Zen

Zen

Z

ROOT

IEZA

IEZA

IEZA

IEZA

IEZA

IEZA

IEZA

PLUR

ZKI

NORI

DA

A/NA

iO

GU

ZU

ZUE

E

MODAL

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

KE

PLUR.

TE

TE

TENSE

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

Examples of forms generated by the paradigm in (78) are given in (79) below:

(79)

  • Klarak guri beldurra eman ziezagukeen
    Klara-E we-D fear-A give it-root-us-mod-tns
    'Klara could have frightened us'

  • Zuek irakasleari azterketa lapur zeniezaioketen
    You-pl-E teacher-det-D exam-det-A steal it-root-him-mod-pl-tns
    "You guys could have stolen the exam form the teacher'

As before, in section 1.4.2., all we need to do to create the hypothetical forms is to take off the past tense morpheme marker n, and substitute the third person morpheme zfor the third person morpheme l. Some hypothetical forms are illustrated in (80):

(80)

  • guk hizlariari galdera zailak egin geniezaizkioke
    we-E speaker-det-D question difficult-detpl-A make we-root- pl-her-mod
    'We could ask difficult questions to the speaker'

  • Mirenek Patxiri musu eman liezaioke
    Miren-E Patxi-D kiss give her-root-him-mod
    'Miren could give a kiss to Patxi'

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Fecha de la última modificación: 15/11/2010